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Grading The Game: Cowboys 6, Buccaneers 10

Tommy Simon

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Cowboys Blog - Grading the Bucs Game

Heartbreaking. Didn’t last week start the same? For that matter, hasn’t the last four weeks been the same story? The same result? The same formula? The Boys jump to a lead, falter in the fourth, have a shot, but can’t get a stop or make a play when it matters. I am ready for a new byline.

It was another heart breaking loss that this time sealed the fate of the Boys. Unless Tony Romo can come back and win seven in a row, which should win him the MVP if he does, then the Boy's playoff chances are shot. The Philadelphia Eagles or the New York Giants will surely get to nine wins, so the Boys would have to be near perfect.

For those of you who think Romo being back is going to magically resolve all of the issues the Boys have and he will single-handedly turn a 0-7 team into a 7-0 team (or even 6-1), let me be the first to wake you up from your dream. Good teams do not lose seven games in a row. I do not care how many injuries they have. When Brady went down, the Patriots went 11-5. Good teams find ways to win. But the Cowboys find ways to lose. Romo will help, but this is a .500 to .600 team with him - right now. There are just too many other issues that need to be addressed.

Let’s take the Bucs game, specifically, and look at some specific reasons that the Boys lost:

Dez, Dez, And Dez – If you're going to cry for the ball, then make the play when they throw it to you. Dez Bryant had three chances to make a play and he dropped the ball and/or did not even try to make the play on the ball. His crying to the refs is getting worse and it is becoming a distraction to himself. He is more worried about the calls than making the play. And his route running is getting worse. He relies on his power and strength, but he needs to learn to run routes to create space as well.

I personally do not see him as a top 5 receiver right now. I can think of eight or nine receivers I would take over him. We can have that debate later. The difference in this game was the Bucs number one receiver, Mike Evans, had a couple of drops too but came back and made plays when they needed him to; Dez did not. That is the difference.

The Cowboys Did Not Adjust – I thought the Bucs would play deep safeties and not load the box. Play conservatively. But their game plan was to load up the box to stop the run and they blitzed more than I have seen.

They played Sterling Moore on Dez one-on-one and the Boys did not test him. They should have thrown it to Dez every time there was a single coverage on Tampa’s corners. But the game plan never changed. They never adjusted.  They never came out of their conservative game plan and went at the corners. How can you let a team cover Dez one on one and not go after that - repeatedly? Especially when you know how bad the corners are. Look at how the Bucs used Evans. They went to him time and time again when the Boys played single high safety. The difference in this game was the Bucs adjusted and went to their big time receiver and the Boys did not.

Cassel Did Not Audible To Favorable Plays – An example is when the Boys were backed up near the goal line. The Bucs showed eight in the box. They had single coverage on Dez to the outside, the Boys have an inside run called. Cassel had to see the alignment (or he should not be starting), but rather than audible out, he runs right into the blitz and the Boys almost took a safety.

All day long there were chances to audible to single coverage plays. But Cassel seemed afraid to audible out. Jameis Winston - a rookie - seemed to do better to audible out of a bad play call than Cassel. This was a big difference in the game.

In The First Half, Cassel Did Not Give Dez Opportunities To Make Plays - Now, see point one, when Dez did get chances to make plays he did not come through. But Cassel had several opportunities in the first half to hit Dez either on long plays or in the end zone, but he threw it long or out of bounds rather than give Dez an opportunity to make plays. Contrast this with Winston, who gave his receivers every opportunity to make the plays.

Fortunately, the Dallas secondary was up to task most of the day. But, Cassel failed to do the same with Dez. He overthrew him rather than put it up short and let Dez jump for the ball. Did he not see the “Hail Mary” catch Dez made last week? Why throw a ball out of bounds when Dez has Sterling Moore on him in the end zone? The game could have been much different had Cassel trusted Dez as much as Winston trusted his guys.

