Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Beat Writers recap: Cowboys-Redskins
By Calvin Watkins
The Cowboys fought for a 27-24 victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoon. We review the showdown in Landover with our weekly Beat Writers recap.
*The Cowboys did miss fullback Tony Fiammetta on Sunday. He's been credited for moving defenders out of the way during this amazing stretch for running back DeMarco Murray. However, John Phillips lined up at fullback for 33 snaps on Sunday and should receive high grades from the offensive coaches. He didn't miss any blocks and made sure Felix Jones and Murray were able to get to the line of scrimmage with little problems. Phillips even caught a pass, for nine-yards, out of the backfield. If the Cowboys don't have Fiammetta for an extended period of time, Phillips is more than capable of handling it. The biggest difference between Phillips and Fiammetta is the tight end has to get lower to the ground to make his blocks which keeps him upright and prevents him from moving defenders. Fiammetta is shorter so he's able to get more power in his legs to move defenders a little better.
*It was a rough day for slot corner Orlando Scandrick. He's starting now with Mike Jenkins out of the lineup with a hamstring injury. Jenkins hopes to play Thursday vs. Miami. But Scandrick has slumped in his absence. On the Redskins game-tying scoring drive, Scandrick made two critical mistakes. He had a chance to tackle fullback Darrel Young in the flat for a short gain, but missed the tackle. Young trots down the field for 27 yards. Scandrick's other poor play came on a third-and-two from the Cowboys 21. Scandrick grabbed the back of receiver Jabar Gafney's jersey after getting beat inside. Scandrick was called for a hold costing the Cowboys five yards.
*The same problems Akwasi Owusu-Ansah had last year as a returnman continues in 2011. He doesn't make defenders miss, runs tentativiely out of the end zone and doesn't know what to do on punt returns. In the first quarter, Owusu-Ansah had a chance for a nice punt return but was calling for a fair catch with Danny McCray and Alan Ball in front of him as blockers. Kevin Ogletree also picked up a block. Cowboys either need to challenge him to attack the defenders or find someone else to return kicks.
*Anthony Spencer is not playing like a man in his contract year. He's been so up-and-down it drives you crazy. He saw plenty of one-on-one blocking from tackles Trent Williams and Jammal Brown on Sunday and was left with a four tackle, one tackle for loss and one quarterback hurry efforts. Very good but sometimes you wonder if there is more for Spencer to do. Tight ends Fred Davis and Logan Paulsen contained Spencer on some plays too. Yes Spencer's job is to contain the edge and stop the run but it seems he's more of a pass rusher. Spencer is an athletic player who maybe doesn't get enough credit for doing the dirty things on the field, the plays we don't see.
*There was an interesting trio of linebackers of Bradie James, Sean Lee and Keith Brooking on Sunday. This group was on the field at the same time for about 10 snaps. It gives the Cowboys some interesting matchups. It allows them to employ two good run stoppers in Brooking and James and someone who is solid vs. the pass in Lee. One thing we like from defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is the creativity he displays. He's not afraid to use different players in different situations.
*Gerald Sensabaugh continues to play well. He finished with nine tackles, a team-high seven solos on Sunday. He also forced a fumble and recovered one as well. He's playing much better this season and we've said in the past it's due to Abram Elam's work of getting guys lined up before the snap. But Sensabaugh is very aggressive. He's not afraid to mix it up on run plays and breaks to the ball faster and harder this season after catches from receivers.
*From ESPN Stats and Information: Tony Romo is tied for second in the NFL with 13 touchdowns when pressured by five or more rushers. ... Jason Witten leads the Cowboys in yards-after-catch with 237. ... Cowboys have been penalized 24 times for 204 yards last three weeks.