Video


Both Rex and Rob Ryan are known to use the Bear front, otherwise known as the double eagle, and in its 1985 incarnation, the 46, and  in preseason week 1 year 2011, both brothers flashed some double eagle with 8 man line.

The image above is the most famous Bear of the night, as Jon Gruden mentioned it, but  the very next play featured a Bear with a flexed nose tackle.

Rob’s double eagle had 5 down linemen instead of 6, but the 6 players along the line, and two players at linebacker depth and over the tackle leads me to designate this the first Bear the Cowboys have run under Rob Ryan.

If you own exactly one book on the Dallas Cowboys, I’d strongly suggest this one be your book.

The essential oral narrative of the Dallas Cowboys.

Peter’s book is an oral narrative, composed of dozen of interviews of the “critical players”, and thus similar to, say, Studs Terkel’s “The Good War“. The book is organized in chronological order, from the foundation of the franchise to the middle 1990s. It’s not really a tell all book, though it interviews people who were very pro franchise and others who didn’t care much for their treatment (the linebacker Rodrigo Barnes, for example). It is rich in detail, exhaustive, but an easier read than its 838 pages would suggest. For the historian, comments about the way Tom Landry was blocking when the franchise began would be useful to those tracing the origins of the zone blocking scheme. We’ve talked about the specific quotes involved in our review of Pat Kirwan’s book.

Along with Pete’s book, I would also recommend this set of DVDs

along with this set of 10 Cowboys games.

These videos, along with the book, would aid any fan in tracing the nature and character of the franchise over the years. The one place where the book appears to be lacking is in any coverage of the Miami 4-3. While a ton of interviews touch on Tom Landry’s contribution to the 4-3 defense, such as the flex defense, coverage of Jimmy Johnson’s Miami 4-3 just isn’t there at all. That, I’d suggest, is the largest open hole in the Golenbock book.

On a wet April weekend, what better way to spend some time than looking for an exotic football front? And in this, Rob Ryan seldom disappoints.

We’ll be looking at some Rob Ryan fronts that can be found on NFL.com video  of the week 14 game between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, 2009. This is when Cleveland began a 4-0 tear to end the season.

I’ve seen Rob Ryan stand up the defensive ends in what initially looks like a 4 man front but not the tackles, until now:

And in this front, you see a 2-4 nickel front, looking a bit like a 3-4 with the LDE of a 3-4 having been replaced with an extra defensive back.

And what would a Rob Ryan survey be without a couple shots of no down lineman (cloud) defenses?

This is a defensive front from the Pittsburgh-Atlanta game. Look at it for 2 seconds. Is it a 46 or not?

So what is it?

It’s easy to confuse until you see the DB lined up over the slot receiver. The linemen  aren’t spaced the way a 46 would be, but.. I suspect you can get a 46 effect out of a 34 front by pinching the ends into the offensive guards.

I spent a lot of time looking at other teams and wasting that time. No fronts of interest to speak of. Now, Pittsburgh tends to show a lot of 34 looks, but there is so much motion in  their linebackers that  they tend to keep someone like me engaged. For example, what’s happening here?

Some things to note: the front is shifted to the weak side of the formation. LDE is over the guard,  the NT appears to be in the “A” gap, and the RDE is outside the LT.  The result was that Matt Ryan ended up being intercepted by Troy Polamalu.

This is a brief survey of the NFL.com video highlights of the October 3 game, New York Giants versus the Chicago Bears, in the 2010 season. This is a  game where the vaunted Giants pass rush netted 10 sacks. Both New York and Chicago have distinct preferences for the classic 4 man line, though they’ll add their own unique twists to it, such as linebacker shifts, putting 8 men along the front, blitzing defensive backs, and playing with end and tackle spacing to take advantage of matchups.

A lot of this material is best seen in motion, such as Aaron Ross’s cornerback blitz and sack of Jay Cutler, or Barry Cofield’s really fine inside rush for a sack, from the LDT spot. But a couple things we’ll highlight.

There is a nice sequence where a strong side safety creeps up to a linebacker-esque position, eventually looking like a 4-4.

And  in this screen capture, 1 defensive back and 1 linebacker slipping between the 4 down linemen, giving a pretty clear “A gap” blitz threat (and yes, they did blitz). The original front, just counting players with 50something numbers, appears to have been a 4-1 dime.

Compare the look above to chapter 20 in Tim Layden’s book.

It’s the 17th week of the 2010 season and it’s in the waning moments of the first quarter. Eli Manning looks over the field and the Redskins flash a nickel front. In this case it’s a 2-3. Brian Orapko, usually a right side rush linebacker, is this time on the left side. As there is no strong side to the offensive formation, he’s a free rusher regardless the side he comes from. The two down linemen are found in the “B gap”. 4 players end up rushing, betraying  the similarity between this front and a classic 4 man line.

The result? Tipped pass for an interception.  Some better looks at  the Skin’s 2-3 front can be found here (ironically in the draft thread on Extreme Skins). For video highlights of  the game, check this out.

This DVD set has just arrived, and as my DVD player is in the shop, it’s not the easiest thing to review. Thankfully, most computers these days have DVD players.

There are 12 games in the 1985 season on the set. The disks themselves are housed in  6 thinpacks and those thinpacks are fragile. I have bits of teeth falling out every time I open up a new DVD.

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