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Cowboys’ CB Chidobe Awuzie Impressive In First Full-Time Action

Brian Martin

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If I'm being completely honest, there was really only one reason I was looking forward to watching the Dallas Cowboys play the Washington Redskins Thursday night. I wanted to see how rookie cornerback Chidobe Awuzie played now that he is finally healthy.

I don't know about you, but I was expecting a lot from Chidobe Awuzie this season after the Cowboys drafted him with their second round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, he has battled reoccurring hamstring issues that has all but wiped out his season up to this point. His inability to stay healthy and get on the field has been one of the major disappointments for me this season.

That is why I was really looking forward to seeing Awuzie back on the field in his first full-time action this season. Luckily, he didn't disappoint and already looks like arguably the best CB on the Cowboys roster.

The Dallas Cowboys played a total of 60 defensive snaps against the Redskins Thursday night. Only Jeff Heath (56) played more snaps than Chidobe Awuzie (53). Awuzie finished the night with three tackles and three pass breakups, which doesn't seem like much, but his impact was definitely felt on the field.

Let's take a look at the impact the 22-year-old rookie out of Colorado made against the Washington Redskins Thursday night.

Marcus Mosher on Twitter

This is pretty good coveragwe by #Cowboys rookie DB Chidobe Awuzie. Watch him swipe at the ball at the end of this play. https://t.co/cR4B8MCZBW

The clip above is an excellent example of Awuzie's talent and awareness. Not only is he in perfect position by having the WR in his hip pocket, but he goes up to high point the ball and swipes with his hand to ensure an incompletion. This couldn't have possibly been played better, which is a testament to #33's talent.

Let's take a look at another example of Awuzie's impact in the game against Washington.

Marcus Mosher on Twitter

Chidobe Awuzie played one heckuva game. https://t.co/l4FcEoD0tH

Awuzie wasn't in the best position against Josh Doctson on this play and it should have been an easy completion. But, Chidobe doesn't give up on the play and is able to knock the ball out of Doctson's hands forcing the incompletion and near fumble. This is a great example of Awuzie's awareness and playmaking ability. But, he made an even better play a little later in the game.

Marcus Mosher on Twitter

More of Chidobe Awuzie in his first start. https://t.co/mZCn4xTzVr

On this particular play Chidobe Awuzie looks to be in man coverage on Redskins WR Ryan Grant. Awuzie recognizes that Grant is breaking off his route to the inside to try to pick up the first down. He quickly plants his foot in the ground and makes a beeline for Grant arriving just as the ball does. Awuzie uses proper technique and sticks his left arm out to break up the pass, while using his right arm to wrap around Grant for the tackle if need be.

As you can see, Chidobe Awuzie had a heck of a debut as a full-time starter. In fact, he already looks like the best CB currently on the Cowboys roster. This probably couldn't have come at a better time with Orlando Scandrick expected to miss some time due to a back injury he sustained and played through Thursday night.

If Awuzie can remain healthy the rest of the season, he upgrades the entire Cowboys secondary and improves the entire defense. I'm personally expecting big things from him the remainder of the season.

What did you think of Chidobe Awuzie's full-time debut?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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42 Comments
  • Andy Walker

    I wish you all the best, Brian! Awuzie looked outstanding. He has great closing speed as well!

    • pdstix78

      Dude looked good last night, like a godsend. Keep AB on the bench and they’ll be fine

      • Brian Martin

        I think Anthony Brown might end up in the slot. I think that’s his better position anyway.

        • Albert Smith

          Yeah, my thoughts exactly Brian, possibly in the slot with Cheedo and Lew on the outside. They’ll probably still have some sort of rotation though.

          • Brian Martin

            It looks like they might play Byron Jones more at CB as well.

          • Albert Smith

            I’ve been waiting and wanting that because I felt he had too much of a load on him. Fan’s have been upset with his play but it’s because they wouldn’t just put him in one spot, it’s great he can do multiple things but sometimes you just let players play and draft accordingly I thought he could be a great boundary CB with his size and athleticism so I’m down.