You can tell the mindset of Winston was to win the game while Cassel was trying not to lose the game. That is until the last two passes to Dez when he threw it to Dez expecting Dez to deliver. He finally did the right thing, though Dez disappointed (See point one on why the Boys lost).

Yes, the ball could have been inside more, but I do not have a problem with the decision to try Dez on a safety. I just wished he would have done the same earlier in the game.

The Cowboys Offensive Line Struggled Creating Seams For The Running Lane – The run game for the Cowboys could have been better. While the Bucs were more aggressive stacking the box than I expected, the Boy's line could have controlled them better. I thought this was the worst day for the line since the Patriots game.

Darren McFadden Missed Opportunities – McFadden had his worst day since the Patriots game as well. While there were not many running lanes throughout the game, there were times when they opened and he was slow to attack. A couple of outside runs could have been big gainers had he not hesitated and attacked the outside.

There Was No Offensive Creativity – The game plan was vanilla. There was no creativity. Cole Beasley was a non-factor, Lucky Whitehead had only two plays called for him. There were no drags, no screens, no picks; pretty much nothing but vanilla plays.

No Pass Rush – The Boys are still struggling to put pressure on the QB. But for a couple of plays, Winston had all day to look at his receivers. What was thought to be a positon of strength at the start of the season has turned into a position of weakness this year.

The Cowboys Linebackers Are Ineffective At Blitzing - If you want to understand why I say this, go back and look at the LBs for the Bucs and how they blitz as compared to the Cowboys. The Boys LBs run up and once there is a blocker, they stop. They do not have the will or determination to get to the QB.

Blitzing the LBs was almost a waste. Yes, Rolando McClain hit the QB twice. But one was on a delay where there was no chance of getting home in time and the second was a blown blocking assignment. If you really want to understand why I say this, go back and look at how often the Boys blitzed this game (more than most) and how ineffective the LBs were on the majority of blitzes. Then look at the Bucs LBs blitz and how effective they were. It was a huge difference in the game.

McClain Vs. Alexander – If you really want to understand how important a middle LB is in this scheme, look at Quan Alexander for the Bucs. He was everywhere. The rookie outplayed McClain in all aspects. Blitzing, stopping the run, pass defense. Alexander played like I was hoping McClain would this year. Alexander was a force. It's a big difference in why the Boys lost this game. In fact, I would say Alexander was the MVP for this game for the Bucs.

Meanwhile, McClain was just another player. The quality of the middle LB play was a big reason why the Bucs won and the Boys lost.

With that said, let’s get to the grades for the units this week.


Offense

Quarterbacks: Grade D

Cassel played not to lose the game, rather than playing to win it. He had Dez one-on-one most of the day and did not try to take advantage. He had Dez in the end zone one-on-one with Sterling Moore and he throws it out of bounds. He has Moore covering Dez on a fly and he throws it 10 yards long. He had chances and just didn't try to make them.

Cassel was gunshy and it cost the Boys opportunities. There were many plays that Cassel could have audibled to single coverage on Dez and he simply did not take advantage.

Running Back: Grade C-

While there were not as many running lanes in the Bucs game, McFadden was also not as decisive in this game. I feel like McFadden needs initial success to trust what he is seeing. If the defense is having success, he becomes hesitant. The Boys need more from him. He has to hit the hole more decisively. Patience is good, but hesitating is not. There is a big difference.

Offensive Line: Grade D+

The O-line is always the hardest to grade. The Buc's defensive line is good and caused havoc. This is made worse by the fact they have very good linebackers and hit their gaps aggressively. But that said, the line did not create the running lanes that they have been. Now McFadden did not hit some holes that were there quickly enough, so they were not as bad as the yardage says they were. Their pass blocking was only satisfactory as well. So I gave them a D for run blocking and a C for pass blocking.

I did think there were some bright spots. The rookie, La'el Collins, held up very well against a tough match-up. Doug Free struggled on a few plays, but he is looking healthier. But overall the Boys will need more from them if they are going to make a run.

