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Doug Free Film Review: “Done Or Finished?”

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Headlines - Is 2016 Doug Free's Last Year in Dallas? 2

The Dallas Cowboys have the best offensive line in football.

How many times have we heard that phrase over the past two years? A lot, I know. While it seems repetitive to point it out at times, it is important to do so for the simple fact that it is true.

Three All-Pros, three first round picks, and five guys who have a serious shot at making the Pro Bowl each and every year. The oldest member of this group, however, might be becoming a problem.

The forgotten man of this offensive line, veteran right tackle Doug Free, is often criticized by fans who are sometimes very wrong in their criticism. These past two weeks, those criticisms have been as loud as ever, but they very well may finally be correct.

Free struggled mightily against the New York Giants, getting beat by Jason Pierre-Paul on multiple occasions. I expected an improvement at Washington, and while he did play better, it was nowhere near where we would hope for him to be.

Run Blocking

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In the run game, Free struggled to keep his feet on a multitude of plays. This lack of balance came back to haunt both him and the Cowboys, as often the player he whiffed on went on to either make or impact the play.

Here we see Doug Free try to execute a "pin and pull" technique with the tight end. Jason Witten gets pushed into the backfield, but he does seal his man just enough to avoid total failure. Free tries to pull for the cornerback to seal the outside, but fails to do so as he loses his feet and ends up on the ground.

The cardinal sin of o-line play is to lose your feet. You have to do your best to stay up at all times, and avoid whiffing like this.

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Problems on the backside double between Tyron Smith and La'el Collins hurt the play, but it is Doug Free's miss which may have ultimately doomed it. Free takes a decent zone step off the ball, keeping his shoulders square and staying relatively low. He lets his upper body get too far over his knees, however, making it very easy for the defensive end to use his momentum against him, and make the play.

As an offensive linemen, you cannot allow yourself to lean like this, or else you will end up on your face.

Pass Blocking

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Doug Free got beat a few times in pass protection this week, losing with similar problems just about every time. First, he allows the defensive lineman to get into his chest and control him. Free is not able to deliver a punch and create any separation from the defensive end off the ball. This allows the defensive end to bull rush Free into the quarterback, before shedding Free and coming up with the sack.

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Washington tries a twist with their 3-technique and defensive end here, and they are successful in creating pressure with it. Zack Martin does a nice job of passing the defensive tackle off to Free, powering down and controlling the stunting end.

Free, however, loses his base and allows himself to get bull rushed once again. Dak Prescott avoids the sack here, but the fact that Free was beat remains the same regardless of the final outcome.

Positives

I've been pretty negative on Free throughout most of this article, but the fact of the matter is that Free did improve his play from week 1 to week 2.

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Unlike the last play where the twist beat Free, he and Martin do an excellent job of passing off the down lineman, switching, and making the block. Free's footwork is excellent here, as is his punch as he stays strong with his inside arm and doesn't allow the defender to get into his chest and bull rush him.

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This was my favorite Doug Free play from the entire game. He kicks back with ease, keeping himself square while still moving quick enough to meet the wide-aligned defender before it was too late.

Dak's run came back due to a hold on Travis Frederick, but Free did an excellent job in pass protection on this play.

While it wasn't pretty at times, Doug Free's play did improve from week to week. This Sunday night, the Cowboys face the Chicago Bears, a team with by far the worst pass rush of the three they have seen so far. Free needs to have his best game yet, or else the criticisms will only get louder.


Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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2 Comments
  • Joe Riojas

    I wonder if they’d consider moving Collins or Ron Leary if he continues to struggle?

    • https://kevinrobertbrady.wordpress.com Kevin Brady

      I’ve been floating this idea around myself as well. I like the idea of Collins at RT and Leary at LG, think it gives you the best five on the field. Tough to move Collins at this point, however.

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Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Planning

February 20 is an important day for NFL clubs this year. Why? It's the first day in which teams can franchise tag any player. Since 2015, when the Dallas Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before they were able to work out a long-term deal, Jerry Jones & Co. haven't used the franchise tag. In 2018, though, that will change.

DeMarcus Lawrence just played his best season yet in 2017, and he's looking to get paid big time. Through three years, he had been able to rack up nine sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles. In just 2017, he sacked opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times, had 35 tackles and managed to force four fumbles.

Not only did Lawrence look like an elite pass rusher, but he also improved as a run defender a lot. The Cowboys have been looking for a "War Daddy" for a long, long time and Lawrence seems to be the answer for this football team.

After such a big year, one would expect the Cowboys to sign him to a multi-year enormous contract. But there's a catch. Lawrence failed to remain healthy early in his career and really didn't make as much of an impact until last season.

