Is there such a thing as bland excellence? If so, that's a good description of Travis Frederick's game Sunday night against the Giants. Nothing on tape really stands out, but he consistently beat his man in the running game, and by my count did not give up a single pressure in the passing game. Just another game, and another excellent showing for the second-year player. Let's look at the tape.
Dallas comes out in a heavy formation with three tight ends.
I've mentioned it before, but the stretch play has become a staple of our running game. The idea is simple, get the defense moving sideways, and allow the running back to find a hole or cutback lane. Notice where Travis Frederick (yellow arrow) is in relation to the hashmark (red line).
Travis (yellow arrow) has effectively moved his man from the far right hash mark to nearly directly in between the hashes, before DeMarco Murrray has received the hand-off.
Frederick has effectively moved his man all the way to the opposite hashmark. Look at Murray; he has seen his cutback lane, between Travis and Zack Martin, who has gotten to the 2nd level.
Unfortunately Frederick is losing his block.
Murray apparently doesn't see Frederick's man coming free, and sticks to the cutback lane he spotted earlier (yellow line). This is unfortunate, as he has some really good blocking and options if he had continued on his path (red arrow, circle). Frederick's man ends up tackling Murray after a short gain.
On the very next play we again see Dallas come out with three tight ends. This time New York responds with six players on the line and 11 (!) in the box.
There are two things to notice in this picture. The first is how low Travis Frederick's man gets off the snap. In line play the low man usually wins; right now it's looking like Frederick is beat. The second thing is, we see all three linebackers coming up to stop the run, with only Tyler Clutts as a free blocker.
Somehow Travis Frederick has managed to get lower than his defender (yellow circle). We see that all three linebackers are focused on their run keys; meanwhile James Hanna has snuck by his man unnoticed.
This is what I mean by bland excellence. Frederick has stood his man up and stonewalled him in the passing game, and that is what happened all game long. Nothing flashy, but pure domination. Meanwhile, Hanna is now behind all the linebackers and not one has noticed yet. This turned into a nice play for the Cowboys.
This is another stretch play for the Cowboys. A few things to notice; Travis Frederick is the first to engage his block (something that happens a lot) and has gotten a good initial push. Also notice where Fredbeard is in relation to the hash.
So far so good. The line is moving laterally, and Frederick has locked his man up. Notice the double team by Doug Free and Zack Martin; they initially double the DT, and now Martin is looking to peel off and take on the linebacker.
There are two things going on here. We'll start with Travis Frederick (yellow circle). He's losing his block. I'm not sure what's going on exactly; if the DT just beats him or if Fredbeard is attempting to release and get to the next level. Either way the DT is now inside of him. The other thing to notice is the double team of Martin and Free (yellow arrow). Martin is unable to get off his block and make it to the second level. Great play by the DT on that side.
Fredbeard's man has gotten inside of him, and the double team is unable to get any push. Murray has nowhere to go and Frederick's man again makes the tackle. Notice that the play again moves from one hash all the way to the other (red line), but did not get any vertical push.
Last year one of Frederick's few weaknesses was having a nose tackle line up directly over him. Here we see something similar with the Giants 1-tech lined up nearly directly on top of him.
There's a lot going on here. First, notice Fredbeard; one of the knocks against him coming out of college was his bench press numbers. And to be honest, you can see a lack of upper body strength when he plays (hard to make out here, but his upper body is getting pushed back). He makes up for it though with great lower body strength; when he anchors his legs he's nearly impossible to move. Meanwhile we see the line blocking to the left, as Dez Bryant comes in for an apparent end around.
After initially getting pushed back Fredbeard has anchored and once again is stonewalling his man (yellow arrow). Meanwhile, all three linebackers are keying on the hand-off between Dez and Tony. The far left linebacker has started to scrape the line, the middle linebacker is attempting to flatten his pursuit, and the right linebacker is moving towards the edge in an attempt to seal.
The only seal that happens though is Fredbeard getting around his man and effectively sealing off the line. The end-around is a fake; Romo instead pitches to Murray who is already outside all the linebackers and has an easy path to the edge.
Here we see a pretty strange lineup by the Giants; they're effectively in the nickel, but both their defensive tackles look to be one-gapping.
This is such an awesome play. Both Travis Frederick (yellow circle) and Ron Leary (red arrow) are pulling to the outside. Zack Martin is reach blocking to take Fredbeard's man, and Tyron Smith and Jason Witten block down on the other two linemen. You have to have an incredibly athletic line to make this play work.
Both Fredbeard and Leary hit the edge easily. Leary kicks out the linebacker sealing the edge (red circle) and Fredbeard is looking downfield for the next threat. The only problem is that Doug Free was unable to pick up the WLB (blue circle).
Frederick is in great position to take out one linebacker (yellow circle). But because Free is unable to make his block (red circle), the WLB is running free to the gap.
Fredbeard makes his cut block (yellow arrow), but Witten has lost his block and Free's linebacker has entered the gap. It looks like Murray is about to get gang-tackled after a minimal gain.
Somehow Murray is able to bounce the play outside. And the entire Giants front seven gets caught up in the pile that Fredbeard made with his cutblock (yellow arrow).
Murray gets a good block from Terrance Williams;
And Dez Bryant. I'm not sure why Murray stumbles here, but if he doesn't, and gets outside of Dez's block, this is probably a touchdown. Probably my second favorite play of the game.
Here we see Dallas in a 21 formation (two running backs, one tight end) with the Giants in a basic 4-3.
I love this line. Here we have Travis Frederick and Ron Leary blocking down, with Zack Martin pulling around. This ability to move linemen (down blocks, pulls, traps) makes it very difficult for the defensive line.
Fredbeard locks up his man. Just another day at the office.