Receivers: Grade C-

Believe it or not, Terrance Williams had a better day than Dez. Cassel used him on "ins" which is where he is most effective. I would have liked to see him on a few drags too, but at least Cassel has developed some timing with him on the 15 to 18 "in" route. I gave Williams a B grade for this game.

Dez did not have a good game. Partially because he was not given chances when he was one-on-one. But later, when he was given chances, he came up short. Overall, you have to give Dez a D for his drops and for not attempting to make a play on the last play in the end zone.

I can’t really grade Beasley or Whitehead because they were not used. So you have to say they get a D because they did not influence the game at all.

Street did make a good catch, but as most of the year, he has had minimal impact in games.

Tight Ends: Grade C+

This grade was more about Cassel not using them than their performance. Jason Witten was open a lot. Gavin Escobar was used on one seam but they never went back to it. There was so much opportunity, but Cassel and the play calling failed to take advantage. I thought the Boys would run a seam and drag underneath from the 12 personnel, but it never materialized. I thought this was a game that Witten and Escobar could have had big games. It was a lost opportunity.

Blocking was certainly above average and should rate a B grade. So overall, the TEs get a C+ for the day.


Defense

Defensive Ends: Grade C+

It's hard to grade the Boys defense. Especially, the ends. They did their job limiting the Bucs to 13 points. So they grade at least a C. But there are still a few areas that need to be improved. The pass rush is the primary area. They did create a couple of sacks but Winston had time most plays. I gave a D + grade on the pass rush. I'm not sure where Randy Gregory was, did he even play? Where is the impact this group was supposed to make? It is an average group at best, and the biggest disappointment of the year.

It was obvious that the Bucs wanted to run the ball and the Boys did a masterful job at stopping that. So they get an A grade for their play against the run. Overall, that averages out to C+.

Defensive Tackles: Grade B

The DTs had a good game against the rush. They were physical at the point of attack. Hard not to give them a higher grade, but we are yet to see the pass rush we were expecting from Tyrone Crawford. He had a sack but it was because of pressure from the DEs.

Overall, the Bucs run game was shut down and so you have to give the DTs a pretty high grade for being physical at the point of attack.

One another note, I thought we would see more of the rookie David Irving at the three-technique. I want to go back and count how many plays he played at the three-tech.

Linebackers: Grade B-

I thought the LBs had a pretty good day. I graded Anthony Hitchens as a solid B+. Hitchens was around the ball all day and he held up in coverage against the running backs. Something the Cowboys have failed to do for most of the season. Hitchens is better as a Will linebacker than he is as the Mike linebacker.

I graded Rolando McClain with a C. McClain made some plays, but he did look like he was gassed again a few times during the game. Part of my grade on McClain is probably influenced by what Quan Alexander did for the Bucs. When you see how effective he was for the Bucs, you can’t really give McClain more than a satisfactory grade. Alexander impacted the game, McClain really did not. Alexander seemed like he was involved in every play, McClain was involved in some. When you compare the two, it is easy to see what the Boys are missing in a middle LB.

Corners: Grade B+

Morris Claiborne was turned around on a few routes and had his worst game of the year. Even then, he did have decent coverage most of the day and had a couple of pass defenses. I graded him in the C- range.

I thought Brandon Carr had his best day of the year. He allowed a few passes to Evans, but he had tight coverage even on the completions. I like Carr matched up with big physical receivers. He is at his best. I gave Carr a B+ for the afternoon.

Byron Jones did a good job when he came in for Claiborne. He is the best Cowboys defender at this point. He was able to carry his receiver all over the field and was good in press coverage. Jones received a B+ for his corner play.

Tyler Patmon played the slot and did a solid job of covering a tight match-up. I gave Patmon a B- for his day.

Overall I gave the corners a B grade as a unit because they did not give Winston many easy reads nor a lot of space to make throws.

Safeties: Grade B+

Barry Church had his usual day supporting the run. He did have a couple of blown assignments on the TE in coverage. Overall, he provided a solid day and I graded him in the C+/B- range.

