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Scout's Notebook: Detailing Dak's Big Day; Sean Lee's Impact; More Notes
Sunday, November 05, 2017 10:35 PM CST
ARLINGTON, Texas – I’ll have my film review up on Monday. For the time being, though, here are my main thoughts from watching the Cowboys’ 28-17 win against Kansas City.
- I saw textbook coverage by the Cowboys on the Alex Smith interception. Travis Kelce was initially open on the play and it was clear that Smith was going in that direction when he saw the Cowboys in a two-deep look. Orlando Scandrick didn’t hesitate when he saw Kelce break to the middle of the field and started inside with him. Jeff Heath, like Scandrick, was playing with his eyes and he was reading Smith the whole way -- but he also took a quick glance to the inside, where he saw Kelce breaking to the inside. Both Heath and Scandrick were able to undercut the route to put themselves in position to make the play. If Heath hadn’t come up with the ball, Scandrick would have.
- On the Cowboys’ crucial third-down conversion at the end of the first half, the Chiefs went with a three-man rush and dropped eight men into coverage. Both Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley ran their routes four yards past the sticks and curled to the inside, settling between five defenders underneath and three over the top. Prescott made the wise decision to throw the ball to the taller Bryant and luckily he did because the ball sailed a bit on him. Bryant, battling the sun, went full extension to make the catch and secured a huge first down to keep the drive going when it looked like they were going to have to punt the ball back to the Chiefs.
- If Sean Lee doesn’t sniff out that screen to Kareem Hunt early in the game, he might still be running. Lee not only read the play off the jump, but he managed to avoid the pick of Demarcus Robinson running across the field to take him out. Lee kept perfect outside leverage on Bryan Witzmann and then was able to wrap up the difficult Hunt one-on-one in the open field -- which is no easy task.
- Give DeMarcus Lawrence, Orlando Scandrick and Byron Jones a ton of credit for setting up David Irving up for his sack. All three got home, forcing Alex Smith to have to climb the front of the pocket. With Irving rushing from the left end, he drove Laurent Duvernay-Tardif so far back in the pocket that with Smith coming forward, he had no chance of escape. With his right arm, he was able to bring Smith down to get the defense off the field.
- There appeared to be a run/pass option for Prescott on the first Cole Beasley touchdown. Jonathan Cooper fired out and ended up two yards down the field as Prescott lobbed the ball to Beasley. Prescott initially wanted to go to Dez Bryant, but when Ron Parker doubled him from the inside, he calmly came back in the direction of Beasley -- who had beaten Steven Nelson off the line and to the inside. With Derrick Johnson stepping up and Parker out of the play, the middle of the field was the perfect place to deliver the ball.
- It was nice to see Taco Charlton use good technique to get his first NFL sack. He punched Mitchell Schwartz in the chest with his right hand to get him off balance. Then he went arm-over with his left hand to escape Schwartz and put himself on the same level as Alex Smith as he tried to slide forward in the pocket. Charlton was able to then retrace his steps back to the inside and capture Smith before he had a chance to escape. Give Richard Ash some credit, as well, for pushing Smith in the direct of Charlton with his pocket push.
- When Dak Prescott broke the pocket on the 56-yard pass play to Terrance Williams, it put Marcus Peters in “No Man’s Land.” Peters had to make a choice to come forward and attack Prescott in space to make a tackle or drop back to take Williams deep. The choice he made was neither. Peters wanted nothing to do with tackling, so he just held his position, which was a mistake. With the Cowboys’ bench pointing down the field, Prescott pulled up one yard shy of the down marker and let it fly. Williams managed to track the ball, keep both feet in bounds and secure the catch in his hands. On the play, Cole Beasley did a great job of running his route through the middle of the defense, which kept Ron Parker from coming over and helping.
- I don’t know how Dak Prescott managed to keep his balance on his touchdown run. As he broke the pocket, Allen Bailey hit his right heel -- which caused Prescott to stumble. Somehow, he put his left hand on the ground to steady himself and continued to run. Once Prescott saw the pylon, all he needed was one more block and he got that from Cole Beasley on Eric Murray to get him into the end zone.
- The Kansas City Chiefs were trying to run a fake on their punt return, but Kavon Frazier was right there to take care of it. The Chiefs went with both Tyreek Hill and De’Anthony Thomas deep as returners. With all the attention that is generally paid to Hill, he faked like he was receiving the ball in an attempt to draw coverage his way to free up Thomas. Nobody on the punt team bought the fake, including Frazier, who beat the block of Phillip Gaines to make a form tackle on Thomas.
- The defensive front for the Cowboys on the Alex Smith interception consisted of Taco Charlton, Maliek Collins, Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence. The coaches moved Lawrence over to the right side in order to give him a rush against Eric Fisher. It was a smart decision because Lawrence drove Fisher so far inside that Smith really didn’t have the opportunity to step up into his throw. Smith was forced to throw over the top of both of them.
- Alfred Morris had one carry in this game, but it was well-executed. Morris took the ball and pressed it right between Travis Frederick and Zack Martin for a nice gain. Frederick was able to secure Bennie Logan inside and Martin was able to bounce off Chris Jones, then work his way to Kevin Pierre-Lewis on the second level. Morris saw it all the way, and -- with two hands on the ball -- was able to plow ahead. Depending on what happens in the Ezekiel Elliott case this week, we could be seeing Morris in more of those situations coming games.
- I have seen some crazy plays to end a half, but that one that Kansas City pulled off was by far the best one. When Tyreek Hill caught the ball at the Cowboys 45-yard line, there were seven defenders inside their own 15. Demarcus Robinson was able to get two blocks on the play. He knocked Jourdan Lewis wide, then took out Xavier Woods. Travis Kelce took out Byron Jones and Demetrius Harris did the same to Jeff Heath. The coaches even put a sure tackler on the back line in Anthony Hitchens, but when he overran the play on the cut-back by Hill, that was all the Chiefs needed. What was interesting in looking back on the play was that Sean Lee was not on the field at all. Maybe something now that the coaches regret.
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