          • Brian Martin

            I haven’t really had a problem with his play at safety. He is definitely more of a coverage player than a hitter, but I don’t have a problem with that. I do think he might be better at CB, but we will have to wait and see.

          • Albert Smith

            Agreed

          • Brian Martin
          • Assassin

            always thought Jones was out of position at FS. seems more natural to CB. Hopefully we’ll see some of that before the end of the year and a lot next year. this is his third year, contracts up at the end of 18 unless we take the club option. also hes been the slot guy/te cover before. with Scandrick out, maybe thats part of what he does

          • Brian Martin

            I think Jones should’ve been playing the single high safety where he can use his range and athleticism.

          • Tommy Davis

            Good stuff folks, Awuzie and J. Lewis are excellent on the outside, Scanrick and Brown are not good covering outside receivers and are both best suited covering the slot receivers. Jones has been playing out of position, he should have been playing deep safety instead of J. Heath who does not have closing speed and misses too many tackles. Woods is a good cover safety, but he’s too small for my liking. We have talented D.backs, we just need to put them in the correct positions and play the most talented instead of the most experienced. Scanrick, Heath,Jones and Brown are the most experienced and are the reason for the awful play of the secondary. Jerry Jones commented that when Awuzie, Lewis, and Woods were on the field together, the secondary was awesome. There is no reason that this should not be the norm going forward.

          • Brian Martin
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      • Brian Martin
    • Brian Martin

      Thanks Andy. Awuzie did look pretty good. I just hope he is able to keep it up and stay healthy. He definitely makes the defense better.

    • Brian Martin
  • Hobbes49

    Awuzie played really strong last night. I think he and Lewis have a chance to be a top 5 CB tandem in the coming years. Chido has great recognition skills, and reacts to the ball better than we have seen in a long while. Just needs to stay healthy.

    • Brian Martin

      I really liked what I saw from Awuzie. I think he would’ve been a starter the entire season if he would’ve been able to stay healthy. It’s definitely starting to look as if the Cowboys succeeded in making over their secondary, at least at the CB position.

      • Michael Barthel

        I love what I saw from awuzie played a hell of a game but I want to see what he does against better receivers. Dotson isn’t bad but he not the greatest either. I want to see him week 15 against either Cooper or Crabtree.

        • Brian Martin

          I don’t see him having any problems with either Cooper or Crabtree. I don’t know if they’re that much better then Doctson, just more experienced.

          • Michael Barthel

            Cooper is just having a bad year but he is very good. Awuzie scandrick and Lewis should start from here on out. Also like to see Marquez white too he was outstanding at Florida State. I believe Dallas gets rid of dez or ask for a pay cut. I think we draft a wide receiver. Off subject sorry lol but I think we will see alot of personell changes next year. New receivers corners safeties and linebackers. This defense can be very good if we play the way we played last night and the rotations. I think Benson mawoya is gone next year. I think you will see the depth get better next year. Hitchens Lawrence Irving Morris all need resigned that way they can focus on backup offensive lineman linebackers receivers and secondary in free agency and draft

          • Brian Martin

            Cooper is having a pretty bad year, but he has always had a problem with drops. I don’t know what to think about Dez Bryant. I don’t really think he has lost a step, but the production is there. And you’re right, I think we will see a lot of personnel changes.

      • Brian Martin
    • Brian Martin
  • Steve Johnson

    Waiting for Woods and Lewis to turn the page also it is coming.

  • Russ_Te

    It was thought at draft that Awuzie was a 1st round value, and largely made up for what may have been a reach with Taco.

    However with Irving proving a dominant force at DT and Lawrence possibly cashing in his year in free agency, next year’s DL might include Taco starting at LDE. He looks trimmer to me than his college scouting clips, and Lawrence’s rise proves it’s all about mastering technique. So I am now thinking Taco
    can prove out.

    Back to the secondary. We saw how a shuffle facilitated by Awuzie’s return, can make a major difference. For me the next best thing to see besides Awuzie’s play was Frazier’s. He can hit, and there is a lot of possible upside relative to what we have had with Heath.

