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Upon Further Review: Slowing down J.J. Watt

10/6/2014

The Dallas Cowboys are 4-1 after a 20-17 overtime victory against the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon.

With that we present our weekly Upon Further Review.

Enjoy.

1. One of the biggest story lines for the Cowboys in their game with the Texans was slowing down defensive end J.J. Watt. In the base defense, he's an end, but moves inside on the nickel. He has swim moves, bull rushes and finesse to reach the quarterback. Early in the game, Watt targeted what he thought was the weakest link along the offensive line in left guard Ronald Leary. He got a tackle on the first running play of the game. Afterward, Watt was slowed or shut down, depending on your point of view. As the game progressed, Watt finished with just four tackles and wasn't credited with any quarterback hurries, though he piled on Tony Romo as his helmet was knocked off. In the final 16 defensive snaps of the game, Watt drew double coverage four times and faced both tackles, Zack Martin and Jason Witten. Watt wasn't credited with any tackles during that span.

2. Romo takes Wednesdays off and I'm sure old school players and fans shake their head about this. But he does it to give his back more rest and to build strength. It was clear in the first two weeks of the season, Romo was struggling to throw deep passes. Against the Texans, Romo threw deep with a zip we haven't seen in a while. You can tell Romo is feeling better as he's moving around the pocket to avoid pressures and firing passes deep. The 37-yard completion to Dez Bryant in overtime is an example of this. One of his best throws of the game was to Witten on a seam route in the third quarter. But Romo floated a pass to Bryant that was picked off to start the fourth. Out of 41 throws, he threw one pass away, was penalized for intentional grounding, and he attempted eight deep throws.

3. The key to Dan Bailey's success: The holder and the long snapper. Chris Jones, the holder and J.P. Ladouceur, the long snapper, have to be on point with everything they do when it comes to a kick. As consistent as Bailey has been during this stretch, three misses the last 29 games, he's basically had the same holder and snapper. Having a chemistry with those two players is just as important as anything else. Bailey works daily with those guys and special teams coach Rich Bisaccia works with Jones on handling different types of snaps. Knuckleballs in the turf, high ones and to each side of him. Bailey's confidence in Jones getting the ball down on the spot allows him to make sure his steps to the ball don't get altered.

4. The Cowboys missed Orlando Scandrick while he served a two-game suspension for violating the performance enhancing policy. However, Brandon Carr has been very good this season, too. He led the Cowboys with eight total tackles and had one of four pass breakups against the Texans. Carr's durability can't be questioned. He played in his 101st consecutive game on Sunday. While Carr doesn't break up as many passes as Scandrick, he normally takes on the biggest receiver on the opposing team and is playing with more confidence in the first five weeks of the season.

5. Want to know how important middle linebacker Rolando McClain is to the defense? When he was on the sidelines after re-injuring his groin, the Texans were able to produce some positive yards in overtime. McClain gets players lined up. Here's coach Jason Garrett on McClain: "We still need to be able to line up regardless of who's out there. And we didn't line up the right way and it hurt us."