Dallas Cowboys: Scout's Eye

Scout's Eye: Cowboys-Raiders review

August, 14, 2010
8/14/10
10:14
AM ET
Thoughts from the Cowboys-Raiders preseason game:

*Have no clue why Wade Phillips didn’t try the field goal before the half for David Buehler. Isn’t this training camp about evaluating your players?

The biggest question mark left in this camp is if David Buehler is going to be the starting placekicker in 2010, period. Buehler should have had that opportunity to kick a 30-yard field goal. I understand, it’s only 30 yards and Buehler has been money from every where on the field except from 49 yards against Cincinnati. Which leads me to this question, are you really evaluating your kicker or is your mind already made up that it is his job?

If you are still evaluating Buehler, let him kick. If not, announce him as the starter and move forward, but not giving him the opportunity to gain confidence of himself and his teammates was puzzling.

*Marc Colombo is never pretty in the way he plays as an offensive tackle but in 2008, he was the most consistent linemen on the squad.

Colombo’s 2009 was cut short by injury, but he managed to work his way back into the lineup for the last game of the season and then the two playoff games. Against Minnesota, Colombo had the worst game of his Cowboys’ career. Wade Phillips offered that he should not allowed Colombo to return to the lineup because he wasn’t completely healthy.

In studying Colombo, he did not appear to struggle in either of the Eagles games, so what happened to him in the Minnesota game was surprising. In the Raiders contest, Colombo once again struggled with the edge rusher.

The Raiders’ Lamarr Houston is a nice young player that shows some good quickness off the edge, but it’s something that Colombo hasn’t seen all camp. The interesting thing is that Colombo didn’t have those struggles against the Bengals.

In San Antonio, there were reps where Colombo just wasn’t quick enough getting out of his stance and allowing his corner or edge to be taken. Maybe it’s a technique flaw that he needs to work through these last three preseason games, but he needs to try and find that consistency he enjoyed in 2008.

*Was it too much to ask this football team to have to play two preseason games five days apart after two weeks of training camp? As banged up as this team is right now, I have to give them credit for fighting through and not suffering any further injuries.

This appeared to be a tired football team in the second half. The situation that you have to remember is that these second- and third-teamers played the majority of the Cincinnati game too. It showed with lack of execution on both sides of the ball. Breakdowns, mistakes were all part of the game.

There is a side of me that believes that the work that Wade Phillips and this squad will do will lead to a much better showing in San Diego. Players will have the opportunity to work in outstanding weather on a grass field and the coaches will be able to teach and correct mistakes through practice and not have to worry about the quick turnaround of another preseason game.

Look for this team to be sharper and better prepared against the Chargers.

Scout's Eye: Day 4 observations

July, 28, 2010
7/28/10
7:00
AM ET

My thoughts from Tuesday practice:

*As a scout when you evaluate outside linebackers, there are a couple of areas that you focus on. “Reactive athleticism and speed.” Does the linebacker that you are evaluating play with these traits?

Anthony Spencer did Tuesday. Spencer is the type of linebacker that sees what is happening to him scheme wise and displays the movement skills to get off blocks to get into position to make the play.

Spencer had a play where he used a swim technique (arm over) to beat John Phillips, slide down inside, then make the tackle. Later on a pass rush, he worked Phillips again with a quick burst around the corner, where Phillips was unable to even lay a hand on him.

Spencer is the type of player that doesn’t give you much of a hitting surface when he rushes. What this means is when the blocker tries to put his hands on Spencer, there is nothing there to stop his charge. His positioning of his body on the rush causes this.

Spencer is also very good with his hands. He really does a nice job of firing them into the blocker and having the strength in his upper body to control the blocker.

Spencer has come a long way from a guy that was just tabbed that can just play the run.

*In 2008, backup quarterback Brad Johnson made three starts for the Cowboys, losing two of the three games. In that same season, the Cowboys missed the playoffs by one game.

Jon Kitna is a guy that Cowboys fans never want to see unless he is taking a knee to kill the clock in a win.

Training camp is when Kitna will get the majority of his work so it’s the best time to study him. Kitna has appeared at times in camp to be holding the ball, which is a quarterback no-no that can get you in trouble quickly.

On the interception that he threw to Alan Ball, it appeared that Crayton was open on the curl and throwing on time would have resulted in a completion but by holding the ball, he allowed Ball to see the route, then drive causing the turnover. Kitna also threw an interception on an out route to Dez Bryant that Mike Jenkins read.

Maybe a red flag or just a bad day for Kitna, but we will see as training camp progresses.

*Wade Phillips and his defensive staff have to be pleased with the number of turnovers that their defense has been able to create in these practices at the Alamodome.

Just Tuesday, Alan Ball and Mike Jenkins had a pair of interceptions but really the heads up play of the day was caused by Orlando Scandrick and his strip of Miles Austin after a catch.

Austin was running underneath and caught the ball on the move. Scandrick was in man coverage but trailing the play. As he ran with Austin, Scandrick with a textbook move punched the ball from Austin’s arm and into the hands of Barry Church. It was the perfect play and execution.

This defense needs to create more opportunities to get off the field but to also allow their offense to have short field drives that are finished with points.

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