The Cowboys won 31-17 against the Jaguars, and simply by looking at the boxscore, you'd have good reason to suspect that the Cowboys offense had a lot more snaps than the defense in the game.
But that wasn't the case yesterday. Despite what your gut may tell you, and despite the fact that the Cowboys allowed only 17 points, the defense had the second highest snap count of the season yesterday, while the offense had its second lowest snap count of the season:
|Cowboys Snap Count by Week|
The story on defense of course were the absences of Tyrone Crawford and Rolando McClain. Week in and week out, those two players had been at the top of their position group in terms of snap counts, but not this week. Crawford was inactive while McClain was active for the game, but the coaches were going to be very judicious in using him. And when it became clear early on that the defense was doing just fine without him, the Cowboys pulled the plug on him without sending him onto the field even once.
|Defensive Tackles||Defensive Ends||Linebackers||Cornerbacks||Safeties|
|T. McClain||33||J. Crawford||42||Carter||58||Carr||71||Church||55|
Couple of thoughts about these snap counts:
- Of the 284 snaps listed here for the defensive line, only 63 (Nick Hayden and George Selvie) are from players who played significant snaps for the Cowboys last year. That means 78% of yesterday's defensive line snaps came from players acquired during the offseason, or in the case of Anthony Spencer, missed almost all of the 2013 season. 78% - no wonder it's taking some time for the unit to come together.
- DeMarcus Lawrence is beginning to make his presence felt. He's not lighting up the stat sheets yet, only getting credited for two tackles, one of which was for a loss, but the graders at Pro Football Focus gave him the highest grade of any Cowboys defender with a +2.5. They also credit him with two QB hurries. It's just a matter of time until we get some sacks from the rookie.
- Good for Jack Crawford to get his first sack while playing at home. Also a nice +1.7 grade from PFF for his efforts.
- What's up with George Selvie? Fourth on the snap count list and with only one sack on the season, things are not going Selvie's way this year. Even Jack Crawford had more snaps.
On to the offense:
|Cowboys' Offensive Snap counts vs Cardinals
|Wilcox: three snaps as the deep cover back on the final kneel downs|
The Cowboys took Tony Romo out of the game early, though some have argued valiantly that it wasn't early enough. Be that as it may, it certainly was long enough to make sure there was no repeat performance of the game against the Cardinals.
But while Romo is getting a lot of the accolades, we shouldn't overlook the return of Doug Free and Ronald Leary to the offensive line. On 28 dropbacks, Romo was pressured just eight times, and the Jaguars - who came into the game with the third most sacks in the NFL - sacked Romo just once. Also, the Cowboys put up 151 yards on the ground before taking their foot off the pedal. Clearly, the offensive line was back to its old self, be it from coaching, the return of Free and Leary, scheme, or even an inconvenienced Jaguars defense.
And finally, on to special teams:
|Special Teams Aces|
away with this week's ironman award, with 71 defensive snaps and eight special teams snaps for a total of 78 snaps at Wembley.
But that's not all. Over the last seven games, Scandrick has missed just three defensive snaps in total. Not bad for a guy many for a long time considered "just" a slot corner and who now is the Cowboys' best corner.
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