Cowboys Film Room: Week 1 Standouts, Notes, and Observations


The Cowboys had several players standout in one way or another on Sunday evening.

The Dallas Cowboys started the season in typical fashion–sloppy. The Cowboys gave the Giants 17 points off of turnovers in their thrilling comeback win. Despite dominating in almost all areas of the game, the Cowboys found a way to give the Giants opportunity after opportunity. The turnovers are obvious errors that need correcting. 

But enough about the obvious.

After reviewing the game tape, over, and over, and over again, some interesting things jumped out. Here are some of this week’s early standouts, notes, and observations:

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  • RB Lance Dunbar runs surprisingly crisp routes when spread out wide. He keeps his speed in and out of breaks and uses good technique in catching, securing, and advancing. Receiver screens with Dunbar may have low risk and high reward potential and may be a staple of the 2015 offense. The Cowboys couldn’t take advantage of Dunbar last season but seemed determined to do so this year.
  • The pass protection was impressive in all aspects. We expect the offensive line to perform, but the tight ends and running backs performed superbly as well. The communication at the line of scrimmage was strong and the cohesiveness was apparent. Joseph Randle wasn’t great in protection but he was serviceable. It’s clear his effort is still severely lacking in this area of his game.
  • As expected, the Cowboys kept FB Tyler Clutts in for pass protection purposes more often than they traditionally did in the past. The Cowboys like Darren McFadden’s blitz pickup and Tyler Clutts’ blitz pickup, but they aren’t as confident in Lance Dunbar’s or Joseph Randle’s. Often times they ran Dunbar and Randle in routes and kept the FB Clutts in to protect Tony Romo. Clutts has the technique, strength, and willingness to do well in this aspect of the game. He only played 11 snaps but those snaps were extremely important to the Cowboys offense.
  • The numbers may not be there, but the Cowboys’ defensive line play was strong. DeMarcus Lawrence was showing a much deeper arsenal of moves. He had power, speed and finesse. Rookie Randy Gregory was demanding respect and beating one-on-one matchups with consistency, but fell to injury late in the game and is likely out the next four weeks. Tyrone Crawford is set to explode this season and was close to dominant Sunday night against both the run and the pass. Jeremy Mincey had the idiotic penalty late in the game, but his motor was strong and he’ll be asked to carry the load until Greg Hardy returns.
  • Sean Lee looked comfortable in zone coverage, but same can’t be said for middle linebacker (Mike) Anthony Hitchens. Hitchens was a step slow and a little out of place dropping and sliding into zone. Rod Marinelli’s defense is basic, but it’s far from transparent. He mixes zone and man coverage throughout the game, and often times, implements both coverages on the same play. The more comfortable and covert the LBs can get, the better.  Hitchens struggled in coverage last season as well, so it’s clearly an area he needs to improve on. Hitchens played a great game overall, but if he can excel in coverage too, this defense can get a ton of interceptions from the LB position.
  • It was surprising to see the lack of involvement for Cole Beasley. The slot receiver from SMU is expected to play a substantial role in the offense this season. In training camp, he was called “uncoverable” but after he fumbled the ball, he disappeared for a pretty long stretch, finally resurfacing late in the fourth quarter. Its hard to believe he was on the field for 41 of the team’s 71 offensive snaps. The Cowboys are at their best when Beasley is involved. He has strong route awareness and an uncanny ability to break tackles. With Dez Bryant out the next 4-6 weeks, Cole will need to play a bigger role going forward.

Next: Romo Clutch in Cowboys Win

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