Commentary

Three Cowboys defensive coaches must be aware of

Gary Horton explains what formations the new-look Cowboys will run and how defensive coaches will determine their substitutions.

Originally Published: October 17, 2008
By Gary Horton | Scouts Inc.

Roy Williams Effect

Check out six animated plays Dallas will run and the Cowboys-Rams breakdown.

Animated Plays
DAL-STL Preview: How do the Rams stop Dallas with Williams? Insider

Now that WR Roy Williams is in the fold, there are many formations the Cowboys can use. With so many options for QB Tony Romo (or Brad Johnson) to throw to, defenses' ability to blitz will be hindered. This will force teams to play a lot of games -- stunts and twists -- with their front four to try to get pressure. The interesting thing is that defensive coaches will be looking to the sideline at three particular players next to offensive coordinator Jason Garrett -- WR Patrick Crayton, FB Deon Anderson and TE Martellus Bennett -- to determine their substitution patterns and decide what personnel to put on the field.

When he is in the game, the Cowboys will have 3 WRs, 1 TE and 1 RB on the field. We expect the Cowboys to run plays from this formation approximately 30 times per game. Dallas also could flex TE Jason Witten out to look more like a four-wide set. However, look for Dallas to run a lot in this formation with RB Marion Barber between the tackles as well because, most likely, there will be one less linebacker on the field and the safeties will be outside, over the top of WR Terrell Owens and Williams.

When he is in the game, the Cowboys will have 2 WRs, 1 TE, and 2 RBs on the field. We expect the Cowboys to run plays from this formation approximately 15 times per game. This formation will be used a lot on first and second down. With the safeties forced to the outside playing over the top of Williams and Owens, the middle should be wide open for Witten.

When he is in the game, the Cowboys will have 2 WRs, 2 TEs and 1 RB on the field. We expect the Cowboys to run plays from this formation approximately five times per game. This is a great formation to run out of with Barber or RB Felix Jones. The safeties have to cheat to the perimeter and help the corners with Williams and Owens, which leaves seven one-on-one blocking matchups in the box.

Gary Horton, a pro scout for Scouts Inc., has been a football talent evaluator for more than 30 years. He spent 10 years in the NFL and 10 years at the college level before launching a private scouting firm, The War Room.

Gary Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.