A Look Back: Nightmare for Doug Free

November, 19, 2012
11/19/12
1:15
PM ET


IRVING, Texas – With a quick turnaround before Thursday’s game against Washington, we give you a quick turnaround of the weekly A Look Back post from Sunday’s win against Cleveland.

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Cowboys owner Jerry Jones talks about the play of the offensive line and how happy he is that the team came away with the win.

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We’ll start with the offense:

Tony Romo took a beating with a career-high seven sacks. Doug Free had a hand in four of them. Jermey Parnell had a hand in two. Derrick Dockery and Mackenzy Bernadeau share blame for the seventh with most of it on Dockery for failing to help his center.

Free’s day was a nightmare. On the first sack he allowed he whiffed on defensive end Jabaal Sheard, who was coming off the edge. On the second, he was late to recognize a blitz and missed the chance to pick off Kaluka Maiava or Usama Young. You might want to put some of it on Felix Jones, too. On the third, he and Dockery failed to pick up a simple twist as Ahtyba Rubin dropped Romo. The last one came in overtime when he was overpowered by linebacker Craig Robertson.

Parnell missed Frostee Rucker on the sack-fumble of Romo, but the quarterback might have been able to get rid of the ball sooner. Still, Parnell got over-extended and could not keep up with Rucker, who swiped the ball away from Romo from behind. The Cowboys had a seven-man protection against Cleveland’s five-man pressure there, which is not good.

Parnell’s first extended playing time was a mixed bag of good and bad and very little in between.

Three of Cleveland’s sacks came on four-man pressure, three came on five-man pressure and one came on a six-man pressure.

On to the defense:

If Rob Ryan was going to go down Sunday it was not going to be because he went after Brandon Weeden. The Cowboys had more three-man pressures than five- or six-man pressures against the Browns rookie quarterback.

Weeden was 5 of 8 when the Cowboys brought three guys, including a touchdown to Benjamin Watson. Ryan’s version of flooding the zone did not work to well.

Ryan brought four-man pressure 24 times, resulting in both sacks of Weeden. Ryan only brought five or more five times. The one time he brought six came on the Browns first drive of the second half. Safety Charlie Peprah went for the kill shot on Trent Richardson on a throw to the flat and missed giving the running back an easy first down.

Watson’s second touchdown of the game came with the defense late to align. Either Ryan was late with the call or it was not properly relayed to the unit from the huddle quick enough. Safety Danny McCray, who had an outstanding game otherwise, was slow to get on Watson at the snap and gave up inside leverage on the seam route even though Gerald Sensabaugh was outside for some help.

If you’re handing out game balls to the defense, Sensabaugh, McCray and Anthony Spencer should be at the top of the list.

In charting the press coverage of corners Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr, you see a sign of Ryan’s game plan. The Cowboys played full press only five times. They played off 43 times and half press 20 times.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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