The Cowboys took care of a depleted Indianapolis Colts team last night, making their 2017 debut in front of Cowboys Nation at home. Rolling out most of their starters for a few series, the Cowboys were sharp on both sides of the ball and left me with plenty of impressive takeaways for my latest edition of Sean’s Scout.
Let’s get right to what stood out from this 24-19 win over a Colts team making their first trip to AT&T Stadium since week 16 of 2014 – when Dallas clinched the NFC East with a convincing 42-7 victory.
- There is no doubt that the Cowboys’ rushing attack was boosted by the starting offensive line winning convincingly across the board against a weak Colts front. You still have to love what you saw from Darren McFadden early on as a decisive runner that was putting his foot in the ground and playing with some finish. The Cowboys’ staff has shown plenty of commitment over the past seasons to McFadden, and he was finally able to prove why once again after struggling to get anything going with limited reps earlier in the preseason without the starting line in front of him.
— Trent U. (@TrentUber) August 20, 2017
- Here is a scary thought for opposing defenses – WR Dez Bryant playing with an extra gear as he rapidly improves his chemistry with Dak Prescott. There’s much more intrigue than concern at the WR position as Dallas will have to make some tough decisions in shaping their roster, but knowing that Bryant can return to form as a vertical threat that’s already the best in the league at winning with physicality at the catch point will only elevate the play of Brice Butler, Cole Beasley, and Ryan Switzer. I don’t know if there is a team in the NFL that currently has the defensive backs to line up against the Cowboys and deal with these weapons all across the field.
- La’el Collins is learning how to use his power to hold up at RT, transitioning from a LG position where he consistently showed off his rare combination of power and speed. The struggles for Collins at his new position have come in his mechanics both with his feet and hands to control rushers. Against the Colts, when rushers were able to capture the corner against La’el, he was still able to handle them well by sealing the edge with some force and guiding the DE around the pocket. Dak Prescott could deal with this much better than pressure in his face or a straight rusher knocking him off his spot, and the results were pretty obvious with Dak’s comfort in the pocket.
- For the second straight week, I believe we got a good look at what Rod Marinelli’s defense will be schematically – with the results being even better on Saturday night thanks to the addition of Jaylon Smith. With all eyes on him, Smith was far from perfect in his angles and reads in coverage, but he found ways to move with some burst in getting to the football. Overall, having speed at linebacker is going to help this defense tremendously – particularly the fresh faces in the back-end. FS Byron Jones was able to thrive playing closer to the line of scrimmage as a match up piece with these LBs so solid in their drops, and the likes of Jeff Heath, Robert Blanton, and Kavon Frazier all drove downhill to the ball well. Simply put, this is a defense that wants to force other teams to throw the ball into them and limit chunk plays, something they could excel at with the personnel available for the scheme.
- When Orlando Scandrick plays with balance, he is still one of the stickiest cover guys on this team. Getting him off the field was never going to be easy for a rookie like Jourdan Lewis or Chidobe Awuzie, especially now with the setbacks they’ve suffered with injuries in camp. With his feet under him, Scandrick was flying around making plays that he’ll be asked to execute well into the upcoming regular season as the Cowboys slowly prepare their draft picks at the position.
The Cowboys will focus on finishing out training camp after a strong preseason showing against the Colts, with their week three “dress rehersal” set for Saturday the 26th against the Oakland Raiders from AT&T Stadium. An extended look at the starters that performed so well here should have Cowboys Nation more than ready for meaningful football back at home against the Giants in week one.