Dallas Cowboys: John Moffitt


IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys are hoping Travis Frederick will continue a tradition set forth by Wisconsin offensive linemen in recent years.

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, who coached Travis Frederick at Wisconsin, joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what kind of player the Cowboys got with their first-round pick in the NFL draft.

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Joe Thomas, Gabe Carimi, John Moffitt, Kevin Zeitler and Peter Konz have been high picks in recent years and have had different degrees of success.

“I think that having that tradition helps continue that tradition,” Frederick said. “That tradition is one of the reasons why I chose to go to Wisconsin, just knowing that such great offensive linemen have come out of there and would probably or hopefully give me the opportunity if I worked as hard as I could to be in the situation that I’m in today. I’m excited to join that long line.”

The Cowboys’ recent history with Badgers offensive linemen isn’t so good.

In 2003, the Cowboys drafted Al Johnson in the second round, and they took Bill Nagy in the seventh round in 2011. Johnson missed his rookie year because of a knee injury that subsequently cut his career short. Nagy won a starting job in part by default, but he suffered an ankle injury and was cut during training camp last summer.

“You certainly go case by case and evaluate the player,” coach Jason Garrett said, “but there is no question there is a tradition of offensive linemen coming out of Wisconsin. There is a long-standing tradition, but there is also a recent tradition. What that does is allow you to talk to people that know these guys well and compare them to people, ‘Hey, compare him to this guy, compare him to that guy. You had him two years ago, how does he stack up?’ Those conversations are real because guys who’ve been around these guys day after day after day can make great evaluations.”

Scout's Eye: Seahawks-Cowboys key matchups

November, 5, 2011

Cowboys OTs Doug Free and Tyron Smith vs. Seahawks DEs Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock: Clemons and Brock are the Seahawks’ most dangerous defensive players. Free and Smith were the most exposed in the Eagles game when Trent Cole and Jason Babin were able to get up the field quickly and work their outside shoulder or use a spin move underneath.

Through the first seven weeks of watching Smith play, the one area of concern is not when he uses his athletic ability to take rushers wide, but when he has to deal with the inside pressure. There have been games where Smith gets beat when the defender spins on him. Last week against the Eagles, Babin was able to get him by going hard up the field, getting his weight on his outside foot, then spinning hard inside. When Smith tried to adjust back, he was a one-legged football player and way out of position.

Scout's Eye
When watching these Seahawks ends, you see them play with explosiveness up the field. The real strength of Clemons and Brock is their ability to get up the field. Free has had his moments where he has been technique poor this season, so how he and Smith are able to adjust to the Seahawks rushers will go a long way to how successful the Cowboys will be able to move the ball.

Cowboys CBs Terence Newman and Orlando Scandrick vs. Seahawks WR Sidney Rice: The Seahawks do have receivers that can make plays down the field, but their biggest problem has been at quarterback, where they have struggled to be accurate with their passes. When Tarvaris Jackson has had success throwing the ball, it has usually been to Sidney Rice, who is the Seahawks’ best playmaker.

Rice is a vertical player that has the speed and quickness to create opportunities for this offense. Rice does a nice job of releasing off the line if you try to play press against him. He is an outstanding route runner and knows how to work the sidelines. If given free access, Rice will come hard off the ball to sell the route, getting the defender on his heels, then break hard to the inside or out.

Rice really does a nice job of adjusting to the ball when thrown his direction, and when Jackson throws the ball, there is plenty of chances to have to make circus catches. Rice is a slippery receiver with the ball in his hands.

Both Newman and Scandrick have the ability and speed to run with Rice, who will take them all over the field.

The best throw that Jackson can make is the deep, vertical pass with touch. The Eagles didn’t take a vertical shot last week, but these Seahawks will. Rice can get vertical, as the Cowboys discovered in a playoff game in Minnesota a couple of seasons ago.

The Cowboys cannot allow Sidney Rice to be a dominant player in this game.

Cowboys front seven vs. Seahawks OL: Last week against Philadelphia, the Cowboys front seven was embarrassed by the Eagles’ blockers. The Eagles’ offensive line physically took it to the Cowboys, both run and pass.

