Cowboys vs. Bengals, Preseason Week 1: Final Film Study Observations
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).
- Like I stated in my article on what we learned about the Cowboys, the offense lined up in the infamous “Double Tight Strong” formation just three times, but ran a strong side dive all three plays.
- 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).
- The Cowboys motioned on 24 of 69 (34.8 percent) meaningful plays against Cincinnati (there were two kneels). Here are last season’s motion statistics.
- 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.