OXNARD, Calif. – On the Cowboys off day I'm breaking down the first offense against the first defense in the goal line period.
This was the first time during our stay in camp where we had a dedicated period just to straight goal line work. We have seen drives end up near the goal line and plays run from there, but we had yet to see one that brought the elements of what we observed Tuesday.
To set up the drill: it was the first offense against the first defense from the two yard line, then the second offense against the second defense. What was interesting to me for both sides is how they matched personnel.
Offensive coordinator Bill Callahan went with four tight ends in the game, with Dante Rosario as the fullback. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin went with three defensive tackles covering the center and guards but he also took cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne off the field and went with Alex Albright and DeVonte Holloman as linebackers with Barry Chuch and Will Allen at the safeties.
For the offense, Phillip Tanner was the running back in for DeMarco Murray. On first down, tight end Jason Witten lined up wing left and motioned across the formation to his right, setting up as a wing to that side. Andre Smith was the tight end to that side next to tackle Doug Free. The backfield set is a traditional "I" formation with Rosario in front of Tanner.
At the snap of the ball, defensive tackle Ben Bass, playing head up on guard David Arkin got an outstanding jump off the ball and was able to get a stalemate with Arkin at the line and even drive him back into the backfield. Rosario trying to lead to the right had to avoid the stalemate and is forced to take his path from the right side to the left side to find Sean Lee, which he did.
On the play side, Doug Free and Andre Smith have driven Alex Albright off the ball and created a crease. On the backside, DeMarcus Ware comes flying down the line inside unblocked and Jason Hatcher manages to beat the blocks of Nate Livings and Smith as he works down the line as well. Tanner tried to surge ahead but Ware, Hatcher and Barry Church are all right there to keep Tanner out of the end zone.
2nd and 1 from the 1: Callahan still keeps his four tight ends on the field. Kiffin remains the same on defense but this time he puts his extra linebackers Albright and Holloman inside of his defensive ends and over the top of the tight ends on the line. Before the snap Rosario is lined up at the fullback, and he starts to motion to his left.
Romo takes the snap, as the line and Tanner start to flow left. Witten lined up as the left wing tries to drag back across the formation to his right. Romo, with a ball fake, spins to his right. On the backside of the formation, Gavin Escobar is trying to get off the jam of Albright and Kyle Wilber who stand him up at the line. Witten has lost Allen in the trash but Wilber runs with Witten as does Church. Escobar is late out and now Witten is double covered. Romo with nowhere to go with the ball starts forward as Lee, Bass and Hatcher close on him for no gain.
3rd and 1 from the 1: Callahan sticks with the four tight ends, Kiffin keeps his personnel the same and doesn't change how he plays his front and the alignment of the linebackers inside the ends. Pre-snap, Romo brings Witten right to left and sets him on the line next to Andre Smith. On the backside, Escobar is lined up as in line tight end. Rosario is at fullback with Tanner behind him in the "I".
At the snap again its full flow left but this time Romo makes a simple hand fake with the ball on his thigh to his left, then he spins to his right. David Arkin pulls from his guard spot to his outside right. Free blocks down to set the edge. Albright once again, jams Escobar off the line and now has him in man coverage. Wilber gets caught between Arkin and Romo as he works inside. [embedded_ad]
Romo is able to clear Wilber and head for the corner what looks like a chance for the end zone. Escobar is now battling Albright to the corner. Romo thinks he has a path to the goal line but from the inside, Bruce Carter is closing the angle quickly and with some steam. Romo has no choice but to pull up and try and fire the ball at Escobar in the corner. Escobar is able to make the catch but the referee rules that his foot was out of bounds and rules the play incomplete resulting in 4th down.
On the goal line, it's really about execution on both sides of the ball along with the will to get the job done. In this case, it was Monte Kiffin's defense that showed the execution but also that will to make the stops.
Later this afternoon, check back and I will breakdown how the two offense faired against the two defense. It was a much different story.