I thought Jones did a great job when he was in at safety. He has more range than any other safety. It also looked like he broke on routes better than any other safety. Add that to his ability to cover and it gives the Boys a lot more flexibility. Unfortunately, when Claiborne went out, it forced Jones to move to corner. I graded Jones as an A- when he played safety.

Jeff Heath got two picks, so you have to grade him high. But both picks were deflections and then he turned around and had an obvious holding penalty that cost the Boys the game. Hard to grade the whole game without being tainted positively or negatively by those plays. Overall, I gave him a grade in the range of a B-.

JJ Wilcox had containment on the touchdown by Winston and got caught up inside again. I have to go back and look at all the plays JJ was in center field but my initial reaction was he had no impact except negative. I will say what I said last week. He is not good in coverage, he does not have range, he takes bad angles on deep balls and when he is the last defender, and he cannot remain assignment-sound when he has containment. The experiment has failed. Why not use White or someone who can make an impact from time to time? Or at least put in someone who can do their assignment?


Special Teams

Cover Teams: Grade B

Good coverage all day

Return Teams: Grade B

Beasley had a good return that impacted field position. Overall a decent day.



Tommy Simon is an entrepreneur, writer, speaker and sports enthusiast. He is currently CEO of TechBAA, an investor and board member of TPC Technical and CommunitesFIrst, and acting CFO for ALS Communities. In addition to investing and advising companies, Tommy is also a Sales Management coach and is working with companies as a Fractional CMO/CSO. Tommy is a life long football player, coach and Cowboy fan. He currently coaches and sponsors several 7 on 7 teams. He manages/coaches an adult flag football team that is the top team in Florida one of the highest ranked teams in the country. Tommy's hobbies include international travel, fantasy football, reading, and engaging in intelligent political discourse. He is married to a wonderful women for 18 years; which is the best thing he has ever accomplished. He has a dog that is the best dog ever. He also has 9 siblings and roughly 30 nieces and nephews. For more information about tommy, or to request him to speak, please contact him at info@techbaa.com

Game Notes

#SEAvsDAL: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Wishlist Christmas Edition: Seahawks @ Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys found a way to get their first win last Sunday, defeating the New York Giants from start to finish, 20-13.

Now at 1-1 and locked in a three way tie for 1st place in the NFC East, Dallas is looking to string together a few victories and create some early separation. Seattle is now sitting at 0-2, and while that's typically a hole teams cannot climb out of in the NFL, the Seahawks will be desperately fighting to avoid an 0-3 start.

The Seahawks opened up as 3 point home favorites against the Cowboys, with the over/under set at 44.5 points.

Dallas Cowboys

After an abysmal season opener against Carolina, the Cowboys came out firing against the Giants on Sunday night. Dallas led by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter, and ended up holding on as the Giants made a late garbage-time run.

Dak Prescott looked as comfortable in the pocket as he as in weeks, finding Tavon Austin for a 64 yard touchdown pass on the opening drive. Ezekiel Elliott scored another rushing touchdown, and the Cowboys defense was straight up dominant.

Now, the Cowboys defensive line has another chance to increase their sack total against the Seahawks' weak offensive line. And you know DeMarcus Lawrence is salivating.

Dallas improved to 1-1 straight up and against the spread, covering the 3 point spread set by Vegas a week ago. Both Cowboys games have gone under thus far as well.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks fell to 0-2 on Monday night with a tough road loss to the Chicago Bears. Khalil Mack dominated the Seahawks offensive line, dictating protections and keeping Russell Wilson uncomfortable all night long.

The Seahawks haven't been able to get much of a run game going this season, despite their insistence upon doing so. Russell Wilson is their offense, and if the Cowboys can pressure him and force him into hero-ball throws, they should have success on Sunday. After all, this was the Bears recipe for success on Monday night.

Seattle is 0-2 straight up and 0-1-1 against the spread this season.

