The Dallas Cowboys did something different against the Lions, and with a game looming against the Patriots, they need to keep running more 20s personnel.
To many if they see the number 21 and Dallas Cowboys in the same sentence they immediately think of Ezekiel Elliott, and while he is certainly a part of this, 21 personnel means so much more. The Cowboys lined up both Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott at the same time during the game. This simple addition not only gets more snaps for a dynamic running like Pollard, but make the Dallas Cowboys much, much harder to beat on offense.
A simple explanation of 21 personnel is five linemen, the quarterback, two running backs, one tight end, and two receivers. Other forms would be 20, 22, and 23 personnel. A simple way to explain groupings is the first digit is the number of running backs, the second is the number of tight ends. The wide receivers are whatever is left over, a 20 personnel would be two running backs and zero tight ends and therefore three wide receivers, and so on.
The implication here, no matter the alignment above, is that both Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott are both on the field. Sure, it could also mean Jamize Olawale is on the field with either one, but for looking ahead to the Patriots game, we will talk Pollard and Zeke. Moving forward the Cowboys need to keep this in rotation, and the Patriots are the perfect starting point.
Looking at the one Patriots loss against the Ravens, the Ravens run more 22 personnel than any team in the NFL. The Pats linebackers struggled in that game to contain Mark Ingram who had 115 yards rushing and 2 catches for 29 yards. Their linebackers “Bounced Back” against Philadelphia who runs some of the fewest 20s personnel groupings with only 11 plays this year out of that formation.
Looking deeper at the Patriots schedule only Buffalo and Miami runs more than 10% of plays out of a “20s” personnel grouping, and no other team had 10% combined out of “20s”. The Dolphins are just bad, so we can throw them out. The other game the Pats struggled in was against Buffalo. If only the Bills had the firepower of the Cowboys.
With all the talk of how the offense has been poorly called off and on, the 20s personnel groupings are the way forward. The top five teams percentage teams in the league for these sets are New England, New Orleans, San Francisco, Denver and Minnesota. If you want to dig in further, the stats of usage are here.
More from Dallas Cowboys
- Dallas Cowboys Linebackers: 2023 Position Overview
- Ballhawk University: Why the Cowboys will be takeaway leaders
- Dallas Cowboys Player to Watch: Sleeper TE John Stephens, Jr.
- Dallas Cowboys: The impact of Micah Parsons and a well-rounded secondary
- Dallas Cowboys still unsure about their left guard position for 2023
Fans have been screaming for more touches from Tony Pollard, this is certainly a way to get him on the field and to get those touches. But this is also a nightmare for a team like the Patriots who have average linebacker play, to scheme against. We saw what both Pollard and Elliott can do in the passing game. Add in Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Randall Cobb, Blake Jarwin, Jason Witten, and a smattering of Jamize Olawale, Dalton Schultz, and Tavon Austin, and this offense is exactly what we all thought it could be.
The Cowboys can still establish the run, Zeke and Pollard can be used, rotated, used with motion, and mixing in “10s” formations, we are cooking with fire. The Cowboys can not get overly conservative against the Patriots. They have feasted on teams not in “20s”. We saw the success against the Lions, we need to see it against the Pats and moving forward.
- Published on 11/19/2019 at 12:32 PM
- Last updated at 11/19/2019 at 12:32 PM