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Preseason Week Three, Cowboys vs. Chargers: Initial Post-Game Notes

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Offense

  • After a great week of practice, Martellus Bennett carried that momentum into the game.  He looked really good in the passing game.  I didn’t get a chance to watch his run blocking too much (which I will do tonight and tomorrow), but outside of a false start, he looked really good.
  • Tony Romo was up and down tonight.  He missed a few open receivers and threw a bad interception, but also showed why the back-shoulder throw is going to be an important tool in his arsenal this season as he used it on a touchdown pass to Miles Austin.
  • Jason Garrett is obviously planning to implement more designed rollouts this season.  The Cowboys are running about three times as many this preseason as they did in the regular season last year.  It could be an effective method to combat a sometimes porous offensive line.
  • Pat McQuistan was bad at tackle, and he is worse at guard.  There is no way he can possibly make this team.
  • I need to watch the film, but both Montrae Holland and Robert Brewster appeared to play well.  Brewster got a ton of playing time at both left and right tackle.  He showed much better footwork tonight and his only noticeable error was a false start.
  • Doug Free really excels out in space.  He blocks much better on tosses and counters than on power runs.
  • The only major qualm I had with Garrett’s play-calling was a 3rd and 1 pass out of “Gun Spread.”  Of course, it is only preseason and perhaps he just wanted to monitor something with that particular play.
  • Check that. . .I did have ONE more issue with the play-calling.  By my count, the Cowboys lined up in “Double Tight Strong” six or seven times. . .ALL strong side dives.  You can see my study of the play-calling out of “Double Tight Strong” here.  Dallas ran a strong side dive 85.7 percent of the time last season when they motioned into the formation.
  • On the flip side, the Cowboys seem to be running to the weak side when they line up in “Double Tight I” this season.  The reasoning is simple: the fullback is closer to the weak side pre-snap and has an easier lead block.
  • Phil Costa looked good at center.  His versatility will help him make this team.
  • Sam Hurd helped his case for a roster spot with solid play at wide receiver, while Jesse Holley again excelled on special teams.

Defense

  • Barry Church showed that he is an “in-the-box” safety.  He made some nice open field tackles, but also struggled in pass coverage.
  • The Cowboys didn’t tackle well overall, though (particularly the first team).  They let rookie running back Ryan Mathews run all over them.
  • Keith Brooking locked down Zach Miller last week, and he did a nice job on Antonio Gates tonight.  He also injured his shoulder, but it appears to be just a mild sprain of the AC joint, which should heal shortly.
  • Rookie Sean Lee had a poor night before coming on strong at the end of the game.  He looked lost through the first two and a half quarters, but he showed incredible instincts on a third down run late in the game.  He took on the fullback, shed him, and made a strong tackle.
  • Cletis Gordon was by far Dallas’ best cornerback on the night.  He displayed lock-down coverage and secured an interception during which he exhibited perfect technique and ball skills.
  • I still haven’t seen much from Alan Ball at free safety.  That can sometimes be good for a free safety, but the Cowboys want him to make big plays.  He appears to be too scared to allow a big play.  It is affecting his ability to make some of his own.
  • Junior Siavii’s play, particularly against the run, makes me think the Cowboys will keep three nose tackles (Jay Ratliff and Josh Brent).
  • The Cowboys had a blown coverage in the third quarter.  After watching the play a few times, I believe safety Danny McCray was at fault.  The Cowboys appeared to be in Cover 2, meaning McCray’s responsibility is the deep half of the field.  Cornerback Cletis Gordon allowed the No. 1 receiver to run free, expecting deep help.  I will review the play more later and report back on it tomorrow.c
  • I haven’t seen much from Marcus Dixon at defensive end.  He is a long-shot to make the team at this point.

Special Teams

  • Akwasi Owusu-Ansah is going to be the real deal on returns.  He displayed tremendous burst, particularly on a 45-yard punt return that got called back because of a penalty.  I was particularly impressed with his decisiveness–one cut and gone.
  • We didn’t get to see David Buehler attempt a single field goal tonight.  That could actually help him, as the job is probably his barring a meltdown.

Check back in the coming days for film study results and player grades.

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9 Responses to Preseason Week Three, Cowboys vs. Chargers: Initial Post-Game Notes

  1. john coleman says:

    I hope you are right on McQuistan. Time to go. As I said last post I won’t see the game until 4 PM eastern today. Based on what you have said here and twitter leaves me scatching my head. Sounds as if Hurd was ok at WR, which means he eats up a spot on the roster. Also sounds like Siavii is busting his donkey. This is where some head scratching comes in. Would they actually keep three NTs? Given Rats skills and Brents they may be looking to use one or both at DE occasionally. Next will they keep 4 DEs and 3 NTs and eat up yet another roster spot. Or does this spell the end of Spears, or Hatcher, or Bowen. If our run D was bad, I can’t believe it will be Spears. Sounds like we got what should have been expected out of Lee and Ansah. I’m anxious to see them. They should settle down and in and be good next game. I’m very pleased to here Bennett looked good. Despite what many think, IMO we need him big time this year. Thanks for the news.

  2. john coleman says:

    I also wonder if the two tights right and the dive is a deception? I know it is a staple of our offense and maybe we are just staying vanilla. But the ability of Free to get out in space and Felix speed has me thinking. I also think the designed rollouts are going to be a larger part of what we are doing. The rollouts should definitely play to Romo’s strengths and take pressure off of the oline.

  3. I definitely think three nose tackles is a possibility. I don’t think Ratliff will get any time at DE, but Brent definitely could. Hurd played well enough to maintain a roster spot (for now), and I can’t see any way the ‘Boys cut Siavii now. I finally got the film and broke it down late into the night, so I will post some interesting stuff about that. I was actually wrong on a few of my post-game assumptions (shows you how a limited sample size can really distort your perceptions).

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