Scout's Eye: Romo's Toughness, Bryant's Routes Among 12 Thoughts

LONDON- The numbers will say that Tony Romo was 20-of-27 for 246 yards and three touchdowns, but his performance was really much deeper than that. His will to play with pain is legendary, and make no mistake, on this chilly evening in London he was in pain. He physically wasn't right and deep down inside he knew it. You could tell the way he sat on that bench between series that he was fighting through this one. Romo knew there was a huge difference between being 7-3 and 6-4 going into the bye. This team had already thrown a game away against the Redskins and could ill afford another. This start wasn't as much about him as it was for his teammates. Once he put on that jersey, it was all the medicine that they needed to go get this victory.

  • I just so happened to be on the field while Dez Bryant was going through all of his pregame routines, and he took a minute to stop and talk about the field conditions and what type of shoes he was going with. Bryant has a habit of changing shoes a couple of different times during a game, but he told me that he took his best pair from the week and that was the only one that he was going to use. Bryant is a perfect player to play in these types of conditions, where the field is just a hint on the messy side. His ability to play with power while also maintaining his balance is a huge advantage against opposing cornerbacks. With Bryant, I am finding myself not so much focusing on the way he catches the ball, but how well he is running his routes. This is going to take him to that next level as a wide receiver in this league. On his second touchdown, Bryant even made the comment in his postgame interview that he felt like he came off the line well with some explosiveness and that allowed him to finish the play the way he wanted to.
  • I continue to be impressed with the way rookie linebacker Anthony Hitchens has responded to the various assignments that they have asked him to undertake. He drew another starting assignment for the injured Rolando McClain and went the entire way. Where I believe that Hitchens doesn't get enough credit is in the way that he prepares for a game. It is rare when you watch him play that he gets fooled, and there are not many defensive rookies that you can say that about playing linebacker in this league. If he is going to be out of position it is because he has overrun the ball. What I noticed very early in this game was the speed in which he was able to play. He was wide when he needed to be and tough in the hole when he had to fill. The fact that McClain didn't have to play in this game was a huge plus in helping him get healthier, and that was all due to the effort of Anthony Hitchens.
  • Starting to have some concerns, not for Dan Bailey and his ability to make field goals, but more so for what is going on in front of him. Now have had a block on the left and now the right side the last two weeks. This needs to be cleaned up quickly.
  • I thought that it was a terrible call on Hitchens when he hit Allen Hurns coming across the middle in the third quarter. Referee John Parry said the blow was against a defenseless player. Scandrick was running with Hurns while fighting for the ball. As a defensive player, you are taught to go try and dislodge that ball. Hitchens led with his shoulder and was nowhere near the head of Hurns. It was a physical play that Parry's crew missed.
  • It was nice to see the way that the Cowboys offensive line handled their business up front in the running game. It is a different group when they are all together. Early in the game, I thought the way that Doug Free and Zack Martin came off the ball and created room for DeMarco Murray was a very good sign. It is usually off the left side behind Tyron Smith and Ronald Leary where they have the most success.
  • As pretty as the crossing route and touchdown run by Dez Bryant was, the blitz pickup on the play by DeMarco Murray was even better. The Jaguars tried to run a cross stunt inside and it was sorted out well by Frederick and Martin. In this scheme, that left the linebacker for Murray to pick up and he is stepped up with perfect technique and took it on square, which allowed Bryant to cross and Romo to find him.
  • After their first offensive drive of the game that resulted in a touchdown, the Jaguars on offense had 11 drives that ended without points. I thought that Rod Marinelli and the defensive staff did a really nice job of settling things down and shutting down what the Jaguars were trying to do on offense.
  • This was the first game that I really noticed the type of special teams player that CJ Spillman could be. Up until this game, I really wasn't sure how good he was. He was tied with Jeff Heath with two tackles each, but he also came up with a huge fumble recovery in the first quarter that I thought changed the direction of the game for the Cowboys. Spillman even took some snaps at safety in the fourth quarter and had an interception that was called back, so I am interested to see how well he showed up on film there as well.
  • Putting Henry Melton and DeMarcus Lawrence on the same side of the field is going to be a good combination as this defense moves into these final six games. I also believe that when Tyrone Crawford returns from his knee injury that the pass rush of Lawrence, Melton, Crawford and Jeremy Mincey or Anthony Spencer are going to create scheme problems. If they can really get Lawrence going, then teams will have to think about doubling him and that will give Melton more one-on-one matchups inside.
  • Was surprised that it was another quiet game for Terrance Williams. Of the two balls that went in his direction, he was not even in a good position to catch either. I need to see if this is due to the way he was running routes or just how defenses are trying to handle him. He had a period during his rookie season last year when he disappeared for a several game stretch.
  • I just wanted to say thanks to all the folks who took the time to come and see our shows all week while we were here in London. I also want to pass along a special thanks to all those in the UK Cowboys Fan Club. You guys will always have a special place in my heart and I will always be grateful for you treating this Yank well. You guys are the BEST.
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