2014 GAME 9 PRIMER: Arizona vs. Dallas | ‘Round the Roster update–Linebacker lumps; Leary bumped | Meet your new Cowboy | DeMarcus Lawrence debut | Melton on the Mend
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys are already without their most productive linebacker for the rest of the season and today, received another scare when Bruce Carter left practice with a finger injury. Continue reading →
It’s been a nice couple of practices for Terrance Mitchell missing the majority of practices due to his university being on the quarter system. Mitchell has normally been lining up on the right side at corner, but he took some snaps on the left side in the nickel.
In the 7-on-7 period, Jamar Newsome tried to run a crossing route on him out of man coverage and Mitchell played it perfectly. He was able to avoid the pick of Tim Benford, who started his route right at him. Mitchell never lost sight of where Newsome was going and once they both arrived in the middle of the field, Mitchell was in ideal position to knock the ball away. It was the type of play that a rookie corner normally does not make because he gets distracted by the receiver trying to rub him out.
Safety Ahmad Dixon is a very aggressive player in the way he attacks the ball. He is one of those players that would rather be in the pile than standing around watching his teammates. Where Dixon is going to have to improve is when you tackle in this league or play in coverage, the angle you take to the ball is almost more important than making the play itself.
Dixon is doing a nice job of seeing these routes develop like he did during the 7-on-7 period against Devin Street. On the play, Street came out of the left slot inside and stopped right in the middle of the field. Dixon was not fooled on the play, but if he would have taken a more direct angle instead of rounding it off, he might have had a chance on the play. It is a correctable mistake but one that he needs to take care of as he learns how to play coverage in this league.
Even before the draft, I admired the play of Davon Coleman out of Arizona State and the flexibility that he brings to a defensive scheme. The first thing that a linemen is taught is that if you cannot get to the quarterback, find ways to get your hands up quickly.
Coleman has really done a nice job, no matter where he has played, of attacking the blocker and becoming a disruptive player. He’s been playing as the three-technique and working on a rush against Ronald Leary. Coleman was able to get to the outside of Leary quickly, but on the way up the field, he was able to read that Caleb Hanie was in the middle of a three step drop and shot his hands in the air. As the ball left Hanie’s hand, it deflected off Coleman and was knocked off target for Devin Street on the slant.
The ball fluttered toward Terrance Mitchell who was in coverage on Street. The result of the play was a pick-six for the defense as a result of a heads up play by a young defensive linemen trying to win a spot on a 53 man roster.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Pro Football Analyst/Professional Scout
MEET YOUR NEWEST DALLAS COWBOYS: Scouting Reports on both new defensive linemen | McClain is a mountain | Mincey is versatile | Free Agents signed
Terrell McClain | Defensive Tackle, South Florida | Height/Weight: 6-2/291
Drafted: Third round, No. 65 overall, 2011 NFL Draft by Carolina
Games Studied: 2013 Seattle, San Francisco, New England and Denver
McClain lined up as a nose tackle in the Texans’ 3-4 defensive scheme last season, but I think he is a much better fit to play as a one-technique in a 4-3. He played some defensive end in the 49ers game as a reduced end, which allowed him to line up as a three-technique.
The first thing you notice about the player is his ability to sit down at the point of attack. He’s a hard guy to move, knows how to fire his hands inside and control the blocker — really quick hands. This guy plays with some lower body power, as well.
He’s able to control the down blocks from the guard, or deal with the center one-on-one. I like how he is able to fire those hands, then you see him quickly look for the ball carrier — active. Another thing is that he’s always working to get to the ball. He will play down the line and outside the tackle box. For the limited amount of snaps he got, it was rare that you saw him on the ground or stuck on a block. He makes a big effort and hustle plays.
McClain gets away with playing upright at times because of his leverage and upper body strength, but there are also snaps where you see his pad level down and he’s dealing with the blockers. I really like the way he sees the play develop and gets over to the ball.
Against the Broncos, he was able to run down a middle screen because he read the play. The only game where he played a little late off the ball was against the Patriots, and they were able to get on him. He plays with balance to handle the low block. I could see his work as a pass rusher in the Broncos game when Houston defensive coordinator Wade Phillips played his nickel package the majority of the game. He’s quick off the ball to rush and when he becomes engaged, will use a spin move to try and free himself as he is going up the field.
He showed some athletic ability coming around the edge on the twist stunt — didn’t have a sack against Peyton Manning but did pressure him into throwing the ball away. If you look at his career, McClain has been with two teams that play outstanding defense in Houston and New England, so that tells me that at some point, coaches liked what they saw in his potential value.
Jeremy Mincey | Defensive End, Florida | Height/Weight: 6-4/265
Drafted: Sixth round, No. 191 overall, 2006 NFL Draft by New England
Games Studied: 2013 Denver vs. San Diego, New England (Playoff); 2013 Jacksonville vs. Seattle, Indianapolis.
