IRVING, Texas – When the Cowboys have their first offensive possession Sunday against Philadelphia, you can almost bet it will be filled with multiple personnel groups and formations.
Through the first 11 games, the Cowboys have used eight different personnel groupings on their opening drives. The favorite has been 11 personnel (three wide receivers), which has been used 22 times, followed by 12 personnel (two tight ends), which has been used 20 times. They’ve also thrown out there 21, 22, 01, 13, 02 and jumbo groupings.
The first drive is generally scripted, with the idea of getting back to some of these plays later in the game depending on what works and doesn’t.
The Cowboys have not been able to come back to the groupings because they have fallen behind so often.
They have predominantly become an 11 personnel team with the scores so out of whack and a running game that has floundered.
“When we’ve been behind in games we’ve not been able to get to the rest of the game plan, so to speak,” coach Jason Garrett said. “That can be an issue, but there’s no perfect plan within a game (where you say), ‘We’re going to get to this. We’re going to get to this. And we’re going to get to this.’
"You’ve got to see how the game’s being played and then make the necessary adjustments. That’s been the case for a long time. We have adjusted well and gotten to things that have been good to allow us to come back on games we’ve been behind in.”
The personnel grouping the Cowboys have used the most after 12 and 11 on opening drives has been 21 (tailback, fullback). They used it a season-high five times on the opening drive in the first meeting against Philadelphia and scored a touchdown. They’ve scored a touchdown on their first drive only twice this year.
Maybe they’ll stick with that 21 look against the Eagles on Sunday.