    Scandrick flipped to outside CB while Jones worked the slot. I think that is reversed from what they will settle on. You need to start Woods at FS, and deploy Scandrick at his optimal slot CB position. That would put Jones at CB, and he has the talent to do it well IMO. I think he was moved inside too quickly in his career and didn’t get a full look at CB.

    If Jones were good outside this could be a quality starting 4. Brown is looking like a dime corner, and we don’t know much yet about Lewis.

    With offseason needs at OT, WR, RDE and LB, the secondary may only get another big talent if such a player falls down the draft. But seeing the boost it got from Awuzie was more than a welcome sight.

  • Raul Hernandez

    This guy looks like a cheetah on steroids when he is closing the gap between him and an offensive player. He’s talented and reads the offense like a book.

  • Emilio Gonzalez

    He played really good and wish him only the best he will be the upgrade Cowboys need it at the CB position. Thanks we need some fresh blood.

Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Resilient Prescott Inches Cowboys Closer to NFC East Title

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Resilient Prescott Inches Cowboys Closer to NFC East Title
(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

If an overtime win over the defending Super Bowl champions that ends their dreams of repeating while increasing your own playoff odds can be both ugly and beautiful, then the Dallas Cowboys 29-23 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles was certainly that - and a whole lot more.

Extending their winning streak to five didn't come without the Cowboys toying with a total collapse, as Quarterback Dak Prescott turned the ball over three times. Fresh off a win against the New Orleans Saints where the Cowboys managed just 13 points, the Eagles pushed this defense to the edge thanks to continued struggles on offense.

In overtime, Prescott made sure Carson Wentz and the Eagles would never see the ball, putting four indescribable quarters behind him to lead a game-winning touchdown drive. The Cowboys are a win away from claiming the NFC East. The full scope of how this season has turned on its head goes well beyond this most recent Cowboys win, at least back to their first win at the Eagles five weeks ago.

For now, my first attempt at sorting out what we saw at AT&T Stadium on Sunday will have to do, with another post game edition of Sean's Scout.

  • With both Tight Ends Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz setting new career highs in receptions, I was waiting for the Cowboys patience on offense to pay off with a big play on the outside, finally provided twice by Wide Receiver Amari Cooper.

In the Cowboys previous win over the Eagles, their receivers had their way with a depleted Philadelphia secondary. Dealing with injuries at cornerback mid-game that are still effecting this group, the Eagles were in no position to line up against Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Cole Beasley.

The counter for the Cowboys offense this week was to use heavier formations, pound Ezekiel Elliott, and get their tight ends involved more than they've been all season. Perhaps the only normal thing to come out of this game was Elliott's 40 touches.

Despite it being a career high, there's no reason Elliott shouldn't be this involved in the Cowboys offense. The Cowboys patience with Elliott was eventually rewarded when Cooper scored from 28 yards out to break a 6-6 tie, and again from 75 yards to put Dallas ahead 23-16 in the fourth quarter.

If not for a few missed shots to Michael Gallup and a missed Brett Maher field goal, the Cowboys efforts on offense could have kept this game out of overtime, though their execution on the winning drive is hard to dispute.

  • The Cowboys are last in the league at scoring touchdowns in the red zone over their last three wins, something that has to change quickly in preparation for the playoffs. 

The Cowboys were 3 of 5 in the red zone in the win that started this streak in Philly, and 2 of 3 the following week at the Falcons. Their decline on offense has been a recent trend that must come back up over the last three weeks of the regular season.

Only six of Elliott's 40 touches came in the red zone, which feels inexcusable from Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan, considering also it was an adjusted play call by Cooper and Prescott that created their long touchdown to force overtime.

Perhaps the trust the Cowboys showed in Schultz and Jarwin will lead to more red zone opportunities for tight ends, of which the Cowboys have no true middle-of-field threat.

  • There is no reason for Prescott to be falling away on his first interception in the end zone, targeting an open Cooper to the back corner. 

