2ND & 10 @ Baltimore 21 Yard Line – 11:40 in 4th Quarter
Dallas: 20 - Baltimore: 24
Result: Lance Dunbar runs 11 yards to Baltimore 10 for 1ST down.
The upcoming play I will be breaking down is an example of a one-cut run that is the staple of the zone-read option run game. But more importantly, this is a breakdown of Lance Dunbar, who I think can become a solid player in this league with more opportunities in the zone-read offense.
Baltimore is playing a standard 3-4 defense as the Cowboys are in S12 (1 single back, 2 TE’s and 2 WRs) personnel. TE John Phillips is lined up to the right of RT Doug Free and TE Jason Witten (Not in picture) is lined up in the slot on the left side of the formation.
What helps Dunbar on this play is that like a quarterback, he has a “clean pocket” to work with. Every Baltimore player is accounted for except for the backside linebacker. The key to leaving the backside linebacker unblocked is the thought that Dunbar will make a quick cut, and not allow the ‘backer to make a play from behind.
RG Mackenzie Bernadeau does a good job at turning his man back towards the center of the formation, creating a hole for the running back. RT Doug Free quickly gets to the 2nd level of the defense and hitting the linebacker. Also, TE John Phillips creates a good seal on the strong-side linebacker that lets Dunbar make his cut. Dunbar finds the lane he wants to run through, and plants his right foot on the ground and pushes off of it to make the cut.
Once Dunbar gets by the first defender on the right and doesn’t have to worry about the weak-side linebacker that is unblocked, Dunbar is looking for his next cut to make. With RT Doug Free blocking a LB, and WR Miles Austin deciding to make a block on safety Bernard Pollard., Dunbar is one-on-one with a cornerback. But before he gets there, he has to shed an arm tackle by a poorly blocked defensive lineman by LG Nate Livings.
Dunbar does indeed shed the arm tackle and decides to lower his pad level against the cornerback. One thing Dunbar shows is that he can transition from running with quickness to playing with power.
Cornerback Jimmy Smith does not wrap up Lance Dunbar as he keeps his feet moving after the contact. One key component to this play is that WR Miles Austin and RT Doug Free stay with their blocks.
Dunbar quickly regains his balance and heads up-field. Dunbar squares his shoulder and uses his speed to gain the extra yards after contact.
As Dunbar finishes the run, two things you would like to see him do better. First of all, an aggressive team like Baltimore feeds off turnovers and you would like to see him put two hands on the ball. The second thing is you don’t want your running back leaving his feet as that can create more opportunities for turnovers.
What I like about Lance Dunbar is how hard he runs and how he can transition from speed to power during a run. Dunbar, right now, is a project that needs to improve in his ball security, and all stages of the pass game. However, he has proved that he deserves more carries in the zone-read run offense that the Cowboys have struggled with as of late.