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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

      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

Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Though it's still early in the 2018 season, the lead in the NFC East is up for grabs when the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins meet this Sunday. Both teams would like their full roster available for the game, but the Week 7 injury reports indicate that won't be the case.

Here are the players either confirmed to be out of action tomorrow or are otherwise listed by Dallas and Washington:

Dallas Cowboys

  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - OUT
  • LB Joe Thomas (foot) - OUT
  • CB Chidobe Awuzie (ankle) - Questionable

The Cowboys are getting healthier, with Sean Lee finally off the injury report and set to return to action. Not only will Dallas get their elite linebacker back, but it means a deeper rotation while the team remains without Joe Thomas.

Tavon Austin elected to skip season-ending surgery on his injured groin, but his should be out a few weeks. That will put Cole Beasley on punt returns and perhaps create more offensive opportunities for Deonte Thompson and Brice Butler.

Awuzie remains limited in practice but has played the last few weeks despite the ankle injury. There is no reason to think he won't suit up in Washington.

Washington Redskins

  • WR Jamison Crowder (ankle) - OUT
  • WR Paul Richardson (shoulder, knee) - Doubtful
  • S Troy Apke (hamstring) - Doubtful
  • RB Adrian Peterson (ankle, shoulder) - Questionable
  • RB Chris Thompson (rib, knee) - Questionable
  • G Shawn Lauvao (calf) - Questionable
  • CB Quinton Dunbar (shin) - Questionable
  • CB Danny Johnson (forearm) - Questionable

It's a rough time for Washington's offensive weapons. They will definitely be without slot receiver Jamison Crowder and likely starter Paul Richardson, who current lead all WRs in receptions. Josh Doctson will put into a major role, as will veteran Brian Quick off the bench.

Peterson and Thompson both practiced this week and should play, but have nagging injuries that could slow them down. Washington is already missing Rob Kelley and rookie Derrius Guice, who are both on injured reserve.

Starting left guard Shawn Lauvao is also nursing a lower leg injury, but practiced in a limited capacity all week. His backup is undrafted rookie Casey Dunn out of Auburn.

In the defensive backfield, starting CB Quinton Dunbar was a Friday addition to the injury report with a shin injury. He did practice with it, though, so will likely play. Backup safety Troy Apke is doubtful with a hamstring issue.



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Game Notes

Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys are 0-3 on the road this season. Not only do you already know this, but they do as well, needing to build off a 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 6 at AT&T Stadium to claim first place in the NFC East at the Washington Redskins.

Although the Cowboys were given Monday and Tuesday off, they are focused on addressing one alarming reason why the team has struggled so much on the road -- particularly on offense.

Running Back Ezekiel Elliott pointed out the Cowboys lack of communication in early season losses at Carolina, Seattle, and Houston. "Seeing the same thing," was the issue Elliott addressed when discussing the Cowboys knowing their assignments in hostile territory.

Yesterday, Quarterback Dak Prescott told the media of a meeting between players and coaches that addressed this specifically.

David Moore on Twitter

Dak Prescott said players & coaches held a meeting before today's practice to "address the elephant in the room," which is poor communication among the offense on the road. "I know we'll take a lot from that conversation," The QB said.

Unlike Prescott's remarks about new "wrinkles" in the Cowboys offense prior to a 26-24 home win over the Lions, this has a tangible sign of progress for an offense that made scoring 40 on the Jaguars look impossibly easy. The Cowboys season high in total yards remains the 414 amassed against Detroit, after which Prescott confessed that he simply tells the media "things" that aren't necessarily true.

The Cowboys didn't necessarily do anything new against the Lions, but they most assuredly will this week against the Redskins, at least by way of signaling and remaining in sync on offense.

Prescott and Elliott's leadership is on full display here, and their on-field impact can be attributed as closely to the Cowboys successes or failures as any duo in the NFL.

Missing is a similar impact from Center Travis Frederick, who remains sidelined as he deals with GSB.

Joe Looney's play at center has been good enough to pave the way for Elliott's 586 rushing yards so far, second to Todd Gurley at 623 yards, but his ability to call checks for the offense is understandably much more limited.

Looney deserves all the credit in the world for his strong play in place of Frederick. The Cowboys have never asked for him to be anything he isn't, a reliable depth option that earned a second contract and with it the starting center job for the time being in Dallas.

He has the full support of his teammates, Frederick included. All of this is lovely to put down in writing until Looney and the Cowboys have been forced to step on the field with the crowd against them and attempt to sustain a drive, something Frederick will unfortunately not be a part of for a long while.

If the Cowboys offense isn't going to unveil new wrinkles in the scheme, there is one wrinkle worth mentioning that's new to the team's communication on offense this season. With Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan up in the box, his play calls are sent down to first-year Quarterback Coach Kellen Moore, who has been in the ear of Prescott ever since playing with him from 2016-17.

Sure, these are things that could've been addressed before the Cowboys managed only eight points in week one, turned the ball over three times in week three, or punted away their best chance at victory in week five. The best teams in the league likely already have these things down to routine, and few would consider the Cowboys anywhere near the upper echelon of the NFL.

Following sixty minutes of football at a division rival they've won four in a row against, with an even more impressive five game win streak at the Redskins, the Cowboys could control their own path atop the NFC East.

That feels truly incredible for such a young team faced with a steep learning curve early in the season, adjusting to it on the fly as they prepare to leave everything on the field before a bye week.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins" 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

#WASvsDAL: Why This Game Holds Increased Importance

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Pass Rush Better than They're Given Credit For
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

It feels incredibly cliche to call the week 7 match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins a "must win." Especially for someone like me who values statistics, logic, and analytics in sports.

But when the analytics agree with the narratives, those narratives do tend to get my attention. And this week that would appear to be the case.

According to Brian Burke of ESPN, the Cowboys's week 7 game has the highest playoff probability leverage in the entire NFC, and is second to only the Houston Texans' big game with Jacksonville around the entire league.

Brian Burke on Twitter

Playoff leverage for week 7. DAL, WAS, PHI, CAR, MIN, CHI with a lot on the line in the NFC. HOU, CIN, and JAX in the AFC.

What does this mean? Well playoff probability leverage is pretty intuitive. Basically it is the difference between a win this week and a loss this week in terms of probability to make the playoffs.

For the Cowboys that number is at 27%, with a win over Washington catapulting their playoff probability over 50%. On the other hand, a loss would take a big hit to their playoff hopes just 7 games into the NFL season.

As you might expect, this game means a lot to the Redskins' playoff probability as well. Their playoff leverage this week is at 14%, but a win would mean "more" to Dallas than Washington based on the probabilities.

Fellow NFC East foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, also have a lot to gain/lose this Sunday, with their leverage sitting at 22%. According to Burke's model, the Eagles and Cowboys have the best chances of making the playoffs at this point, but if each team wins Sunday the Eagles will still have a higher percentage.

Of course a lot can and will change week to week, despite what the metrics say. The Cowboys still have two games remaining with the NFC East favorite Eagles this year, and will get another crack at Washington at home later in the season. Plus the Cowboys have a few NFC wild card and playoff contenders remaining on their schedule, such as the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. (Yes, the 2-4 Falcons are very much alive in this crazy conference).

Still, the difference between 4-3 (2-0 in the division) and 3-4 (1-1 in the division) is huge, as is shown by Brian Burke's playoff probability leverage metric.



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