The Real Reason Why The Cowboys are Moving Away From the “12 Personnel Package”

In an article by Rainer Sabin, he attempts to explain why the Cowboys haven’t been running near as much 12 package (1 back and 2 TEs) as we were once led to believe.

In fact, that’s why Jerry Jones told us he surprisingly drafted TE Gavin Escobar in the 2nd round of the draft. My reaction was, “hey we have Witten and Hanna to throw to.” Why another pass catching TE who really can’t block much?

Jerry explained that he wouldn’t have pulled the trigger on Escobar that early if he didn’t have big plans to use him in the offense. Just trust Jerry, it’s a good move. So far this season, Escobar has just 4 catches in 8 games. Couldn’t we have used a guard or defensive tackle with that 2nd pick instead?

That’s not to knock Escobar who has displayed outstanding hands and ability to catch the football. It’s just to point out that he isn’t being used as much as advertised or enough to justify a 2nd round pick.

In Sabin’s article, he takes a stab at why the 12 package has been put on the shelf. When he asked Romo, he said, “I don’t know. That’s a great question”. Well you’re the QB and you should know.

The Cowboys have gone to more of a package that features just 1 TE and 3 WRs and Beasley explains it creates more mismatches. Beasley is on the right path but I’m going to tell you the real reason why the 12 package ain’t happening for Dallas.

Lack of run game. 27th rush yards/game. 29th rush attempts/game.

For a multiple TE formation (12 package) to be effective, you must be able to effectively run the ball in that formation. A commitment to the run forces defenses to bring in LBs and safeties to stuff the run. Then your pass catching TEs can get in favorable pass matchups in play action pass.

But the Cowboys have not made a serious commitment to run the ball and Escobar simply can’t block. So defenses aren’t worried about Dallas running, therefore they bring in DBs that can cover well.

Think about it. If you know a team lives by the pass, are you putting in run stoppers or guys that can cover receivers?

And to Beasley’s point, if you are facing good cover DBs, the offense goes with their best receivers which are WRs instead of TEs. The WRs tend to be faster and quicker. In fact if Dallas isn’t going to run the ball, then they should just go with 4 or 5 WRs and heck with a RB or TE in the game. Naturally a CB would prefer covering a lumbering TE than a speedy WR man to man.

When Jerry was spewing all this stuff about multiple TE formations and drafting Escobar blah blah blah, I knew for it to work they would need to run the ball which they haven’t done effectively in years.

Until Dallas commits to the run, no defense needs to worry about loading up the box with guys who stop the run but can’t cover. And that means if your 2nd rd. TE can’t block, you actually drafted a tall slow WR in the 2nd round who isn’t involved in the offense.
Welcome to Jerry’s World…..

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Cowboys WR Battle Update After 2 Preseason Games

UPDATE 8/26: WR Battle after 3 games.

A weekly update of the wide receivers who are competing to join Austin and Bryant.  The Dallas Cowboys will likely be only able to keep 3 or perhaps 4 of these guys on the 53 man roster. After two preseason games, the top 3 WRs Ogletree, Beasley and Harris have pulled away from the pack a little however these three WRs are very close amongst each other. No movers this week as I keep them the same as last week.

I believe either Ogletree or Beasley will win the wide receiver battle in next week’s preseason game with the Rams.

PRESEASON TOTALS:

Beasley- 7 catches 104 yards

Benford- 1 catch 9 yards

Harris- 5 catches 55 yards 1 TD

Holmes- 5 catches 46 yards

Ogletree- 5 catches 72 yards

MY WR RANKINGS

1. Kevin Ogletree (last week 1.): Ogletree caught a 35 yard pass from Orton in the first half against the Chargers to set up the Cowboys first TD of the season. That’s the kind of play making ability that we were looking for from him and it solidifies his spot at the top of the list for now. Ogletree had 4 catches for 60 yards. If the regular season were to begin tomorrow, I think Ogletree would be the 3rd starting WR.

2. Cole Beasley (last week 2): Last week I said we need to see Beasley make some catches in a game and he came through in the Chargers game with 7 catches and 104 receiving yards. Those numbers were good enough to lead all WRs. While Beasley has the best totals of the WRs in this competition, all of his productivity came in one game so we want to see more consistency. Beasley trails Ogletree by a very small margin.

