Observations from the film room in Oxnard:
- Was not one bit surprised how Dez Bryant and Miles Austin played in this game last Friday. It was their first game action of the season and both were on point with their routes along with the ability to secure the ball. Austin did most of his damage from the slot, while Bryant made an outstanding adjustment on a slant, when Tracy Porter jumped the route and he was able to work behind Porter up the field. Romo seeing how the play was developing, was able to pull the ball down, reload and get it down the field to Bryant for the 26 yard gain. In visiting with Bryant after the game, he saw Porter all the way and the depth in which he was playing so he knew something was going to happen and was just happy that Romo was able to make the adjustment as well.
- It was the first start of the season for Mackenzy Bernadeau at right guard and despite all the speculation that is floating around his job status and the position, it was a positive start to the campaign. Bernadeau worked well with Doug Free but more importantly he worked well with
Travis Frederick and that was something I was concerned about. The majority of the night he had a man on his nose run and pass but showed solid technique but nice power as well. He was not late or lazy with his backside blocks nor did he play overextended in his pass protection which tends to be a problem for him at times. He was able to pass stunts with Free and was out of position or off balance when doing so. He didn't play winded or rusty as one might expect. His reactions to what was going on around him were good and there appeared to be no mental busts or errors.
- Safety J.J. Wilcox has tremendous talent and once he learns how to play this game, he could become a special player. His toughness and his willingness to tackle, is a trait that is born within him that can't be taught. I am truly starting to believe that the ball finds a way to him. The old Packers and Saints safety, Darren Sharper was this way. When the ball was in the air, it was Sharper's. On his interception in the second quarter, he couldn't have played the play any better out of his zone drop. He was at perfect depth and position to make the play that he did. What allowed the interception to happen, was the amount of pressure that Jerome Long was able to get up the field which forced Terrelle Pryor to have to work wide which also kept him from keeping his eyes down the field because off play fake, he had Andre Holmes and David Ausberry wide open in the end zone but couldn't get them the ball. Wilcox carried Juron Criner wide but then adjusted back inside to pick up Brice Butler. It was outstanding awareness by Wilcox who drove in front of Butler to make the snatch interception and kill the drive. It is plays like this that give this front office and staff the reason to believe they might have a special one here.
- These defensive coaches are giving Brandon Magee every opportunity to make this football team as a backup Mike linebacker and core special teamer but to be honestly, Caleb McSurdy has been a better player at the Mike and has the ability to give them just as much on special teams. During his years at Arizona State, Magee was a tackling machine, a sideline to sideline relentless player that had a nose for the ball. There are times where you do see him react quickly to the ball but not nearly as much as that college tape. McSurdy has been better at taking on blocks at the point, getting rid of those blockers and finishing the play. He is playing with quickness and power but also with some nice awareness as well. An underrated trait that I have noticed in practice is his ability to beat backs one-on-one in blitz work. He can be a hard guy to control. If he struggles at times, it is when he has to cover a back in space but has become a much smoother player with his weight loss in the off season. In the contest Friday night, he did a much better job of playing the overall scheme than what Magee did and that is something the front office and coaches will take notice of.
- As I worked with Brad Sham on the radio call of the game last night, we didn't have the best replay of what happened on the blocked Dan Bailey field goal from the Oakland 8 so I was very interested to have the opportunity to come back and study what might have been the break down. The ball is on the left hash, when L.P. Ladouceur makes the snap, which is perfect. On the right side of the Cowboys protection is David Arkin at the tight end, with Dante Rosario at the wing. The Raiders have three rushers to the outside shoulder of Arkin, as Kevin Burnett attacks that shoulder. Arkin gets upright and turned allowing Tyvon Branch a path to the inside. Rosario plants his left leg and extends to his right to take on Tracey Porter rushing from the outside. Branch with an athletic move, jumps over Rosario's leg, then works his way inside. He is two yards to the right of Bailey as he approaches the ball. By the time Bailey gets to the ball, he is in perfect position to make the block. In the end, it was Burnett's tremendous push on Arkin that gave Branch the ability to make the jump and the block.