Lorenzo Reyes breaks down the offensive and defensive matchups that will decide whether the Saints or Rams will be crowned NFC Champions.
USA TODAY Sports
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones doesn’t doubt the Rams offensive linemen who said they picked up on tells from Dallas’ defensive linemen to anticipate what they would do in Saturday night’s divisional-round playoff game.
“You want to be better than that,” Jones told Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday morning. “You’d like to have the edge of surprise. But it’s pretty easy to say we look at tendencies, we look at things they do.
“That’s not uncommon.”
In their 30-22 victory, the Rams gashed a Cowboys run defense allowing 93.3 yards per game for 273 yards on Saturday night.
Los Angeles’ offensive linemen, clearing the way for Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson to each post 100-yard days and three combined scores, said they knew what to expect.
“Scheme-wise,” Rams center John Sullivan told The Ringer, “we were able to – we had a lot of tips and tells what they were going to do in front of us.”
Sullivan and right guard Austin Blythe told The Ringer they noticed a pattern when studying film of Dallas’ defensive line stunts. The Rams said they read Cowboys defenders’ pre-snap alignments – including whether defensive tackle Maliek Collins closer to Los Angeles’ tackle or guard? – to anticipate such maneuvers. If they noticed Collins lining up wider, they’d check whether another Cowboys defender had his right or left hand in the ground, and which way each tilted.
They predicted accurately “plus 90 percent” of the time, Blythe said.
“They’re a defensive line that really likes to move a lot,” Blythe said. “We had a pretty good tell when they were going to do that.”
The run game allowed the Rams to hold the ball more than 12-and-a-half minutes longer than the Cowboys in the game.
And one week after the Cowboys held Seattle’s league-best rushing game (160 yards per game in the regular season) to 73 yards, Dallas was eliminated.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett downplayed anything unusual about the Rams’ comments and game plan.
“We work very hard at that, understanding our self-scout and understanding what we’re doing,” Garrett said Monday in his season-ending news conference. “Typically teams have tendencies and typically the best teams have tendencies, and you play to those tendencies and you also take advantage of those tendencies to do other things off of them.
“The Rams did a very good job in that ballgame. They deserved to win the game. You know, that’s really all I have on that.”
Jones added that teams scouted the Cowboys’ 1992 Super Bowl team’s tendencies, too. Members of the NFL competition committee, which Jones served on, would tell him as much.
“I had Don Shula, Marty Schottenheimer, Tom Flores, those are names from so far in the past,” Jones said. “And they said, ‘You know, everybody read your signals. They knew when you were going to run or pass and they knew almost which way you were going to go. We still couldn’t stop you.’
“So much for tipping things.”
Jones did highlight one other challenge for the Cowboys defensive line.
“Frankly, we never got traction, and I mean that literally,” he said. “That was a slippery field. If I had to do it over again, we would be really scrutinizing our footwear, our cleats. We had trouble digging in.
“We picked a bad day to have a bad day.”
Follow Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.
Source: “Los Angeles” – Google News