Scout's Eye: Missed Throws & Blocking Woes


FRISCO, Texas – It ain't fun, but someone needs to watch it.

The goal will obviously be to forget this 23-0 loss to the Colts as soon as possible, but you're not doing yourself any favors if you aren't trying to get better. Ugly as it was, there'll be plenty the Cowboys' coaches can take from this tape and bring to their players. So that's what we're going to try to do, too.

One more look through the wreckage, and then it's on to the next effort.

·             The reverse to Amari Cooper was a nice gain, but it had a chance for an even bigger gain if Connor Williams could have got a bigger piece of Anthony Walker on the second level. It was a tough block for Williams to begin with, due to him having to take a zone step to his right, then redirect back to his left to pick up Walker. It also appeared that the Colts were in a run blitz, which required Walker to work to his right instead of maybe reading the play and going with the fake to Ezekiel Elliott. If Walker doesn't make that tackle, the play is out of the gate.

·             On the long reception by T.Y. Hilton, the Colts caught the Cowboys in a slot blitz with DeMarcus Lawrence dropping in coverage. Anthony Brown never had a chance to get home from Andrew Luck's backside. Nyheim Hines was able to chip him before getting out into the pattern. With no Lawrence on the rush, they doubled both Randy Gregory and Tyrone Crawford while single-blocking Maliek Collins. That gave Luck more than enough time to find Hilton, who was clear of Chidobe Awuzie. If the ball was thrown further it would have likely been a score -- Hilton had that much separation.

·             Heck of a play by Margus Hunt to stop Ezekiel Elliott on that fourth down on the goal line. Hunt was playing in the front-side gap off Joe Looney's shoulder. On the snap, with Looney reaching as far as he could to his left, Hunt used an arm-over to the backside "A" gap. Connor Williams, also reaching to his left, was tied up with Denico Autry, which left Hunt unblocked. La'el Collins was trying to push Williams in that direction, but it was too late to account for Hunt -- who redirected to his right and made the tackle on Elliott. Scott Linehan tried to trick the Colts by running the ball away from his strength to see if they would over-play to that side, but they didn't.

·             You know it's a tough day for the defense when Jaylon Smith is missing tackles. Coming off their own goal line, the Colts were able to isolate Nyheim Hines on Smith to the outside. Smith, playing at considerable depth, tried to rally once the ball was in the air. Instead of running through the tackle like we've seen him do the majority of the season, he left his feet and lunged into Hines. All Hines had to do was side step him and he was up the field for another 10 yards instead of being stopped for a five-yard gain on the spot.

·             I just felt like it was a bad miss by Dak Prescott up the sideline to Allen Hurns. I have to believe that Prescott saw George Odum rotating off the hash to the middle of the field. His hips were turned to the inside and there was no way for him to turn fast enough to affect the throw. Hurns had Quincy Wilson beaten on the play. If Prescott just throws the ball to the front pylon, it's likely a touchdown because Wilson never turned his head for the ball.

·             I had some questions about Dak Prescott holding the ball on the first sack by the Colts. It was a two-man route with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. It appears that Prescott initially wanted to go toward Cooper, but he didn't break open until late. Prescott was trying to wait for him, but he couldn't due to the pressure from Tyquan Lewis. Lewis was able to work free from Dalton Schultz because Ezekiel Elliott ran into Schultz, allowing Lewis to escape from the block. Prescott tried to escape to his left but it was too late as Lewis captured him on the spot.

·             Give the Colts' offensive line a ton of credit for this victory. Not only did they handle the Cowboys' defensive front, they were all over their linebackers as well. Both Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch were dealing with blockers in their face the entire day. Smith and Vander Esch tried their best to avoid Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly and Joe Haeg, but there was just no relief from that group. It has been a while since I've seen an offensive line take the fight to the Dallas front seven the way the Colts did. 

·             The situation was 1st-and-10 from the Colts' 12-yard line in the first quarter. It was so unfortunate that Dak Prescott's eyes didn't come back to Cole Beasley, who was wide open in the end zone working against Clayton Geathers. Matt Eberflus sent Kenny Moore on a slot blitz from Prescott's right. He didn't see it in time and was forced to flip the ball to Ezekiel Elliott underneath. If Prescott would have located the blitz a little sooner, he could have beaten it with Beasley.

·             After watching Dak Prescott's miss to Jamize Olawale on the goal line, I still wish he would have put the ball on a line instead of trying to float it to him. There was enough space for Prescott to make that throw despite both Anthony Walker and George Odum attempting to rally over in coverage. Olawale's footwork was poor, but throwing the ball on his body might have given him a better chance at the reception. Scott Linehan got exactly what he wanted on the play, judging from the reaction of the Colts defense. Olawale was open in the flat and Rico Gathers picked Blake Jarwin's man coming across the field.

·             Tyron Smith and Adam Redmond did a poor job of handling the twist stunt on the Colts' second sack of Dak Prescott. Both Smith and Redmond were on different levels, which allowed Denico Autry and Tyquan Lewis the space they needed to execute their twist stunt. There were all kinds of gaps in the line and Joe Looney having to give help to Connor Williams on his right didn't help the situation. Prescott had no chance to deliver the ball in all that mess.

·             I don't believe there was anything more that Dak Prescott could have done on the third down pass to Blake Jarwin that was knocked away by Pierre Desir. Without knowing where the pass was, Desir managed to get his right hand on the ball just as it arrived in Jarwin's hands. Jarwin had a chance to bring it down, but with Desir ripping at it, he was unable to secure it. I thought it was a great call by Scott Linehan but a better reactionary play by Pierre Desir.

·             I wrote last night after the game that I wasn't sure where the Colts had blocked that field goal from. I initially thought that it might have come from the right side of the line, but it was actually the left. Denico Autry was lined up head up over Xavier Su'a-Filo and at the snap of the ball shot the gap between him and L.P. Ladouceur. Su'a-Filo did his best attempting to block both Autry and Grover Stewart, but he couldn't pull it off. Autry was able to get his body sideways in the gap and then jump. The ball off Brett Mahar's foot actually hit Autry right below his left elbow so the kick was a little low.

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