Dallas Cowboys: Tarell Brown

Kevin Ogletree fined $7,500 for facemask

September, 21, 2011
IRVING, Texas -- Kevin Ogletree’s facemask penalty on San Francisco cornerback Tarell Brown cost him $7,500 from the NFL.

Ogletree was flagged as he made a 33-yard catch in the second half after he attempted to stiff arm Brown but yanked the face mask instead. Ogletree said Monday he would just run away from the defender if he were in the same situation again.

The drive ended with a Jon Kitna interception but Alan Ball picked off Niners quarterback Alex Smith three plays later.

“I think it was a discretion call,” Ogletree said Monday. “I don’t think I yanked him down. It is what it is.”

Ogletree will in all likelihood appeal the fine, which could be reduced.

Scout's Eye: Cowboys-49ers preview

September, 16, 2011

Something I learned a long time ago when I was starting out as a young scout with the Packers was that when you lost a game in the NFL, there is no one in the league that felt sorry for you. You study the tape, make the corrections, and you move on to the next week.

Scout's Eye
As hard as that loss against the Jets was to take, this team must move on. What awaits the Cowboys in Week 2 is a trip to San Francisco against a 49ers team that smothered the Seahawks on defense and then made them pay for their inability to cover on the punt and kickoff return with reserve wide receiver Ted Ginn returning one of each for a touchdown to put the game away.

The 49ers have some nice talent in some key spots, but I would not say that quarterback is one of those spots. Alex Smith was selected with the first overall pick in the 2005 draft, the same draft with Aaron Rodgers who went some 22 picks later. Rodgers has thrown for over 8,000 yards his first two years as a starter and has a Super Bowl MVP to his credit, while Smith is working with his third head coach in the last seven years.

Breaking down Smith, he stands tall in the pocket, keeping his feet active. When he feels pressure, he will slide to safety. If receivers are covered down the field, he will check the ball down to the backs underneath.

Smith did a nice job in the Seattle game of keeping his eyes down the field but running with the ball to convert third downs or put his offense in a positive position. The Cowboys have to be careful with Smith if Rob Ryan plays man coverage chasing receivers all over the field and Smith takes off running to try to make a play.

The ball comes off his hand with some velocity with an overhand throwing motion. Smith will try to look off receivers then come back the other way with the ball.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh is the play caller, so he really tries to run the offense to give Smith the best opportunity to make an easy throw in the passing game. Harbaugh will move the pocket with waggles or boots giving Smith high/low reads with receivers.

In the Seattle game, Harbaugh mixed his formations throughout, lining up in one look then shifting pre-snap to try to create confusion. Harbaugh went unbalanced several plays, then ran the ball weak side with Frank Gore, which was a different wrinkle.

Along with tight end Vernon Davis, Gore is the 49ers’ best offensive player. Gore doesn’t have explosive speed, but what he does have is the ability to keep coming at you. He is a physical back.

There were times where Harbaugh was able to start Gore one way then bring him back with misdirection with a pulling tackle and a backside tight end. Gore has the vision to see the creases and holes. Again, he just isn’t a burner.

The Seahawks had some success against Gore making him stop and have to restart. Gore is one of those backs that builds up speed as he runs. The Seahawks were able to get some defenders into the backfield, causing him problems getting going again.

This will be the second week that the Cowboys defense will have to face an athletic tight end. Last week, it was the Jets’ Dustin Keller. This week, it’s Davis, who has freakish speed down the field. If I am Ryan, I do not allow him free access in the route.

Davis is similar to Jason Witten in that he is too athletic for a linebacker to cover and too big for a defensive back to deal with. Unlike Witten, Davis wants nothing to do with the run blocking side of the game. Harbaugh will line Davis up all over the formation and Smith looks for him in route first.

Last week against the Jets, Ryan took DeMarcus Ware and moved him to the left side to rush against right tackle Wayne Hunter. This week, look for Ryan to potentially have the same plan moving Ware over 49ers right tackle Anthony Davis.

