We have now hit the part of the offseason which is probably the most depressing. The Draft has come and gone, training camp is still months away, and there is very little new news coming out of the Cowboys world.
So, instead, I have decided to take a step back over the next few weeks, and re-evaluate some of the key moments from the 2016 season.
Each week, one play will be put under the microscope to diagnose what the Cowboys did right or wrong in order to decide their fate on that Sunday. To start this series off, we go all the back to week 2 of the last season, with the Cowboys down 23-20 on the road in Washington.
After playing some pretty sloppy football all day, the Cowboys found themselves staring an 0-2 start right in the face. Washington had drove down the field and was now in scoring position, with a touchdown likely putting the game away for good.
At worst, Dallas needed to hold Kirk Cousins and company to a field goal and stay within one possession.
In reality, Barry Church did them one better.
First, let's talk generally about how this play went down. With plenty of time in the pocket, Cousins slid outside the left tackle and saw his receiver, Pierre Garcon, flash over the middle of the field. Recognizing where the ball was going, Barry Church jumped in front of the pass and came up with the game-changing interception.
Now, let's check out the All-22.
The Redskins come out in an empty backfield, shotgun look. They have trips to the field, and two eligible receivers to the sideline. As a counter, the Cowboys come out in a pretty basic cover 2 scheme from a 4-2-5, or nickel look.
The intended receiver, Pierre Garcon, is lined up slot-left. Garcon and fellow Redskins' wide-out Jamison Crowder stack each other at the snap of the ball, in an effort to confuse the defenders. Remaining smart and patient, Orlando Scandrick and Anthony Hitchens communicate and pass off the receivers to one another.
Trying to find a soft spot in the zone, Garcon tries his luck over the middle of the field and behind the Cowboys' two-deep safeties. The Redskins run the rest of the receivers to the outside in an attempt to stretch out the Cowboys' zones, and open up the middle of the field. Seeing Garcon flash open for a split-second, Cousins tries to fit the ball in there for a touchdown.
Instead, Barry Church baits him into the throw, recovers over the middle, and intercepts the pass in the end zone.
As good as the Cowboys defense played on this snap, the lack of velocity and poor decision making by Kirk Cousins on this throw simply cannot be excused. Yes, Dallas had solid coverage all of the field, but trying to beat the defense over the middle where four defenders are sitting in their zones will always be a bad idea.
Especially when you had a chance to potentially put the game away. Luckily for the Cowboys, Church made the play and the team went on to get their first of eleven straight wins.
Next week, we flip to the offensive side of the ball, and analyze one of the most important plays of the Cowboys' week 3 win over the Chicago Bears.