I have been pleased with the majority of moves that the Cowboys have made this off season. I feel that they have taken decent strides to improve some of the areas that were weak, or thin, and am hopeful that they have made choices that will help the team long-term.
One of the moves that I felt was needed, was to find some additional inside linebacker help. I have been impressed with the progression of Sean Lee and really hope that Bruce Carter will be able to fill that role as a complimentary inside linebacker. The depth, and the limited history with Carter in games, is what had raised my concern. I knew it was time to move on from Brooking and James and hoped that we would be able to find more versatile linebackers for this Ryan defense.
With the addition of Dan Conner I was encouraged by many of the positive comments that were made concerning his ability and instincts. While I had not watched any footage of him, the support he received had me elated. I recently purchased Game Rewind and have spent some time getting my "football fix", by watching some contests from last year. I decided it would be a good opportunity to see just what the Cowboys had gotten with some of these free agent additions.
While I have only watched three Carolina games, I can say that I am disappointed with the tapes I have seen of Conner so far. I felt like I was watching Keith Brooking in a different uniform. Conner didn't play any third down series that I watched, he appeared out of position and uncomfortable in coverage, and did not seem to demonstrate much athleticism. I chose to watch the games from last season when he had the most tackles, but I was fairly unimpressed with the results. He did make tackles, and he was often around the ball, but to me he didn't demonstrate an ability to shed blocks or offer much in backfield penetration.
When the play got out of the box it seemed he was running in molasses and when Connor did get to the ball carrier to make a tackle, it was often the drag down the field type that we so often saw later in Brooking's career. I was hoping to see an instinctual backer with the ability to read the play and get after the ball carrier quickly and hit him with violence. I was also hopeful that the linebacker coverage could be depended on more than we were forced to endure last season. I hate seeing a linebacker go head-to-head with the ball carrier and end up getting dragged six or seven yards down the field after contact.
While I do feel Connor offers some experience, this research has caused me to be even more hopeful that Carter develops quickly and that he and Lee will be able to avoid extended injuries through the season.
I'm interested in any first-hand information or experience that others may have with Connor's game tape and would be interested to see any games where his ability may be better portrayed.
Sorry for the rambling post, this is my first post and am interested in getting any feedback.