Cowboys vs. Redskins Week 15 Initial Post-Game Notes, Observations
- Bryan McCann looked great on his first three returns, and he should be the Cowboys’ primary return man. I think Dez Bryant will be a large enough part of the offense in 2011 that McCann should retain that spot next year as well. He’s clearly a better option than Kevin Ogletree.
- When the Cowboys fake an end-around after handing the ball off to a running back, the fake needs to be cleaner. The wide receiver is often too late in coming around, making it easy for defenders to recognize the call. I think Jason Garrett should change the design of those “ghost” end-arounds so that the receiver comes in short motion from the slot to make the timing easier to execute.
- I’ve been extremely impressed with Orlando Scandrick over the last six or so games. The biggest difference in his game is simply that he has regained his confidence.
- Speaking of Scandrick. . .every time he blitzes, good things seem to happen. The offensive line never accounts for a cornerback, and if the running back sneaks out early or misses his block, Scandrick is home free. The same is true for the other defensive backs. Both Scandrick and Gerald Sensabaugh had sacks today.
- On the Cowboys’ second possession (I think), they had a 2nd and Goal from the one-yard line. That is not the time to get fancy, but Garrett decided to throw the ball. It might be boring, but three straight quarterback sneaks is probably the highest percentage play in that situation. The chances of a loss are minimal, and I find it hard to believe Jon Kitna wouldn’t be able to gain a half-yard on three attempts.
- On 4th an Goal on the same possession, the Cowboys needed a great push. So what play did they go to? You guessed it–a strong side dive from “Double Tight Left I.” Unbelievable. I know Garrett thinks the line should be able to drive defenders off of the ball enough to gain a yard, but he needs to be more realistic. It’s a game of percentages, and basically telling the defense exactly where a play is going doesn’t help those percentages. This play has to leave.
- We saw the return of “Gun 5 Wide Tight” during situations in which the Cowboys thought a blitz might be coming. I’ll get the numbers to you tomorrow.
- With the exception of a throw or two, Kitna was extremely accurate all day. I’m going to do a study on the off-target passes of Kitna/Romo sometime this week, but I think Kitna has been slightly more accurate.
- Sam Hurd has the ability to make plays, but his biggest problem is consistency. There are times when he seems just a little late to a ball or just slightly out of control. I thought he should have made a play on the 3rd and Goal fade thrown to him.
- We finally saw Garrett give some playing time to new players. You may have noticed that Brandon Williams was active for what I think was the first time all season (need to check that). Leon Williams also got some playing time, and Victor Butler got even more reps than usual. Butler has plays superior to Anthony Spencer this year, in my view, due to his improvement against the run.
- I thought we might see the return of the “Wildcat” today, and we did–for one play. Tashard Choice took the snap and handed the ball to Felix Jones. Jones tossed it back to Kitna and ran up the sideline. I don’t think Jones was the first option on the play, but Kitna bought some time and then found Jones down the sideline for a big gain. Awesome play call, and I hope we see Wildcat more in short-yardage situations. If Garrett is going to allow the defense to know where the play is going anyway, he might as well allow for there to be an extra blocker with Choice receiving the snap directly.
- Once again, the clock management before halftime was awful. The Cowboys had three timeouts, but didn’t use one until there was 27 seconds left on the clock.
- I’ve seen a steep decline from Terence Newman this season, particularly over the last month. Most notable is a loss of straight-line speed. He got beat by both Santana Moss and Anthony Armstrong today.
- I think a large part of the Cowboys’ success through the air today came because they worked the middle of the field. If teams are going to make sure Dallas can’t beat them outside, they’ll have to continue to find Witten up the seam. You might see Martellus Bennett get more involved here soon as well.
- Alan Ball is absolutely atrocious against the run. Did you see him get trucked by Ryan Torain? Even worse is that he takes poor angles to the football, which is unacceptable for a free safety.
- Dallas was in a four-man defensive line for the majority of the second half. I’m not sure why. If your base defense is a 3-4, why run a 4-3 (or 4-2-5) for nearly an entire half? It clearly didn’t work.
- The Cowboys blew coverages on a handful of occasions, which rarely happened under Wade Phillips. I don’t think Paul Pasqualoni is the answer at defensive coordinator. He’s not innovative at all.
More to come tomorrow. . .