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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?

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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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23 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

          • 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

      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.

  • 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.

  • Steve Johnson

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

    • Brian Martin

      Steve, Woods and Lewis are already playing pretty well. I think they will only continue to get better though.

  • 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.

Player News

La’el Collins’ Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise

Brian Martin

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La'el Collins' Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise 1

The decision by the Dallas Cowboys to move La’el Collins from left guard to right tackle was met by some skepticism by quite a few members of Cowboys Nation during the off-season. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was one of those skeptical of the move, but I’m not afraid to admit he has exceeded my expectations.

In all honesty, I always believed that La’el Collins’ best position in the NFL is on the interior of the offense of line as a guard. I thought he could use his strength and athleticism to his advantage when working in a phone booth against slower and less athletic defensive tackles. That’s not to say I didn’t think he would make a good right tackle, I just thought he had Pro Bowl potential as a guard.

Strangely enough, Collins has probably put together a Pro Bowl caliber season in his first season starting at the right tackle position for the Cowboys. He has become an upgrade over the previous starter Doug Free, and is really starting to earn high praise from the brass. Stephen Jones in particular has been impressed with Collins, especially considering how he has played after missing two full weeks of practice.

Mark Lane on Twitter

DallasCowboys COO Stephen Jones told @1053thefan La’el Collins has answered the bell after his contract extension.

I personally agree with everything Stephen Jones said about La’el Collins. I’ve really enjoyed watching his progression this season, but I have been really impressed how he played the last two weeks after missing so much practice.

You might not of known, but Collins has missed two full weeks of practice due to a herniated disc in his back. This is put his availability to play against the Washington Redskins and New York Giants in jeopardy, but somehow he has toughened up and played considerably well.

This unfortunately will be something he has to continue to battle through the rest of the season, but I’m not going to bet against him playing. He absolutely makes this offensive line better and I would hate to see Chaz Green or Byron Bell back on the field after the way they played as feel-ins.

La’el Collins has without a doubt earned my respect and I think it’s about time we all recognize the player he is turning into. I know the Dallas Cowboys appreciate all that he does and believe that his recent contract extension is money well spent.

What do you think about La’el Collins?

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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

The Dallas Cowboys headed to New York a couple of days ago with a mission: survive a potential trap game versus a 2-10 New York Giants team. Despite not getting most of the help they needed from other teams around the league, at least Dallas was able to do the job they could control.

Through three quarters, the Cowboys struggled a lot. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when they decided to have a touchdown party, outscoring the Giants 20-0 in the final eight minutes of the game.

What did we learn from the Cowboys’ seventh win of the season? Here is this week’s edition of Takeaway Tuesday! 

Dak Prescott Bounced Back

Although the Cowboys are a team that’s barely breathing in the playoff race, the truth is there’re a lot of ways that Dak has improved as a QB. It’s easy to look at a team lose football games and blame the QB without hesitating. That’s been the case most of the season.

It’s fair to say that Prescott hadn’t had an awesome game in a long time, though. But this time, he did just that.

Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

Dak Prescott needed a performance like this one. He threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday. He made some key throws and key reads during the game and managed to beat the Giants’ blitz with ease. Glad to see you hush the haters, 4.

Certainly a good thing to see when you need to go 3-0 in order to stay in the postseason conversation.

Concerns Around Dez Bryant Continue to Increase

Listen, I love Dez Bryant. He’s been one of my favorite players to ever watch. But at some point, you have to start admitting there is a problem. Yes, Dez Bryant has been struggling this season. Whether you want to blame Dak or Dez about it, it’s fair. I think they both are to blame.

The thing about Dez is that he can have quite a few bad plays and makes you forget about it when he  does something awesome. A perfect example of this is his 50-yard TD against the Giants last Sunday. It came at a perfect moment, but he had dropped some easy balls earlier in the game.

Dez – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Dez is getting paid like an elite WR, and despite some great moments on the field, he’s been having a lot of bad ones lately. If you have a $70M contract, you can’t frequently drop passes like that.

It may be about chemistry with his new QB, it may be about age, or it may be just about a couple of bad years for the guy. Whatever it is, as much as we hate to say it, Dez isn’t anywhere close to the “top receivers” conversation this year.

Sean Lee Proved to be Invaluable Once Again

Less Is More For Sean Lee And Cowboys' LBs?I’m constantly amazed by the difference the Cowboys’ veteran linebacker makes when he’s on the field. In his heroic return against the Giants, he finished the day with 18 total tackles, 10 of which were solo. With Sean Lee on the field, this defense has been able to be a headache for opposing offenses.

Sean Lee could easily be this team’s MVP. For Cowboys Nation, it’s been a season of constantly missing football players in Dallas. Out of everyone, I think Sean Lee is the player we missed the most. Including Ezekiel Elliott.

This defense transforms into a very capable one with Lee around. The Cowboys need Zeke back if they want to have success in their hunt for the playoffs, but without Lee, they wouldn’t stand a chance.

Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis Are Still Killing It

Coming into this game, one of the biggest question marks was the cornerback position for Dallas. Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis were going to get the start, and there’s always uncertainty around rookies going up against a QB like Eli Manning.

lewis – Streamable

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Look at that coverage by Jourdan Lewis. Look at him turn his head around when the ball’s coming. The way this secondary will grow is exciting to think about. The Cowboys have something special in these two guys. They’ll make for an amazing CB duo for years to come, and I’m excited about what they bring to the table.

Chidobe Awuzie has played the last two games, and he’s been very impressive. Throughout the entire game, his converge was pretty impressive. Eli only targeted him 5 times in the ballgame and was able to complete just two passes against him.

Sean Lee ended up with the interception late in the fourth quarter, but it was perfectly set up by Chidobe Awuzie.

Awuzie – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

It was a very fun fourth quarter for the Dallas Cowboys, and even though it looks difficult… this football team’s playoff hopes are still alive. Jason Garrett must keep this team focused in the Oakland Raiders for now, though.

Hope dies last, Cowboys Nation. Keep your head up.

Tell me what you think about “Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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Dallas Cowboys

Playoffs Or Not, Cowboys Defense Showing Promise For Future

Sean Martin

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Playoffs Or Not, Cowboys Defense Showing Promise For Future 1

The New York Giants are not a good football team, but the Dallas Cowboys 30-10 win over the Giants in Eli Manning’s return to action left Cowboys Nation with plenty to be excited about as the team improved to 7-6.

In a stacked NFC, the Cowboys unfortunately did not get much help from scores elsewhere around the league Sunday, and the momentum they’ve built with two straight wins ahead of Ezekiel Elliott‘s return in week 16 has done little to improve their chances of reaching the playoffs.

The entire NFC East in 2017 has truly epitomized how quickly things can improve or fall apart in this league, as the Eagles clinching the title came at the cost of their franchise QB Carson Wentz – tearing his ACL to end his season.

Will Chidobe Awuzie's Return Benefit The Cowboys Defense?

Dallas Cowboys’ Jourdan Lewis (27), Chidobe Awuzie (33) and Xavier Woods (25) warm ups before an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Through all of this, including my own criticism of Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli, I can’t help but get excited about the potential this young Dallas defense is showing. The Cowboys got back in the win column two weeks ago against the Redskins, shuffling their secondary with great results.

Adding Sean Lee back to this winning formula against the Giants brought things even further into focus for the Cowboys defense though. Schematically, they were cohesive through all three levels. The longest play the Giants hit on was a 35-yard completion (against the blitz) to Evan Engram – one of their lone remaining offensive threats.

When the Cowboys dropped three straight games in weeks 10-12, the defense was desperate for Dak Prescott and the offense to play up to their potential. Prescott’s career day at MetLife Stadium was perhaps the most unsurprising development from this week, as the Cowboys found out early in this season that Prescott is in fact their franchise QB, and soon the complimentary performance turned in by this scrappy defense will be just as regularly expected.

Will Chidobe Awuzie's Return Benefit The Cowboys' Defense?

Cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis continue to live up to their draft status, two lengthy defenders with ball skills that have not been seen in the Cowboys secondary for some time. Sixth round pick Xavier Woods has proved valuable at every spot these coaches play him at, contributing at Nickel CB against the Giants’ Sterling Shepard and looking comfortable.

Jeff Heath came up with an interception on what may have been Eli Manning’s last pass as a Giant against the Cowboys, and played well throughout the afternoon in his rotational role alongside Byron Jones.

At linebacker, Sean Lee’s 18 tackles with an interception only further highlighted how well Anthony Hitchens has played at the other primary LB spot. I wrote in my immediate post game Sean’s Scout that I also thought Jaylon Smith could have been utilized more in this game, but the fact that he’s played in 13 straight games for the Cowboys without additional injuries is incredible enough.

Simply put, the biggest reason the Cowboys have salvaged a shot at contending for the playoffs this season is because they’ve found a way to get back to playing complimentary football on offense and defense – even with some key absences on both sides of the ball.

The game plan is a proven one. When the Cowboys run the ball, control the clock, and allow their defense to play from ahead against hurried, one-dimensional offenses they can beat anyone.

Whether or not that means 10 wins to close this roller coaster of a season – good enough for the playoffs or not – the Cowboys are doing well to prove they’ll have staying power in the NFC for years to come.

This fate was very debatable a few weeks ago, and any team that commits to turning over their defense as much as the Cowboys did in one offseason should expect something of a regression, but the Cowboys’ future is now being written in front of us by young stars on offense and defense.

Playoffs Or Not, Cowboys Defense Showing Promise For Future

Getting more than three remaining kickoffs for guys like Awuzie, Lewis, Woods, Jaylon Smith, and Lewis Neal would certainly be ideal for the end of this season. Should the Cowboys miss out on the playoffs due to circumstances past their control though, we can all spend a few months getting very excited about what these defenders will have to say about taking matters into their own hands at the very next possible opportunity.

Tell us what you think about “Playoffs Or Not, Cowboys Defense Showing Promise For Future” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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