During the 2009 season, the Cowboys beat the Eagles 3 times. I watched the tape, and by my count, Jason Garrett ran some variation of a WR screen 10 times in those three games.
In the first matchup, they hit two huge WR screens on 3rd and long, which set them up with 1st and G inside the Philly 5.
– 3rd and 9, 21 yard completion to Kevin Ogletree, which set up 1st and G from the 2.
– 3rd and 14, 18 yard completion on an identical play to Ogletree again, setting up 1st and G from the 4 with :20 left in the first half.
In the second matchup, they showed it 3 times, this time all on early downs, helping keep the defense from thinking twice about blitzing Tony Romo. All three were decent gains:
– 1st and 10, 6 yard completion to Miles Austin.
– 1st and 10, 5 yard completion to Miles Austin.
– 2nd and 7, 5 yard completion to Miles Austin.
In the playoff game, the Cowboys clearly made the WR screen a major part of the gameplan, as they ran 5 of them:
– 2nd and 11, 17 yard completion to Roy Williams.
– 2nd and 13, 17 yard completion to Kevin Ogletree, which would have given the Cowboys 1st and G from the 1 if Jason Witten hadn’t committed an unnecessary offensive pass interference penalty.
– 2nd and G, 6 yard completion for a TD to Miles Austin.
– 2nd and 8, 3 yard completion to Miles Austin.
– 3rd and 13, garbage time in a blowout, 10 yard completion to Miles Austin.
TOTALS – Ignoring the unnecessary OPI on Witten, when the Cowboys ran WR screens in those 3 games, they went 10-10 for 108 yards and a TD. In the process, they slowed down Philly’s blitz while leaving the secondary susceptible to double moves.
In short, those WR screens destroyed the heavy-blitzing Philly D. The Eagles blitz far less under Juan Castillo than they did under Sean McDermott, so it would make sense not to run it as many as 5 times like they did in the ’09 playoffs, but it would also be crazy not to try to mix it in during crucial spots. Miles Austin and Dez Bryant are excellent at breaking tackles, and if I’m Jason Garrett, I’m making sure I test the poor tackling Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who will be making his first start with the Eagles tomorrow.