First, we all need to take a step back, take a deep breathe, and relax. Second, Kellen Moore is already incorporating some fun things into the Cowboys offense, and there is some evidence floating around that shows this Dallas offense could finally break out of it’s bland funk in 2019.
After Wednesday’s OTA practice that was available to the media, there were multiple different videos, pictures, and tweets that got me (and hopefully) you very excited about what’s to come in 2019 for the Cowboys offense. The first piece of evidence I wanted to bring up was a video that was tweeted out from the Dallas Cowboys twitter account after practice, showing of rookie running back Tony Pollard.
In the video you’ll see the second or possibly even the third-team offense working. While this looks like a really nice run from the 2019 fourth-round pick, the thing that stood out to me the most was the blocking-scheme that was used during this play. While it’s not totally clear because of the camera view, it sure looks like this was a trap-block-run that was able to spring Pollard free for a huge pickup on the ground.
Inside the Pylon breaks down the assignment for trap-blocks nicely here:
The trap block is a run blocking assignment that pulls a blocker to the play side of the formation to block an uncovered defender. Most of the linemen block down in one direction, while the trap blocker flows in the opposite direction toward the defender.
This blocking scheme works very nicely against teams with aggressive up the field interior defensive lineman, something many folks wanted to see more of in 2018 when Dallas faced the Rams, Eagles, and Seahawks. Here’s an example of what a successful trap-play looks like on the ground:
Love this little trap play the #Redskins ran against the Panthers. Send Richardson on a jet sweep fake, gets Panthers LBs to flow that way. RG Scherff and RT Moses fake block on 3Tech, work up to LBs, LG Roullier pulls and traps 3Tech. Huge lane for Peterson right up the middle pic.twitter.com/BCk1mhJX30— Mark Bullock (@MarkBullockNFL) October 16, 2018
Along with the use of traps, Bryan Broaddus also included this quote in his Scout’s Notebook:
I believe this is by design, but I have noticed a lot of movement with this offensive line when it comes to the way Kellen Moore is calling plays. You see a lot of counters, screens and fold blocks. Moore is attempting to use the athletic ability of his linemen in order to create some favorable matchups for the scheme. I lost track of the number of plays where there was someone on the move and working in space.
The second play that was reported that raised my excitement level was a note Bryan Broaddus included in his Scout’s Notebook on DallasCowboys.com. If you’ve been a fan of the Cowboys, or even the NFL, you know how much the “rub-route” has been adopted in the game today. If you’re a Cowboys fan, you know just how little the Scott Linehan offense would use versions of the run-route in his offense. Early looks from OTA’s show that, that may change in 2019:
Creative rub route to get Michael Gallup open across the middle with the offense facing a big third down. Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz created a moving wall, coming from right to left, as Gallup was working the opposite direction. It took every bit of skill for Jourdan Lewis to fight through the trash and get in position. Unfortunately for Lewis, Prescott put the ball out in front of Gallup, who never broke stride turning up the field.
There’s so much to take away from this little quote from Broaddus, and true signs of change coming to the Cowboys offensive gameplan.
The third, and final piece of evidence we have received after two weeks of OTA practices, is the use of 10-personnel in the red-zone. Multiple sources have reported that the Cowboys have shown in practices that the closer they get to the goal line, the more spreading out they are doing with their wide receivers. For years, the Cowboys have went with a “load it up, and run it approach” when facing third and short, and close to the goal line, but it seems as if that could change.
When spreading the offense out in 10-personnel, you’re doing a few different things to help the offense’s chances of picking up more yardage. First, with more receivers on the field, that means defenses will likely stay in a nickel or dime look, which means that there will be more defensive backs on the field than linebackers, the weaker the tacklers the better odds Elliott and Co. can pick up more yardage on the ground. In this case, that’s exactly what the Cowboys want when running the football near the goal line and in favorable down and distances. Second, spreading the defense out gives the Cowboys either 1) favorable box looks when running the football, or 2) favorable outside looks when passing the football. If opposing defenses still want to crowd the box in the red-zone and on the goal line when Dallas shows 10-personnel, than the passing game should flourish. If they want to play it straight with four-to-five defensive backs on the field, than the running game should flourish. Either way you look at it, the Cowboys are showing the ability to adapt and not continue to run into brick walls when in the red-zone, on the goal line, and in third and shorts.
While it’s still a little too early to get really excited, there is still enough evidence floating around from pictures, videos, to post/pre-practice interviews that gives the sense that the Dallas Cowboys offense could evolve in 2019. If so, a major nod should be given to Kellen Moore, and even Jason Garrett for promoting the former quarterback after just one season as the team's QB coach.