Trends

  • The score total has gone under 5 straight Cowboys' games.
  • Dallas is 2-4 against the spread their last six times playing at Seattle.
  • Seattle is 1-5 against the spread their last six games at home.
  • The under has hit 4 of the last 5 Cowboys/Seahawks games.

Prediction

While I've thought hard about picking the under for the third straight week (I'm 2-0 doing so), I'll pick the actual game for you guys this time. I think the Cowboys will get this road win and improve to 2-1 behind dominant defensive line play and a strong running game.

This match up favors Dallas in multiple ways and I expect them to take advantage of Seattle's weak spots.

I like the Cowboys +3 a lot this Sunday.



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Game Notes

Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks: Inside The Numbers

John Williams

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Cowboys Blog - 2016 Contract-Year Cowboys: DT David Irving 2

The Dallas Cowboys will travel to the Pacific Northwest this weekend to face the Seattle Seahawks in an important game for both teams in the NFC race.

The Seattle Seahawks are 0-2 and risk being buried in an NFC West that has seen the Los Angeles Rams become the divisional power. With the San Francisco 49ers trending up, the Seahawks might find themselves left behind. On Monday Night Football, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks had little answers for a Chicago Bears team that has one of the more underrated defenses in the NFL. Well, maybe not so underrated now. They battered Wilson and the Seahawks offensive line for six sacks and were able to pressure him into an interception they were able to return for a touchdown.

The Dallas Cowboys rebounded from a week one disappointment to take care of business against the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football. It wasn't a pretty win on offense, save for the first and last drives of the game, but it was a solid win. The defense dominated the New York Giants' offensive line and left them searching for answers at 0-2.

As we get ready for week three let's go Inside The Numbers for yet another important matchup for the Dallas Cowboys.

Team Breakdown

The Dallas Cowboys lead the all-time series 10-8, but have dropped the last two matchups and are 2-3 over the last five games. They've split the last two meetings that played in Seattle, winning the most recent showdown in 2014, 30-23.

If you'll remember, that was the game that had us all believing that Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray led Cowboys team was for real. Sadly the 2014 season ended with the typical heartbreak that we've grown accustomed to in the last 23 years.

Let's take a look at how the matchup breaks down on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

Offense

The Dallas Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks offenses are eerily similar statistically as both rank near the bottom in most offensive categories.

Dallas Cowboys at the Seattle Seahawks: Inside The Numbers 2As you can see from the chart above, there aren't many categories where either team ranks inside the top 20 in total offense.

Offensive Observations

  • The Dallas Cowboys have a decided advantage along the offensive line. They rank inside the top 15 in rush yards, rush TDs, first downs on the ground, and have allowed fewer sacks than the Seattle Seahawks offensive line.
  • The Dallas Cowboys have been excellent through two games at protecting the ball, having only turned it over one time; a fumble by Dak Prescott in the week one loss to the Carolina Panthers.
  • Through two games, the Seahawks haven't rushed for a touchdown. They haven't run it often and haven't run it very well either. They only average 3.6 yards per attempt on the ground. Advantage Cowboys. 
  • While the Seahawks have thrown for more yards this season, Dak Prescott has a better completion percentage. For the year, Russell Wilson has completed only 59.4% of his passes. Dak Prescott is at 64.8%.

Defense

It's on the defensive side of the ball where the Dallas Cowboys have a decided advantage, particularly with their pass rush.

Dallas Cowboys at the Seattle Seahawks: Inside the Numbers

As you can see, the Dallas Cowboys have the statistical edge in nearly every category.

Defensive Observations

  • The Dallas Cowboys rank in the top five in several defensive categories including points allowed, yards allowed, yards per play, passing yards allowed, passing touchdowns, net yards per attempt, first downs achieved through the air, and sacks.
  • Where the Dallas Cowboys have struggled in the first two games, particularly against the Carolina Panthers was against the run. Though they're around the middle of the pack through two games, the Panthers were able to find a lot of success on the ground. The New York Giants, not so much.
  • The Cowboys are going to have to continue to be careful with the football as the Seattle Seahawks continue to be one of the best at creating turnovers, especially in the secondary. They're tied for first in the NFL in interceptions with five. Through two games, Prescott hasn't thrown one, but he's had a couple potential interceptions dropped. This week he won't be so lucky.

