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Dallas Philly Offensive Line Report, TE's, Randle

Discussion in 'Fan Zone' started by honyock, Oct 21, 2013.

  1. honyock

    honyock Well-Known Member

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    I was hoping to do this every game this year, but life has gotten in the way until now. NFL Game Rewind isn't available yet for this weeks games, so this all comes from watching the network feed replay. There are several plays in particular I wanted to watch on the coaches film, but this will have to do for now.

    First, the pass protection. Dallas was very good against the four man rush. Philly got a couple of pressures, but nothing substantial at all with a straight four man rush. This was true the entire game.

    The blitz was a different story. Starting in the second quarter, the Eagles started blitzing on almost every passing down, with a variety of inside blitzes, blitzes outside both tackles, sending six or seven men then peeling one or two back in coverage, a lot of different looks. It gave the Cowboys fits. Blitzes killed three drives in the first and second quarters, including the two best scoring chances. I counted five times in the first half that a blitzer came completely untouched at Romo.

    On several of the blitzes, it looked like they just outschemed our protection. Without knowing the protection calls, it's hard to tell how much was scheme and how much was individual linemen missing assignments. But both Smith and Free had blitzers come free outside them. This happened to Free a few times...he'd immediately block down to double team a tackle with Waters, and the man to his outside would get a free run at Romo. They brought two blitzers up the middle and we didn't handle it very well. Once this started working, the Eagles got more aggressive with it. I'll credit them for some creative blitz packages. It was a pretty good game plan for a bad defense against a good offense...sell out on the blitz and try to confuse us and keep us out of sync.

    It looked like the coaches made adjustments at halftime, because the blitzes kept coming but we handled it much better. One man got a free run at Romo, on the play before the TD to Williams (he cleaned Tony's clock pretty hard, but he completed the pass to Beasley). Other than that, Romo generally had plenty of time the entire second half.

    Dallas' first three possessions of the second half led to two touchdowns and what probably would have been a first down deep in Philly territory if not for the Randle-dragged-his-man-into-the-throw interception. I'd like to see that play on the all-22, because Beasley had three yards of separation from his man and would have caught the ball at about the 30 with what looked like a lot of running room. But at any rate, the line handled the blitz much better after halftime.

    One note about Randle. I've read some posts since the game about how awful he was in pass protection, and that just wasn't true. He wasn't called to protect much - I counted five times he stayed in to block, and he never allowed any pressure at all. He did his job, he never got pushed back into Romo, and he kept his man out of the pocket completely. Unless I missed something, he had not problems. Now they still may not trust him to keep this up for an entire game. Randle was in to block on most obvious passing situations. But for the limited sample size, he was fine.

    The running game...this was a case of a few missed opportunities and a lot of 3-4 yard runs. I thought the line had a better day in the run game than the tight ends did. Escobar didn't get a lot of snaps that I saw, so Witten and Hanna were on the field together several times. They weren't too impressive, especially Hanna. I had a lot of "Hanna lost his block" notes as I went through the game. Several times I thought Randle made the right cut, and has soon as he did, Witten or Hanna would lose contact with their man and he'd blow the play up.

    Of the o-linemen, Leary looked to struggle the most in the running game. He got driven into the backfield a few times and forced Randle out wide or to make a quick cutback. He had some nice moments, a couple of nice pulls, but he struggled. I wasn't watching to see if and how many times he was dealing with Cox, but he struggled. He and Smith also had at least one and I think another issue with handing their men off on stunts. One of these led to a sack in the 2nd quarter.

    Free had a shakier game than we're used to this year - three false starts was a blast from the 2012 past. Those men blowing by him in protection, I don't know whether to blame him for those or not. But outside of those blitz glitches, which happened to the whole line in the first half, he had no problems handling his man in protection.

    Fred was for the most part his solid self in both the run and pass games. Same for Smith, same for Waters. They each had glitches but were all decent if not standouts.

    There were some near misses. Waters lost contact with his man on the field goal drive in the 2nd quarter to close down a giant cutback lane. Smith let his man slip free to close down a big running lane. Hanna had this happen more than once, along with Witten. They were just a little off all day. Part of this was that Philly was pretty aggressive at the line of scrimmage in the run game as well as the passing game. We came close a couple of times to making them pay for that aggressiveness, but were a block away.

    Rewatching the run game, I thought Randle had a pretty solid day, especially considering it was his first start. He didn't create something from nothing, no wow plays, but I thought there were some pretty good 3-4 yard runs when there wasn't a lot of space. It looked like he did miss a couple of running lanes, but in general he looked to be making good decisions and was pretty decisive once he saw space. He may be a little slow to the hole...I'd like to see more of him, not sure if it was him or the blocking in some cases. He may not prove to have the physical tools to be a consistent starting NFL back. But he protected the ball, took what was there to take, didn't try to do too much, made a contribution as a receiver, and was solid when he was called on to pass protect.

    Watching the replay, the biggest thing I came away with was that I was really relieved that Romo came out of the game with his ribs and clavicles intact and without his nose sticking out of his earhole. That many free runs at your team's most important player can kill a season. Thank goodness we got out of there healthy and with a W.
  2. Staubacher

    Staubacher Well-Known Member

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    Great stuff! Thank you
  3. CooterBrown

    CooterBrown Well-Known Member

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    Just on a side note, on one of "Free's false starts" they called it on him, but there were 10 guys moving. Frederick didn't snap the ball.
  4. honyock

    honyock Well-Known Member

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    I just watched that again and it was a weird call. It looked like the line was turning to listen to Romo make a checkdown or adjustment. The tight end outside of Smith turned his head to Romo, and Waters turned almost all the way around to look at Romo. I really didn't see Free move at all. I wonder if the ref meant Waters when he called it on Free. And Waters was doing what linemen do every play...not an inadvertent move, just turning to hear his quarterback. Weird.
  5. big dog cowboy

    big dog cowboy THE BIG DOG Staff Member

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    Nice write up, thanks.
  6. sureletsrace

    sureletsrace Official CZ Homer

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    Thanks. Super informative. Much appreciated!
  7. Jenky

    Jenky Well-Known Member

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    I thought Tanner dragged his man into the throwing lanes, not Randle.
  8. Crown Royal

    Crown Royal Insulin Beware

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    I feel like Tanner struggled in pass protection on 2-3 plays. Way more than Randle.

    My only concern with Randle is that I'm not sure he has the build to be a good protector. Seems tall and lanky, tough to get the right pad level.
  9. honyock

    honyock Well-Known Member

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    You're right it was Tanner. I typed Randle instead of Tanner by mistake a couple of times in the OP and didn't catch it until too late to edit the mistake.

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