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Scout's Notebook: How The Defense Got To McCoy


Frisco, Texas – From my vantage point in our studio at The Star, here were my main impressions from the Cowboys' big win to take the lead in the NFC East.

As always, I'll have my full tape study ready once I've had a chance to re-watch the game. For now, here's what jumped off the screen at me.

·             Just a really nice job by Xavier Su'a-Filo and Cam Fleming of sorting out things on the back side of the Ezekiel Elliott touchdown run. The Redskins tried to run a blitz to the left side, as Su'a-Filo picked up Preston Smith to the inside and Cam Fleming turned Mason Foster to the outside. That gave Elliott the space to cut to the inside of the blocks. Joe Looney did a nice job of sealing off Da'Ron Payne, as well.

·             I can't say enough about the way DeMarcus Lawrence uses his technique to make plays. The way he was able to extend his hands on Morgan Moses and not allow him to cut block him to stay upright was the reason that he was able to come up with the interception of Colt McCoy. Most defensive ends would have been chopped down, allowing McCoy an easy throw to the outside for the first down -- but not Lawrence. The body control and balance he plays with is rare and it allows him to make the plays that we see from him on a weekly basis. 

·             During our pregame show, I talked about the possibility of seeing a slot blitz from Anthony Brown. Brown had a great feel on the play by keeping his eyes on Colt McCoy, but he got home by fighting through a block from Kapri Bibbs, who was trying to cross the pocket to pick him up. Brown never allowed Bibbs to hit him square by playing with his hands and disengaging off the block.   

·             With no Geoff Swaim in the lineup, this offense was looking for someone to step up and make plays down the field -- and Blake Jarwin was able to do just that. Jarwin stayed in as if he was going to block, just delaying for a count or two before releasing in the route. He was able to work across the field just in front of D.J. Swearinger, who drove on the play but just arrived a second too late. Jarwin made the reception on the contested ball.

·             Give Maliek Collins and Antwuan Woods credit with a perfect execution of the twist stunt inside to force Colt McCoy to jump out of the pocket in the path of Jaylon Smith for the sack. Collins forced McCoy to the right, then Woods forced him back to the left. Smith saw the play the entire way while he was in coverage on Kapri Bibbs and simply closed on the tackle. 

·             Outstanding route by Noah Brown and run after the catch on a ball from Dak Presoctt off play action. Brown was able to drive Quinton Dunbar off balance and then break to the outside, where Prescott put the ball right on top of him. Brown was able to run through Dunbar, but he also got a block from Ezekiel Elliott on the play that sprung him for some extra yards.

·             I was worried that Adrian Peterson was going to have another big day running the ball for the Redskins, especially with Alex Smith out of the lineup. Peterson didn't have the type of day that I had envisioned, due in large part to the way the Dallas defense had guys flying to the ball. A great example of this was the crack toss to Peterson where Byron Jones went toe-to-toe with Trent Williams. That allowed Jeff Heath to come up from his safety spot to chop Peterson down before he had a chance to get the corner. 

·             Perfect technique by Byron Jones and Anthony Brown to handle the wheel route by Trey Quinn for the Anthony Brown interception. Brown was never fooled on the route by Quinn, and Jones did a great job of jamming Malcolm Floyd -- who was responsible for attempting the pick on Brown in order to free Quinn up. Floyd wasn't able to get to Brown, who put himself in perfect position to come up with the play.

·             It's amazing how slippery DeMarcus Lawrence is as a pass rusher. On the sack he shared with Tyrone Crawford, he avoided three blocks on the way to get to Colt McCoy. He threw Jordan Reed aside. Morgan Moses didn't lay a hand on him and Chase Roullier completely whiffed on his block, as Lawrence was able to wrap up McCoy.

·             The Redskins lost Michael Gallup on a bunch formation as he dragged across the field. Somehow, Prescott managed to slide forward in the pocket with Preston Smith and Stacy McGee wrapped around his legs. It was just the brute strength of Prescott in his lower body that even allowed that play to have a chance. Gallup did the smart thing and just settled down, which allowed Prescott to flip him the ball.

·             Fundamentals got the best of Dak Prescott on that miss to Noah Brown on the goal line. Prescott's feet were really poor on the throw, and if he had to do it over I am sure he wouldn't have continued to retreat on his drop. Prescott was dealing with D.J. Swearinger in his face, but if he just stops his drop and throws -- it's a touchdown. Prescott made the mistake of throwing the pass off his left foot and couldn't get enough on it.

·             I believe that the rules of hitting receivers in the middle of the field had something to do with Amari Cooper's 90-yard touchdown reception. It appeared that D.J. Swearinger, who is known as a big hitter in the secondary, pulled up thinking he was going to get flagged if he took a run at Cooper. You can clearly see him stop instead of contesting the ball. Once Cooper made the catch, he should have been right there to make the hit. That's all that Cooper needed to pivot back to the outside and finish the run.