Cowboys at Redskins Film Review: Game Notes and Observations

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 29: Cornerback Orlando Scandrick
LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 29: Cornerback Orlando Scandrick /

The Dallas Cowboys beat the Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoon but re-watching the tape showed some things that may have initially been overlooked.

Once again we turn to the tape and rewatched the Dallas Cowboys in order to isolate standout performers and share some game notes and observations. This provides an excellent primer to the All-22 which will be released in coming days.

  • La’el Collins was nothing short of terrible. He was seemingly holding on every play from the pocket. What’s especially curious is how little the Cowboys coaching staff helped him out. It was clear from the start Collins needed a TE or RB to help him on the edge but Garrett seemed hesitant to even offer a chip block. That said, before watching the All-22, I have Collins down for a positive run blocking grade. The Cowboys must do a better job of disguising his weaknesses.
  • Xavier Woods had two negative plays where he allowed a first down in a critical situation. These are normal growing pains that force all of us who consider him our “pet cat”, back to earth. Woods is greatly exceeding his draft position and appears to be the starting safety in 2018, it’s just safety is such a hard position to learn, we’ll need to be patient and learn to accept these kinds of plays.

Related Story: Preseason Expectations: Have patience with Xavier Woods

  • Speaking of rookies, Taco Charlton displayed better play these last two weeks than he has all season. He’s starting to use his size and athleticism more naturally and not thinking as much about technique. Dan Ruppert summed his situation up brilliantly here. Check it out if you haven’t already. Progression is key for aspiring young players and Taco seems to be progressing.
  • Jaylon Smith looked better than he has in weeks. He had an interception negated and fell just short of getting a sack, but he played with better explosion and athleticism than before. He’s clearly better when he plays with a pitch count. I’ll be watching him when the All-22 comes out to see how he looked on every snap.

    Washington runs a ton of screens, yet they seemed to catch the Cowboys ill prepared for it in the first half. Don’t get me wrong, the Cowboys dedicated players to cover the screen, they just fell victim to some of the blocks and picks that Washington runs. In the second half Dallas clearly respected it more and played like they had prepared.

    I’ve admittedly been hard on

    Orlando Scandrick

    this season. For as much as I love his attitude,

    I can’t stand his inability to catch the ball and/or effectively blitz

    when met with an actual blocker. But I have to say, this was a phenomenal game of his — both as a coverage man and a tackler. Even ignoring his blocked FG return, it was easily his best game of the past two seasons.

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  • Just when we thought Jason Witten was nearing the end he proves all wrong and shows he’s still arguably the most complete tight end in the NFL. Despite the loss in speed, he’s always been a threat in the passing game. He understands zones and has a natural feel for spacing and framing to consistently make the catch. But in the blocking game Witten started the season poorly. He struggled even getting in the way and looked a step too slow. But the last two weeks Witten has regained his form as a blocker, successfully executing the full range of blocking assignments. The Cowboys’ running game looks nothing like it was the first three weeks of the season.
  • The most disturbing thing about the game was the penalty situation. Repeatedly the Cowboys shot themselves in the foot with penalties. Their unstoppable offense was stopped with drive-killing holding calls. And their already troubled defense gifted first downs because of their own ill-timed infractions. Bill Parcells said you don’t coach penalties (as if coaches are not responsible for penalties – just players). Parcells was wrong. Jason Garrett and staff need to shore up the decision-making of their team because many times these are a result of lazy technique.
  • Byron Jones missed some early tackles when attempting to stop the run. Jones, like many safeties who came before him, struggles completing the tackle when charging in at full speed. The result of these missed tackles is significant and it what separates good safeties from all the rest. Of course interceptions make up for that but Bryon Jones has been adverse to those as well, collecting only two in his career.
  • Next: Better for team: Zeke suspended this season or next?

    I’m not sure if it was the call before or it was Dak Prescott’s decision after, but I loved seeing him throw deep to Dez Bryant when the Redskins jumped offsides. It was a free play and going deep against one-on-one coverage is always a good idea when gifted a free play.