What it All Means

The Dallas Cowboys are going to have a pretty difficult challenge corralling Seahawks' Quarterback Russell Wilson, but the numbers seem to point to it being a long afternoon for Wilson.

The Dallas Cowboys have a decided advantage when the Seahawks drop back to pass. The Seattle offensive line has allowed the most sacks in the NFL. Coming off allowing six sacks to the Chicago Bears, Wilson could be in for another long day against a Dallas Cowboys defense that is second in the NFL -- to the Chicago Bears -- in sacks with nine.

The Seattle Seahawks won't be able to rely on their running game to keep the Dallas Cowboys defense off balance as they only average 3.4 yards per carry through the first two weeks of the season. If the Cowboys can get an early lead this Sunday, it will present a really favorable opportunity for the Dallas Cowboys pass rush.

Dallas Cowboys vs Seattle Seahawks Stat Notes

0

Dak Prescott hasn't thrown an interception this season. If we can make any observations through two games, it's that he seems to be back to his ball protection ways. As a rookie, Prescott only through four interceptions, before doubling that in 2017 with eight.

2

Cole Beasley and Deonte Thompson are tied for 27th in the NFL in yards per route run. That number is better than Stefon Diggs of the Minnesota Vikings, Golden Tate of the Detroit Lions, Davante Adams of the Green Bay Packers, and Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

3

The Seattle Seahawks have had a hard time getting to opposing passers and have collected only three sacks through the NFL's first two weeks. Prescott was sacked six times in week one, but the Dallas Cowboys offensive line rebounded to keep the New York Giants from collecting a sack in week two.

4

Tyler Lockett has played 53 of his 79 offensive snaps from the slot, but has only been targeted four times, catching four passes for 85 yards. His 1.60 yards per route run out of the slot is tied for 11th in the NFL among players who have played at least 50% of their snaps from the slot.

13.5

Seattle Defensive Lineman Jarran Reed has been the best run defender for the Seahawks, earning a run stop on 13.5% of his run snaps. Overall he sits eighth in the NFL. Among defensive lineman with at least 50% of their team's run snaps, only Da'Shawn Hand and Linval Joseph have a better run stop percentage.

19

The amount of snaps per reception allowed by Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Anthony Brown. No player who has played at least 50% of his coverage snaps in the slot has a higher snap per reception rate in the NFL than Brown's 19.

36.4

According to Pro Football Focus, Wilson's been sacked on 36.4% of his drop backs this season. Only Ryan Tannehill and Nathan Peterman have a worse percentage of players who have dropped back to pass a minimum of 22 times this season.

Wilson's been under pressure on 38.8% of his drop backs, which is sixth in the NFL.

80.4

Dak Prescott's adjusted completion percentage, which "accounts for factors that hurt the passer's completion percentage but don't help show how accurate they are," per Pro Football Focus and "It accounts for dropped passes, throw aways, spiked balls, batted passes, and passes where the QB was hit while they threw the ball."

Prescott's adjusted completion percentage is ninth in the NFL. Better than notable names such as Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Jimmy Garoppolo, Ben Roethlisberger, DeShaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Jared Goff, Matthew Stafford, and Andrew Luck.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

As I look at the run down for this game and after watching these two teams in week two, I see this as a very favorable matchup for the Dallas Cowboys. Obviously, statistics don't tell the whole story, but the Dallas Cowboys biggest strength, it's pass rush, will be facing a Seattle team that is very weak along the offensive line.

This looks to be a Dallas Cowboys win that will improve them to 2-1.