Marcus Spears, Jason Hatcher, Kenyon Coleman and Sean Lissemore were awful. It was surprising how bad this group of defensive ends struggled in the game. The Eagles dominated these ends at the point of attack. Spears, Hatcher, Coleman and Lissemore couldn’t get off blocks. They struggled to get push when Michael Vick went back to pass.

The Seahawks are starting three offensive linemen that have two or less years of experience as starters. On the right side, the Seahawks are starting two rookies in guard John Moffitt and tackle James Carpenter. That is the side of the line where the Seahawks have struggled the most.

Marshawn Lynch is a talented back and you can see the frustration when he gets stopped for no gain. The Cowboys’ line and linebackers need to dominate this game much like they were dominated last week. Anything thing else would be disappointing.

Scout's Eye: Cowboys-Seahawks preview

November, 4, 2011

Scout's Eye
Those of you who think that the Seahawks are going to come into Cowboys Stadium and roll over because of their 2-5 record might be in for a bit of a surprise come Sunday afternoon.

This game has a 2010 Jacksonville feel to it, when the Cowboys clearly overlooked the Jaguars and were embarrassed on their home field 35-17. When you study the Seahawks, their record is misleading because there is some talent on this team and their record should be better.

It's a mistake to compare the the Seahawks to the Rams. St. Louis defensively was a bad football team; Seattle is not.

QB, O-line struggle with pressure

Offensively, there are problems with the third-youngest offensive line in the NFL, but the biggest struggle is at quarterback with Tarvaris Jackson. There is no doubt that Jackson has a cannon for an arm, but the problem is that he is not an accurate quarterback. Receivers Mike Williams, Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin and Ben Obomanu really have to work to catch his passes.

[+] EnlargeTarvaris Jackson
AP Photo/Don WrightA young offensive line does little to improve the accuracy of Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.
Jackson is all over the place when he throws the ball. I have seen him throw the out or slant and be dead on the money, but then the next three throws would be nowhere near the receivers.

Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell likes to move Jackson around in the pocket with designed boots or waggles, but there are plenty of times when you see Jackson moving on his own when the pressure becomes too much. One of the best traits that Jackson has is his ability to scramble and buy the second chance.

There will be times Jackson doesn't make the best decisions. I have seen him throw the ball up for grabs for no reason at all instead of taking a sack and living to fight on the next down.

The pressure that Jackson and even Charlie Whitehurst have had to deal with this season can be put at the feet of this offensive line. The Seahawks start two rookies on the right side with guard John Moffitt and tackle James Carpenter.

Moffitt really struggled on tape. He doesn't sustain well -- run or pass -- and much like his former Wisconsin teammate Bill Nagy, when he has to face a rusher who plays with power or strength, it really throws him off.

Carpenter is a large man who is not slow-footed, but he is more of a catch blocker than one who punches and tries to stop the charge of the defender. The Seahawks will try to get him on the edge in the screen game and on the toss sweep as well. Carpenter has had his share of struggles with the inside rush, much like Tyron Smith has. For young tackles such as Smith and Carpenter, that's the biggest problem -- always thinking about protecting the outside then having to adjust back inside, which rushers like DeMarcus Ware will take advantage of.

The two best offensive linemen for the Seahawks are the left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger.

Official scout of ESPN Dallas Bryan Broaddus previews the Cowboys-Eagles matchup on Sunday.

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Okung is impressive in the way that he tries to finish his blocks. His feet are good and he can adjust to the rush.

Unger was a player who the Cowboys were very interested in drafting three years ago after an outstanding career at Oregon, where he was an All-Pac 10 tackle and center. Unger, like Okung, is good with his feet and is able to adjust to twist stunts and blitzers. Rarely do you see him on the ground, plays on his feet. Good with the reach and cut-off blocks.

RB trio carries load well

The Seahawks have three running backs on the roster and use them all. Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett and Leon Washington all get offensive snaps.

