Broaddus: Plenty of Positives From Defensive Game Tape

 From the film room at Valley Ranch following the Tampa Bay game. 

  • With the Cowboys down 7-0,  and Tampa Bay with the ball 3rd and 14 on their own 17, Rob Ryan sends in his nickel package on the field. With Jenkins, Claiborne and Scandrick upfront with Carr and Church on the backend. Ryan only puts one defensive linemen on the field and that is Jason Hatcher. At the snap, Ryan has Ware, Hatcher and Spencer rush from a standing position to try and confuse the Buccaneers blocking scheme. Instead of rushing Victor Butler, Ryan has him dropping out to help in coverage. Josh Freeman wants to get the ball down the field but the secondary has done a nice job of picking up the coverage. Freeman sees that he can't get the ball down the field so he tries to throw the ball through the on rushing Spencer who has beaten his man off the edge. Sean Lee is behind DJ Ware in coverage but in position to make a play. Freeman fires the ball in the direction of Ware but it as the bounces off him and hangs in the air and for a moment it's a 50 – 50 ball but Lee is able to go and get It securing the interception.  In the big picture, this play was a huge in the game because until that point, the Cowboys offense had struggled to gain any type of field position on their own and with the ball on the Buccaneers 23, it gave them an opportunity to get points which resulted in a touchdown to tie the game. 
  • It's hard enough in this league to win with your starters but you have to give Sean Lissemore, Josh Brent and Jason Hatcher a lot of credit for playing an outstanding game against one of the better offensive lines. I was worried about the match up of Hatcher against the left side of the Buccaneers line. Donald Penn and Carl Nicks are a big, physical group that tries to beat you up every play. Hatcher was able to stand in there toe to toe and not only have some positive pass rushes but hold up against the run which in the past has been a big problem for him. Sean Lissemore made the start on the left side and like Hatcher did a nice job of holding up against the run. I have always thought that Lissemore played better on the right side but there were several times where Lissemore was able to control the blocker by extending his hands inside, finding the ball and get in on the play. Josh Brent in my observations the last three weeks have been outstanding. The struggles he had throughout his first few seasons is playing with his hands. Defensive line coach Brian Baker really has worked hard with him getting rid of blocks and not getting in personal battles. There never has been a question of Brent's strength and power but you are seeing him play with a combination of power and technique. In a day where the backups needed to step up big, these three more than held their own. 
  • Against the Seahawks, the Cowboys punt unit gave up a blocked punt. In the Tampa game they had a situation again where they nearly gave up another block. When asked about the problem, Jason Garrett told the media on Monday that there were communication breakdowns with the group that caused the problem. The Buccaneers have six rushers to the right of snapper L.P. Ladouceur, the Cowboys have five blockers to handle that rush to that side. The Cowboys like to run what they call "Slide" protection where they protect to one side, then kick the ball the other way. Phillip Tanner is the personal protector and before the snap he moves from the inside to the out. On the snap, Tanner, Church slide to their right, but Connor, Carter and Lemon stay solid to their side which allows Dekota Watson a free run at Chris Jones who to his credit, is able to get the punt off without it being blocked. It was a basic look that the Buccaneers gave then and this group has practiced it since day one but a simple communication problem almost lead to a disaster.
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