Frederick's defensive lineman manages to get his arms extended, there's that upper body strength again, but that's about it. Much more interesting is Tyler Clutts (blue circle). He originally went outside, but Murray cuts in, now he's having to try and kick out the linebacker from the side as opposed to heads up.
Travis Frederick does not move. Ever (yellow arrow). Meanwhile, the rest of the line has given Murray a nice lane, but Clutts has a horrible angle, and is actually blocking the linebacker into the gap. Still, a good pickup for the good guys.
The Giants are in the nickel with a 4-3 under front.
There's a lot going on here. Both Witten and Dwayne Harris are cutting across the backfield, with Lance Dunbar coming up apparently to take a handoff. Meanwhile the linemen are setting up in pass protection.
Lance Dunbar actually sets up to block as Witten cuts in front of Romo, who now appears to be getting ready to hand the ball off to Harris on the end around. Meanwhile, Travis Frederick has stood up the DT.
A lot going on again. Travis Frederick is maintaining his block (yellow arrow), but Leary is losing his battle (red arrow). #28 is flattening his pursuit to take a better angle against the end around. But look! Zack Martin (blue circle) is leaking out upfield.
And now Travis Frederick is leaking out, along with Lance Dunbar. Tony Romo is rolling out in the same direction, getting away from the DT who has beat Leary. The CB is no threat (red circle) as he flattened his angle too much in an attempt to pursue Harris.
Romo gets the ball to Dunbar in space with Martin and Fredbeard (yellow circle) in front. Again, the athleticism of our line is amazing. Martin's block is happening about 10 yards downfield.
And there's Fredbeard, a good 20 yards downfield. I love how Frederick has a hand on Dunbar, he's actually holding him back to prevent him from outrunning the block.
Dallas is in a two tight end formation; the Giants counter with eight men in the box.
Frederick does something interesting here. Instead of engaging in a block he basically takes a pivot step with his right foot, swinging shut like a door. This is something I've never seen before. Meanwhile Martin blocks down on Frederick's man.
This is Fredbeard's personal "You Shall Not Pass" moment. He just walls off one side of the formation (red line). Meanwhile Martin and Free open up a line, and Tyron Smith pulls around to kick out the edge.
Smith doesn't quite get to his spot, forcing Murray to bounce outside. But look at Fredbeard. He has sealed off one half of the line. Amazing play.
Dallas in a three-wide set, Giants counter with a nickel package.
Frederick gets a good initial block on his man.
This was really interesting. Frederick shows off some really nifty footwork; he manages to turn his man around 180 degrees, all without losing his block.
And after showing off his footwork, Fredbeard shows off his power, throwing his man to the ground. This was nominally a stretch play, which Frederick struggled with today. So Travis adapted, and conquered.
This play occurs on the final drive. It's 3rd-and-3. Dallas comes out in the shotgun, and the Giants show blitz, overloading the weak side.
So of course Dallas runs, strong side. Zack Martin pulls, and Travis Frederick blocks down on Martin's man.
And once again, Frederick simply stonewalls his man. Look at Fredbeard's legs; that is about as perfect an anchor as you can get. Meanwhile the left side of the line has collapsed the defense inside, and Martin is in great position to take on the linebacker.
Just perfect blocking. Fredbeard and Doug Free dominate their assignments, and Martin and Smith combine to give Murray a nice lane. First down on a beautiful playcall.
The next two plays are the "Eight Second Rides" our offensive line put the defense on. I'm putting up the pictures with only the occasional comment; I've tried to take each picture exactly one second apart.
Here we are six seconds in before we have our first breakdown in coverage, as Doug Free loses his man. Beside Free, Fredbeard is tossing his man like a rag-doll.
Romo finally has to get rid of the ball as the DT bears down on him.
The play is over...except for one man. Here we see Travis Frederick still engaged with him man.
In the upper right corner Tyron Smith got bored.
And that ladies and gentlemen, was eight seconds of pure domination.
If people had one complaint of the play calling after the game it was the empty backfield call on 3rd and short. Tony Romo throws a deep pass to Terrance Williams, and the defensive back makes a nice play on it to break the play up. Let's take a closer look shall we?
This is the picture at the top of Tony Romo's drop. At the top of the screen we see the eventual target, Terrance Williams, still running his route (red circle). At the bottom of the screen we see Dez Bryant, making his cut, with a good bit of space.
Here Romo has started stepping up into the pocket. Williams still has not started his cut, Dez meanwhile, has finished his comeback and has a good five yard cushion (so much for not running good routes!). Both players are well past the first down marker (red line).
Here we see Romo starting his throwing motion, just as Williams is beginning his cut. It's great timing by Romo, but bad field awareness. At the bottom of the screen we can see Dez, still wide open, actually waving for the ball.
What's it All Mean Basil?
To be honest I'm hesitant to take anything away from this game regarding the offensive line. This was probably the most vanilla defensive gameplan Dallas has seen all season. The Giants rarely blitzed, and I did not see a single stunt.
Still there are a few things that stood out.
- Frederick struggled with the stretch play. I'm not sure what happened here, as this is a staple of the Cowboys run game, but for whatever reason, Frederick really struggled with it.
- Frederick is a strong player but a lot of that strength is in his lower body. On a number of occasions his upper body was pushed backwards by a defender's punch.
- When Frederick anchors, he is not moving. It's pretty incredible the strength in Fredbeard's legs. Once he sets his stance, he is not moving off of it.
- Great in space. The Cowboys love moving their linemen, and Frederick's agility gives them all kinds of options. It allows them to pull guards against a variety of fronts, and they will also pull Frederick himself. They also like to get him involved in the screen game
What say you BtB? Are there areas of Fredbeard's game that stand out to you? And who would you like to see a video breakdown of next?