FRISCO, Texas – After spending the morning re-watching the game, I've got a few more notes about what we saw Thursday night against Houston.
For a lot of the guys mentioned in this notebook, it just might be the last time we see them with the Cowboys. This is the final impression these guys made for the coaches and the front office – for better or for worse.
- Really nice job by Deon King forcing the fumble on Kenny Hilliard in the Texans' first drive of the game. King along with David Irving were able to beat Jeff Adams to the point, and it was King's helmet on the ball that jarred the ball loose for Jeff Heath to scoop up. For King it was a start to an outstanding night where he appeared around the ball on every opportunity.
- The best play of the night for Jameill Showers was the well- executed screen pass to Darius Jackson for the opening touchdown. At the time, I thought it was an outstanding call by Scott Linehan at the perfect part of the field. Linehan guessed that the Texans were going to bring pressure, and he was able to take full advantage of that. The Texans went on an all-out blitz, bringing both their inside linebacker and safety while playing man coverage behind the blitz. With four routes going down the field, there was no defender to pick up Jackson sliding out of the backfield. All Jackson had to do was beat one tackler and he was into the end zone.
- Give some credit to the young secondary for the 4th-and-7 sack of Brandon Weeden in the second quarter. The defense moved to its nickel personnel and brought four-man pressure. The secondary was locked up in man coverage and played it well. Weeden wanted to throw the ball in Keith Mumphery's direction, but he was being trailed by Dax Swanson. Ryan Russell got a nice jump off the ball and forced Weeden to climb forward in the pocket. On the opposite side, Mike McAdoo retraced his steps and was able to wrap up Weeden before he was able to unload the ball.
- Tough for the defense to give up points, especially right before the half in a tied game. Brandon Weeden showed a tremendous amount of courage to hang in the pocket with Mike McAdoo once again in his face. McAdoo was able to get home on a twist stunt and was able to arrive just as the ball was leaving Weeden's hand. Deji Olatoye was in coverage 1-on-1 with Keith Mumphery, who didn't come off the ball with any real pace. Olatoye used a soft left hand to try and slow Mumphrey down, but it didn't work. Once Mumphrey was able to track the ball in the air, he exploded past Olatoye and kicked it into another gear. From the middle of the field, Kavon Frazier tried to get over to help, but his momentum carried him past Mumphrey -- who simple cut behind him for the score.
- It's never good when you are a young player trying to make the club and you have two costly penalties in the same drive that lead to a score. Brandon Hepburn had just that. Hepburn's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was a poor decision, but his holding penalty on 3rd-and-7 was just as bad. Hepburn made contact with Anthony Denham clearly beyond the five-yard zone and it was an easy call for the official watching for those types of fouls on inside receivers in the middle of the field. The defense was going to hold the Texans to a field goal attempt, but Hepburn's flag allowed them to finish the drive with a touchdown.
- I loved what I saw from Anthony Brown in this game -- especially playing from the slot. His interception of Brandon Weeden was a nice job on his part disguising his coverage. The defense walked Brandon Hepburn and Derek Akunne in the "A" gaps, showing a blitz. Brown was showing the same look from the slot. Weeden thought he could get the ball to Cecil Shorts on the outside before the blitz got home. The problem for Weeden was that the blitz never came and Brown, reading him, knew exactly what he had to do in order to make the interception. Brown timed his break perfectly and extending his hands was able to secure the ball and never break stride heading for the end zone.
- Vince Mayle didn't do Jameill Showers any favors on the 3rd-and-5 route that he executed in the second quarter. Mayle showed no situational awareness on the play by running his route a yard short of the sticks instead of at or beyond them. The play was set up well with Gavin Escobar driving up the field to clear space and Mayle coming behind. Showers did a nice job of getting the ball to Mayle -- who for some reason thought it was necessary to body catch it instead of extend for it. Once the Texans defenders were able to make contact with him, he was a yard short of the first down.
- I was confident going into this game that there was a place for Austin Traylor on this roster as a blocking tight end. Traylor has those traits which we see in James Hanna, so I liked the fit. It bothered me going back and studying the game that there were too many snaps where he wasn't securing the edge and getting that movement we are used to seeing from Hanna. He got compressed and was unable to play with that good position and leverage. Traylor didn't look strong and appeared off balance. I was expecting much more from him and I want to believe that the front office and coaches were feeling the same way as they talk about him for a roster spot.
- Kavon Frazier has to make those tackles on kickoff coverage -- especially when he does a nice job of hustling down the field and putting himself in position to do so. There were two of them where his body control and balance weren't where they needed to be, and that affected his execution. On the positive side, he did have one where his positioning and balance were good and he was able to deliver a big hit and wrap up.
- Lawrence Okoye's sack of Tom Savage that was called back because of defensive holding on Derek Akunne was just sheer power on Okoye's part. By the time Savage hit his fifth step, Okoye had driven guard Oday Aboushi into his lap. What was even more impressive about the rush is that Okoye was able to reach over the top of Aboushi with his long arms and completely wrap up Savage before he was able to get rid of the ball. When Okoye bends his knees and plays down, he can be a very good player. Just another note: Okoye played both left and right end as well as tackle in this game. I said it after the game and I will say it again: Okoye might not be one of those guys that you get back if you put him on waivers because of how difficult it is to find linemen.
- Devin Street needed to make plays in this game for a chance to be in that discussion for a roster spot -- but he didn't. His biggest problem is how inconsistent he is with his hands. Street has the length and reach to make plays, but he doesn't always take advantage of that. When he can get the ball in the open, he has a chance to finish. But all too often when the ball is contested, he struggles badly. Street was not alone in his problems against the Texans. None of the receivers that were battling for a spot showed up to make this front office feel different about them.
- Waivers are due Saturday afternoon with claims being awarded the next day. Make sure you are following all of our coverage on DallasCowboys.com for the latest on those activities. If I know anything about Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones and Will McClay – it should be a busy day and we will be there for you.