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Cowboys Film Review: Hawk/Woodson Blitz Combo Delivers

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Cowboys Film Review: Hawk/Woodson Blitz Combo Delivers

Taking a look inside the Xs & Os, personnel and schemes after watching video of the Packers' 45-7 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday...


  • Dom Capers blitzed Charles Woodson and A.J. Hawk on the same play on three different occasions on Sunday night, each time both of them putting pressure on the right side of the Dallas offensive line. Here's the result of those three plays:
    • A Woodson sack and forced fumble eventually recovered by Dallas.
    • A John Kitna hurried pass broken up by Clay Matthews and falls incomplete
    • A pass deflected by Hawk ending up in the hands of Clay Matthews for a 62-yard interception return for a touchdown.
  • The interception by Matthews was the only non-goal line play in which Capers sent at least six pass rushers. Look at the result.
  • Sam Shields more than made up for any shortcomings with his interception, but the only series on which the Cowboys scored was a little rough on the rookie. Dez Bryant caught three passes on that possession for 56 all with Shields in coverage, including the touchdown pass.
  • The Packers played only 6 snaps in their base defense, all within the first 25 plays of the game. Once the Cowboys were down by 28, the Packers played nickel the last 26 snaps of the game and 45 times overall.


  • In a sign of how much the Packers respected DeMarcus Ware and the Dallas pass rush, the Packers used max protect schemes (7 or 8 players in pass protection) a season high 15 times. The previous high was 13 in Week 6 against the Dolphins and only had as many as 10 two other times this season. The result was only 1 sack given up and 2 quarterback hits.
  • On the flip side, it goes to show how bad the Dallas secondary really is. In the four times the Packers used eight players in pass protection and sent out only two receivers, the Packers completed all four passes (although one was a dumpoff to John Kuhn who started out in pass pro).
  • Aaron Rodgers made the Cowboys edge rushers pay for getting to deep. On several occasions, all Rodgers had to do was step up in the pocket, and he had perfect protection. Either he got off the pass or he took off running to the tune of 8.2 yards per carry.
  • The running game was trending to the right side of the offensive line behind Bryan Bulaga and especially Josh Sitton. The Packers ran 8 times to the left, 8 times up the middle of the field and 13 times to the right.
  • Brandon Jackson isn't a burner but has just enough speed to beat defenders to the edge. Twice on Sunday (once in the first quarter and once in the third) on runs intended to go up either up right tackle or left tackle, Jackson saw the middle of the field clogged up and stretched the play out to the sideline, getting first downs each time. He also was slippery on a second quarter dumpoff pass from Aaron Rodgers turning a gain of what should have been probably two yards into a gain of eight.

Special Teams

  • Anytime you kick a 54-yard field goal or longer, it's a risk. Long field goals require a low trajectory. It's hard to blame Mason Crosby and the blocking seemed to be fine. The player who blocked the kick didn't get any penetration. It wasn't the Cowboy coming off the edge, even though that's what it appeared to look like in real time.
  • Atari Bigby fared very poorly on special teams, especially on punt return. He was too slow to offer any help as a jammer, allowing his man to make a tackle on Tramon Williams for no gain. Then he fell flat on his face when lining up in a edge rusher while trying to make the transition from rusher to blocker in the third quarter.
  • Eric Walden has to be better on kickoffs.
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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (11) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Norman's picture

Thanks for the analysis Brian. Wish I had time to do that.

As a casual fan I have to say, I love the blitz, but only when it works! The Pack does seem to have a plethora of players who know how to do it though, from timing, to picking the right gap.

jay's picture

Were there any times where Bulaga went one-on-one with Spears or Ware? In your judgment, how did he fare?

PresidentRaygun's picture

The TD pass on Shields...he was in perfect position, literally several inches from knocking that ball out of Bryant's hands.

I'm ok with that. Dez just made an awesome play.

Ruppert's picture

I have to hand it to Shields, he was in great position on that INT and good position on the TD. That's really all you can ask for.

I'm thrilled to see the offense have success out of max protect sets. You know we'll have to run the same types of sets at the loud dome in Minnesota next week.

Arod hadn't looked this confident all year.

Morli's picture

This is really what reminds me of Tramon Williams' last 2 seasons. There were times, and not too few, where he was in perfect position, but a) commited completly unnecessary penalties (e.g. Ravens-game) or b) just couldn't quite make the play (e.g. Cowboys-game last year). He sure stopped screwin' up those tiny bits this year. I'm optimistic Sam Shields will take a very similar development.

Jayme's picture

Any idea what was up with Crosby's short kickoff early in the first half? He's done that a number of times this season. Is it something that the Packers are doing intentionally or is Crosby just whiffing that often?

Brian Carriveau's picture

It's intentional. He's squibbing it to keep it away from their deep return men who have the most speed and are the most dangerous with the ball in their hands. Not kicking it as far also means the coverage doesn't have get as far downfield to make the tackle.

Paul Ott Carruth's picture

I need to correct your analysis Brian. The interception by Matthews was not a 6 man pressure. It was a 5 man fire zone pressure from the field. Hawk, Woodson, and Matthews rush from the field while the DT from that side long sticks to the Center/A gap, the other DT contain rushes in to the boundary and Zombo is the SCIF/Bronco player aligned over Whitten. Zombo never rushes and is waiting for Whitten to release. You can see the rotation of the safeties from 2 high shell to single high middle of the field coverage with the safety screwing down to play the seam to the field. The only other coverage it could have been was man free but I think it was fire zone based on the movement of the DTs. In total, I counted at least 4 fire zones on that drive. The one where Whitten caught the ball in the seam was due to Bishop not collisioning the vertical stem by Whitten. Horrible technqiue. I counted 2 boundary and 2 field fire zones on that drive. Capers played a TON of single high looks (firezone and man free) and mixed in his cover 2 sparingly.

JerseyCheese's picture

My question Brian -- Why can't Crosby kick touchbacks? Didn't he used to kick the ball out of the endzone his first couple of seasons? He certainly has the leg power if he's attempting 54 + yard fieldgoals.

White92's picture

Very cool analysis. Thanks for taking the time.

packman's picture

Good stuff!

Paul Ott Carruth great observation! Capers has benefited the last two weeks from average QB's. I hope he can be succesful against Tom Bradywith fire zone & single high safety looks.

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