Dallas Cowboys at Buffalo Bills Film Review: Standouts and Observations


 For the Dallas Cowboys, statistics don’t always tell the entire story. After keying in on the performances of a few young players, here’s what the film says…

The Dallas Cowboys playoff hopes may be vanquished but that doesn’t make these games pointless. The Cowboys are loaded with question marks and they have an opportunity to answer some of those questions these last two weeks of the season.

These last two weeks we’ll focus on young players who have a chance at increasing their roles in 2016. Players I keyed in on where Kellen Moore, Brice Butler, Robert Turbin, Geoff Swaim, Deji Olatoye, and Terrance Mitchell.

After reviewing the film, here are Week 16’s standouts, notes, and observations:

  • On Kellen Moore’s first pass of the day he threw a 3 yard completion to Brice Butler for a first down. It was a perfectly placed ball in the face of Butler. Butler didn’t need to stretch or expose himself to secure the catch making it nearly unstoppable. This is a very simple play that is often taken for granted in the NFL, but after seeing the failures of Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel firsthand, that simple execution (and 3rd down conversion) was appreciated greatly.
  • La’el Collins has had a great rookie season with the Dallas Cowboys, but that doesn’t mean he’s been flawless. This mix of zone and man blocking (70/30 split favoring the zone) isn’t the easiest thing to learn, and for every stunningly great play Collins provides, there’s one that exposes his inexperience. He had some of those plays on Sunday, but make no mistake, La’el Collins is going to be great for the Dallas Cowboys.
  • Kellen Moore’s second 3rd down conversion was great in that he recognized the corner blitz, he saw the man coverage by the safety on Brice butler, and he saw the DB has his back turned and was in the trail position. That is the ideal situation for a back-shoulder catch and that is essentially what Moore delivered since he threw up a back-shoulder/jump ball. It was a safe pass and a high percentage pass. And it was good for 27 yards making the Cowboys 2-for-2 on third down conversions.
  • Young cornerback, Deji Olatoye got a chance to try out for the 2016 Dallas Cowboys and made the kind of contribution the coaching staff was hoping he’d make. Standing 6’1”, Olatoye is taller and stronger than the traditional cornerback. He’s the kind of player Rod Marinelli looks for in a CB and after some timid play earlier in the game, he showed his size and ball-skills picking off the endzone pass to end the half.
  • Demarcus Lawrence picked up right where he ended last week, applying pressure on a key 3rd down. This is something the stats don’t always reflect but he hurried the QB, forced a quick pass, and together with a solid Brandon Carr tackle, stopped the Bills on 3rd down. Later, DeMarcus kept the stat book alive logging his 7th sack in seven weeks and cementing his role on the 2016 team. He added, what I counted, at least three more hurries on the day.

Check out: DeMarcus Lawrence is Becoming a Star

More from Sports Dallas Fort-Worth

The very next play was a deep pass on fourth down. CB Terrance Mitchell, former draft pick/camp casualty/ free agent signing, kept pace and applied a perfectly timed his swipe to break up on a would-be TD pass competition (assuming it wasn’t just a total drop). We will need to see more to see if this was a fluke play or a sign of things to come but if the Cowboys can answer some questions in the secondary these last two weeks, they may not need to gamble a top pick in the draft. Mitchell wasn’t tested much the rest of the game so the jury is still out on the young CB.

  • MIKE Rolando McClain looked almost disinterested at times. He missed two huge tackles on Buffalo’s first scoring drive (resulting in roughly 50 yards). Since joining the Dallas Cowboys last season, McClain has his share of big plays but has never been a consistent force. He’s great when he’s “all systems go” but he’s all-to-often inconsistent and injury prone.
  • More from Dallas Cowboys

    RB Robert Turbin did a great job in blitz pick-up. It was a very big part of the Cowboys offensive game plan on Sunday (more than usual), and Turbin did it very well. Everything he does, he does with tenacity and he’ll get chance to reclaim his roster spot in 2016 because of it. If you’re counting, expect

    Darren McFadden

    , Turbin, and

    Lance Dunbar

    to all get a legitimate shot at making the 53-man roster in 2016.

    WR Brice Butler and Kellen Moore have shown a surprising amount of chemistry with one another. Neither player has logged much practice/game snaps this season but they do have experience with each other and it shows. Butler needed to flash these last two weeks and he’s doing just that. A more thorough breakdown of Brice Butler to come Tuesday morning…

  • On Moore’s interception, he threw a poor back-hip ball to Butler on an inside slant– the same play he perfectly executed on the Dallas Cowboys’ first 1st down of the game. Butler would proceed to pop it up in the air, making it an easy INT. Moore’s greatest accomplishment on Sunday was delivering extremely catchable balls that didn’t expose his receivers. This was obviously the exception.
  • I was especially curious about Kellen Moore’s ability to deliver the big-arm throws like Terrance Williams‘ typical sideline comeback route. I was pleased to see, Moore threw those passes with surprising velocity. One throw was negated because of holding but the throw was impressive nonetheless.
  • Next: Free Agent QB Soluations for the Cowboys in 2016

    • It’s hard to say Kellen Moore had a good game considering the Cowboys offense failed to score a single TD. The good news is the Cowboys ran the ball relatively well and converted more 3rd downs since Tony Romo stood behind center. Moore did some things well and still has one more game to prove he’s a serviceable backup for the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.