Some observations from them film room following Sunday's 24-20 win over Miami.
- Not one bit surprised that these Cowboys running backs had success in the game against the Dolphins. Even without DeMarco Murray in the lineup, this has been a position of strength throughout these first two weeks of camp. Each one of them plays with a different skill set but the one traits they have in common is how they all are running the ball with some explosive power. Live and on tape, that power showed up as this group physically took the ball down hill in this zone scheme and made it work down after down regardless how clean the play was block. It was a good start for a group that couldn't get out of their own way in 2012.
- Despite only playing one series, I had a very positive view of both Doug Free and Tyron Smith at the starting tackle spot. Free drew Cameron Wake for his assignment in the matchup and I have to say that his technique getting into his blocks in the running game was solid, his sets in pass protection was on mark. Free showed punch with his hands but he also didn't play off balance or get out of whack with his body position. Free was on a path that if he played longer, would have been very much on his game against one of the better defensive ends in this league, his technique was that good. Smith on the other hand was really rolling as a run blocker in this game which was outstanding to see because there have been times in this camp where he has struggled badly both run and pass. On Sunday night, he was able to put some things together when he came off the ball, his edge was captured. Smith also looked comfortable playing with Ronald Leary inside and that is very important going forward.
- I am still a fan of keeping Travis Frederick at center and doing the best you can working with the current guards on this roster. What I like about Frederick is in which the confidence in which he plays the position with his intelligence. In this rookie season, there are going to be times where he gets overmatched physically when he has to handle a steady diet of men on his nose but I can live with that until he develops. At center, he looks comfortable with his techniques and at guard not as much but he is not a bust at that position. I just don't see the foot quickness to consistently handle the position. What I do like, is how he is able to play with awareness across the pocket while he is at center. He showed awareness on several plays to help either David Arkin or Ronald Leary when needed. It's that type of awareness that could buy Tony Romo that extra tick of a second to get the ball off. I thought for his first time out of the blocks his smarts out weight the physical side of the game. He wasn't perfect, nor did I expect him to be but being in good football position is half the battle.
- A group that had caught my eye during camp was the wide receivers and how productive they were during practice each day. I am not just talking about Dez Bryant and Miles Austin but the young guys like Dwayne Harris, Cole Beasley and Terrence Williams. I understand that Williams was not part of the group on Sunday, but overall, it didn't appear as a group to be their best outing. I observed too many downs where they didn't get off the coverage and work themselves open. There were too many situations where you watched the play develop and it didn't have a chance because as they were fighting up the field, the quarterbacks had no where to go with the ball and this surprised me. I had seen this group get off cleanly in routes and make themselves available for the ball but that wasn't the case on Sunday. The one chance where Cole Beasley did work himself open near the goal line, Nick Stephens could not get him the ball because if he had, it would have resulted in a touchdown but like the night, it just wasn't the case.
- It was nice to see George Selvie have the type of night that he had against the Dolphins but it was even better to see guys like Kyle Wilber, Jeris Pendleton and Landon Cohen do the same. The numbers for these guys were not like what we had seen with Selvie and his two sacks but what I observed were young guys playing well at the point of attack. Wilber was only credited with one pressure but there were several times on tape where if the quarterback had held the ball a split second longer, it would have resulted in a sack. He really did a nice job of getting off the edge with the some quickness and sharpening that edge. In Pendleton's night, he played with power and brute force. He played off blocks and chased the ball all over the field with effort and hustle. Of all the defensive linemen, Cohen played with the best quickness there were several snaps where he looked offsides and they got him one time but he showed these defensive coaches that he is capable of playing quickly up the field in this scheme which is what they ask. [embedded_ad]
- Rookies need to take these games as a learning experience and grow from there. It appeared live or on television that J.J. Wilcox played a poor game but to me that wasn't the case at all. The one thing you never have to worry about Wilcox is his love to try and make a tackle. There are plenty of safeties that are smart that will not tackle and they do you no good. What Wilcox needs to learn and experience is how to play coverages and do a better job with his eyes. There are routes that he has seen in these last few weeks that he never did at Georgia Southern. These receivers and tight ends are talented and crafty in the way they get up the field but Wilcox has to learn that. In this league, you have to learn to play with your eyes at that position. You cannot be in man or zone coverage and not be looking at anything but your keys. If quarterbacks see you peeking into the backfield, they will take advantage of that. Last night, Wilcox learned a valuable lesson in playing with his eyes and reacting to what he sees. I love the way in which J.J. Wilcox plays football with his physical style but where he will get better is playing with more of an understanding of the game and that will make him a better safety for this squad.