IRVING, Texas - Some observations from the film room at Valley Ranch:
- I have been totally on board with how this front office and coaching staff are handling the Brian Waters situation. The first week was about getting him ready to practice and once they were able to accomplish that, then they moved on to the game. Waters is a powerful man and on the plays that he was in the game on Sunday, he showed that in his pass protection. He is what you dream about when you want your guard to set the front of the pocket. There is a great deal of nastiness as a protector. Where Waters is going to need work is in the running game when it comes to second level blocking. There were some limited looks that when they did run the ball, he was a tick slow in securing that block. He was used as puller and he appeared fine with that but through practice, he will get a better feel of working with Travis Frederick and Doug Free and that will pay off. For the first time out in 18 months, you saw flashes of what he is capable of.
- During our time in Oxnard, I witnessed Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan using creative ways to run the ball not just the simple zone scheme types but sweeps and traps out of different formations. On these plays there was movement with the tight ends and line that took advantage of what these backs can do. In the first quarter, Callahan put three wide receivers on the field with Murray as the pistol back. At the snap, Romo hands the ball to Murray running left. Witten is able to seal the edge with a nice down block with Smith and Leary both pulling out in front of the play. Frederick manages to cut Poe off and there is a lane on the outside. With that those blocks, Murray takes the ball and is able to smash forward picking up six yards and a first down. Nice design and execution.
To start the 2nd half, Romo has the offense moving the ball smartly down the field. Callahan puts Lance Dunbar in the game once again using the pistol formation, with a two tight end set right. Hanna is wing right and at the snap, the line goes hard to their right like they are running a zone play but Hanna comes back underneath left. The Chiefs defenders all go with the flow as Hanna traps Tamba Hali leaving Dunbar one-on-one with safety Kendrick Lewis. Dunbar breaks Lewis' tackle and manages to finish a 12 yard run. Again, creative design with the deception of the zone scheme, but also using Hanna at the point of attack to spring the run.
Where I am having trouble in this running game, is not what is happening up front or even who's carrying the ball. The trouble I see is when running plays that are designed well and successfully executed are only being used one time in a game, then I have a problem. In Washington, Joe Gibbs ran his famous "Counter Trey" over and over even out of different formations but it still had the same effectiveness. This running game should be better with Ronald Leary, Travis Frederick and Brian Waters physically but it's going to be up to these coaches to put them in situations where they have the best chance to succeed. I feel like they can do that because I have seen it before.
- Sunday afternoon, was another nice game for George Selvie as he continues to make injury starts until Anthony Spencer is completely healthy to take that spot. Spencer said in the locker room on Monday, that his knee was a little sore but he didn't expect any setbacks. Selvie continues to impress whether he is playing at either end spot but also in his new role for him is as a nickel defensive tackle. My thought was that he might not be able to hold up inside but he looked good attacking these Kansas City guards with his quickness. Through two games, Selvie has been very consistent in his approach and play which has allowed Spencer to work his way back without having to play a large number of snaps.
Where the coaches might have to make a call is what to do with Caesar Rayford. Jerome Long has been active the last two weeks but there should be a consideration to try and get Rayford a game or two to see where he is at. I understand how the coaches want to use players that they have confidence in and know the scheme but there is something to Rayford's game and potentially I believe that he has the ability to be what we have seen from George Selvie or maybe even better.
- For their share of struggles on special teams in the preseason, Rich Bisaccia has his group playing at a much more consistent level. When Bisaccia studied the game tape on the flight home he had to be proud of the way his guys played against Kansas City but there will be two situations where he could have felt like they could have done a little more.
On Dwayne Harris' 22 yard punt return, Harris does a great job of making Ron Parker miss in space which allows him to get around the corner. Danny McCray manages to drive his man toward the sideline while J.J. Wilcox comes back to destroy James Michael-Johnson. Harris now has a lane to run through with only the punter Dustin Colquitt in the alley but his path takes him toward the sideline and out of bounds. If Harris would have been able to cut the ball back inside instead of going to the outside, I am going to take my chances with him one-on-one with just the punter to beat. The return was well set up and the blocks executed but I felt like there was an opportunity that was left out there on the field. [embedded_ad]
Late in the game after a Dan Bailey field goal cuts the Chiefs lead to 17 – 16, the Cowboys kickoff to Knile Davis who muffs the return. The ball bounces forward as Davis scrambles to jump on it. Dwayne Harris sees what is happening and sprints to beat two blockers to get to Davis and the ball. To Harris' side is rookie B.W. Webb who is playing as the R1 or the far outside defender. Webb is a faster player than Harris but he appears to slow up not sure of the situation as the ball is bouncing in front of him. There is a side of me that believes that if Webb had the same awareness and had not hesitated, there was a shot that he could have been right there with Harris for a shot at that ball. There is no telling what would have happened if the Cowboys recover that ball but without it, the Chiefs were able to drive the ball down the field and kill the clock.