Wade Phillips reminded the media Monday that his squad was one of the better rushing offenses in the NFL in 2009 and we should expect the same type of success in 2010. Phillips spoke of vanilla schemes, “short sticks” and not being able to control what the opponents were doing that day on defense.
What Phillips really failed to mention was the true inability of his offense to secure down linemen, to get push at the point of attack and not whiff on blocks in space.
Areas that they might have been successful last season but yet to fully grasp in this preseason leave me with cause for concern.
When trying to run the football, it’s about the coordination of offensive linemen and tight ends. It’s about a fullback hitting a linebacker square and not on the edge. It’s about the backs running hard and not dancing around looking for a spot.
In the Houston game, there were too many plays in the running game where there was poor execution. We saw Jason Witten getting beat inside and Martellus Bennett catching blocks and playing way too soft. We saw Alex Barron getting driven into the backfield and making Leonard Davis have to run the hump to get to the outside. We saw Montrae Holland not being quick enough to get outside to block on the support.
Going into the game, Texans coach Gary Kubiak spoke of his concern of the squad’s inability to get off the field on third down but also to control the Saints' running game. The Texans had given up over 200 yards rushing to the defending Super Bowl champions.
Kubiak challenged his team to watch the film and try to do something about it against the Cowboys. The Texans came out and sure enough did something about it.
The Cowboys struggled to match the intensity and the physical play and were left with 12 carries for 13 yards. Just let that sink in for a moment. I don’t care if its vanilla schemes or short sticks; it is what it is.
There comes a point and time that you come off the football, get a hat on the defender and make something happen. This was not done Saturday night, but there is still two weeks left before opening night against the Redskins. It’s two more weeks to possibly get Kyle Kosier and Marc Colombo back in the starting lineup to help the situation.
*With the cutdown to 53 right around the corner, my “bubble players” are running out of opportunities to prove to the front office and the coaches that they deserve to be on this squad. Guys like Junior Siavii, Josh Brent, Steve Octavien, Leon Williams and Chris Gronkowski are fighting for the final roster spots.
Siavii was among the players that helped himself the most in the game against the Texans. Siavii, along with Terence Newman and Jay Ratliff, played very well in a group on defense that really struggled to do much right.
Siavii has always shown strength, but he did a better job of firing his hands inside, controlling the blocker and working down the line to make the play. Siavii is something that the Cowboys really don’t have many of -- a big-bodied guy.
If the Cowboys carry five wide receivers instead of six, there is a good chance that both Siavii and Josh Brent make this football team.
*Rookie linebacker Sean Lee had a much better night in San Diego than he did against the Texans.
Lee struggled to consistently get off blocks and at times was nowhere as physical as he needed to be at the point of attack. Lee struggled as well as a blitzer.
One of the first opportunities he blitzed, he got knocked to the ground with ease. This can’t happen. He will need to study how to time his rush and also how to use his technique to disengage and attack the pocket.
If Lee is going to be used on the blitz, he needs to find a way to make sure that he is getting home on the rush.
*Alan Ball was not as good as he needed to be at free safety.
Throughout camp, Ball had shown range, ball skills and the ability to be in position to make plays. That wasn’t the case Saturday night.
As a free safety, you can’t get fooled on the route. Texans receiver Jacoby Jones was able to beat Orlando Scandrick off the line and down the field. Ball saw the route develop from Jones but bit on the head and shoulder fake to the outside which caused Ball to overcommit and allowed Jones to take his route inside on the post for a touchdown.
At free safety, you can’t make mistakes because your mistakes mean touchdowns for the opponents.