Mincey was drafted by the Patriots in the 2006 NFL Draft out of Florida and made stops in San Francisco, Jacksonville and Denver. The Broncos used him as a defensive end and three-technique tackle in nickel situations. He played mainly as an end for the Jaguars on either side with some snaps at tackle as well, and that’s where he started the season.
I thought his tape for the Jaguars was a much better indicator of the type of player he is than what he showed in Denver. He did have a sack in the Chargers game with a quick swim move that beat tackle D.J. Fluker to the inside and Philip Rivers had no chance to escape. That was the best quickness that he showed in those playoff games.
He was outstanding in the Jaguars’ game against the Colts that was played in Jacksonville. He was disruptive at end with some quickness off the edge, attacking the up field shoulder of both Anthony Castonzo and Cherilus Gosder at tackle, then moving inside and going to work on guard Donald Thomas.
Bottom line: Mincey showed more consistent pass rush moves while he was with the Jaguars than with the Broncos — rip moves with power and was able to beat the double team. He has some stiffness when he has to come around the corner or adjust in the pocket, when Andrew Luck stepped up in the pocket. Other than the sack against the Chargers, he was a down the middle rusher, that tried to use power instead of quick moves for the Broncos — he had a better combination in Jacksonville.
I thought there was some power in his hands. He snatched Seattle guard J.R. Sweezy out of his stance on a rush, which put Sweezy in a terrible blocking position. I thought he played with better awareness against the run while with the Jaguars, as well. He was more assignment-sure in what his role and responsibilities were.
Mincey struggled when he was on the edge, then the ball went inside of him. In Jacksonville, he played better with his eyes — especially against the Seahawks — when it came to defending the read-option and Russell Wilson.
I liked him chasing the ball earlier in the season; he looked sluggish and lacking a burst when he was trying to run Philip Rivers down to the sideline. It’s not that he didn’t give the effort, but it was like he was running in sand.
To Mincey’s credit, he plays all over the place and my feeling is he will do the same in Dallas. I can see him as a left defensive end, strong against the run with some pass rush traits and kicking inside as that three-technique in the nickel and working from there. He appears to be that wave (rotation) type of player that they are looking for on their front.
Special Thanks: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Professional Scout
IRVING, Texas – With the Dallas Cowboys 2013-2014 NFL season in the books, let’s take a look back at the best and the worst of a rather familiar 8-8 record.
Helman: Tony Romo – This is such a cliché, but I just don’t think this team has playoff ambition without Romo. The Dallas Cowboys were competitive in the season finale without him, it’s true. It’s also worth pointing out the game-breaking mistakes – bad interceptions against Denver and Green Bay. Romo hasn’t been able to get the Cowboys over the hump and into the playoffs, but I don’t think they even get close without his 3,828 yards and 31 touchdowns.
Broaddus: Tyron Smith – Could probably say the entire offensive line after what they went through last season and the questions that were leading up to the 2013 season. With that being said, Tyron Smith would be my selection. Every week he battled the opponent’s best defender and did his job with the upmost skill and talent. It was rare that Smith was put in a poor position both run or pass. It started with his domination of Jason Pierre-Paul, Tamba Halli, Robert Quinn and ended with shut outs of Julius Peppers, Brian Orakpo and Trent Cole. Smith was honored with his first Pro Bowl honor and it should be the first of many to come.
Kavner: Dez Bryant – I would have said Tony Romo to start the year, and that’s not a wrong answer, but I’m going with Dez Bryant. Kyle Orton can still give the Dallas Cowboys a chance to win any single game as a backup, but the Cowboys simply have no reliable, game-changing receivers other teams have to worry about if Bryant were to go out. Terrance Williams had an outstanding rookie season and could be a productive player for a while, but they’re a different team without Bryant.
Eatman: Dez Bryant – The best player on this offense was Dez Bryant. When they needed a big play, they could go to him. Never was that more of an example than the New York Giants win when he willed them to a win. He also had a clutch TD against Philly in the last game. They nearly won without Romo and won games without Murray. I don’t want to see them try without Dez.
Helman: Sean Lee – Lee probably wasn’t the difference between wins and losses this year, as the Dallas Cowboys went just 5-4 in games he played in their entirety. There’s no denying the impact he had on a lousy defense, though. Lee was second on the team in tackles, and led the team in interceptions despite appearing in just 11 games. In the first game against Philadelphia, Lee helped limit the Eagles to 84 rushing yards and no touchdowns. In the second game, without Lee, the Cowboys surrendered 137 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Broaddus: George Selvie – When Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli took this job with the Dallas Cowboys, their projected starters at defensive line were DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher, Jay Ratliff, and Anthony Spencer. When the season opened, a journeymen named George Selvie was the starter at strong side defensive end. For Selvie it was his first time starting in five NFL seasons. In 2013, Selvie would not only start that game against the Giants but 15 other ones. He would finish the season with one more sack than Ware with seven and be a stable, reliable player at the point of attack against the run. As bad as the defensive line situation was, George Selvie was a there when they needed him the most.
