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Cowboys vs. Bengals, Preseason Week 1: Final Film Study Observations

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Jonathan Bales

I’ve already posted initial post-game notes and 19 things we learned about the Cowboys after their first preseason game. Below is a collection of post-film study thoughts.  Check back later for final player grades.

  • The playcalling was obviously very bland on Sunday night.  The Cowboys used only four different personnel packages.  They lined up with base personnel (TE, 2 WR, FB, RB) on 31 plays.  In comparison, they lined up with base personnel just 74 times all of last season (4.6 times per game).
  • Dallas lined up in “I-Formation” (or a very close variation of it, such as “Strong” or “Weak”) on 30 plays against the Bengals.  In comparison, they did that just 116 times all of last season (7.3 times per game).
  • Tony Romo has obviously been working on his back shoulder throws.  He attempted a few in his limited action Sunday night, including two that were actually designed run plays.
  • There have been rumblings that Romo will have more freedom at the line of scrimmage this season.  That appears to be the case, as he checked out of two of a possible 13 plays (15.4 percent).  In my study on the effectiveness of Romo’s audibles, I noted that he checked out of plays just 8.0 percent of the time last year.
  • Roy Williams looked really good.  He was quick out of his breaks and made a nice catch in traffic.  He also ran a superb slant on 2nd and Goal but Romo overthrew him.
  • After watching the game film a few more times, it is clear the backup linemen struggled.  Alex Barron, Robert Brewster, Pat McQuistan, Travis Bright, and Mike Tepper all looked over-matched.  McQuistan was absolutely abused by Bengals rookie DT Geno Atkins, who I listed rather high on my 2009 Big Board.
  • I credited Alex Barron, Tashard Choice, Mike Tepper, and Pat McQuistan with yielding a sack.  I believe the official stats only have the Cowboys giving up three sacks, but quarterback Stephen McGee actually lost a yard on a play on which they gave him credit for reaching the line of scrimmage.
  • Robert Brewster was very close to lining up off of the line of scrimmage on multiple plays.  I haven’t heard anyone talk about it, but let’s see if the coaches notice it and move Brewster up a bit this week.
  • Tashard Choice is one of my favorite players, but he actually struggled pretty heavily in pass protection this week.  It is of course very difficult to decipher a team’s blocking assignments, but he appeared to miss one on Sunday night that resulted in a sack of quarterback Stephen McGee.  He also whiffed on two other blocks. Choice was very good in pass protection last year, so I’d expect him to rebound nicely.
  • I just looked back at our 2009 film study database, and the Cowboys ran just 13 designed rollouts all season.  Sunday night, they ran three (nearly four times the rate of 2009).  Moving Romo out of the pocket from time to time is probably a smart idea, so let’s see if the trend continues or we were just the victim of a small sample size.
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12 Responses to Cowboys vs. Bengals, Preseason Week 1: Final Film Study Observations

  1. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Nice

  2. Starred-For-Life says:

    I come here often and always enjoy your insight. Actually, this is the best place to find Cowboys insight. But I rarely say thanks for it.
    Thanks

  3. Hey no problem…I truly appreciate you taking the time to make DCT a place you come for Cowboys info. Feel free to comment on what you like/dislike/want to see more of anytime you’d like.

  4. john coleman says:

    First off, Thanks as the other guys said. Other places end up being chat sessions, here it stays to the point, football. A couple of quick hits. Choice looked great running and maybe he just didn’t want to take extra punishment on the whiffs. I will give McQuistan a tiny tiny bit of slack because Atkins is super quick. He will help the Bengals big time. Still you would think you could block a rookie. I’m also going to cut Barron a little slack because of the injury. We don’t know when it initially occured or if he was 100% coming in. I know he had the finger injury coming in. I’ll be happy if we get thru the week with no injuries.

  5. Thanks John. Much appreciated, as are your frequent comments.

    Choice did look good running the ball, and perhaps he was just trying to stay healthy, but a No. 3 RB (even one of his caliber) can’t whiff on blocks and get his quarterback killed. I just think he had a mental lapse, but that would be sorted out by Thursday.

    You know, I didn’t really think about the possibility of Barron getting injured earlier than he left, but that is always a possibility. A ton of things happen within an organization all of the time that we are unaware of but might totally reshape the way we think of certain players.

  6. Brett says:

    Great site. Great work.

    I have to say Choice always looks good but people need to keep in mind he was running against 2nd and 3rd teamers. He could be a starter in this league without a doubt but Felix and Marion are still the best two backs we have.

    Im a Barber guy and it bugs me when people say trade him and keep choice when he sacrificed his body and carried this team for years. Add that to a torn hamstring a couple of bad moments last year maybe but, he still had a good year running the ball. The grass isn’t always greener!

    Just my thoughts.

  7. john coleman says:

    The reason I question the injury was the play where he lunged akwardly at the defender. I think that was the play he gave up the sack. It made me think he either hurt the ankle right there or discovered he couldn’t really play on it. I hope that is the case. At this point we need him to be solid. The younsters didn’t show me much. I was surprised that Wade mentioned Brewster as playing well. I don’t know what he saw. Maybe he was just trying to pump the guy up. IMO Young looked the best of the new OTs and he wasn’t very good. I’m not including Barron in that.

  8. Yeah I think Barron has potential. He seems to be working hard, so we will see how he rebounds. Young had surprised me a bit so far, so hopefully he keeps that up. An injury to any O-lineman looks catastrophic at this point though.

  9. Brett–Thanks for the post. I’d agree Barber is under-appreciated right now, but a few big games to start the season will sway fans’ minds pretty quickly. He should be a lot better healthy.

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