Free once again struggled with his technique but where Free is completely different than Smith is he doesn’t play with the brute strength that he has. If Smith gets in trouble his foot work can get him out of trouble but it is his power that can put him back in position. Free doesn’t have that upper body power nor in the lower as well. If Free misses with his punch, he has trouble resetting his hands, then sitting down on his man. When Free really gets in trouble is when he plays too tall and upright. There were too many times this past season where smaller rushers were able to what scouts like to say “Walk the dog” back into Romo. The Browns game was a prime example, when Jabaal Sheard at 255 pounds played inside on him several times and was able to carry him into the backfield. It one thing to have to deal with a smaller rusher’s speed but when they are able to carry you into the quarterback, then there are problems.
In a development that took place after the Philadelphia, was that Bill Callahan convinced Jason Garrett to allow Jeremy Parnell to split snaps with Doug Free after Parnell had a nice showing in that game at left tackle filling in for the injured Smith during the Washington game. Parnell and Free alternated in the Bengals game at right tackle and continued to do so through the final game of the season. Parnell played well enough that he will be a serious consideration if the club has to make a cost cutting move on Free. What was interesting about the two players alternating is that Free’s play did improve. It seemed to refocus him and the 50 or so snaps that he played were of better quality. Where Parnell must improve is that he has to be more consistent down after down. There were times where he would have five quality plays in a row, then he would lapse in concentration with his technique and he would struggle.
A player to keep an eye on when this team goes to camp next Summer is