Kavner: Jason Hatcher – The Dallas Cowboys needed Jason Hatcher if they were to get a pass rush, and for that reason he’s my pick here. When the front was able to bother the quarterback, this defense had a chance. Otherwise, quarterbacks would pick them apart. Typically if that rush was coming, it was through the middle from Hatcher, who put together a remarkable double-digit sack season as a defensive tackle. The Cowboys may be losing their defensive MVP.
Eatman: Jason Hatcher – He really had a great season, especially considering we thought he was the one player who could be the weak link on that starting line – only because he had never played a 4-3 and seemed out of position. He wasn’t. And when he missed the Saints game, it left a huge void in the middle. He’ll probably be gone but give him credit for playing so well in a contract year.
Most Significant Injury:
Helman: Romo – Plenty of players missed more time. Sean Lee missed five games, DeMarcus Ware missed three games – Anthony Spencer missed a whopping 15 of 16 games. But the Dallas Cowboys lost Romo with a chance to make the playoffs – a chance for him to put last year’s late-game gaffe against Washington behind him. This team was probably never going to make the Super Bowl – Romo or no Romo. But you had to like their odds to make the tournament with Romo playing at home against Philadelphia.
Broaddus: Anthony Spencer – When the Dallas Cowboys decided to make the switch from the 3-4 to the 4-3, I believed that Spencer would have been an impact player rushing off that left side. Coming into the season, I even predicted that Spencer would have ended up with more sacks than DeMarcus Ware. In the previous two seasons, it appeared that Spencer was finally getting it and the talent that we had seen in flashes during his career was being fully used. When he missed all of training camp, then tried to play that game in Week 2 against the Chiefs without success, I knew it was a bad situation. There were points during the season where they could have used his pass rush ability to create pressure when teams were having success. It was a shame that a player with his skill set, had to sit a watch.
Kavner: It’s tempting to take Sean Lee here, but to me it has to be Tony Romo’s back. Who knows what the result would have been had Romo been able to play in the season finale. Orton stepped in admirably, but it’s impossible not to wonder how the result would or could have changed with Romo behind center. This is also an injury that may never completely vanish, as the Dallas Cowboys are left to wonder how long it’ll take Romo to return to form.
Eatman: Anthony Spencer – This team missed his pass rush in a major way. I think you saw it with the cornerbacks who had trouble covering for a few seconds longer. Brandon Carr is a better player than he showed and I think not having a consistent rusher like Spencer was huge. D-Ware was banged up and that made Spencer’s loss even more of a problem. Selvie was a good pickup but I’d like to have seen him as the third rusher and not a starter.
Helman: Jason Hatcher – It’s easy to lose sight of the fact in retrospect, but there were plenty of questions about Hatcher’s transition to the 4-3 scheme. At training camp, we weren’t sure exactly which role he would play on the defensive line. In one season as a three-technique tackle, he had the best year of his career and led all defensive tackles with 11 sacks – he was one of just two defensive tackles to notch double-digit sacks. He definitely wasn’t expected to have the best season among Cowboys’ defensive linemen, but he ran away with that accomplishment.
Broaddus: Kyle Wilber – There is a reason that front offices and coaches don’t give up on players. Kyle Wilber is that example for this 2013 season. For Wilber it has been a difficult two years in trying to find a position for him. He was drafted as an outside linebacker, then the scheme change. Coaches tried him at weak side defensive end, then on the strong side. Wilber played with nice awareness and surprising toughness when it appeared that he at times lacked both. With his play at linebacker along with the development of DeVonte Holloman, there should be some nice competition at the Sam linebacker in 2014.
Kavner: George Selvie – That George Selvie finished the year with the second most sacks on the team behind only Hatcher, ending the season with one more sack than DeMarcus Ware. Selvie joined the group during training camp but demonstrated quickly he was more than just a camp body. With another year left on the contract, Selvie at least provides some depth at defensive end going forward and a little more stability at the position, which will likely be addressed in the draft.
Eatman: Travis Frederick – While I wasn’t down on the pick like most fans and media seemed to be, the rookie center performed better than I thought. He wasn’t just a solid rookie, he was a good center by any standards. I think he also impressed people with his poise and leadership qualities. He just “gets it” and I think Frederick will be an anchor to this line for many years to come.
Helman: Bruce Carter – The preseason storyline on Carter was that the transition to 4-3 would be smooth, as he excelled in that scheme at North Carolina. His superb play during Lee’s absence in 2012, combined with his experience as a 4-3 linebacker, made it seem like an obvious call for Carter to take the next step. That didn’t happen, though, as the third-year player struggled with coverage and confidence. His poor play against the Chargers and Saints stand out, although he did finish the season with 96 tackles.
