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Cowboys @ Texans (preseason) film review: Defense

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The run defense was bad, especially on one side of the line. The corners also struggled, and overall the Cowboys couldn't create sustained pressure and only had one sack. It did appear that the Cowboys weren't quite as blitz-happy as they were last week and stayed in base formation a lot, forgoing moving people around pre-snap. It was more vanilla like the Colts game instead of the Broncos game, so take a little solace in that.

DL
Bad play from almost anybody not named Jason Ferguson. Fergie had his second good week in a row getting a QB pressure, making a nice tackle on a run by moving horizontally down the line, and he blocked another pass like last week. Jay Ratliff backed him up and didn’t seem to be as effective as he is at end. He lost the battle at the line on a few runs and didn’t really create lot of pressure from the position. Back at end, he did get one QB pressure, but gave up some running plays. Remi Ayodele played well for another week. He teamed with Hatcher to blow up a run, and got good penetration to disrupt another run, and held the center pretty well.

At defensive end, Chris Canty was largely invisible while in the game. On the other side, Marcus Spears was getting blown off the ball and giving up the edge in the run game. The Texans ran for a lot of yards and most of it was to his side. He was complicit in the long run by Ahman Green, and on at least four other occasions was moved out of the way on a Houston running play. Jason Hatcher saw his first preseason action and was ordinary at best. He picked up a key offsides penalty that helped prolong a Texans scoring drive, but he did get one QB pressure and disrupted a running play with penetration. He wasn’t bad, but I’ve seen him play better. Stephen Bowen saw a little time and made one nice tackle on a running play.

OLB
DeMarcus Ware had another quiet game for him. He hit the QB on a passing play causing an errant throw, and he was blatantly held on another play that wasn’t called when he was zeroing in on the QB. In the run game, he made a couple of tackles but also was guilty of getting blocked out of the picture on a few runs. Anthony Spencer was largely the other guilty party of losing contain on the Texans run game to the right side of the offense. On a couple of runs he jumped inside too early and left the path open outside. He took a bad angle on a screen pass and overran the play. He did get a good pass rush and decked the QB just after he threw the pass, but his run defense was lagging.

Junior Glymph continued his preseason fade with another offsides call, and some terrible run defense. He didn’t even add anything in the pass rush to off-set his mistakes. Bobby Carpenter lined up at OLB on a couple of series, but was largely uninvolved in the action. In fact, he was largely uninvolved all night.

ILB
This was the position where some players decided to come to play. Bradie James had eight tackles in the game and was the guy having to cover for the run mess created by Spears and Spencer. A couple of his hits were of the bone-jarring variety, including the blitz that was unobstructed to the running back on a draw. He did miss his shot at Ahman Green on his big run, too. Akin Ayodele got beat in pass coverage a couple of times, but did have four tackles.

Kevin Burnett started out like he finished last week when he got a sack on a blitz around the edge from the dime defense alignment. He did lose the TE on a screen but was injured later and didn’t return to the game. Carpenter, as mentioned above, wasn’t very active.

CB
Well, they weren’t good except for Anthony Henry. Even Henry gave up a couple of passes but had nice coverage deep on Andre Johnson. The absence of Terence Newman showed how fragile our secondary is. Andre Johnson beat Aaron Glenn three different times including a 3rd-down conversion and a TD. Glenn was just too small to handle Johnson, and also gave him far too much cushion. He was also a liability in run support. Joey Thomas had one very exposed missed open-field tackle, but didn’t get beat in coverage that I saw. He also had a nice play on kickoff coverage and reacted well to a WR screen. Jacques Reeves gave up a TD pass but half that should be on the defensive line who gave the Texans’ QB all day to find a target. He also gave up a couple of passes and had a pass interference penalty but added in one pass breakup. Alan Ball was beaten a few times in the last drive, including a TD pass where he bit on a slant and the WR got wide open.

S
Roy Williams pitched in with four tackles but didn’t have any stand-out plays, except on the negative side when he missed Ahman Green on his long run. Ken Hamlin also kicked in three tackles and wasn’t really challenged in coverage. Pat Watkins was invisible and Courtney Brown got a tackle. Silence from the safeties isn’t all bad though, if you don’t notice them then they aren’t getting beat in coverage. Abram Elam actually made a couple of plays, one in kickoff coverage and one that got erased by a penalty. On a 3rd and 9 Houston ran a screen and Elam single-handedly broke through the blocking and tackled the back, but an offsides penalty nullified the play. He did have a couple of tackles.

Punt return
Again a problem spot. Jerheme Urban was given all the opportunities; he bobbled one fair catch and caught another one at the 5-yard line all the while gaining no significant yardage. Right now, it looks like Patrick Crayton will have to handle this position in the regular season.

Kick return
Pat McQuistan actually returned two kicks. How crazy is that? Tyson Thompson had a nice kick return, Miles Austin had a poor one.