Dallas Cowboys: Louis Murphy

Eight in the Box: WR status check

March, 30, 2013
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

How do the Cowboys look at wide receiver and what still needs to be done?

Dallas Cowboys: Dez Bryant broke out in a huge way in the second half of his third NFL season and finished the year with 92 catches for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns. If he can keep himself in one piece, he's one of the top wideouts in the league. Miles Austin is the perfect complement on the other side -- good enough that defenses have to pay attention to him but not the kind of guy who's going to complain if Bryant gets more catches. Austin has to keep his hamstrings healthy, and if he does the Cowboys have a top one-two wide receiver combo. Dwayne Harris came on strong last year as a No. 3 wide receiver, and guys such as Cole Beasley and Danny Coale could provide intriguing depth. Dallas could look to add a veteran wide receiver to its mix heading into training camp in case the young guys don't produce, but it's not a high-priority issue.

To see what the other NFC East teams look like at WR, click here.
Play: Tony Romo overthrows Miles Austin
Situation: First-and-9
Time: 48 seconds left in first quarter
Score: Tied, 0-0
Taylor's Take: This offense struggles so much to score touchdowns instead of field goals that Romo simply can't miss what should've been his easiest TD pass of the season. Austin was wide open. It's disheartening when an 18-play, 81-yard drive that lasts 10:10 ends with a field goal.

Play: Cam Newton incompletion
Situation: First-and-10
Time: 8:54 left, fourth quarter
Score: Carolina, 14-13
Taylor's Take: If the 5-9, 245-pound fullback was a couple of inches taller, the Cowboys might be talking about a 2-4 start this week. Tolbert circled out of the backfield and split linebackers Dan Connor and Bruce Carter as he sprinted down the left hashmark, but Newton overthrew him. Gerald Sensabaugh was the only player between Tolbert and the goalline.

Play: Tony Romo scrambles for 10 yards
Situation: First-and-10 at Carolina 41
Time:6:04 left, fourth quarter
Score:Carolina, 14-13
Taylor's Take: Carolina pressured Romo heavily, which is why he scrambled. If he had been given just a little time to survey the field, he would've seen Jason Witten all alone in the middle of the field. The first down was good; a TD would've been better.

Play: Morris Claiborne pass deflection
Situation: Fourth-and-11
Time: 2:45 left, fourth quarter
Score: Dallas, 16-14
Taylor's Take: The Cowboys made Claiborne the first defensive player selected in the draft because he was the best defensive player in college football with a reputation as a playmaker. Instead of playing soft on fourth down, Claiborne was aggressive and ran through Carolina receiver Louis Murphy. Claiborne should've been called for interference, but since he wasn't the play was terrific.

Play: Sean Lee pass deflection
Situation: Third-and-16
Time: 9:39 left, first quarter
Score: Tied, 0-0
Taylor's Take: Lee made one of the best plays you'll see this season. Louis Murphy had caught the ball and was pulling it into his body, when a diving Lee knocked it out of his hands. Allowing a one-win team to convert third-and-16 could've easily led to Carolina scoring first and creating momentum.

Look Back: Third-and-9 call was there

October, 23, 2012
IRVING, Texas -- Jason Garrett’s third-and-9 call before that ultimately led to Dan Bailey’s go-ahead field goal with 3:25 to play will be debated for some time.

In this week’s A Look Back, Garrett’s call actually should have worked. Carolina had six players in the box and was playing shell coverage, as it predicted. Garrett went with a quick trap to free Phillip Tanner for a nice gain and if Tanner made a simple read the Cowboys might have had a touchdown but definitely would have had a first down.

With guard Mackenzy Bernadeau pulling and Tyron Smith and Miles Austin winning on their blocks, Tanner ran away from an opening to his left and cut back into linebacker Thomas Davis. As Garrett said Monday you don’t want to quibble with a runner’s in-game decision making, but if Tanner simply looked to his left there was nothing but green grass ahead of him.

That’s what makes a call great and a call questioned. For the record, I didn’t really like the call.

** That Garrett ran it 28 times (not including three Tony Romo scrambles) was a good thing. He was persistent. Looking back at the tape, there were plenty of opportunities for Felix Jones and Tanner to make more than they got. Now, it wasn’t great, but Jones left a lot of yards on the field. Twice he was tripped up as he was about to bust through the line and on one stretch play he was slow to the edge.

The best run of the day came on a delay to the right in which Doug Free sealed the edge and Bernadeau reached the second level. Jones got 9 yards on the run. It was an effective run but the Cowboys did not come back to it again in the game. Strange.

** When the Panthers brought five or more rushers, Romo completed 8 of 10 passes. Two of them came to Miles Austin down the seam. On the first catch, Austin fumbled. On the second Austin picked up 36 yards, setting up his touchdown. The Panthers rushed four defenders 20 times and Romo was 13 of 20. Against three-man pressures, he was 3-of-4 for a touchdown.

** On to the defense: Rob Ryan brought five-man or more pressure 12 times. One time it led to the half sack by DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher. One time it led to Morris Claiborne’s pick after pressure from Josh Brent.

** Against Baltimore, the Cowboys played full press eight times. They played it even less against Carolina (just five times). They played half press 26 times and most of the time Claiborne played off coverage and Brandon Carr played press. Carr played press coverage on 26 snaps for the game.

** In the first half, Cam Newton ran for 59 yards on three carries. Two were scrambles, one was a called play. Newton’s 24-yard scramble came as a result of an end tackle game between Ware and Hatcher. Ware looped inside and forced the pressure inside but that left a hole outside and Hatcher could not get the edge in time to slow down Newton. On his 20-yard option run, Ware took Jonathan Stewart on the dive, giving Newton the ability to get the edge. Jordan Gross hemmed Sean Lee and the run was really easy. Newton’s 15-yard run came after Anthony Spencer missed a would-be sack. I can’t say the Cowboys made great adjustments on Newton’s ability to escape in the second half because the Panthers never really gave Newton the option to move around much. But a key play was a third-and-1 stop made by Dan Connor and Gerald Sensabaugh, however, in reality Spencer made the play by forcing Newton back inside to his help.

** While some will remember this game as the first in which Claiborne recorded a pick, it was actually a struggle for the rookie. He allowed Brandon LaFell’s touchdown and it came on the same route in which LaFell picked up 32 yards. He failed to stay with LaFell twice on shallow crossing routes. In the second half, he was soft in coverage on a big gain by Louis Murphy.

** Against Baltimore, the special teams’ units were in the crosshairs. Against Carolina, the coverage was great. Three times Eric Frampton was able to make stops as a gunner on punt coverage. One time Lance Dunbar came through with a great tackle as a gunner. The Panthers had 4 total yards in the punt game.

Morris Claiborne gets away with contact

October, 21, 2012
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Cowboys first-round pick, Morris Claiborne picked up his first interception of the season and made his first big late-game play in the victory over Carolina.

Faced with a fourth-and-1 from its own 40, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton found Louis Murphy for what could have been first down completion, but Claiborne bumped into the receiver as he attempted to make the catch and the ball fell incomplete with 2:08 to play.

The crowd roared its disapproval as did Murphy.

"It's one of those things," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "You'd like to get the call. We didn't get the call. You'd like to see him hold onto the ball but there was a reason why."

So did Claiborne get away with something?

"We were just man-to-man and the guy ran a quick stop route and I was blessed enough to come down and break it up," he said. "They say I interfered with him, but I feel like I had good coverage."