Broaddus: Morris Claiborne – Probably unfair to do this to Claiborne because I could have said the secondary in general with the exception of Orlando Scandrick and Barry Church and I would have been right. After watching Claiborne play in that final Philadelphia game and how well he played, it was a huge disappointment to not see him play the entire season. Say what you want about his lack of confidence but it really is the lack of health that has robbed him of any opportunity to be a successful cornerback in this league. Having followed Morris Claiborne’s career in college at LSU, he is a much better player than what we have seen from him these first two seasons of his young career but he has to get these health issues behind him.
Kavner: DeMarcus Ware – The obvious answer is a third straight 8-8 season, but on an individual basis, I have to look at the production of DeMarcus Ware. I don’t think we realized how much pain he was in throughout the year, mostly because he denied he was in any. But the unstoppable force we saw during camp and the first few weeks of the season never returned. It’s possible with an offseason to get healthy we can see that again, but a career-low six sacks wasn’t to be expected.
Eatman: Jay Ratliff – I think the way that went down was just a really rough situation – and one we still don’t know all the details of. But the fact that a four-time Pro Bowler was able to just leave the team disgruntled and then sign on with another team, although we were told he had a serious injury. Just something wasn’t right about that. The Dallas Cowboys really could’ve used him in the middle this year and for it to end like it did, was a shame.
Most Improved Player:
Helman: DeMarco Murray – A gigantic second half turned 2013 into a banner season for Murray. The Oklahoma product had to answer questions all offseason about his durability, as he missed a combined nine games in his first two seasons. It’s true Murray didn’t manage a full season this time around, but his 14 appearances were a career best. Everything else was a career-best, too. Murray toted the rock 217 times in 2013 – 53 more times than his prior best – and his rushing total of 1,124 yards was a career high by 227 yards. He scored nine touchdowns, which is more than his totals from 2011 and 2012 combined.
Broaddus: Ronald Leary – Give Bill Callahan and Frank Pollack a great deal of credit for getting Ron Leary ready to play an entire 16 game season after spending the majority of his rookie season on the practice squad working on the scout team every day. While paired next to Tyron Smith, the left side of that Dallas Cowboys offensive line averaged over 6.2 yards a carry, which ranked them 4th in the NFL. Ronald Leary’s best trait is his power and you see this in both areas of run and pass. There is some shock in his upper body and you see him get push in the lower body. He was a steady, consistent and reliable performer at a position where there were huge question marks coming into the season.
Kavner: Terrance Williams – It’s odd to say this considering he’s a rookie, but from the start of the year to where he’s at now, I’d go with Terrance Williams. Obviously, this isn’t a year to year thing since he was in college last year, but he ended the year looking leaps and bounds better than the player we saw in camp. The jump was tremendous and he became an accountable deep threat, finishing with 736 yards, a 16.7 yards per catch average and five touchdowns.
Eatman: Orlando Scandrick – I really wanted to go with Tyron Smith here, but as a first-round pick, getting to the Pro Bowl and making All-Pro teams was expected by his third year. As for Scandrick, he really has developed into a solid player. He didn’t let Morris Claiborne get his job back and he’s played very well in a demanding spot. Yes, he can make more plays and interceptions but for his size and being a fifth-round pick, I think Scandrick should get a lot of credit. He’s a student of the game and he really played well from the start of camp to the end of the year.
Helman: Doug Free – I’m not trying to suggest Free should have made the Pro Bowl. But after the 2012 season, he was seen as a liability who could only be counted on to accrue false starts and allow sacks. He was far from perfect, but after taking a reduced salary in the offseason, Free performed admirably on the right side of the Dallas Cowboys line this season. After the beating he took in the court of public opinion last year, a little recognition seems justified.
Broaddus: Dwayne Harris – There is not a player on this team that does more for the overall benefit of the team than what Dwayne Harris does. We all see his ability as a returner and a tackler on special teams. Where Harris doesn’t get enough credit is his ability as a receiver but also the way that he blocks. This group of wide receivers did a much better job of point of attack blocking as the season wore on which allowed DeMarco Murray the space that he had to run the ball. When you build a football team, you try and find as many players as you can like Dwayne Harris.
Kavner: Sometimes we lose sight of just how valuable Dwayne Harris is. He led the team in special teams tackles, despite missing nearly a month toward the end of the season. He’s a complete special teams stud, leading the way as a cover guy and a returner, finishing second in the league in kick return average (30.6) and third in punt return average (12.8), while also securing the game-winning touchdown catch against the Vikings.