Lynch is the main ballcarrier and there is nothing really flashy about the way he does his job. He tries to hammer defenders when they come up for the tackle. Can tell that there are plays in which he gets frustrated because of the lack of blocking that he sometimes receives. Would not call Lynch an explosive back but one that will press the hole and if necessary use his vision to find the hole to the outside to finish the run. Lynch is not the type of back that will run away from you with blazing speed but more of a steady, workman-like runner.

Lynch is a productive pass catcher with outstanding hands. Will see him used in the red zone on screens much like the Cowboys saw last week against the Eagles' LeSean McCoy.

Lynch's problem in the games I studied was fumbling the ball. In the Bengals and Giants games, he put the ball on the ground, killing drives for his team.

Washington is a short, explosive ball carrier. Forsett has good hands but doesn't play with the explosiveness of Washington. Washington attacks the hole with suddenness, while Forsett shows more patience.

Safeties shines for Seahawks

While the Seahawks' offense has issues, their defense is far superior to the Rams'. The Seahawks have more skill at safety, corner and pass rusher.

I was really impressed with safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.

[+] EnlargeWalter Thurmond and Earl Thomas
Matt Sullivan/Getty ImagesThe Cowboys likely won't catch Seahawks safety Earl Thomas (29) out of position Sunday.
Thomas shows nice range and catch-up speed to make plays. He is also used as a blitzer in this scheme. He is quick around the corner. Thomas plays assignment sound. You don't see him out of position much.

Chancellor is a physical tackler but doesn't move as well in coverage as Thomas because he is not that quick-footed. Chancellor has struggled some in the passing game. He misplayed a ball in the air against the Giants down the sideline that led to a touchdown, so you don't see him put in those types of situations often.

At corner for the Seahawks, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are the starters. Sherman, a rookie from Stanford, is not the most physical player but has good cover skills. Both corners like to play press coverage and can run with their men.

The Cowboys had trouble last week against the Eagles when they had to fight off the press. I am not saying that these Seattle corners are as good as the Eagles', but they do have height that helps them when they jam receivers at the line. Browner is over 6-foot-3 and Sherman is at 6-foot-2.

Watch for the Seahawks to play with a single high safety and Chancellor down in the box to handle the run. On the outside, these corners will press and make Dez Bryant and Miles Austin fight for space and hope that their pass rush can get home like the Eagles did last week.

Pass rush can be explosive

The Seahawks have two rushers that can create problems for tackles. Defensive ends Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock do a nice job. Clemons is a starter that plays the weakside defensive end, so he will flip sides opposite the strength of the Cowboys. Brock will come into the game as a nickel rusher.

Both Clemons and Brock are explosive rushers. Both like to attack the edges, but Doug Free and Tyron Smith have to careful when these two try to spin inside on their rush. Last week against the Eagles, the biggest struggles that Free and Smith had was when Jason Babin and Trent Cole were able to use a spin move. I expect that Clemons and Brock have studied that game, and they will test Free and Smith from the word go.

Five-star: Right side paves way to record

November, 3, 2011
Five-star question: Will DeMarcus Ware get the 2.5 sacks he needs to tie Jim Jeffcoat (94.5) for "officially" the most in franchise history?

Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware will break the club's all-time career sack record against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

The Seahawks aren't at offensive tackle with Russell Okung and James Carpenter, but Ware has played against better this season and has still managed to get sacks. I feel that will be no different this week.

At left tackle, Okung is athletic enough to stay in front of Ware -- plus he plays with some power in his punch. The right side is where Ware should be able to get his pressure. That'd be against Carpenter, the rookie from Alabama, who has some talent but he doesn’t move as well as Okung.

The Seahawks like to keep a tight end to help block when they can, and they mainly do it on Carpenter's side so there could be some rough plays to that side when he rushes. With that being said, I still feel Ware, when he does get that one-on-one match up, will be able to take advantage of the rookie, who hasn't faced the type of pass rush moves and skill that Ware brings to the table.

The key for the Cowboys this week is to build an early lead and force the Seahawks into a passing game. If the Cowboys can do that, you'll see the Seahawks struggle because rookie right guard John Moffitt will also struggle to effectively protect.