When the Dallas Cowboys went to Washington to square off with the Commanders, we all expected better. We expected a team that had so much on the line and had plenty to play for. Sadly, we were all mistaken and instead of being met with signs of consistency heading into the postseason, we were met with disappointment.
Head coach Mike McCarthy already said they won’t burn the tape from last Sunday’s uninspired effort. They’re going to watch the film, understand their mistakes, and learn from it. We’ll also follow suit and examine the all-22 in this week’s Film Finds.
Prescott’s Pick 6
Something didn’t feel right about this game from the beginning. McCarthy alluded to it after the game, but he did say that the team didn’t have a crisp week of practice and it showed. They were completely out of sync offensively and it’s hard not to assert that their minds were elsewhere. Maybe on the game in Philadelphia? However, what’s for certain is the attention to detail, the execution, and quite frankly, the coaching, simply were not there last Sunday.
What was there, however, was turnovers. Turnovers have been a constant talking point with the Cowboys for about a month now. Namely, the interceptions from Dak Prescott. There are some cases where the interceptions stem from a miscommunication with a receiver, but the interception he threw to Kendall Fuller is hard to place on anyone but the quarterback.
It’s 3rd and 6 and the Cowboys barely avoided disaster on the previous play after Prescott threw a ball into the waiting arms of Kendall Fuller that was dropped. On this play, the Cowboys are in the shotgun with a tight bunch set to the right. The Commanders are showing a 2-deep safety look in their big nickel. (6DBs & 1LB) Fuller seen here at the top of the screen is in off-coverage.
After the snap, the Commanders appear to drop into zone coverage. There’s Fuller in off-coverage playing eight yards off the line of scrimmage and he is playing the area and not the receiver Noah Brown.
Prescott makes this decision to throw this ball so quickly that it bypasses a clean pocket and Dalton Schultz settles in the soft spot of the zone at the line to gain. Back to the throw, Brown’s route is rounded off, but you can see Fuller never takes his eyes off Prescott in the backfield.
As soon as Prescott winds up to make this throw, Fuller drives on the late pass that’s behind the receiver. Fuller steps in front of the pass and jogs into the end zone. Between this play and the one before it, it’s a bad sequence of plays that Prescott knows he must avoid.
Lamb’s 9th TD of the season
Until somebody emerges as a consistent wide receiver threat outside of CeeDee Lamb, the Cowboys will be forced live and die by his contributions. Naturally, the volume in which he was utilized was not enough against the Commanders and the team fell short in the regular season finale. There’s no way to sugarcoat it.
The offense was dismal last week and there was very little to applaud. Yet, Lamb’s score was the lone bright spot for the offense and if there’s anything positive that can be taken from this game, it’s this one play.
Once again, the Cowboys are in shotgun and will motion Tony Pollard out wide to the right for an empty look. The Commanders are in a more traditional nickel defense this time with two linebackers and five defensive backs. The LB Khaleke Hudson (#47) will match up with Pollard on the outside.
It’s 2nd and 10 with ten seconds left in the first half and the Cowboys have no timeouts left. It’s the end zone or nothing and the Commanders are fully aware of that. CeeDee Lamb is in the slot. The Commanders are playing off in soft coverage to force Dallas into making a throw short of the end zone and take away any chance of possible points before the break.
It’s great protection upfront for Dak Prescott, but also the Washington coverage is good, except for one thing. The slot corner Bobby McCain widens to his right in his drop and gives Lamb an easy inside release on his route and expects somebody to pick up Lamb when he passes him off in the zone. By the time he realizes it, it’s too late and it’s easy pitch and catch.
Chauncey’s chippy performance
Earlier this week Chauncey Golston earned the game ball for his performance against the Washington Commanders. He led all players with a team-high eleven tackles, and he managed to do that with his quickness and relentless effort. The play that we’re going to spotlight showcases the type of agility he has and to desire to play to the final whistle.
By this stage in the game, the outcome is all but decided. Washington leads by several scores and Golston could take this opportunity to pat himself on the back for an excellent game thus far and go through the motions. However, he doesn’t and makes one more lasting impression.
The Commanders are in a big singleback formation with three tight ends all to the right. To counter, the Cowboys are showing a 3-4 look with Donovan Wilson down in the box.
There’s nothing fancy about what Washington is doing. It’s a simple inside run to bleed the clock and end the game. The real attraction here is the move Golston puts on the left guard Chris Paul. Paul ducks his head and lunges forward, causing him to get overextended. Golston gets by with an excellent swim move to get the ballcarrier for a tackle for loss.
Osa Odighuzuwa also does a nice of setting up Sam Cosmi (#76) with an inside jab step before using a similar move to Golston to get in the backfield to assist with the tackle. Golston had a tremendous game but it’s the effort to the final whistle that stood out. If you’re looking for an X-factor or an unlikely hero next Monday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chauncey Golston may be a player to keep your eye on.