Prescott never saw Rasul Douglas break off his man and end up under a throw to Cooper that was placed in a horrible spot. Cooper was open, but thrown into coverage on a ball he never really came close to.

After another look at the play, it's even more disturbing to see Prescott's mechanics. Sliding in a clean pocket, Prescott was falling away slightly when he released the ball. The Cowboys defense would bail out Prescott after probably his most egregious turnover, forcing a three and out.

This was not the case after Prescott's second interception that turned into the Eagles first touchdown, or fumble that lead to a tying field goal.

  • For as good a pass rushing duo as DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory are, Defensive Tackles Maliek Collins and Tyrone Crawford don't get enough credit for their all-around game. 

Before kickoff, I wrote about the Cowboys not needing David Irving, who missed his sixth straight game. This is a compliment to not only Collins and Crawford, but Antwaun Woods as well. All three played their part in keeping the Eagles offense in check once again.

Crawford may be playing the best football of his seven-year career. No longer struggling to fit in as either a defensive end or tackle, Crawford is simply a leader by example for the Cowboys defense wherever he lines up.

Carson Wentz is a quarterback you have to make reset his feet defensively, and Crawford was able to force this a number of times. His speed rush ability paired with the power of Collins and Woods on the inside is incredibly disruptive for Dallas.

Following Maher's missed field goal, Crawford turned in one of the hustle plays of the season for the Cowboys to strip Wentz. Beating the left guard off the snap, Crawford dipped Jason Peters at left tackle on his way to a forced fumble that produced another field goal before the half.

This game was that close to having a first half all about the Cowboys taking advantage of Eagles mistakes, instead leaving points on the field and letting the Eagles punish second half mistakes on the way to overtime.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

With a win at the Colts, vs. the Buccaneers, or at the Giants the Cowboys will have gone from 3-5 to NFC East champions for 2018. The merits of just how good this division is will be worth discussing prior to the playoffs, but with two wins over the Eagles and one over the Redskins within an ongoing five game win streak, the Cowboys are objectively one of the hottest teams in the league right now.

Amari Cooper has probably made six or seven plays "better" than his miraculous overtime touchdown, proving his worth more and more each week, though his winning score will surely be a lasting moment from the Cowboys week 14 win.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Resilient Prescott Inches Cowboys Closer to NFC East Title" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

#DALvsPHI: Evaluating Jason Garrett’s 4th Down OT Decision

Kevin Brady

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Report: Jason Garrett "Not Going Anywhere" with Possible Extension Coming Soon 1

It's no secret that Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is the victim of much criticism among Cowboys Nation. Often called too conservative, or called out for "coaching scared," Garrett has gotten killed by the media throughout much of the 2018 season.

You could easily argue that Garrett cost the Cowboys the game against the Houston Texans, and even the first match up with Washington, but how this team has rallied over the last 5 weeks is a direct reflection of their head coach's character.

Last Sunday the Cowboys faced another one of those late game, fourth down decisions. It was fourth and 1 in overtime with just about 4 minutes left to play in the extra period. Dallas had driven the ball down the field for a potential field goal, but you know the fans wanted more.

The overtime rules state that if Dallas, who possessed the ball first, were to make a field goal, the Eagles would get the ball and a chance to score. This made the decision all-the-more interesting for Jason Garrett, who decided to pound the ball with Ezekiel Elliott for a first down. Elliott made a great individual effort on the play to dive forward for the conversion without much push from the offensive line.

Just a few plays later Dak Prescott would find Amari Cooper for the game winning touchdown, further vindicating Jason Garrett for his "gutsy" fourth down call.

Back when Garrett decided to punt in overtime against Houston, we all killed him, and I did so with my win probability numbers. But, with the decision going the other way against Philadelphia, let's examine what that same probability model says, and give Garrett credit where it is due.

Before any decision was made, with the Cowboys facing fourth and 1, the model had Dallas at a 72% chance of winning the game. Had they kicked the field goal, and made it, their win probability would have moved to just 73% (with decimal rounding). Basically, the kick, although it would put Dallas up 3 points, would have no change on their win probability.

