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Scout's Eye: Cowboys' Air Attack, Murray's Importance Among Game Thoughts

1). Count me as one of those people who was surprised at how easily the Cowboys offense was able to move the ball through the air. When you studied this Colts defense, I believed that the strength of it was how well their secondary managed to play in coverage. Vontae Davis and Greg Toler were two of the better cornerbacks that I had seen and Mike Adams at safety presented several problems to opponents that attempted to attack the middle of the field. What was clear is that as the game wore on they were no match for the Cowboys' skill players. It was shocking the amount of space that Dez Bryant and Jason Witten had when they were running their routes. At times it was as if the Cowboys were working against air during an OTA practice in the spring, and for a defense that was a league best in playing third-down defense with stout coverage, it was as bad as it gets. Give those Cowboys' skill players a great deal of credit in the way they showed up today and took it to the Colts.

2). Jason Garrett said he knew on the plane flight from Philadelphia that DeMarco Murray was going to play in this game against the Colts, which is not any new revelation from what we have seen from Murray all year. Murray did not appear to be favoring his hand in any way, whether that was carrying the ball or in his assignments in the blitz pickups. His running style and willingness to fight for extra yards was not compromised at all. There were some downs where he had to carry the ball with less-than-perfect blocking in front of him, but as we have seen from him before, he was able to lower a shoulder and grind out what he could. What I will remember about this game is that it might not have been Murray's finest hour statistically, but anyone that saw him play in this NFC East division-clinching game will never forget how important it was to just have him on the field.

3). Thought it was good that Jermey Parnell had a whole week's of practice to get ready for this game. He appeared to be much more comfortable in the way that he carried himself and with his assignments, as opposed to last week against the Eagles when he had to make an appearance off the bench and looked really unsettled. There were some snaps in this game when he was able to capture the edge, which allowed the ball to get to the outside in the running game, whereas last week that wasn't the case. Thought he did a much better job of keeping his pads down and driving through the blocks. His pass protection was solid, and when the Colts tried to run games on him and Zack Martin, they were able to sort things out.

4). If the Cowboys were going to win this game I thought it was going to have to be because their secondary stepped up to the challenge and didn't allow Colts quarterback Andrew Luck to gash them for those chunk plays that Indianapolis is known for. Even without T.Y. Hilton in the lineup, there were still skill players that could have hurt them. But as a unit, the Cowboys did not allow that to happen. They tackled well, but more importantly, they were outstanding in coverage, not allowing these Colts receivers any space. They made Luck have to make some difficult throws and that is exactly the game plan when teams have had success against them. This is back-to-back games where this Cowboys secondary has stepped up and limited an opposing offense to secure a victory.

5). I knew coming into this game that the Colts would not be able to run the ball, but for them to only have 10 carries for 1 yard says a lot for how well the front seven played for the Cowboys. It really starts with the job that those inside three of Rolando McClain, Nick Hayden and Tyrone Crawford do. On the first snap of the game for the Colts, Crawford was able to beat center Khaled Holmes to the front side, which set the tone for the run defense. The others fed off that.

6). Here is my weekly, "you shouldn't give up on Terrance Williams" speech. I know that Williams was only targeted twice in the game, but both of those went for touchdowns. There are fans who believed that Romo had lost confidence in Williams, but that isn't the case at all. As long as he continues to run his routes hard and work himself open, this quarterback will find him.

7). Depending on what is ahead for the Cowboys after this weekend's worth of games shake out, I would consider allowing Zack Martin to get some rest against Washington if the opportunity allows for that. Martin is as tough as they come, but it appeared that he was really playing at about 75 percent on that ankle. When Martin is on his game, he is able to get some push on the right side in the running game. He is outstanding when it comes to getting to the second level, but it was clear that he was having some difficulty moving to secure that block. This offensive line needs him at full strength if they are going to have success in the playoffs, especially running the ball.

8). Tony Romo had only two missed passes on the day. One of those had a chance for a huge play to Dwayne Harris on the old college-tunnel screen. The play was set up beautifully with the linemen getting to the outside and the receivers taking care of their men down the field. With Harris' ability to run with the ball in space and how the blocking had set up, if  the Colts' Bjoern Werner doesn't get a hand on that ball there was a good chance that play would have scored.

9). I am interested to see how DeMarcus Lawrence played on tape. This was the first game where he got extensive work with the defensive line. There were times when his technique was not perfect and he was handled one-on-one, but I believe that he is getting closer and the more opportunities that he gets, the better he will be down the road. If you haven't noticed by now, he has become my "pet cat" because the kid has just too much ability.

10). I was told by several members of the front office that if Joseph Randle had to play extensive snaps for DeMarco Murray, he was mentally as ready to step in and handle his assignments than at any point in time during his brief career with the team. As Jason Garrett likes to say, Randle was "on the screws" every day at practice when it came to knowing exactly where he needed to be with his blitz pickups. There were situations when Randle was even pointing out to Romo pre-snap who his man was just to reassure his quarterback.

11). There are a lot of college scout's around the country who are wishing they could have written another report about Anthony Hitchens because right now he is making them all look bad.

12). Congrats fans … NFC EAST CHAMPS … enjoy!


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