The Dallas Cowboys have lost two games in a row, and there is a lack of discipline, maybe not in the traditional sense, but discipline.
When talking about the Dallas Cowboys and discipline, one of the first thoughts is the Jason Garrett “Right Kind of Guys” comments. He is always looking for players who, “play the game the right way,” which is fine, but wildly misunderstood by most. He isn’t saying he wants a team full of altar boys, he wants guys who fit to what he expects.
However, we can talk about suspensions and discipline, but to be honest that has no platform here, not now at least. No, the discipline we are talking about is on the field, there isn’t guys intentionally hurting players, no one is getting into fights, there isn’t even taunting. We are talking about actual football, the playing of the game.
Looking back to week one, I, and other, made comments about how the linebackers were over-pursuing and finding themselves out of position. They looked slightly better in the following two games, but not markedly better. It was a concern, but early in the season, sometimes, you can look past it. But it is a problem, and the Packers’ game was a coming out party of the issue.
How does this apply to discipline? Glad you asked. Gap discipline is the issue here. It isn’t only the linebackers, the defensive line is having gap discipline issues as well, but it is really evident to most viewers with the linebackers. What gap discipline is when a player is assigned a space between two blocks. If the guard blocks a lineman left, and the center blocks a lineman right, the space between them is a gap.
The A gap is the space between the center and each guard. The B gap is the space between each guard and the offensive tackle. As the defensive lineman takes up a block and the gaps open, the linebackers or sometimes a safety, has the responsibility to fill the gap. This should, in theory, shut down running lanes and passing lanes. This is why blocking schemes, blocking adjustments, audibles, etc. are so important. It adjusts to open lanes up to what the defense is showing.
What is happening is the linebackers are shooting gaps to make a play instead of filling the gap and letting the play come to them. They over-pursue or over-commit and with a cut a running back is past them. It is why we are seeing such bad angles from the linebackers on big running plays.
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However, beyond the gap discipline, the Cowboys are also having an issue with holding penalties. According to NFLPenalties.com the Cowboys rank third for offensive holding calls this season. They also rank first in roughing the passer, and first in illegal shift. You can look deeper, but the point is, penalties can be considered lack of discipline. Not always, but there is some thread of truth to it.
This is not just a defensive conversation. There is a huge concern on the offensive side of the ball with drops and fumbles. Now again, this is not a blanket statement to say all of these are discipline issues. Yet, discipline to watch the ball all the way to the hands, discipline for ball security, you get the idea.
What it all comes down to is discipline. The Cowboys need to be disciplined enough to overcome the issues and become better than they have the past two games. That falls on the coaching staff, which needs discipline to study and fix the problems. At some point the Cowboys will have to decide if they have a discipline issue. Until then, we may not like everything we see.
- Published on 10/08/2019 at 11:01 AM
- Last updated at 10/08/2019 at 10:46 AM