Was not impressed at all with Davis’ work. He is heavier than Hunter and his feet are slower. Ware and the other rushers should be able to attack Davis to the outside then work some underneath moves as well. Look for Harbaugh to try to use that misdirection I mentioned earlier to slow Ware down in his rush.

Last week, the Cowboys did a nice job in their front seven of coordinating their linemen with linebackers and creating pressure on Mark Sanchez. Smith will likely face the same pressure from Ryan with multiple looks and pressure. Again, Harbaugh will try and give Smith easy throws and he will also try and move the pocket to keep the pressure off his quarterback as well.

On the defensive side of the ball, the 49ers have a nice front seven. It’s a group of players that are high effort and motor types. Ends Justin Smith and Ray McDonald are relentless rushers and active against the run.

The Seahawks had trouble blocking this front because they were unable to sustain blocks. If you don’t keep a hat on Smith, McDonald, Ahmad Brooks and Isaac Sopoaga, you are going to struggle to move the ball.

The inside linebackers on the 49ers are outstanding. Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman are always around the football.

When the Cowboys tried to run the ball last week, they had to deal with the Jets and their run-through inside linebackers. Run-through linebackers read the play quickly, see the gaps and beat the blockers to the spot. When you face run-through linebackers, it throws off your running game because they get into the backfield and it messes with the timing of the play.

These 49ers linebackers are more active than what the Cowboys faced last week, so the zone blocking scheme of the Cowboys will be tested.

When the 49ers blitz, they like to use their inside linebackers in games with the defensive line. In the nickel, Smith and McDonald will move inside and Brooks moves from outside linebacker to rush end. In this look is where you see those blitzes.

The Cowboys will also need to be aware that the 49ers can get good pressure with just a four-man rush.

In the secondary, Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers are the corners and Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner are the safeties. I really liked the play of Brown more than that of Rogers. Brown is quick footed and also did a nice job of fighting for the ball in the air. Brown is a bit of a gambler and is not afraid to jump routes.

Rogers has faced the Cowboys many times in his career as a former member of the Redskins. Rogers will play in the slot when the 49ers go to the nickel. If the Cowboys can hold up against the front seven pressure of the 49ers, then they will have a chance to make some plays against this secondary that is good but not great.

Five-star answer: 49ers don't have a Revis

September, 15, 2011
This week's question: Is this the week Miles Austin gets 100 receiving yards?

After struggling throughout the preseason with a hamstring injury, Miles Austin was outstanding last weekend against the Jets. In my book, Garrett and the staff made a mistake by not putting the football in his hands down the stretch.

Garrett and the Cowboys had the matchup they needed but didn’t take advantage of it. Dez Bryant, who was banged up both mentally and physically, was put in situation where he was asked to make plays but couldn't deliver against the Jets' best defensive player. In his condition, Bryant wasn't going to beat Revis. The more you watched him play in the second half, the more you understood this.

The bottom line was that Antonio Cromartie simply could not cover Austin. I do not see Garrett making that same mistake this week vs. the 49ers. The most difficult situation for the Cowboys is when Bryant doesn’t practice and he doesn’t get the reps. Bryant needs these reps to have a chance to be successful, because he's not at that point in his development where he can miss practice and jump right into the game plan. He needs to be drilled and he needs to be coached. Bryant should play against the 49ers, but Austin will have the offensive success.

I look for the Cowboys' offensive line to be able to protect Romo, giving him the necessary time to deliver the ball downfield. The 49ers' most talented position is at linebacker, not corner. The 49ers line up at corner with Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown and Tramaine Brock at the nickel. Brown played the best last week against the Seahawks, and Rogers has gone against the Cowboys before while with the Redskins. It goes without saying, but there is no Darrelle Revis in this group and I can see Garrett taking advantage of that this week After last week's final interception, look for Romo to be even more committed to getting Austin the ball and the 49ers looking for ways to stop him.

Austin gets his 100 yards.