Beat Writers Recap: Cowboys vs. Bills

November, 15, 2011
11/15/11
12:15
PM ET
The Cowboys played their most complete game of the season on Sunday, beating up the Bills, 44-7, at Cowboys Stadium. We review in our weekly Beat Writers Recap.

*In our Stock Report we gave Bradie James a stock down for no tackles. A review of the game shows he unofficially didn't get any snaps on defense. James isn't very good in pass coverage and the Buffalo Bills like to spread defenses out with four and five receiver sets. Buffalo lines up running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller as wide receivers too. The Cowboys used five and sometimes six defensive backs in the game and had Sean Lee defend a running back if a DB didn't do it. It was interesting to see Alex Albright and Bruce Carter in garbage time at inside linebacker and not James. The Cowboys defensive coaches might give James more snaps when they see teams who don't spread them out as much. But no snaps at all vs. the Bills? Wow.
Update: After another review of the game, we found James played one snap. A third and one with 17 seconds left in the first quarter. James lined up on the strong side as an outside linebacker. He was blocked on the play. Still, one play for James. Wow.

*DeMarco Murray does a lot of things we like. He's got great vision and knows how to pick his spots to move up field. When John Phillips was blocking linebacker Nick Barnett on a run, Murray cut inside to get more yardage because he saw a slight hole develop. When he gets in the open field he seems to need less space than Felix Jones to make defenders miss. Murray runs low to the ground and uses his balance well to keep defenders off balance when he runs. He's a smoother runner than Jones.

*Tony Romo attempted 26 passes on Sunday but his two best throws were at the start of the game. His third pass of the game went for 25 yards to Jesse Holley. Romo let the ball go with Holley's back to him, but he turned around and caught the pass over a shorter corner Terrence McGee. Romo's next pass, a 34-yard touchdown, came on a stop and go. Romo made the throw with Dez Bryant's back to him, it was almost like a back shoulder fade throw, instead it turned into a jump ball and Bryant made the play look easy when he jumped over Leodis McKelvin, another short corner, for the score.

*Laurent Robinson is a good receiver, who reminds me of Patrick Cryaton, now in San Diego. Robinson runs the correct routes, catches the ball and unlike Crayton, doesn't talk smack. (We don't mind smack talk, but Jason Garrett isn't a big fan). Here's another thing: Robinson does: He blocks on run plays. Murray's 25 yard run late in the second quarter was a result of him finding no room one side of the field and going to the other. Murray raced down the Cowboys sideline, there was Robinson blocking Drayton Florence.

* Best thing about Terence Newman's day is not the two interceptions, but how fresh he looked. Cowboys take Newman out from time-to-time to give him a breather. It's not because he's 33 or out of shape, he's in good shape. But a healthy Newman makes the Cowboys secondary so difficult beat agaisnt. The team has three athletic corners with speed and the safeties are strong physical tacklers.

*The return game is bad, just bad right now. Felix Jones is a player the Cowboys can use in this area. He did it his first two years in the league. The problem is the durability factor. Last year was the first where Jones didn't miss any games due to injury. If the Cowboys move Jones to kick returns, it's a risk because of his health but it can reward the Cowboys with a dynamic playmaker on special teams, something they don't have right now.

*Romo has eight touchdown passes and one interception the last four games. ... If James isn't getting any snaps on defense, or maybe one or two, what's the point of keeping him active on gamedays? Special team snaps. ... How come almost everytime Romo throws a pass to Holley he catches it? Can he get more offensive snaps? ... Remember all the discussion about the Cowboys offensive line and how it's struggling? Romo hasn't been sacked the last two weeks. ... Funny how teams forget to block DeMarcus Ware. He got a sack on the first play of the game when left tackle Andy Levitre blocked down.
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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