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Scout's Eye: Silver Linings From Sunday Night


FRISCO, Texas – Don't worry, my job is to run the tape back so you don't have to.

Re-watching a Cowboys game can be a lot of fun – but an eight-turnover, 24-point loss in the preseason is not one of those times. It's a short turnaround before Thursday's finale in Houston, though, so I wanted to get a quick jump on this one.

Having gone back through it, here are some follow up impressions that really jumped off the screen at me – some good, some bad.

Let's get to it:

·      Missed opportunity by Michael Gallup on the deep ball from Cooper Rush. Gallup did everything right except track the ball. His route running ability took him past Patrick Peterson and Antoine Bethea, but he jumped a tick early and instead of high pointing the ball he couldn't adjust on the way down. The official could have flagged Peterson for arriving early, but it's likely the respect for his ability resulted in no flag.

·      The more I study Randy Gregory, the more I am convinced that playing the run will not be a problem for him. I do know this: when opponents try and run away from him, if they leave him unblocked, his ability to cover ground on the backside will result in a tackle for loss or no gain. Gregory had one of those moments chasing down Chase Edmonds. Gregory got help from Anthony Brown, DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford on the front side, which is all Gregory needed to run Edmonds down.

·      On Cooper Rush's second interception, it was hard to tell if the ball was just that poorly thrown by Rush or if Michael Gallup was supposed to carry his route further to the inside? Rush appeared to be throwing to a spot where he thought Gallup was going to be. Regardless, Gallup was in no position to make a play on the ball as Brandon Williams was underneath the route. The Cowboys dodged a serious problem on the play as Joe Looney came up holding his hand/wrist after making the tackle.

·      Marqueston Huff is in a battle with Tyree Robinson and Kam Kelly for a roster spot at safety, and he didn't help himself with some poor angles to the ball and missed tackles in space. His most glaring problem was on the 59-yard touchdown down run by T.J. Logan where he misread Logan's cut, which put him in a position where he was forced to arm tackle instead wrapping up.

·      The guy that showed up on tape the most for the linebackers was Justin March-Lillard. I had him as a potential bubble player, but he played with some pop in his game -- especially at the point of attack. He was also where he needed to be in the passing game. March-Lillard is not the biggest of the linebackers, but how he carried himself working with the first team made me rethink his position.

·      Tough chance for Lance Lenoir on the first muffed punt. He was tracking the ball and never saw Byron Jones in front of him. Once he made the fair catch signal, his job was to aggressively go after that ball and not let it hit the ground. Jones was trying to help Anthony Brown block Trent Sherfield on the outside. If Jones had been lined up next to Brown, say shoulder-to-shoulder instead of where he was positioned, there is a good chance that he would not have drifted on the play. Jones was two steps away from clearing Lenoir so it was just a bad break.

·      Mentioned in my Scout's Notebook after the game last night the play of Jourdan Lewis and how impressed I was. Lewis showed outstanding athletic ability and situational awareness not to get picked on a third down crossing route where it could have very easily happened. Lewis was carrying Brice Butler to the inside at full speed, all while trying to avoid Chad Williams coming directly at him. Lewis, adjusting back to the inside and never breaking stride, tackled Butler just as the ball hits his hands, preventing him from getting any momentum to reach for the first down.

·      Mike White has to know the down and distance when making decisions on where to throw the ball. He took an unnecessary chance from his own end of the field trying to hit Lance Lenoir in the middle of the field with a safety sitting deep. It would have taken a perfect throw for White to find Lenoir, and he didn't come up with it. The pocket wasn't clean in front of him, which meant he had to throw it over the top of a rusher. The ball just sailed on him, resulting in an easy interception by Travell Dixon.

·      Blocking is not always perfect for Bo Scarbrough, but there are snaps where I question what he really sees with the ball in his hands. Maybe I am expecting too much from him when it comes to making those cuts when things appear to be bottled up. For a big guy, I don't see the quickness and that light-footed running ability. If defenders slow him down, it's hard for him to restart and he loses that momentum. I've seen one carry where he ran with violence and that was in the San Francisco game. Recently, he's running as if he's waiting to get tackled and that is surprising.

·      I was hoping that Taco Charlton was going to be able to carry over his outstanding game against the Bengals to this one, but it was a quiet night for him and Dorance Armstrong, as well. Neither player had that jump to their game where they were disruptive in the running game or forcing the issue as edge rushers. There were far too many snaps where they were fighting to get off blocks late as their teammates were moving to the ball or forcing pressure. This defense can't afford to have them go away for those snaps that they're part of the rotation.

·      I did my best to keep an eye on Kadeem Edwards in this game. My initial impression was that he didn't do anything to kill the offense with his play -- and that was again my impression after the studying the game. His effort and technique were some of his better work of the preseason. I was expecting his lack of power to be an issue, but he was able to hang in there when things got tough. He didn't get knocked back on his pass sets nor did he struggle to sustain his blocks in the running game. Where I believe Edwards shined the most was playing in space when the scheme required him to play on the outside on screens. Edwards didn't flop around on the ground and was able to target his man to secure his block.

·      I still don't know how this team would consider carrying seven receivers when in all honesty, they should just pick their best five and use those other two spots on other positions that could help them -- such as extra offensive linemen, tight ends or safeties. I just don't see those extra guys making that much of a difference for a reason to keep them around when other positions have players that could help.

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