Eatman: Dan Bailey – Maybe this isn’t the right spot for him, but he’s got to go somewhere. Kickers are always unsung. And yes, he’s been heroic. So he gets my unsung hero vote. Bailey is just unreal how steady he’s been. Not only as a kicker, but a kickoff specialist, too. But the fact the Cowboys have confidence in him from the 40-50 range says a lot about
Top Offseason Need:
Helman: Defensive Tackle – The Dallas Cowboys’ first priority this offseason needs to be a defensive lineman, as far as I’m concerned. Whether that should be defensive tackle or defensive end is up for debate, but I’m going with the interior. My line of thinking is that DeMarcus Ware probably returns, and Anthony Spencer could very well re-sign. George Selvie is back, as well. Meanwhile, if Jason Hatcher leaves in free agency, which looks likely, the Cowboys are looking at Nick Hayden, Corvey Irvin, and Frank Kearse as their only current defensive tackles. Yikes. That needs to be addressed somehow – whether in free agency or the draft.
Broaddus: Defensive Line – I thought that this defensive line needed to be retooled last season even with DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Jay Ratliff and Jason Hatcher in the mix. Now there is a good possibility out of that group that you will only have Ware. The challenge for Jerry and Stephen Jones along with Will McClay is to dig those guys out that can come in and play from the word “Go” much like they have with Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick. There will be no time for sitting around and learning on the job. How they work on this position will once again have a huge impact how they go forward in the coming years.
Kavner: The Dallas Cowboys need defensive linemen, particularly tackles who can rush the passer. With the return of Hatcher unlikely, the Cowboys need to find a player that can cause some havoc in the middle. Getting Tyrone Crawford back from injury will help, though they could decide to keep him as an end. They need to find a way to affect the quarterback more consistently in this 4-3, and that starts with some pressure from the front four.
Eatman: Deee-fense! Just like they went offense the first three picks last year, they should go defense with the first three, if not four or five next year. This offense seems to be in good shape. But they need help on the defensive line and maybe more depth at linebacker and safety. The top need for me is a pass-rusher on the edge. Even if Spencer returns and Ware returns to form, you still need to get a young, hungry pass-rusher.
There are reasons that teams try and protect themselves with players at certain positions throughout the season. This team has had a history of carrying extra players on the roster just in case they had to deal with an injury or two. There is no question that the investment that Jerry Jones made in Kyle Orton two seasons ago, was clearly in mind for the situation that they are now dealing with Tony Romo.
There are important positions that you must have backups on your team but to go short at quarterback, you are just asking for disaster. To Kyle Orton’s credit, he put aside his feelings and desires to compete as a starting quarterback, for an opportunity to sit behind Tony Romo and be ready if he is called on. What do you get from Kyle Orton against the Eagles on Sunday? Here are my thoughts:
- Is ready at a moment’s notice. Regardless of what people might believe, Orton gets no reps in practice with the first offense. When the team practices on offense, whether it is 8 to 10 plays, Romo takes all the snaps, it’s just the team’s way of getting Romo ready to play. Orton will get reps with the receivers, tight ends and backs when he throws drills during 1-on-1 or 7-on-7, but that is largely where he gets work with Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, or DeMarco Murray.
- Where Orton is completely different from Romo is in the area of mobility, so those 2nd chance throws that we see from Romo where he buys time with his feet, you will not see those types of plays. Orton has to play with his smarts in this area by knowing where to go with the ball.
- Orton like Romo, is just as willing to take a chance on a tight window throw. Orton does play with a great deal of confidence in his ability to put the ball right on the receiver. I have seen him make throws where the receiver is completely covered, but he somehow managed to fit the ball right in there. Not afraid to rip the ball down the middle of the field.
- In the times that I have seen Orton work, have always been impressed with his smarts when it came to reading the defense and getting rid of the ball. Knows he has to be smart in setting the protection and making the right reads because of his lack of foot quickness. Is more likely to hang in there and deliver the ball but you know it is coming out of there. Does a really nice job of keeping his eyes down the field.
- Throws a very catchable ball. Has some power on it but he is one of those quarterbacks that doesn’t make his receivers have to work for it. Can hit receivers stationary or on the move. Knows how to throw them open. Doesn’t put his guys in bad spots. Ball will arrive on time, not the type to throw it late. Does a nice job of reading coverage and going the right direction.
- Would not say that he is the ball handler or faker of Romo. Not going to completely sell the fake but more likely to hit it quick, then get the ball down the field.
- Has really nice touch for screens and check down passes. Threw one of the prettiest touch passes I had ever seen to Cole Beasley in a game during the preseason against the Raiders for a touchdown that was just right over the top of the defender.
- Do not see the offense changing much with him at quarterback. Still can run your scheme because he has the experience and ability to make plays. Do not have to hold things back because of him.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Dallas Cowboys Analyst/Former Scout
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys now have a true fullback on their roster.
The Cowboys signed Tyler Clutts after he was among five running backs to work out for the team. To make room for Clutts, running back Lance Dunbar, who had knee surgery Tuesday, was placed on injured reserve.
