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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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Could Cowboys DT Datone Jones Earn Starting Role with Maliek Collins Out?

Sean Martin

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Could Cowboys DT Datone Jones Earn Starting Role with Maliek Collins Out?

Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins is out for Sunday's game at the Seahawks with a sprained knee, further opening the door for Datone Jones to earn his spot among the "Hot Boyz". The moniker given to the Cowboys front seven this season, the team's depth up front has been a strength in totaling nine sacks through two games.

Last season, Datone Jones was a part of this rotation late in the year. Coming on strong at the 3T position while Maliek Collins played at the 1T, Jones is the type of versatile defender with veteran experience that Rod Marinelli can get the most out of.

Returning from a knee injury himself, Jones may take some time to be the disruptive interior player we saw at the end of 2017. Through two games, the Cowboys had played Collins at his original position of 3T, with Antwaun Woods doing more than enough to continue playing at 1T.

This potentially makes Collins and Jones two players fighting for one spot. Collins followed up his performance at the Panthers with a sack of Cam Newton by constantly playing in the Giants' backfield last week.

John Owning on Twitter

Guessing that means no Irving, I'd say Tyrone Crawford then Antwaun Woods. I have high hopes for Datone Jones once he returns though. https://t.co/9frjFK2J9J

A player determined to not let his team's misuse slow down his progress, after an incredible rookie season at 3T, Collins is returning from his second broken foot in three years.

Through his five years in the NFL, Jones has only played a full 16 games once.

The most games Datone has started in a season is four. Maliek Collins should like his chances of playing over Jones once both are healthy, and the Cowboys should be equally thrilled with the opportunity to keep both fresh in rotation.

Following Sunday's game in Seattle and next week against the Lions, the Cowboys can return David Irving from suspension to play all over their defensive line - his best position also being at three technique.

Without the wealth of talent they now have at all four positions up front, the Cowboys have had too many bodies to fill similar roles in the past. Thanks to the addition of Kris Richard along with strong edge play from Taco Charlton and rookie Dorance Armstrong, the Cowboys defensive line can do no wrong in 2018, and using Jones in week three and beyond should only add to this.

The Cowboys biggest key to success against the Seahawks will be containing Russell Wilson. Pressuring him in his face to collapse the pocket gives Dallas a chance to really slow the Seahawks offense, something they'll be relying on Jones to help them do as DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory also work with favorable match ups at defensive end.

Tell us what you think about "Could Cowboys DT Datone Jones Earn Starting Role with Maliek Collins Out?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Cowboys WR Terrance Williams Facing Multi-Game Suspension

Jess Haynie

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Terrance Williams
Ric Tapia via AP

An arrest last May for public intoxication may finally result in a suspension for Dallas Cowboys Receiver Terrance Williams.

David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, who reported the pending suspension, outlined the details of Williams' case. Charges were ultimately dropped once Terrance completed an alcohol education course and paid damages to the city.

David Moore on Twitter

Sources: Cowboys WR Terrance Williams faces suspension stemming from May arrest for public intoxication https://t.co/3RmwQOllim via @sportsdaydfw

However, as Cowboys fans know too well, the NFL reserves the right to suspend players under the Personal Conduct Policy regardless of legal outcomes. The 2017 season was marred by the league's persecution of Ezekiel Elliott for domestic violence despite no arrests or charges coming from any legal or police entity.

In Williams' case, there's no dispute of his guilt. It is unlikely he will appeal any decision the NFL makes.

The potential that Terrance will be missing for 2-4 games helps explain the Cowboys' move earlier this week to bring back WR Brice Butler. With both currently active, Dallas has an unusually high seven receivers on their 53-man roster.

It's already Friday, so the suspension is doubtful to come for this week's game in Seattle. But Terrance could easily be one of the seven inactive players on game day, having received the fewest snaps of any Cowboys WR last week against the Giants.

We'll see soon enough, likely as soon as next week, just what the league has in store for Terrance Williams.



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Report: Dallas Cowboys to Sign Free Agent Wide Receiver Brice Butler

John Williams

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5 Bye Week Adjustments Cowboys Hopefully Made

The Dallas Cowboys look to be making a move at the wide receiver position as they attempt to bring some life to the position. No they aren't trading for Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Josh Gordon, but bringing back former Wide Receiver Brice Butler.

According to a report from Saad Yousuf from The Athletic, the Dallas Cowboys are set to resign the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver but first have to release someone from the 53-man roster.

Saad Yousuf on Twitter

Cowboys officials are in the process of signing wide receiver Brice Butler, multiple sources tell @TheAthleticDFW. The team has to make a roster move to bring Butler onto the 53 and is trying to decide whom to release to make room for Butler before a final decision is made.

Brice Butler was signed in the offseason by the Arizona Cardinals but was released after training camp. It was a surprising move for the Cardinals. They don't have a ton of wide receiver depth aside from future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald.

Butler's caught 73 passes on 133 targets for 1,177 yards and eight touchdowns in his five career. In 36 games with the Dallas Cowboys Brice Butler caught 43 passes on 81 targets for 794 yards and six touchdowns. In his time in Dallas, he averaged 18.5 yards per reception.

He never really got a lot of playing time with the Dallas Cowboys who had Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley and Jason Witten on the team for the duration of his time in Dallas. The Cowboys coaching staff placed a higher premium on Terrance Williams' run blocking than Butler's big play ability.

To the coaching staff's credit, Butler was never a consistent enough player to be relied upon week in and week out. In 2017, his last season in Dallas, Brice Butler was never targeted more than three times a game and he never caught more than two passes a game. Butler, however, only played 24.51% of the Dallas Cowboys' offensive snaps in 2017.

If the Dallas Cowboys do make this move it's at a curious time. Sources tell 247 Sports' Mike Fisher that the Dallas Cowboys have zero interest at the moment in Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Josh Gordon. You'd think their lack of interest would be because they still like the wide receiver room as it is.

If they do complete the signing of Brice Butler, you'd have to expect that Deonte Thompson would be the wide receiver on the chopping block. They cut him at the end of the preseason and then brought him back during week one.

This signing is unlikely to have an impact on the Dallas Cowboys week two matchup with the New York Giants, but will probably be completed early Monday to get Butler to Frisco to begin preparing for their week three matchup.

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I don't think this is a move that makes a lot of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. They've been down that road before and haven't received the results they wanted. Brice Butler does offer some big play ability, but it was thought that is why they brought in Deonte Thompson and Tavon Austin. Is it possible the Dallas Cowboys are already down on those two players after one game? They wouldn't be bringing Butler back if they didn't have plans for him.

Good or bad, do you think bringing Brice Butler back is the right move for the Dallas Cowboys?



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