As the title suggests, Cowboys LB Sean Lee had a standout performance on Sunday. Who/What besides Lee stood out on review?
The Cowboys may be minus one “Tony Romo“, but they have plenty of other parts and players that are starting to emerge. Sean Lee is a player that everyone had to have noticed on Sunday. Head coach Jason Garrett had this to say about his weakside linebacker’s (WILL) performance in Philly:
"“His production points were a record yesterday in the game,” Garrett said of Lee. “The number of hits on the ball he made, the interceptions, just everything he did he was big-time in the game.”"
Not all plays and players are as easy to identify as Sean Lee. After reviewing the game tape, here are the week 2 standouts, notes, and observations:
Defensive line stunts continue to be an issue for the Cowboys offensive line. This has been an issue dating back to last season, and the primary reason the Cowboys allow pressure from up the middle. Games an stunts are difficult to handle for any offensive line and the only cure is continuity and practice.
The Eagles bracketed Jason Witten often. They used a safety right on top of him and a linebacker underneath, clearly trying eliminating his famous curl route. Witten noticed and made adjustments almost immediately. The guy just always gets open.
DeMarcus Lawrence continues to impress with his all-around game. For all of the praise his pass-rush moves get, his tenacity and run-stopping ability really get overlooked. This 2nd year player appears to have a very bright future ahead of him as an all-around player.
La’el Collins flashed early. The undrafted rookie picked up blocks displaying good form in pass-protection, and pulled and sealed in the running game. It’s clear Collins will be starter next season, the only question is where. The Cowboys are hoping he can one day be the successor to Doug Free at right tackle but with Free playing for two more seasons, Collins will probably have to start at guard.
Positive grades for Joseph Randle’s pass-blocking, of all things. Randle stepped in an delivered where he typically struggles the most – inside blitzes.
Zack Ertz is a tough cover one-on-one for anyone, especially for a rookie from UConn. Byron Jones is very much a work in progress, but he has the skills and attitude to succeed in the NFL. He’s guilty of over-pursuit, playing chase, and reacting instead of acting, but this game experience is invaluable. If the Cowboys can survive the growing pains, they will be better off in the end. This was the best game (including preseason) of Jones’ as a pro.
3rd and 2 and the Cowboys go with an empty backfield. The Cowboys have the best run-blocking offensive line in football and they don’t even threaten to use it in this situation. The Cowboys aren’t required to run the ball in these situations, but they should, at the very least, keep the defense guessing in situations like these.
How poor of a football player is Gavin Escobar? The 6’6” former second round pick has been an overwhelming disappointment since being drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft. The one-dimensional TE from San Diego is a below average pass-blocker, a below average run-blocker, and a only a serviceable receiver. On Sunday he had a perfect opportunity on a back-shoulder goal line pass, but never planted and broke back for the ball. Simple play that looked like it somehow caught Escobar off-guard. Later, Escobar made an inexcusable fumble that could have significantly impacted the game had Philly not fumbled the ball back to the Cowboys the very next play.
Punt returns have been ugly for Dallas. It appears Cole Beasley is on the verge of getting hit by friendly fire (aka his own teammates) nearly every time he calls for a fair catch. Beasley has to find a way to keep his blockers away from him during these fair catches or we’re going to start seeing turnovers.