Clutts, 6-2, 254 pounds, played in four games earlier this season for the Miami Dolphins before his release. He has played for the Houston Texans and Chicago Bears. He caught eight passes for 48 yards for the Bears in 2011.
The Cowboys did not carry a fullback on their active roster this season and parted ways with veteran Lawrence Vickers on July 12. They had used tight ends Jason Witten and James Hanna and linebacker Kyle Bosworth at fullback in different situations this season.
With a cold weather game coming Monday night at Chicago and another one possible on Dec. 22 at Washington, the Dallas Cowboys could be forced to run the ball more, but coach Jason Garrett does not believe the signing would be a shift from what they have done this season.
“You certainly want to be able to run the ball and be physical in bad weather games,” Garrett said. “Sometimes you’re not able to throw the ball as well as you’d like because of the conditions and the next best thing to do is run it. Being physical, being able to run downhill would certainly help you in those kinds of environments.”
RELATED: Scouting Report – New Dallas Cowboys fullback Tyler Clutts
Tyler Clutts | 6-2 | 254 | 4.94 40-Yard Dash | Fresno State
Game film viewed:
Miami regular season 2013: Cleveland, Indianapolis, Atlanta, New Orleans
Clutts was a defensive end at Fresno State before being converted to fullback when he made the transition to the professional game. He got his start in the Canadian Football League with Edmonton.
He then made stops in the NFL with Cleveland, where he played with current Dallas Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown. Clutts was with the Browns in 2011, then Chicago 2011-2012. He played for Houston in 2012, where he worked in a zone running scheme, before finally heading to Miami for the first four games of the 2013 season.
- Plays as a true fullback in “I” formation; will also line up offset and on the line as a tight end or wing (Editors note: Think Jason Witten’s usual spot or sometimes DeMarco Murray).
- Good path to search out defender. Can locate the correct man on the move.
- Shows a good initial pop and strike, but I thought he needed to do a better job with overall sustain. Likes to grab and hold for control.
- Needs to be careful in the way he uses his hands. Didn’t see any holding calls, but they were always on the outside of the frame work of the body.
- Will try and dig linebacker out of the hole. He had times where he was square to strike at the point, then others where he was on the edge and got him knocked off.
- Thought he needed to do better job of running through his man when inside at the point of attack. Needs to keep his feet working once he is engaged.
- Thought he was a much better blocker when he was leading the play on the outside or to the edge. Just played more comfortably when he could work to the outside, find his man, then try to secure his block. Did a better job of staying with his man this way.
- Will strike his man, then work up the field or into the flat. I did not have the opportunity to see him use his hands catching the ball for the Dolphins (Editors note: Because he didn’t have any with Miami. Only receptions were with Chicago in 2011. 8 for 48 yards with 6 yard average. Included his longest catch of 10 yards). Appeared to be good in getting into his route, really saw no issues here.
- Played on special teams for the Dolphins as the right back in the second line working on the two-man wedge. Was able to work to his spot to execute his assignment. Would like to have seen him do a better job of attacking his man, then catch the block to control. Was told that in the workout for coaches, he worked as a deep snapper but really just an emergency option at best.
- Has the bulk and square build to be a dependable blocking full back, but I would have liked to see more nasty play when he got the opportunity. Didn’t see a guy that just hammered defenders with his play. Will be interested if we see that from his play now that he is on this roster.
Dallas Cowboys Defensive Line Breakdown
This article is part of a series. To see all related posts, click HERE. Enjoy!
Top Performer: Jason Hatcher
When Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli were brought on board after the conclusion of the 2012 season, their vision of what this defensive line was going to consist of was a four man line of DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, Anthony Spencer, and Jason Hatcher. As they sit today, only Ware and Hatcher are currently in the mix. The offseason ranking of these four players were: Ware, Spencer, Ratliff, and Hatcher.
To his credit, Hatcher has gone far and above what most believed that he could have done. We really wasn’t sure where he was going to play in this scheme, whether that was the one or three technique. Likely, the front office and coaches were having the same thoughts. Few believed he was going to be able to play with enough power at the one. To his credit, he has proven people wrong. That’s not to say that’s his best spot, because at the three he has also done things thought that he couldn’t have done. It was very evident without him in the lineup against the Saints. His ability to help in the run but maybe more importantly, was how well he rushes the passer inside was missing.
What Jason Hatcher has done through his play is make this front office sit up and take notice when it comes to making a decision on his future with this team.
Need More From: DeMarcus Ware
Right or wrong, on the radio show “Talkin’ Cowboys”, DeMarcus Ware was challenged to once again rise up and be the player that we all have seen in seasons gone by. This young defense needs that kind of player.
