IRVING, Texas – I don't ever mean to go overboard, but every week I sit down with the tape of these games and I see so many things that I want to discuss about what happened.
In a game as heartbreaking as Sunday night's loss to Philadelphia, there is plenty to discuss. You'll be able to see that this week, as we had to split my game report into two stories. I wrote almost 1,000 words detailing my offense game notes, and I have another 1,000 words coming about the defense.
Here's the first part:
- In my Scout's Notebook on Friday, I wrote that I wasn't sure how the Eagles were going to use Malcolm Jenkins in this game. Last time out he was straight up out of the slot against Cole Beasley and was outstanding. I thought there was a possibility that he could play over the top of Jason Witten or help underneath against Dez Bryant. What they chose to do was to have Jenkins once again with Beasley, but the biggest difference was that Jenkins allowed him more free access in the route and Beasley took advantage of that situation. Beasley's first touchdown catch of the game came on a beautifully executed option route where he was able to drive hard to the outside on Jenkins, plenty and explode back to inside. Beasley sold the outside move so strongly that Jenkins had no choice but to drive hard to prevent him from going to the sideline. Once Beasley felt that Jenkins was committed to the outside – he planted his right foot in the ground and broke to the middle of the field. To Matt Cassel's credit he allowed the route to develop because he saw that both Dez Bryant and Jason Witten were doubled and Beasley was his best option to have success on the play. Cassel was able to deliver on the play and several others against Malcolm Jenkins throughout the evening.
- Dez Bryant drew some early single coverage in the game and he was able to take advantage of that. His first reception of the day was against single coverage came when he was able to work outside, then in against Nolan Carroll -- which completely put him off balance. In the same drive, Bryant again worked against Carroll and was able to separate at the line and maintain his route vertically up the field in a straight line, which made it an easy touch pass for Matt Cassel. What I liked about both routes was that Bryant had to win off the line with his feet. With the injury plus the amount of time he has been off – that was a positive sign in these upcoming games.
- There are times when watching the game on television puts imagines in your mind that a player really wasn't at his best. This is true when you look at the game Tyron Smith played. With offensive linemen I always try and encourage you to evaluate their games not in one or two plays but the 65-to-70 snaps they play a game. If you see an offensive tackle struggling throughout a game -- say on five-to-eight plays – then feel free to go with that opinion. Against the Eagles, Smith had two bad snaps that were negative plays, but if you evaluate his overall body of work – he did not grade that poorly.
- Christine Michael was active for the game but did not see any action. In the rotation was the surprising combo of Darren McFadden and Rod Smith. The coaching staff has taken a liking to Smith, and they are interested in seeing what he can do when given the chance. I haven't talked to anybody in the front office or coaching staff, but I believe Michael has had his struggles to pick things up much like Ryan Williams did last season and that is keeping him from the field. The one thing that I have learned from being around Scott Linehan is that, if as a player you are not assignment sure, he will not put you in the game regardless of how good you are. His dog house has been known to be pretty deep.
- In a game that was as tight as that one was on Sunday night, any little mistake could cost your club the opportunity to win. As well as Matt Cassel played, he did miss a "Hot" read to a wide open Jason Witten on a 3rd-and-8 from the Dallas 46 that could have put the offense deep into Eagles territory. On his release off the line, Witten was clapping for the ball to the left side but Cassel's eyes were focused to the right, waiting for Cole Beasley to clear on the crossing route. Instead of finding Witten, Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks came through unblocked on a wide blitz and sacked Cassel for a loss of six yards. The result of the sack forced a punt, which the Eagles take and march down the field for the go-ahead touchdown.
- I believe Darren McFadden has some DeMarco Murray in him in regard to being a one-back runner. It's just an observation, but McFadden just doesn't look as comfortable with Tyler Clutts in front of him. Murray just didn't like Clutts because he made him have to start, stop and re-start because there were times where he hesitated in the hole and it threw Murray's reads off. McFadden appears to have trouble with Clutts as well, and it is due to Clutts' inability to hit the hole with any quickness. McFadden wants to take the ball and get going – Clutts doesn't always allow him to do that. There were a couple of snaps where you could see McFadden just blowing past Clutts before he had a chance to make his block. Would not be surprised to see more one back runs much like we did with Murray last season.