If they had missed the fourth down conversion, their probability would have dropped down to 53%. Clearly this is a steep drop of nearly 20 percentage points, but they still wouldn't be in terrible position to win or tie the game. But, since they went for it and converted, their win probability jumped to 77%.

ESPN's win probability model was much more bullish on the Cowboys' chances, bringing their win probability to 95% after the fourth down conversion. Regardless of the model you use, converting that fourth down clearly made it very unlikely for Philadelphia to win the game.

So credit to Jason Garrett for making the call, and credit to Ezekiel Elliott for making good on the conversion.



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Game Notes

Amari Cooper has Final Say on Trade Compensation in Cowboys Win

John Williams

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Amari Cooper has Final Say on Trade Compensation in Cowboys Win 3

The big debate that occurred when the Dallas Cowboys made the move to acquire Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders, revolved around the trade compensation required for the Cowboys to complete the deal. Many thought that sending the Oakland Raiders a first round pick for Cooper to be too much, especially after it was rumored that the Philadelphia Eagles had offered a second round pick the week before. Well, after a huge game that saw Amari Cooper completely dominate the game, we can once and for all put this conversation to rest.

On the night, Amari Cooper caught 10 passes on 13 targets for 217 yards and three touchdowns including the game winner in overtime. He came up with huge catches for first downs and touchdowns throughout the game and continues to show an important ability to get open at will. Even on Dak Prescott's first interception, Cooper was open heading into the end zone, but Dak left the ball a bit short allowing Rasul Douglas to make the play and take points off the board.

Amari Cooper has Final Say on Trade Compensation in Cowboys Win 2

The Dallas Cowboys offense was listless for most of the game until Dak Prescott and Cooper hooked up for their first touchdown of the game, a 28 yard score that brought life to the offense. Cooper was left alone in man coverage. Cooper wasn't in the best position to catch the ball when it was released, but he used his elite speed and ball tracking skills to get into a better position and make the catch for the first of three go-ahead touchdowns.

Dak and Amari had to continue to hook up throughout the second half and overtime in order for the Cowboys to pull out the win and take a commanding two-game lead in the division. Cooper followed up his first score with a 75-yard touchdown reception to again give the Dallas Cowboys a seven point lead. After the game, Cooper talked about the play with the media.

RJ Ochoa on Twitter

After the game Amari Cooper talked about his 75-yard touchdown and how he originally had a stop route but Dak Prescott gave him a hand signal to run a go instead.

Amari Cooper has Final Say on Trade Compensation in Cowboys Win 1

Again, Cooper gets a one on one matchup. Cooper is able to get down the sideline in a hurry and again use his ball tracking skills to find the ball in the air and get into a great position to make the catch and then hurry away from the defensive backs.

From the get go, you could tell that Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper have had a nice chemistry this season and that 75-yard touchdown reception is just further evidence of their connection. Amari Cooper took full advantage of a depleted Eagles secondary on Sunday and made some nice moves after the catch.

Amari Cooper has Final Say on Trade Compensation in Cowboys Win

Sometimes being lucky is just as important as being good. On third and eight in overtime, Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys were extremely lucky to come away with the victory on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. Cooper's concentration on the game-winning touchdown reception was really good, but this play could have gone a few terrible ways, but it didn't and the Cowboys came away with a victory that puts them in a commanding position in the NFC East.

Since he's come over from the Oakland Raiders, he's caught 40 passes on 50 targets for 641 yards and six touchdowns on the season. He's averaging 16 yards per reception and has caught 80% of his passes on the season. He also hasn't had a drop this season and is getting open with tremendously regularity.

Since the Cowboys acquired Amari Cooper, they are 5-1 and are a win away from clinching the NFC East with three games to go. The offense has looked much more explosive in the last five games and have moved the ball more consistently over the last six games. In pretty much every way that you can evaluate the move, Amari Cooper has been excellent for the Dallas Cowboys and for the price of a first round draft pick, he's far exceeded his price tag.



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