When Ware was lining up in those practices in Oxnard, it appeared that Ware had turned the clock back five years and this season could turn out to be one of his best ever. Injury has once again robbed him of that opportunity. Ware showed a great deal of guts playing last season at half the player he is capable of being and this year, could very well be the same. As hard as this to say for a player that has given his team so much, he is going to have to dig deeper and find ways to not only be a factor in the running game but be that dominate player against the pass.
This scheme requires pressure from its front four and without that pressure, it is difficult to have success in it. If this team in fact are going to make a run in these last six games and win this division, it is going to be on the shoulders of Sean Lee and DeMarcus Ware. For six games, this defense needs DeMarcus Ware’s very best otherwise we will all be talking about what could have been.
Six-Game Forecast: Defensive linemen cant rely on safety net to stop the run
There have been some difficult games for this defensive line this season. There have also been some times where they have played well and helped this team to a victory. The road doesn’t get much easier with three division games and the matchup with the Bears and Packers remaining.
What worries the most about this group is the ability to get off blocks in the running game especially the last three weeks against the Lions, Vikings and Saints. There have been too many games this season where this defense has allowed offenses to be in manageable down and distance situations because of their inability to hold up against the run. For the next six week, this defensive line is going to be tested each and every snap to have to be physical in playing in the running game and with Sean Lee out at least the next two games, there is not that safety net of him being there to make plays.
This line needs to do a much better job of playing on the other side of the ball like they did against the Redskins and Eagles, which then will help them with their pressure in the passing game.
BOYS BYE-WEEK BREAKDOWN: Sean Lee-less linebackers are an issue that the Texas-2 Defense must overcome
Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Breakdown
This article is part of a series. To see all related posts, click HERE. Enjoy!
Top Performer: Sean Lee
When you have a defense that has struggled like this Cowboys one has for games, it is hard to really find some bright spots in their play. You can say that Orlando Scandrick and Jason Hatcher are two players that come to mind but Sean Lee would be right there with them. Lee’s season didn’t start off as well as it needed to but after the Kansas City game, he has been consistent in the way he has played, even though there have been others around him that have not done the same. Lee leads the club in tackles, tackles for loss and interceptions which is no surprise.
What makes Lee so special, is his nose for the ball. There are very few players in this league that play with the smarts and the defensive awareness that he is able to show down after down. There were times when Sean Lee was the best defensive player on this team and that’s saying something when you also have DeMarcus Ware.
Need More From: Bruce Carter
When Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett made the decision to switch from the 3-4 scheme to 4-3, and knowing Bruce Carter’s game from his days at North Carolina and observations with the Dallas Cowboys, this switch should have been a perfect fit for him.
Carter hasn’t been as good as Lee in the way he has played, there is something just not right with what we have seen from him. Despite being 3rd on the squad in tackles, he hasn’t had those dominate performances running to the ball playing on the weak side in this defense. Now with Sean Lee out for at least two games, there will be pressure on Carter to make more plays, which he was able to do last season once Lee went down in the Carolina game. Remember what Sean Lee said about Bruce Carter when he said “There are things that Bruce can do athletically, that I only dream about.” Now is the time for Bruce Carter to step up and do those things that Sean Lee believes he can do.
Six-Game Forecast: Cowboys linebackers coach Matt Ebeflus needs to buy time
If this group is lucky, Sean Lee will only miss the Giants and Raiders contest before returning against the Bears. It appears that DeVonte Holloman is back in the mix and will work to get ready to face the Giants most likely on that strong side in place of Justin Durant, who also injured his hamstring against the Saints. Kyle Wilber who has played linebacker and defensive end during his career with the Cowboys. He will now go back to linebacker to add depth to the position along with Kyle Bosworth and Cameron Lawrence.
Without Lee in the lineup, it appears that Holloman, Sims and Carter would be the starters, unless something changes with the health of Holloman, then more adjustments would have to be made. What this group has to do, is do a better job of getting off blocks in the running game which was a huge issue against the Saints last Sunday. Since the Eagles game, these players have not been at their best when it has come to stopping the run and that has to change quickly despite their best player on the sideline for the next two weeks.
NFL PRO SCOUTING REPORT: A closer look at your newest Dallas Cowboy – DT Corvey Irvin | DE Caesar Rayford brought back
Corvey Irvin DT, Georgia 6-3 301 4.96 (40 time)
Selected by Carolina Panthers in 3rd round of 2009 NFL Draft
The Dallas Cowboys have added another defensive tackle to the roster, by signing tackle Corvey Irvin, a former third-round pick of the Panthers in 2009. Former NFL scout Bryan Broaddus checked a few of his recent games this past preseason as a member of the Chicago Bears.
Games Viewed: Chicago Bears (Preseason 2013) vs. Carolina & San Diego
- Played both as a one and three technique in a 4 – 3 scheme, would say that he is better suited to play as the three.
- Really nice initial quickness off the snap but needs to win on that first move.
- Tends to play high and upright, when he gives up his chest, he struggles to get off the block.
