Preseason Week Two, Cowboys vs. Raiders: Initial Post-Game Notes
- I need to break down the film, but the Cowboys didn’t seem to run “Double Tight Strong” much tonight. That is probably due to the lack of tight end depth. They did line up in the formation on the first play of the game, however, once again running a strong side dive.
- Tony Romo actually struggled a little bit tonight. He definitely held into the ball too long on a few occasions, which he admitted in a fourth quarter interview. That probably stems from knowing he has limited opportunities in the second preseason game and wanting to make some plays. There’s no reason to worry.
- Deon Anderson blocked well again tonight and even caught two passes. The latter won’t happen much, but the former has become a regularity.
- Doug Free wasn’t nearly as dominant as he was against Cincy. He allowed a sack of Jon Kitna and a few pressures. I will watch him more closely on film and report back to you tomorrow.
- Kevin Ogletree is having a poor preseason. He dropped at least one pass tonight (two others he could have possibly caught in traffic) and he isn’t performing particularly well on special teams. I don’t know if he thinks his roster spot is guaranteed, but it isn’t.
- Stephen McGee is really having trouble throwing underneath routes. He is late on check downs and simply doesn’t appear to have great touch even when he is on time.
- Bradie James was all over the field. He looked particularly impressive in pass coverage, which is good news for a Dallas defense that currently sees a struggling second-year player (Jason Williams) and a rookie (Sean Lee) fighting for nickel duties.
- Orlando Scandrick has really impressed me thus far this preseason. He was all over Jordan Shipley last week and played well again tonight. He seems to be more willing throw his body around to make tackles too, which is important since he struggled a bit in run support last season (he missed 12.3 percent of tackles).
- Bryan McCann continues to impress me. He has great speed and play-making ability at cornerback and he nearly broke a punt return for a touchdown tonight. He showed some poor technique at times tonight, but he’s probably the most naturally talented of the three cornerbacks vying for that fourth spot at the position.
- Leon Williams had an up and down night. He is tremendous in tight areas, utilizing his strength to be dominant (at times) against the run. He struggled in space, however, missing a few tackles in the open field and dropping a potentially game-winning interception.
- I like what I saw from both Junior Siavii and Josh Brent tonight. Siavii showed some toughness and held up well against the run. Brent is like the energizer bunny. He made what was perhaps the play of the night when he chased down Raiders running back Michael Bennett to make a tackle about 20 yards downfield. I doubt the Cowboys can sneak him on the practice squad at this point.
- Jason Hatcher looked really good tonight. He could eventually unseat Marcus Spears as the starting defensive end opposite Igor Olshansky.
- Keith Brooking looked solid in coverage, staying step for step with Raiders tight end Zach Miller. He shows you don’t have to possess the natural athleticism of a player like Jason Williams to be a Pro Bowl-type player.
- Speaking of Jason Williams, he played much better tonight. Ironically, he is excelling against the run, not the pass. He did look more comfortable in coverage tonight, though, and his improvement will at least make it somewhat difficult for Sean Lee to secure the nickel linebacker spot.
- I can’t say enough about how much Victor Butler has improved his run defense. He is becoming an all-around player, and he has outplayed Brandon Williams in my opinion. He gives the Cowboys some confidence should Anthony Spencer ever go down.
- Jamar Wall struggled again at cornerback, but not as much as on Sunday night. He made a nice drive on a slant route late in the game, breaking up the pass for what should have been an interception. He has trouble covering out-breaking routes and deep balls, however.
- David Buehler really looked sensational. He made all three of his field goal attempts, but more importantly, he struck every ball very well. That wasn’t the case against the Bengals on Sunday night. He was also incredible on kickoffs, as expected. It is nice to see his extra duties aren’t hindering his power on kickoffs.
- Mat McBriar must be one of the most under-appreciate players in the league. He punted a ball nearly 70 yards while standing inches from the back of the end zone. His ability to not only punt powerfully, but also directionally, is so important to Dallas.