3. Dwayne Harris (last week 3.): Harris made a really nice catch in traffic for a TD from Carpenter late in the Chargers game. He finished the game with 4 catches and 42 yards. Harris also had a punt return for 16 yards in the game and in my view, Harris represents the best option as punt returner for the Cowboys. His ability to return kicks along with his productivity as a WR make Harris a player Dallas must have on the roster.

4. Andre Holmes (last week 4.): After his big first preseason game, Holmes only had 2 catches for 6 yards in the second game. Consistency, a word Garrett is big on, will be a big factor in which WRs make the final cut. Holmes has demonstrated the ability to be a good NFL WR but still he appears to be developing and may not be quite ready yet.

5. Tim Benford (last week 5): While Benford was certainly giving a nice effort out there Saturday night, he just couldn’t seem to get open. On one pass McGee led him to the sideline too much and Benford made a real nice attempt to catch the bad throw but no catch. With only one catch the entire preseason, Benford is very much on the bubble. A solid looking prospect who may need time to develop on the practice squad for a year. I hope Dallas is able to keep him in the organization.

6. Raymond Radway (last week 6): No catches again this week. He did return a kickoff for 26 yards which wasn’t bad but not spectacular. Radway just hasn’t made a case for making the roster at all yet.

7.  Danny Coale (last week 7): Danny didn’t play as coaches are slowly easing him back into action after a broken foot. An approach that I agree with however it’s difficult to rank him if he doesn’t see any action. It may be best for Danny to slowly ease back into things and seek playing time later in the season.

8. Kemp and Hakim: Are these two still on the team?

Previous week rankings

3 Days Into Camp: Cowboys Line Up Becoming Any More Clear?

Cowboys in preseason camp looking for answers.

On July 29, just before the Cowboys started preseason camp in Oxnard, I blogged about 4 areas that must be addressed in the next few weeks BLOG 4 Questions.  These would represent the positions that are the most up for grabs on the team. Now that we are three days into camp, let’s have an updated look at how things are shaking down so far.

1. CB opposite Carr:

Claiborne is expected to start but he got off to a slow start with his offseason wrist surgery. So far in camp he has had some tough days. He would appear to be young and inexperienced which should be expected. Claiborne is getting burnt more often than toast and might be able to get a toaster endorsement at this pace.  But he has made plays on the ball at times which is encouraging.

My TAKE: Claiborne is not ready for the NY Giants WRs yet but there is still time for him to develop. I still think he will be ready to start at corner with Carr but he isn’t there just yet. Mike Jenkins shoulder status isn’t really clear yet so we don’t know if he would be available.

2. 3rd WR spot:

So far in camp, Dwayne Harris has looked like a guy that will have to be considered for this spot. Beasley continues to impress also and Ogletree has been kind of quiet so far in camp. Holmes, a favorite of owner Jerry Jones, failed his conditioning test which really gets him off to a slow start as players aren’t allowed to practice with the team untill they pass it. Holmes managed to pass it on Wednesday.

My Take: Ogletree is still in the lead here but Harris is closing the gap and that little guy out of SMU, Beasley, is definitely still in the picture. Holmes has fallen behind a great deal and has a lot of ground to make up.

3.  Guard:

This spot for Dallas is really in trouble. Early in camp Nagy suffered a high ankle sprain and will likely be out 2-4 weeks. He was a definite contender. Then Livings, who was expected to start, hurt his knee although it isn’t clear how serious yet. Bernadeau is still out after hip surgery. This opens the door farther for undrafted guard Leary who will get plenty of reps. Arkin is also going to have to be considered as well with all the injured linemen.

MY Take: This guard position is becoming even a bigger hot mess. It is as up in the air as ever and may come down to who is healthy enough to play. Got to consider signing a veteran to come in and help at this point.

4.  Safety opposite Sensabaugh:

Pool was signed and brought in from the Jets expected to start but he failed his conditioning test which has him off to a slow start. Meanwhile, Barry Church has really stepped up his game and gotten noticed during practice.  Church has taken advantage of the opportunity so far in camp. Rookie Matt Johnson was cleared to practice now with his hamstring but I just haven’t heard much from him thus far.

My Take: Barry Church is taking ownership of this spot early in camp and it will be difficult to keep him out of the line up as a starter. Sounds like he has really improved his game this year. Pool is still in the hunt however, showing up not in shape isn’t going to impress anyone.

Still a lot of camp to go before the first game Sept. 5th but already we have early leaders in these areas and we have guys pulling up the rear. Stay in touch because it can change rather quickly.