Film Study: Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins

Dallas Cowboys rookie linebacker DeVonte Holloman returna an interception for a 75-yard touchdown. (CBSSports.com)

Dallas Cowboys rookie linebacker DeVonte Holloman returna an interception for a 75-yard touchdown. (CBSSports.com)

The Dallas Cowboys made it safely out of the first game of the preseason, defeating the Miami Dolphins 24-20 last night in the Hall of Fame Game.

 

The Cowboys were just a botched hand off away from losing the game. However, the Cowboys showed that they had enough depth to compete, and win the game.

 

The Marinelli Effect:

 

The Cowboys defensive no longer run sprints after practice, because they do more than enough running during practice. You could see the difference, as there was always a player in position to make plays. That is how you force turnovers, and the defense has made a step in the right direction.

 

Tight Ends Galore:

 

The Cowboys have a plethora of tight ends on the roster, and after seeing the first drive it makes sense.  Dante Rosario is a great blocker in space, and can consistently seal the edge. He will be a threat, and that offensive formation is going to confuse some defenses. Rookie Gavin Escobar held his own on the field. Needs to improve his ability to get open. Was timid on route running, is a lot faster than what he portrayed last night.

 

Somebody Step Up:

 

I really expected to see more competition among the wide receivers. Anthony Armstrong was the shining star out of the group last night. Dwayne Harris appeared to be slower than last year on the field, and struggled getting open. Cole Beasley has improved on his field awareness, and made a few heads up plays, including drawing a pass interference play early in the game.

 

Offensive Line Woes:

 

The offensive line had more good plays than bad, and it was very refreshing to see RT Doug Free dominate at tackle. Cameron Wake is no easy task, and Free made it look like a walk in the park. Rookie Travis Frederick had a solid game at center. He got beat a few times, but it was not as bad as his display at guard. He made a lot of heads-up plays, and only missed one coverage call at center. The left side looks solid; I like what I saw out of LG Ron Leary. He looked comfortable, and should become the starter. Didn’t see a lot of penalties either.

Spider Webb

 

B.W. Webb looked very good in man coverage. He was on an island on the outside for most of the game, and was rarely targeted. When on the inside, he was beat a few times by TE Michael Egnew, who is a decent TE, but probably won’t make the Dolphin’s roster. This kid has a lot of upside, and if he shows that he can play physical on the inside, he will frequent the secondary for the Cowboys. I can’t wait to see him in some tougher match ups; he can handle it.

 

The Safties are Human:

 

Matt Johnson is forever fragile. As good as he is, he is still a liability on the field. The play that Johnson hurt his ankle on was actually a blown assignment by Jakar Hamilton. He was beat on a double move to the inside, and if that was anyone besides a camp kid named Bumphis, that would have been a touchdown. J.J. Wilcox shined, but he was also susceptible to a few blown assignments. The safeties were always flying to the ball, which is always a good thing. The group was more inconsistent than the offensive line.

 

Stock up:

 

Whenever you are working harder than the man opposite of you, you will get noticed. DE George Selvie had a good game. He has a motor, and did not give up on plays. He has good hips, and can break down, and change direction mid pursuit. He was behind the scenes on a lot of big plays, including rookie OLB DeVonte Holloman’s 75-yard interception return for a touchdown. He had a good game, but let’s slow down, this was the Miami Dolphins offensive line.

 

Weight room:

 

RT Doug Free, and LB Kyle Wilber have made considerable improvements in the offseason.  Free has gotten stronger (only way I can explain him beating Wake the way he did), and is using his weaknesses as an advantage. If he can keep the level of play that he had on the first drive, the Cowboys should only have to worry about a right guard.

 

Wilber has also improved his strength and technique. He is using his hands a lot more, and looks to be more comfortable in the pass rush. His angles are still too wide, but he is getting the pressures.

 

It’s a process:

 

The Cowboys linebacker group appears to be a factory. Caleb McSurdy looked better than he did last year, he needs more improvement in his first step, was washed up more than a few times.  Overall, the linebackers looked good in the 43 defense. It will be a process converting, but when you attack the way the Cowboys did in the HOF game, you are bound to make plays. The pursuit angles changed a lot in the second half, and the linebackers were able to make plays. Sims continues to shine.