Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Random Thoughts: Not enough pressure
By Calvin Watkins
After reviewing the Cowboys' Week 2 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, here are some random thoughts on what happened:
* Pressure. The Cowboys mainly used four- and three-man pressures against rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. Why is that an issue? Out of 58 snaps, outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware dropped back in coverage just three times and Anthony Spencer 14 times. However, Seattle ran eight play-action pass plays, freezing the linebackers. That might be why defensive coordinator Rob Ryan didn't send more defenders. Maybe the Cowboys were afraid of getting beat over the middle if the linebackers were flying at the quarterback.
* It's easy to get caught up in snap counts, but let's examine why Felix Jones got 19 in Week 2 and just 12 in Week 1. DeMarco Murray closed out the game in the Week 1 win and Jones' minor rib injury limited his play totals. In Week 2, Jones was on the field at the end of the game as the Cowboys tried to score one last touchdown in a 27-7 blowout. Jones caught two of the last three passes of the game for 13 and 23 yards. If the Cowboys are leading Tampa Bay this Sunday, expect Jones' snap count to remain at 12-15. If the Cowboys are down big, maybe it goes up to about 20.
* In a career first, cornerback Mike Jenkins had more special teams snaps (10) than defensive snaps (8). The Cowboys are slowly bringing him back after his recovery from shoulder surgery. Recent developments are forcing the Cowboys to maybe use Jenkins more at free safety. It seems strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh (calf) is going to miss some time, and there's no telling how serious Barry Church's quad injury is. Jenkins could move into a free safety role against Tampa Bay and pick up tight ends and the fourth receiver if one exists. The question is who plays strong safety? Danny McCray is a sure tackler, though he missed two vs. Seattle -- one on special teams and another on defense. McCray most likely will be inserted as the strong safety, so expect Jenkins to come off the field in short yardage situations.
* Marcus Spears is expected to start Sunday at defensive end if Kenyon Coleman (knee) is unavailable. Spears is durable and his roster spot coming into training camp was a question mark because you wondered if the Cowboys wanted to go younger at that position. Clifton Geathers was too inconsistent and Ben Bass wasn't ready and it prompted the Cowboys to cut both. Bass is on the Cowboys practice squad and has a bright future. Spears, meanwhile, continues as a steady player. Rookie defensive end Tyrone Crawford got 10 snaps vs. Seattle mainly to injuries. Spears also left the game after getting nicked, and he could get that same total Sunday against Tampa Bay.
* When quarterback Tony Romo threw his interception, I thought he was trying to trick the defense by pump faking one way and throwing another. A closer look reveals Romo had some pressure, so maybe he was trying to throw the ball to the right side and, after a step, he turned and saw Jason Witten and threw his direction, which led to the interception.
* Jason Garrett should get praise for Miles Austin's touchdown catch. Austin, out of the slot, ran downfield, stopped and then sprinted toward the sidelines with the cornerback trailing. Romo was patient because he was waiting on Austin, then he needed the time for the play to develop. Romo wants to get rid of the ball in 2.5 seconds. He pushed that number on the 22-yard touchdown pass to Austin.
* Notes and things: Fourth quarter time of possession: Seattle 13:31, Dallas 1:29. ... Spencer is off to a strong start after two weeks. He's got two sacks, a tackle for loss and two quarterback hits against Seattle. ... The Cowboys' return game is shaky right now. Dez Bryant had some room for a return against the Giants in Week 1, but fell down when he reached the sidelines. ... Jones is making interesting decisions on kickoffs. He returned two from eight yards deep. ... Do you miss Phil Costa yet?