Cowboys didn’t play much Tampa Two in Week One


In Dallas, the offseason entailed a radical overhaul of the defense.  Out went the 3-4.  In came not just the 4-3, but the specialized Tampa Two version of it.

In January, Bryan Broaddus of explained how Monte Kiffin’s defense works with clips from Kiffin’s defensive performances in Tampa.

So when the Tampa Two made its Dallas debut in Week One, there wasn’t much Tampa Two to be seen.

Here are the hallmarks of the base scheme:  (1) the safeties play deep, keeping everything in front of them; (2) the corners cover short zones, keeping everything inside of them; and (3) the middle linebacker drops deep in passing situations, trying to cover the gap in front of the safeties, which often is filled by the tight end.

Thanks to the NFL’s Game Rewind feature, which provides coaching film of every game, I’ve looked at every defensive snap from the 36-31 win over the Giants.  And there wasn’t much, if any, Tampa Two played by the Cowboys.

The cornerbacks routinely played man-to-man coverage on the outside, with Morris Claiborne often starting down the field before the snap even was made.  The safeties rarely lined up in a two-man deep shell.  Even when they did, one of them would instantly move toward the line at the snap, leaving one to cover a single deep zone.  And middle linebacker Sean Lee very rarely if ever dropped straight back into coverage.

On Victor Cruz’s second-quarter 70-yard touchdown catch, for example, he sprinted right by safety Will Allen, who was flat flooted and definitely not trying to keep everything in front of him.

The approach may have something to do with all the money invested in cornerback Brandon Carr and the high draft pick used to get Claiborne.  They are cover corners (even if they didn’t do a stellar job of covering the Giants receivers), and the Cowboys used them that way most of the time in Week One.

So, basically, the Cowboys may indeed adapt the Tampa Two defense, and at times they made be using Tampa Two principles.  But most of what they did in Week One looked like anything but the Tampa Two.

And given that they gave up 31 points and 100-yard performances by three different receivers despite forcing six turnovers, whatever the Cowboys are doing may end up not working very well.

19 responses to “Cowboys didn’t play much Tampa Two in Week One

  1. I swear that from reading this and most of the other comments about the Cowboys this week you would believe that they actually lost the game. Instead, they had 6 takeaways (not gifts, but takeaways), and managed a win with a makeshift defensive line, and playing a new defensive scheme for a full game for the first time. There are adjustments to be made, but if this is as bad as it gets, it will be a pretty good season for them.

  2. The Tampa Two won’t work for most teams. In fact only the Bears have played it well in recent history. The Cowboys have a decent defense but I’m not sure that the Tampa Two fits them.

  3. What a mixed bag for Dallas’s defense and offense. Giving up 31 points despite forcing six turnovers and scoring 2 TDs on D. Only getting 22 points on offense.

    If some team can protect the ball better the Cowboys offense needs to be better.

  4. Monte is figuring out the Tampa 2 just isn’t the same without Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, Future hall of famer Derrick Brooks, Simeon Rice, John Lynch, and Ronde Barber. Often imitated never duplicated.

  5. May end up not working very well? When was the last time you saw someone give up 31 points and 100-yard performances by three different receivers and still win? Just because your feeble mind can’t understand it doesn’t mean it won’t work. I mean it did work last week, didn’t it?

  6. Child please. You got 6 turnovers … and if you only got 5 you’d have lost. Yeah, great defense.

  7. $50M on one corner and 1st and 2nd round picks on the other, then switch to scheme in which you don’t need great corners, but stud safeties…of which Dallas hasn’t had since Darren Woodson retired.

    Being a Cowboys fan is a lot like walking on a treadmill….a lot going on but we’re getting nowhere.

  8. The cowboys are terrible on defense and offense. 6 turnovers. How many points? Anyone who isn’t a blind homer can see the cowboys are in trouble and Garrett’s days are numbered. Jerry is probably already interviewing candidates. Time to make another coaching change that you don’t have to relinquish any GM power Jerry. Bottom line is that the cowboys won’t bust a grape with the front office that they have. They could bring Landry, Halas, and Lombardi back and they couldn’t bring a championship to Dallas with Jerry keeping the seat he is keeping.

  9. People seem to be conveniently forgetting that the Cowboys D also scored 2 touchdowns be itself. To me this defense subscribes to the classic “bend but don’t break” ideology. They played very well, and anybody who doesn’t think so didn’t watch the game.

  10. The extent to which Tampa played the kind of defense you described has always been massively over-stated. Tampa played plenty man-to-man with blitzing in 2002 when they won the Superbowl. Ronde Barber didn’t become the NFL’s all-time sack leader amongst CBs by always being in zone coverage.

  11. Last year in the fingertip game where we spotted the giants a 23 point lead and a ton of turnovers we came back to lose by a fingertip. All giants fans ran around talking how great they were. Now fast forward and all the haters wanna talk about you better win by more than 5 an well blah blah blah. Guess what you got a garbage time td to even be within five and dez coming down a fingertip too long is a lot closer than your turd team came

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.