Scout’s Notebook: Rodgers Makes Magic Again

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FRISCO, Texas – From my seat inside our studios here at The Star, here are some of my early impressions from Sunday’s loss to Green Bay.

  • It’s a shame that Dak Prescott didn’t lead Amari Cooper further up the field on the first possession of the game or it would have been a touchdown. Randall Cobb did exactly what he was supposed to do by drawing Darnell Savage out of the middle of the field. Cooper said in the postgame locker room that he took his eyes off the pass, but it had to be just a quick glance because his eyes were looking right at his hands when the ball got there. Just a bad break to start the game.
  • I have no idea how Aaron Rodgers stayed behind the line of scrimmage on his long pass to Robert Tonyan. Jaylon Smith was closing on the play and could have taken a run at Rodgers, but he pulled back in order to avoid the flag. That’s all Rodgers needed to get the ball to Tonyan, who somehow get both feet down. I thought the play was close to be out of bounds with Tonyan’s rear landing down before his foot hit the ground.
  • I was surprised that Dak Prescott didn’t try and throw the ball to Michael Gallup on the slant instead of taking that first sack from Za’Darius Smith. Ezekiel Elliott did a nice job of clearing the space with his route to the flat, which gave Prescott the window to make the throw. He tried to come back to Cobb on the other side but he drifted right into Smith on the rush.
  • The refs missed a big hold by Elgton Jenkins on Tyrone Crawford to allow Aaron Rodgers to hit Geronimo Allison on a huge third conversion early in the game. Jenkins had Crawford around the neck as he was a step away from sacking Rodgers. The missed call was right in the middle of the pocket for all to see. Instead, Allison made the reception on Byron Jones and set up the Packers with a goal-to-go situation.
  • The Packers gave Dak Prescott a two-deep look on the interception by Chadron Sullivan. Last week when the Saints did that, they played man coverage underneath. This time around they gave him a zone look, which he appeared to misread. Sullivan never reacted to Ezekiel Elliott in the flat but instead sat right in between Cobb and Elliott waiting on the throw from Prescott – which came right to him.
  • Matt LaFleur and his staff watched the tape of the playoff game last season against the Los Angeles Rams to get some ideas on how to block DeMarcus Lawrence. The Rams are big on bringing receivers tight to the formation and using them as blockers. In this case, LaFleur put Jake Kumerow on the edge and double-teamed Lawrence with Marcedes Lewis, which allowed the line to slide the opposite way to double Robert Quinn on the other side.
  • Really nice sell job by Michael Gallup on the double-move for a touchdown. Gallup worked to get Tramon Williams’ pedal to come to a stop. Once he was able to do that, Williams went in chase mode and lost track of the ball. Gallup was not only able to track the ball, but he rerouted himself in order to make the reception. Give Dak Prescott for hanging in there and delivering the ball with Kingsley Keke in his face.
  • Really poor job by the Cowboys’ run defense when it came to securing the edges. There were several snaps where the ball spilled to the outside and the force player to that side was either too far to the inside or just not quick enough to react. Leighton Vander Esch and Byron Jones come to mind when Adam Jones made his long runs.
  • What a powerful run by Ezekiel Elliott on the goal line for his touchdown. Dean Lowry was completely unblocked on the backside and had a free run at him, but Elliott still managed to get the ball into the end zone by carrying Lowry there. Lowry had a chance to bring him down for no gain but just couldn’t do it.
  • Matt LaFleur made a smart play call on third down to put Jaylon Smith in coverage. By flexing Aaron Jones all the way to the outside, it forced Smith to have to walk with him. Smith was forced to run through a pick by Geronimo Allison, which gave Jones all the separation he needed to make the reception for the first down. Smith did the best he could to close the gap, but the Packers got the matchup they wanted and took advantage of it.
  • A very nice job by Dak Prescott sliding in the pocket to avoid the pressure and find Amari Cooper down the field for a touchdown. Give Cooper some credit for getting Jaire Alexander to move inside even though he was lined up outside with his technique. Cooper sold the route enough that it put Alexander in a bad spot, and the separation was there. Jason Witten also helped on the play by running his route hard enough across the field to keep Darnell Savage from reacting in order to help Alexander.
  • The Cowboys defensively caught a bad break on the goal line when Aaron Rodgers threw the ball that bounced off Robert Quinn’s helmet. Byron Jones was in great position to intercept the ball if it hadn’t hit Quinn. He read the play the entire way and was driving to undercut Geronimo Allison to make the play, but the ball never got to him. Regardless, it was a nice goal line stop to keep the Packers out of the end zone.

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