IRVING, Texas – The roster cuts have already begun for the Cowboys, but I wanted to take a quick look back at the Dolphins game before we look ahead.
There were a handful of big stories to come out of Miami this past weekend – namely the struggles of the first offensive line and the success of Tyler Patmon. In addition to those big ones, I wanted to take a look at some smaller standouts who may have escaped your attention.
- The game tape of the offensive line did not play as poorly as it appeared when I was watching the game live. Where the Dolphins were able to take advantage was with their coverage on the outside and how they were able to call some timely blitzes, which created some matchup issues. I am not saying the line did not have their share of problems, but it was more individual than collective. Where they had played well in the previous two games with technique, there were noticeable struggles in regard to body placement, punch and footwork. They struggled to sit down on these rushers.
- Rolando McClain made a nice recovery in this game compared how the week started for him. He was better with his movement, recognition and finish. He didn't play like he was struggling to just survive the play. He didn't get caught trying to run underneath blocks and he was physical working his way to the ball. He was where he needed to be in his drops and he mentally appeared to be in the game. It was overall a more complete game for him, but he still needs to continue to put good practices and games together to fully gain the coaches' trust, but it was a step in the right direction.
- Really not surprised that Tyler Patmon played the way he did against the Dolphins. Where I had
questions about his game was how physical he would be when it came to make tackles on the edge. He is a slight-build player at 179 pounds, but in this game, he showed a willingness to step up and stick his nose in the action when tight end Dion Sims caught that pass in the flat. It would have been easy for Patmon to turn that opportunity down and try to work Sims to the sideline or wait for help from the inside. To his credit, he went for the form tackle on Sims, wrapping him up all while putting his head on the ball and knocking it loose. It was Patmon's only tackle of the game but from a scouting perspective it was exactly the type of play that you look for in regards to run support, tackling ability and physical toughness.
- I am less worried about James Hanna as the third tight end in regard to his blocking than I was when camp started. I know he had the breakdown in pass protection in the San Diego game but in opportunities since, he has been solid in securing his man. On Brandon Weeden's pass to Jamar Newsome down the middle of the field, he was able to ride his man past Weeden, who was able to step up and deliver the throw. In the running game, he has done a better job of playing with power and working on sustaining his blocks. You can see him climbing his man while working his hands and feet together. Several of Ryan Williams' nice gains were plays where he was the point of attack blocker. You can tell that Mike Pope has worked with all these tight ends on their run blocking techniques.
- The effort and determination for Zach Minter was there, but the results were not. In the Ravens contest, Minter burst onto the scene with a fine defensive performance, which earned him an opportunity to receive more snaps with the first and second defense. Against the Dolphins, Minter struggled to get off blocks and keep his balance. His hand use and shed were nowhere to be found. Also missing from his game was that initial quickness and burst that we saw the [embedded_ad] previous week. It's that short area quickness that put him in position to make those stops. I didn't see that ability to anchor down and hold the point of attack. Of the young defensive tackles, along with Davon Coleman and Ken Bishop I thought, he played the poorest while Bishop was the best. Minter will get another shot on Thursday night against the Broncos to try and prove to this front office and coaches that he deserves a spot on this roster heading into the season.