I promised you guys a film review today but things got a little hectic and I didn’t get around to writing it until now. So it’s a little late, and it will be a condensed version, since the game is already two days old and growing more stale by the minute.
The starting five were finally together. The three guys in the middle were outstanding as they played the full first half. Leonard Davis was collapsing people at the line and was standing up big Sam Adams on most plays. He also showed nice patience and body position in pass protection, allowing the pass rusher to come to him instead of reaching. It was textbook. Davis did a nice job of helping out Marc Colombo on a couple of occasions, too. I also thought Andre Gurode and Kyle Kosier had good games. Flozell Adams looked pretty good for his first game action in a while; he only had one real bad play when he allowed the DE to flush Romo out of the pocket. Marc Colombo looked a little rusty. He failed to make a cut block on the first play that led to a Romo pass being swatted down, and he gave up too much penetration on a run and another Romo pass.
Pat McQuistan looked OK, he’s not making any major errors in pass protection, although he came very close to getting beat a couple of times. He also had a couple of poor run blocks on MB3 draw plays. He did get out on a couple of sweeps for nice blocks and had some good blocks near the goal line. James Marten still looks like he’s struggling, but he had a couple of series where looked OK. His big mistake was letting a DE go right around him and slap the ball out of Brad Johnson’s hand, and he was destroyed on a run play previous to that. He also had a mix-up with TE Rodney Hannah and they let a defender run straight into the backfield. Cory Procter had a couple of nice run blocks, one on a pull.
We can dispense with this one quickly. Tony Romo looked really good, although he had a couple of misfires including the interception. Yes, Miles Austin slipped, but the ball was delivered high and you never want to throw it high while leading a WR over the middle. But really, who’s complaining about Romo? Nobody. Brad Johnson was pretty underwhelming again, except he did throw the beautiful TD to Isaiah Stanback. Matt Moore handed the ball off a lot.
Also pretty easy. Julius Jones looked good and scored a TD. Marion Barber looked very good with 2 TD’s and some hard-nosed running and Tyson Thompson showed incredible speed to the corners. What’s not to like?
T.O. again let the younger kids see most of the action, although he did get to run an end around. Patrick Crayton looked good as a receiver, not so good as a punt returner. He bobbled one but managed to get it back and he let another bounce when he should have fair caught it. Sam Hurd made a great catch in traffic and had a couple of great run blocks but he missed a couple of key run blocks and fumbled the ball. Definitely a mixed evening. Miles Austin got ripped by a lot of people, including me, but it may have been too harsh. He did slip out of a break that led to an INT, and he also didn’t catch a beautiful deep ball that Romo threw his way. But to be fair, as that ball hit his hands the defender was simultaneously pulling down on his arm. A catch I’d love for him to make, but it wasn’t that easy of a catch. Still, not his best showing. Isaiah Stanback made his debut, catching two balls, one for a TD, and that catch was a tough one in traffic. Outstanding debut. The rest of the WR’s didn’t do much.
Jason Witten didn’t see many plays come his way; Anthony Fasano hurt his shoulder and didn’t play much. That left Tony Curtis and Adam Bergen to shoulder the load. Curtis was OK, he had a couple of catches and couple of nice blocks, but he also missed a couple of blocks that killed plays. Bergen had a couple of nice blocks in space, but he picked up two penalties that won’t endear him to the coaches.
Oliver Hoyte didn’t play. Lousaka Polite got the start and made the most of it by delivering some punishing blocks on JJ and MB3 runs. Deon Anderson had a couple of nice blocks, but Polite was clearly better on the night. He made his case in the FB race.
Jason Ferguson was on fire. He had a sack, deflected a pass at the line of scrimmage, made a great tackle on a running play, in short, he was everywhere. His primary backup, Remi Ayodele separated himself from the pack on this night. He blew up a run in the backfield on one play, made a nice tackle on another run that stopped it from turning into something bigger, and forced a holding call when he was rushing the passer. The other two backups were unremarkable.
Marcus Spears had an active evening. Besides recovering a fumble, he caused a holding penalty on a pass rush, and was in on a couple of run stops. His best showing in camp or in the preseason. Chris Canty got pressure by running a stunt that helped Fergie get a sack, but didn’t do much else. Jay Ratliff was his usual destructive self, getting a couple of QB pressures, blowing up a run play with penetration, forcing a holding penalty on a screen play and being an all-around nuisance. Stephen Bowen isn’t bad when he’s in there; he’s just not as good as the rest of the defensive ends.
DeMarcus Ware got a couple of pressures and tackles, but was relatively quiet in this game. Anthony Spencer, on the other hand, was even more active than I initially thought when I first watched it. Everybody saw him recover in coverage and tip the ball that was just unlucky to fall into the TE’s hands. He also ran down Jay Cutler on a roll-out near the goal line and forced him to throw a poor pass. But he also had a couple of nice stands at the point of attack to force runs inside and he almost got a sack in the Denver endzone. I did see a couple of plays where he lost the point of attack on runs, on one he misread the TE and backed off into coverage when it was a run and he got taken out of the play. But I thought he had a good game.
Junior Glymph played but didn’t show much. Khari Long managed one tackle, but Spencer and Glymph ended up playing the majority of the second half.
Bradie James had a couple of nice tackles and one really good QB pressure on a blitz, but Akin Ayodele had little effect on the game.
The guys who really got it done were backups Kevin Burnett and Bobby Carpenter. Burnett had three different plays where he filled the gaps in the run defense and blew up Denver running backs. He also got a QB pressure and destroyed a WR who was trying to catch a pass over the middle. It was an impressive performance by Burnett. Carpenter had a nice open-field tackle, got to rush a few times with mixed degrees of success, and had an interception. Nice work.
Terence Newman didn’t play. Anthony Henry had an uneventful night, as did Aaron Glenn. They both gave up a couple of short passes, but were steady for most of the first half. Jacques Reeves didn’t do anything special at CB, although not getting beat deep is OK in my book - he did have a couple of very nice tackles on kickoff coverage. Joey Thomas once again made the most of his playing time; he had three pass breakups and hit a WR at the same time the ball arrived on another pass causing the ball to pop up to Bobby Carpenter. His one big negative was a pass interference penalty that put the ball near the goal line. Nate Jones hurt his stock by getting beat on a deep pass that eventually went for a TD. He was supposed to have safety help that didn’t show, but he still needs to make that play.
Roy Williams made a nice tackle along the line of scrimmage and was even seen blanketing a TE in the secondary. Ken Hamlin had one nice play where he was lined up deep, diagnosed the play as a run and sliced through the traffic to make a stop on third down. I did see him get over late on a deep pass that fortunately went incomplete. Keith Davis was stout against the run, helping Kevin Burnett with a couple of stops, but was totally out of position on the deep pass that went for a TD. The Cowboys looked to be in a standard cover-2 and Davis followed the QB’s eyes to the other side of the field where there was already safety help. Just a terrible coverage play. I didn’t see Pat Watkins, Abram Elam or Courtney Brown do anything of note.
Martin Gramatica and Nick Folk continue to battle it out for the kicking spot. Folk made a 52-yarder, Gramatica missed a 51-yarder, they made all the extra points and both kicked off well. Crayton was shaky on punt returns, Jerheme Urban didn’t do much. Tyson Thompson had a couple of good kick returns, and Isaiah Stanback was used on two kick return plays, although he never actually ran the ball. And this just in: Mat McBriar is a stud.