Dallas Cowboys: Stopping the Designed Runs
Jalen hurts is an athlete, no one is questioning that he is stronger and faster than Carson Wentz. For this reason, and as one should, the Philadelphia coaching staff is making an active attempt to call more designed quarterback runs. In his first two games, the Eagles ran, what I believe were 10 design runs.
There was one play in particular that they kept running over and over again. It was a QB power where the backside guard and tackle would pull so Hurts could run through the B gap. It didn’t always work against the New Orleans Saints, but it did see greater success against the Arizona Cardinals.
The Cowboys have a historically bad run defense this season. Things could get out of hand very quickly if they can’t figure out how to stop Hurts from running through the B or C gaps.
The Eagles have essentially run the same two plays from three different formations. They aren’t trying to be unpredictable with their presentation of the power, likely because of backup personnel, they are just trying to get the most production out of it.
The Dallas Cowboys should recognize this so whenever Miles Sanders is motioning from a 3×2 set, none of the linebackers unnecessarily pursue Sanders on the sweep. (Not throwing shade, just a general instruction)
The last time the Dallas Cowboys played the Eagles, the Cowboys only allowed 119 yards on 26 carries. That number will likely be higher this time with Jalen hurts at quarterback and with the offensive line building chemistry since the last meeting between the two teams.
The Eagles now seem to have a better idea as to how to use their offensive line and skill-position players, meaning the Cowboys will need to be smarter against the run to stop Miles Sanders on Zone runs and Jalen Hurts on these power runs.
The Mesh Concept
The mesh concept, so simple and yet so effective. The concept is designed to beat man coverage in the shallow areas of the field by having defenders collide on overlapping drag routes. The concept wasn’t always good at beating zone coverage even with receiver adjustments so the triple mesh was implemented allowing another receiver running a drag to find a soft spot in the middle of both hook zones while the other two receivers continue running..
The Eagles run this more with Hurts, and it makes sense as the rookie isn’t mentally there compared to his other rookie counterparts. It is questionable why they didn’t run this as much with Wentz as the current group of skill-position players consists of a ton of speed.
The Eagles ran it twice in the first quarter against NO and both times saw a positive play.
These are two examples of the many times Eagles have run a mesh. They have successfully run the mesh against man and zone coverage either because their receivers are faster than the corners or because Hurts is able to use his legs.
The Cowboys do not have the linebackers or cornerbacks that the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals have. Guarding the mesh will become increasingly difficult if the back 7 cannot effectively communicate and maintain their assignment either in man or zone coverage.
The screen pass
The Dallas Cowboys are no strangers to screen passes as opponents have previously run up the score on them with high usage of the screen pass. I cannot definitively say the Eagles are running more screen passes with Hurts, however, they do run a lot of them and have been increasingly successful the last two weeks.
The use of screen passes has allowed WR Quez Watkins, WR Jalen Reagor, and RB Miles Sanders to catch passes and open space and make players miss with their speed and agility behind lead blocks from their offensive line, which are a very athletic group.
The Dallas linebackers in secondary cannot be missing tackles with against this group because one missed tackle will result in a 15-yard gain. Several of these and the Eagles will have scored 6 points in under a minute. I believe we know how this goes.