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Game Notes

Snap Judgments: Cowboys’ Linebacker Depth Stands Out in Win

John Williams

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Snap Judgments: Cowboys' Linebacker Depth Stands Out in Win

The Dallas Cowboys evened their record at 1-1 with their 20-13 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday night. The Cowboys linebackers had a huge impact on the outcome of the game and it wasn't just the guys at the top of the depth chart either. America's Team got contributions from guys at the bottom of the depth chart.

What a difference a year makes.

The Dallas Cowboys worked hard this offseason to fix the linebacker depth that failed them in the 2017 season. When Sean Lee or Anthony Hitchens -- or both -- were sidelined with injuries, Jaylon Smith, Damien Wilson, and the rest of the linebacker group struggled to keep up with opposing offenses. Specifically, in games against the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers the major depth inadequacy was revealed.

One year later, the Dallas Cowboys have a linebacker corp that allows them to go five deep with Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Joe Thomas, and Damien Wilson all making considerable contributions for the Dallas Cowboys in Sunday nights victory.

Here are the final snap counts for the five linebackers that played a defensive snap against the Giants.

  • Jaylon Smith - 57 (84%)
  • Sean Lee - 41 (60)
  • Leighton Vander Esch - 28 (48%)
  • Damien Wilson - 17 (25%)
  • Joe Thomas - 14 (21%)

Jaylon Smith led the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night with 10 tackles (seven solo) and played really well roaming sideline to sideline and making plays. He was tasked with the difficult assignment of containing New York Giants Running Back Saquon Barkley and allowed four catches for 41 yards in his coverage area. Smith was credited with three stops or plays that result in a "loss" for the offense (per Pro Football Focus).  Smith led the team in snaps for the second straight week.

Sean Lee had a better game on Sunday night than he did in week one. PFF credited him with four stops, four tackles and an assist. Lee allowed two catches for 24 yards on two targets to Wayne Gallman and Evan Engram. Lee pulled his hamstring at the end of the game and was held out the rest of the way for precautionary reasons. He'll be an interesting name to watch on this week's injury report. Age catches up with everyone, but hopefully Sean Lee can stave it off for at least another season.

Rookie Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch saw a big bump in his snap count from week one (17) to week two (28). The rookie played well too. As many players seemed to struggle with tackling Saquon Barkley, Vander Esch was able to bring down the number two overall pick on several occasions. Vander Esch had seven solo tackles in his second career game.

Damien Wilson was the surprise player of the night. He had three tackles on the night, including one on special teams, a sack, and a forced fumble. Though his time on the field might have been short, his impact was certainly felt. His forced fumble led to a field goal that gave the Dallas Cowboys a 13-0 nothing lead. Wilson was also credited with two stops on the night.

Joe Thomas has been a good player for the team off the bench as well. Though he only had one tackle, it was good enough to be credited with a stop. He's a player that can play both the WILL and MIKE linebacker spots. As the fourth or fifth linebacker on the depth chart, Thomas is a great role player.

Other Snap Count Notes

  • Taco Charlton may not have started, but he played 84% of the team's defensive snaps. That number is up from 73% in week one. Charlton had a sack, a hit, and a hurry as well as three stops on the night.
  • Cole Beasley and Allen Hurns led the wide receiver group in snap percentage from week one to week two. The big difference at wide receiver was seeing Michael Gallup take the third most snaps on offense instead of Deonte Thompson. Thompson still had the bigger impact with four catches for 33 yards on five targets including two for first downs.
  • Geoff Swaim was the far and away leader at tight end in snaps with a 94% snap count. Only the offensive line and Dak Prescott had more snaps on the night than Swaim. He's the TE1 for the team, though he didn't have an impact in the passing game.
  • Rico Gathers only played five snaps, but there was concerted effort to get him the ball as he had two targets in his five snaps. He may not have come away with a catch, but it's a start.
  • Jourdan Lewis continues to be the odd man out on defense. He only played one snap.
  • Dorance Armstrong saw a snap jump from week one to week two going from 28% of the defensive snaps to 40% of the snaps. He had two hurries and an assisted tackle.



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