FRISCO, Texas – Having watched the tape, there's plenty to learn from this Week 3 loss.
As Cowboys coach Jason Garrett always says, it's never all bad – although it's obviously not all good, either. The Cowboys showed some troubling inconsistencies on offense and they gave up some back-breaking plays on defense, but there was also some noteworthy success in the run game as well as some nice wrinkles.
Here's my in-depth review on the 24-13 loss, as the Cowboys try to turn the page to the Detroit Lions.
· It appeared that Dak Prescott could have pulled the ball and secured the first down on the first drive of the game, but he trusted Ezekiel Elliott to get the necessary yard. The problem with that thinking is Bobby Wagner was left unblocked and there was confusion between Geoff Swaim and Allen Hurns on the edge about who they were to pick up. La'el Collins should have worked inside and Swaim was to take Frank Clark, who had shifted from the right to left side. It appeared that they wanted to go with the long trap or have Swaim log Clark to allow Prescott to get to the outside.
· Can't say enough about the job that Antwaun Woods and Jaylon Smith did in order to get Tyrone Crawford home on his rush. Woods and Smith occupied three blockers in order to free Crawford up for the hit on Russell Wilson. It was also outstanding coverage by Byron Jones to carry Brandon Marshall all the way across the field and then knock the ball away. The entire blitz was well-executed – unfortunately, the roughing the passer call was made.
· Just a terrible break that Ezekiel Elliott couldn't stay in bounds once he adjusted his route up the field. What hurt his path was he was forced to keep his eyes on Dak Prescott the entire time. With Prescott scrambling toward him and Earl Thomas playing halfway between the two of them, Elliott was in no man's land. He had to try and stay wide enough to give Prescott room but also to avoid Thomas. Once Thomas did commit to Prescott, he did the right thing by turning up the field but by that time Elliott had stepped out of bounds, making him illegible.
· The Cowboys went with a three-man line along with blitzing linebackers to confuse the Seahawks' blocking scheme. All-in-all, it was a six-man rush that the Seahawks tried to block one-on-one instead of passing the rushers off. Jaylon Smith came free on the play, but he couldn't wrap up Russell Wilson in the pocket. His pressure forced Wilson to throw the ball into the ground in front of Brandon Marshall, who was once again well covered by Byron Jones.
· Tremendous job by Geoff Swaim of picking up the blitzing Earl Thomas to get Tavon Austin around the corner on the jet sweep. Austin also got down field blocks from La'el Collins and Allen Hurns, which allowed him some extra yards. This offense needs to do more in getting the ball into Austin's hands. He's the one guy that brings energy and juice to the attack.
· I can't tell you how much Anthony Brown has improved his tackling as a nickel corner. He has become a much more reliable player. There were snaps last season where I thought he was a liability in that area -- but not in these first three games. Brown has not only done a better job of stepping up as a force player on the edge, but also doing a great job of wrapping up and finishing on the play. Rashaad Penny tried to bounce a carry to the outside but Brown was in perfect position to make the stop.
· Dak Prescott made the right read to hit Michael Gallup on the slant. His eyes were to the right the entire time, then he quickly snapped his head around to see Gallup break to the inside. Give credit to Tre' Flowers for getting his right hand in there to knock the ball out of Gallup's hands before he had a chance to secure it.
· Bad break for Tavon Austin and the punt return unit. Austin fielded the ball on the 19-yard line and exploded back up the field all the way to the Cowboys' 42 -- which appeared to put the offense in great shape with strong field position. The problem was that Byron Jones got called for holding on the opposite side of the return. Instead of having the ball near midfield, the ball was pushed all the way back to the shadow of their own goal posts.
· My initial thought on the big play to C.J. Prosise in the flat was that DeMarcus Lawrence might have missed the assignment in coverage with the double "A" gap blitz -- but now I'm not sure if that was the case. It was a special front with Lawrence moved to the inside at tackle. Taco Charlton was to the outside of Lawrence and appeared to run a game inside where he was looking for Lawrence to twist behind him. That left no one in to take Carson, which allowed an easy pitch and catch for Russell Wilson.
· On the Barkevious Mingo sack of Dak Prescott, give the Seahawks credit for being ready for the play. Mingo didn't buy the play fake at all, as Prescott rolled right into him. Earl Thomas was waiting on the other side for Blake Jarwin, so even if Prescott managed to get the ball off to Jarwin it would have likely been for a very short gain.
· It wasn't good that Connor Williams was too high on the sack that he gave up to Jarran Reed -- but there was also no one open on the play for Dak Prescott to throw to. It appeared that Prescott initially wanted to throw to Deonte Thompson on the curl, but Bobby Wagner jumped underneath the route -- which forced Prescott to eat the ball.
· Not surprising that Russell Wilson went in the direction of Tyler Lockett down the sideline for a touchdown. Wilson threw a ball to Lockett on a similar route against the Bears for a touchdown, as well. Kavon Frazier tried to pedal fast enough to get back in coverage, but he just couldn't cover enough ground in order to put him in position to cut Lockett off in the route. Frazier was a good three yards behind Lockett when he caught the ball. Unfortunately, the four-man rush with DeMarcus Lawrence inside couldn't get home to affect Russell Wilson's pass.