Scout's Notebook: Assessing The Special Teams

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IRVING, Texas – A few more thoughts from the tape against Baltimore – namely, a pair of significant plays by the Cowboys' top two receivers, both good and bad. On top of that, I wanted to take a look at the breakdown in kick coverage on the Ravens' kick return touchdown. 


  • Dez Bryant continues to grow as a receiver in the way he now plays the game. We have all seen the way Bryant runs with violence after a reception and how he tends to carry the ball loosely in traffic. On his 22-yard reception during the first series, Bryant snatches the ball and starts to head up the field. What was different about this particular play is that Bryant realizes he is going to encounter three defenders in his path. Instead of holding the ball away from his body, he clearly tucks it tight, even putting his right hand over the ball, to not allow a hit on it. For Dez Bryant it has been about the little things and those areas in which he can improve.

The Baltimore Ravens meet the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.


  • While calling the game with Brad Sham on Cowboys Radio, I wasn't initially sure what happened between Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray on the fumble that led to the Ravens' first touchdown. I thought Romo hit Murray on the hip or maybe Murray might have squeezed the pocket at the mesh point.  But after going back and studying the play, the ball clearly just slipped out of Romo's hand as he was attempting to secure it to Murray.  It was a handoff that they had executed hundreds of times with success but in this particular case it was just a simple mistake.
  • Have to give credit to Baltimore Ravens cornerback Chykie Brown for the play that he made against Terrance Williams on that vertical "9" route that ran in the first quarter. If Williams has a trait in these types of situations, it's that he tends to try to cradle the ball instead of trying to reach up for it. The ball thrown by Brandon Weeden was in a perfect spot for Williams to go make a play on it. But Brown, who was stride-for-stride with Williams, was able to perfectly time the arrival of the ball with his hand and drive it straight down through Williams' arms to the ground. If Brown doesn't make that play, it's an easy touchdown, but instead it's a teaching moment for Williams and how he needs to go get that ball in the air. 
  • Dartwan Bush might not look like a prototype when it comes to how you would draw up a defensive end. His best physical trait is his ability to explode off the ball and get up the field. It was that initial quickness that helped him in Zack Minter's strip-sack of Ravens quarterback Keith Wenning. Bush got such a jump off the snap that offensive tackle Brett Van Sloten was left in his stance. Bush showed the awareness to reach out with his right hand, which forced Wenning up in the pocket. As he moved forward, Minter had beaten guard Parker Graham on his rush and was able to come from behind and knock the ball loose for the turnover.  [embedded_ad]
  • For a squad that works as much as they do on special teams, it had to be disappointing for this coaching staff to observe how poorly they covered kickoffs as a group. Rich Bisaccia's units are usually spot-on, but when you have sloppy technique those things are going to happen. What was troubling about the Deonte Thompson touchdown was that there were Cowboys core special team players on the field when it took place. I counted eight of the 11 being those types of players. Jeff Heath, DeVonte Holloman and Barry Church were all blocked on the play, which gave Thompson a nice alley.  On the second big Thompson return, the Ravens blockers pinned both Jakar Hamilton and James Hanna inside as the ball broke outside. Cameron Lawrence had a chance for a tackle at the 15 but he missed, as did Joseph Randle at the 28. Tim Benford had to come all the way from the opposite end of the field to make the play. Knowing what I know about the way that Rich Bisaccia coaches, you will see those mistakes corrected this week against the Dolphins.
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