Scout's Notebook: Missed Scoring Chances, Defensive Struggles; More

ARLINGTON, Texas– There will be far more opportunities to dissect this game after everyone has been able to digest the film – that goes for the coaches and players as well as myself.

For now, here's a handful of pertinent notes I wrote down from my place in the press box at AT&T Stadium. There were certainly some positives, but also a lot of negative factors that contributed to the Cowboys' 20-19 loss to open this season.

Here we go:

  • I am not going to say it would have changed the complexion of the game, but Cole Beasley not being able to haul in Dak Prescott's pass on the opening drive of the game was huge. It was the perfect call and route for that situation and cost the offense points. Beasley takes that ball and scores 9 out of 10 times.
  • I am interested to see how many times Dez Bryant played with a safety over the top of him. I am also interested in how many times he was open and the ball did not go in his direction. Bryant did have the opportunity to bring one down, but he was unable to control it to the ground. I will say that only having five passes thrown in his direction out of 45 is not good enough.
  • The inability for the offense to have success running the ball on first down hurt Dak Prescott. There were far too many drives where Prescott faced long yardage situations more than the game plan of working to stay ahead of the chains and keep the run/pass options open. It was disappointing how much trouble they had running the ball -- especially on first down.
  • Terrell McClain played as well as he could play at defensive tackle, but I can't say the same of his teammates at the position. I came into this season believing that these tackles were the strength of this front, so to see the way the Giants were able to attack the middle of this line -- especially on their final drive -- was not even close to where they needed to be as a unit.
  • I've said all week that I didn't feel like Orlando Scandrick was even close to the level of what we had seen from him in previous seasons. I just have a feeling that missing that practice time hurt him in his game conditioning and the Giants were able to take advantage of that. To his credit, he did return to the lineup and was able to record a nice sack, but I know that I have seen him play better and hopefully that will come down the road.
  • My crazy prediction from our "Cowboys Break show" was that Jason Witten would lead the team in receptions -- and he did, with nine for 66 yards. I thought it was smart for Prescott to get Witten involved in this game due to his ability to find space and make secure receptions.
  • I am not surprised that the Cowboys had trouble running the ball against the Giants. In the preseason, this defensive line was outstanding when it came to defending the run. Their tackles are difficult to move and their ends do not allow you to capture the edge -- which makes it tough to stretch them for those running lanes.
  • Jason Pierre-Paul led the Giants in tackles, which leads me to believe that Doug Free had his hands full with him. There were a few snaps where I did notice Pierre-Paul working around Free and applying pressure on Prescott. I had my concerns that was going to happen more than Olivier Vernon giving Tyron Smith trouble. I believe that Free is having problems with that foot and it is hurting his movement.
  • Justin Durant took some snaps at Mike linebacker in this game, and just from what I was able to see, he gave them some quality snaps. I thought he brought more stability to the position where it appeared that Anthony Hitchens struggled fighting blocks -- especially when the ball was directed at him. I worried about Durant and his readiness but that wasn't an issue.
  • I don't know about you guys, but that pass from Manning to Victor Cruz for the game-winner sure looked like offensive pass interference. Larry Donnell came off the ball and destroyed Orlando Scandrick as he was trying to get inside to cover Cruz. I promise that will be a play that Jason Garrett sends to the league for their review and they will agree.
  • I have been critical of Jason Garrett as a coach, but I remember a practice in Oxnard, Calif., where he went through in great detail the exact situation which took place at the end of this game. Garrett even took the time to explain to the team the angle that the ball carrier needed to take to the sideline in order to save time on the clock.
  • I love Dan Bailey, but if you kick too many field goals -- at the end of the day it is never enough points.

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