There's no question that D-Law will be wearing a star come the 2018 NFL season, but will he be doing it under a long-term deal or under a franchise tag?

David Moore on Twitter

Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.

For now, according to David Moore from Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence with the objective of getting a deal done in July. The tag however, is not expected to be placed as soon as possible.

Jess Haynie on Twitter

In 2015, the Cowboys didn't place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant until the final deadline day. This year's deadline is March 6th, so it may be two weeks before they make it official with DeMarcus Lawrence. #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys

What would franchise tagging DeMarcus Lawrence mean for this team?

First of all, they'd make sure he doesn't hit free agency in March. This gives the front office time to get to work and restructure players' contracts if they have to in order to open up as much cap space as they can before giving him a deal.

It's worth mentioning as well, cap savings from players who are designated as post-June 1 cuts will already be available. If you want to be more familiarized with the Cowboys' cap situation, I highly recommend you read John Williams' deep dive on the matter.

It'll continue to be a very interesting story for this offseason, as handing a franchise tag to a player tends to become a non-friendly situation for both parties. Let's hope that's not the case for the Cowboys and Lawrence this year and that everything works out fine.

Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue updating you and the rest of Cowboys Nation throughout the offseason.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?" 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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Watch: Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith Goes Bowling for First Time Since College Injury

Sean Martin

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Should Cowboys Start Negotiating a Contract Extension With Rod Smith?

Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Jaylon Smith did not just defy all odds and return to normalcy in 2017, starting as the Cowboys' middle linebacker for a full 16 games. He became one of the team's and NFL's brightest success stories, earning the right to celebrate everyday activities returning to his life - as football did this season.

https://twitter.com/thejaylonsmith/status/964606764619624453

This is exactly what Jaylon Smith did on Twitter Friday afternoon, posting a Snapchat video of himself bowling. The caption on Twitter adds that Smith was enjoying his time at the lanes for the first time in two years.

It was January 1st, 2016 when Jaylon Smith's injury in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame changed his outlook forever. In that moment, Smith went from a projected top ten pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to a LB that would need a team to take a chance on him - and be patient.

The Dallas Cowboys proved to be that team, using the 34th overall pick on the Notre Dame star and supporting his efforts to return to the field from day one. The entire Cowboys' organization was rewarded by Smith remarkably playing every game this season, inspired by his constant determination to do just that.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 3

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

So, a normal offseason for Jaylon Smith is anything but right now. Still battling the drop foot condition (one that is reportedly healing well and "fading") which limits his movement ability in the lower body, Smith is a normal Dallas Cowboys football player from this point forward.

He can say he's already defined all odds, can expect to take an even bigger stride forward in 2018, and Jaylon Smith can go bowling again. You can't help but be happy for #54.

Tell us what you think about "Watch: Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith Goes Bowling for First Time Since College Injury" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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Dak Prescott’s Accuracy Stands Out in Final 2017 Stats

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Dak Prescott

2017 was a season that left the Dallas Cowboys with a ton of questions to think about. Dez Bryant's contract, Sean Lee and Tyron Smith's availability, and the future of DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving are some of those questions.

But there's another more pressing question for the Cowboys. How can they get the most out of Quarterback Dak Prescott and avoid another struggling year for him?

Also, what if he has another rough year? At what point does quarterback become a position that needs to be evaluated if he continues to struggle?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that will be the case. In fact, I have a lot of faith in Dak. I think he's shown a lot to be excited about and I definitely believe there's a "quarterback curve" in the NFL. Hopefully, #4 finds a way to get back on track in 2018.

A reason to be optimistic about Prescott's future is an impressive stat from NFL Next Gen Stats. Turns out, Dak Prescott ranked first in the NFL in "tight window throws" completion percentage with 45.8%.

According to Matt Harmon from NFL.com, a "tight window throw" is defined as a pass in which the intended receiver has less than a yard of separation from the defender.

Dak Prescott is far from a perfect quarterback and he's constantly bashed about his throwing accuracy. Just recently, he took part in a passing competition with David Carr before the NFL Honors and well... it's fair to say Carr completely beat him.

Cowboys Twitter was anything but forgiving for the young quarterback, but at the end of the day, I'm not sure a casual passing competition at an event like that one is the way you judge an NFL starting quarterback who has a 22-10 record in his career.

Dak has a long way to go before being considered an excellent quarterback in the league, but a bad season like 2017 doesn't mean it's the end of his career and that the Dallas Cowboys should start Cooper Rush over him.

It's not the first quarterback who struggles one year and he won't be the last one to bounce back from one. As of right now, Dak Prescott rightfully is the Dallas Cowboys QB1. Hopefully he has a better year next season.

Tell me what you think about "Dak Prescott’s Accuracy Stands Out in Final 2017 Stats" 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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