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Eatman: Goose Egg For Ware; New Ace On Special Teams?

Posted Sep 18, 2013


When the great PR staff here at the Cowboys pass out our media booklets – which I refer to as the Cowboys’ bible – each Tuesday, the first page I always turn to is the defensive stats section.

I’m really not sure why I do it – but I always have and I think it’s because it’s the one thing that can change from what we saw after the game. I like to see how the coaches graded the film and to see where the players rank on things such as tackles and pressures.

I was shocked to see DeMarcus Ware at the very bottom of the defensive list with … no tackles? Zero. Not one. Not once in the last two games has Ware jumped in for at least a half-tackle.

And we all know by now how teams judge tackles differently. I’ve seen games where a player had 6 tackles by the official NFL stat crew and then on Tuesday he’s got 14 after the coaches get a hold of it. Apparently, this defensive staff doesn’t grade that way. That, or Ware simply hasn’t had any tackles to speak of in two games.

The weird part, however, is that I don’t recall a time where Ware is completely getting gashed because he’s darting up the field. Or plays where he’s just whiffing on the tackler in the open field. It seems to be he makes plays when it’s there.

Obviously he’s doing his thing with two sacks and a team-high eight quarterback pressures.

But for a guy who ranked sixth on the defense last year with 72 stops, it’s somewhat surprising he has none so far.

Watch, he’ll probably get eight Sunday against the Rams.

 

Speaking of Tackles …

One of the reasons Dwayne Harris has been active over Cole Beasley the first two games is because of special teams. We knew it’d likely be for his punt returning – and in case you hadn’t noticed, Harris is leading the NFC with a 13.7 yard average.

However, Harris is also separating himself from Beasley and everyone else for that matter, in special teams coverage, as well.

Harris leads the Cowboys with five special teams tackles, including two more on Sunday. He’ll likely have to fight off Danny McCray, who has been this team’s best special teams contributor the past three years. McCray missed Week 1 with a hamstring injury but had two last week.

But more than just making tackles in the kicking game, Harris is getting down there and being active. He didn’t recover the fumble against the Giants in Week 1, but he made sure the New York defender in front of him didn’t either, and DeVonte Holloman ended up getting it. Last week, Harris was darting down there to get the ball recovered by Knile Davis that would’ve been a huge game-changer.

He’s looking like a receiver in getting down there and then looks like a safety in making the play. Harris’ play on special teams has been a huge surprise to me.

Don’t Look Now …

But Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey has made 20 straight field goals, dating back to last year. That streak is the fourth-best in club history, behind is 26-straight he made in 2011 that tied him with Chris Boniol, who actually holds the record for 27 straight as well.

 But what’s the most  impressive about Bailey has nothing to do with his easy-money field-goal kicking. I like the fact he ranks second in the NFL in touchbacks with 10, only behind Denver’s Matt Prater who has 11.

Really? Bailey leads the NFC and second in the entire league in touchbacks? That was supposed to be the worst part of his game. Now, it’s becoming a strength.

Of course, we’ll see more kickoff returns later in the year when it gets colder and windier, but for now it’s becoming a weapon.

-        Nick Eatman is the recent published author of: “Art Briles: Looking Up,” an authorized biography on the current Baylor football coach, with a foreword written by Robert Griffin III.

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