Aug 062009

Double Trouble

Word out of Cowboys camp is that 2009 will see the ‘Boys’ offense lining up the 12 personnel package a good deal more than in years past – and with good reason.

Confusingly enough, reporter Tom Orsborne (yes there is that weird “r” between the “O” and “s”), of the San Antonio Express-News registers the following report on the Houston Chronicle’s site:

With second-year tight end Martellus Bennett emerging as a strong option in the passing game, it’s becoming increasingly evident the Dallas Cowboys’ primary offensive personnel grouping this season will likely be a two-tight end set.

“We ran a lot of two-tight end sets last year,” quarterback Tony Romo said. “I just think we’re trying to do different things out of it.”

In their playbook, the Cowboys call the grouping “12 personnel” because the formation calls for one running back and two tight ends.

Both Coach Wade Phillips and quarterback Tony Romo are gushing about the way Marty B is playing. Phillips says, “We have one certainly outstanding (tight end) in Witten. Maybe the top one in the league in Witten, and Martellus shows up every day. Every day you see him make a play.” Romo adds, “Martellus has really turned it up a notch this offseason, and he’s going to put himself in the position to have a pretty good season.”

The eyeball test alone tells even the most casual football fan that Martellus is potentially a very special player. At 6’7, 248, Bennett is big and strong. But he’s quick, too. He has cat-like reflexes. He is big enough to outfight linebackers and quick enough to outmaneuver safeties. He and Witten in the same formation will certainly put pressure on the defense.

Usually, a two tight end formation is used for pounding the ball. With Marion Barber, Felix Jones, or Tashard Choice in the backfield, the Cowboys can certainly use theirs to do just that. But it is just as likely that they will pass out of it. The versatility of the package may cause a quandary for the opposing defensive coordinator. Does he go big and put eight men in the box to stop the run? Or does he slap a nickel package out there and gear up to stop the pass?

Look for offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to make the 12 personnel package a prime feature of his game plan this year. If it lives up to its potential, it ought to provide real versatility to the Cowboys’ assault on the NFL – and, specifically, the NFC East – in 2009.