IRVING, Texas – Having spent the day with the coaches' film of the Cowboys' 42-7 win against Indianapolis, here are my biggest impressions from Sunday.
Some of these are obvious, hot-button issues. But in light of such a thorough performance, there are several unheralded aspects of this game that deserve mention.
- As well as the Cowboys played offensively in this game, the film showed that they also left some plays on the field -- namely with Dez Bryant.
When Tony Romo sits down and goes through the film, he is going to know exactly what I am talking about. There were two snaps early in the game where Bryant exploded across the middle of the field with not a Colts defender in sight. One of the routes was a drag that, if Romo hits him on the move, it's a first down, and the second was a post where all Romo has to do is throw the ball out in front of him and it's an easy touchdown.
I cannot recall a game where Bryant executed his routes with the type of precision he demonstrated on Sunday afternoon. He had the full arsenal working for him and the damage he inflicted on the Colts was minor to what he could have done if Romo would have just pulled the trigger and fed him the ball.
- If there is a defensive player that is playing well at the right time, it has to be Anthony Spencer -- and that is a positive sign. Spencer is finally showing signs of being the type of player he was before he went in to have his knee repaired.
He is playing with acceleration and a burst. He is no longer slow and sluggish, playing like he is feeling his way around. He is attacking blockers and it's even to the point when he plants that foot in the ground he has the confidence that his knee will not give way on him. Spencer has regained that ability to get to the corner, and when he has to bend he can make that move work.
His stop-start quickness is back. He is putting pressure on blockers to have to grab him to keep him from getting to the quarterback. He is no longer being handled one-on-one like he was earlier in the season. He is winning battles along the line of scrimmage, and Rod Marinelli is moving him all over the front seven to take advantage of that.
- In my post game thoughts, I wrote that I thought Zack Martin was only playing at 75 percent of full strength just from of the snaps where I had my eye on him. When I sat down to go through the tape, I was surprised that those plays where he wasn't at his best, he was able to carry out his assignment better than I initially thought.
There were a couple of snaps where I thought he was struggling to get to that second level on the linebacker or make that backside cut off block, but there were far more positive plays than there were negative ones. Martin was not nearly as limited as I believed that he was going to be in this game.
Where Martin surprised me was with his pass blocking ability. The Colts have some stout inside players with Josh Chapman, Arthur Jones and Zach Kerr that, when they line up on your nose, can get some serious push with the bull rush. Martin was able to anchor down and keep these guys along the line of scrimmage, which not only requires a great deal of upper body strength but a solid base, which he was able to play with the entire night.
Martin was much better than the 75 percent player that I believed he was.
- If you ask me who on this roster would be the most underappreciated player, I would have to say without a doubt it is Sterling Moore. It has not mattered where he has had to line up or cover, he has shown the ability to do the job.
There were multiple snaps in the game on Sunday where he had to carry veterans Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks in routes, and his positioning was exactly where he needed to be. It didn't matter whether he was playing in man cover or zone at the time, he was right there. We in the media like to brag on the football intelligence of Orlando Scandrick -- which is impressive -- but I would put Moore in that very same category.
There were some snaps where the Colts tried to run the screen to his side, and you could tell by watching the tape that he knew by alignment what was coming his direction and once the ball was thrown he rallied to the play. What is also impressive about Moore is how physical he is on the outside when he gets up on his man in press coverage. He can be a difficult man to get around for a receiver because of how quick he is with his hands and feet.
As a matter of fact, the flag that he drew for hands to the face was a terrible call. He hit Hakeem Nicks in the chest with such force that it snapped Nicks' head back and the official thought he hit him in the face, but he didn't.
As much as this defense has had to face offenses that have played with multiple wide receiver sets, I could not begin to imagine where they would have been without him on the field – he has been that good of a player.