- When he is free, can get up the field and make things happen, keeps moving and working, did a nice job of working down the line.
- Thought he was a bit hit-and-miss when it came to finding the ball, there were times where he was too tied up with blocker and by him.
- Better when he was on the move, twist, slant, will use pass rush moves to try and free himself, will even try to spin, active here.
- Thought he was much better as a pass rusher than he was as a run player, times where he got too high and washed on the play.
- Needs to do a better job of using his hands when it comes to getting off blocks when playing against the run, again needs to win on that first move.
- Fits the scheme because of his ability to quickly get off the ball, attacking the blocker, but needs to play with better stoutness.
ROSTER RELATED: Cowboys bring back DE Caesar Rayford to practice squad
The Dallas Cowboys added 6’ 7” defensive end Caesar Rayford to the practice squad today. Rayford was cut from the active roster Tuesday to make room for DT Corvey Irvin.
He had originally been acquired Sept. 3 in a trade with Indianapolis. The Dallas Cowboys sent a 2015 conditional pick to the Colts in exchange for him. Rayford appeared in seven games, playing 147 snaps. He made six tackles and contributed one quarterback pressure.
Dallas Cowboys Safety Breakdown
This article is part of a series. To see all related posts, click HERE. Enjoy!
Top Performer: Barry Church
There were plenty questions coming into the Dallas Cowboys 2013 season of how Barry Church would play coming off the Achilles injury that he suffered in Week 3 of 2012. At this point, Church and his injury appear to be holding up well.
What we fail to realize about Church is despite coming into his fourth season in the league, he had only made three starts at safety and all of those came last season. From what we’ve seen from Church through 10 games in 2013, there has been some hit-and-miss play – something you’d expect from a player who doesn’t have a great deal of experience.
Where Church has always been his best is as that physical player that is fearless when it comes to sticking his nose in there to make a tackle. But with this type of play comes those plays where he is too aggressive and finds himself in trouble when he takes a bad angle on his way to the ball like he did in the Lions game on the long pass to Calvin Johnson.
For Church, each snap has been a learning experience for him in his progression as an NFL safety. There are days where he has looked rough but compared to what has happened this season with the other safeties, he has managed to hold things together.
Need More From: J.J. Wilcox
It’s hard to say that you need more from a player who, at times for a rookie, has played very well, but that is the case of J.J. Wilcox. It has been three games since Wilcox suffered a knee sprain during practice getting ready for the Lions game.
In his absence, Jeff Heath has had to make those starts. Heath has had his share of struggles and the New Orleans game was by far his most disappointing showing, but this is not to say that Wilcox hasn’t had his share of missed tackles on third down as well.
Both of these rookies are trying their best and that is really the main problem — they are still only rookies. The word is that Wilcox should return after the bye in preparation for the Giants and that will allow Heath to go back to work in his role as a core special teamer.
Where this team needs more from Wilcox is in those plays like we saw from him in the Philadelphia game, where he showed range to knock the ball away from DeSean Jackson to save a touchdown, and being in position when the ball gets knocked in the air by Jason Avant for a potential interception.
Wilcox has proven in his young career that he has a knack for the big play around the ball, which is something that defense desperately needs.
Six-Game Forecast: Safeties huge in overall success of this defense
The play of the cornerbacks would be the key for this defense going forward. Let’s believe that will be the case, but how these safeties play in the remaining games will also tell a story.
As far as experience, it is a very young group with Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox, Jeff Heath, Danny McCray and Jakar Hamilton. For this club, Darren Woodson is not going to come walking through that door to save the day, so it will be up to this group to find the right combination and make plays when their number is called.
What we have learned about the safety play in this Monte Kiffin scheme is that the safeties are huge in the overall success of the defense. Whether it is Church playing as the eighth man in the box or Wilcox showing range deep, this group has to make plays. There are games ahead where the ball will once again be going down the field. Can these young safeties handle that?
There have been moments this season where they have been up to that challenge, but we’ve also seen some poor play as well, which has cost this defense far too often.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout
Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Breakdown
This article is part of a series. To see all related posts, click HERE. Enjoy!
Top Performer: Orlando Scandrick
This really goes all the way back to Oxnard, Calif. Orlando Scandrick has adapted to this scheme change more quickly than any of the other cornerbacks on the roster.
Whether he has been playing on the outside or in the slot, Scandrick has given this defense some quality snaps. Throughout his career, he has always played with a chip on his shoulder and there have been times where that chip as weighed him down, but now you see a player who has been much more consistent in his overall play.
You can say what you want in regard to Morris Claiborne and his problems with injuries, but even if he was healthy, Orlando Scandrick outplayed him and earned the right to start at corner in this defense.
Great Expectations: Morris Claiborne
This has been an up-and-down season for the second year player out of LSU. There have been times where he has been awful and other times where he has lived up to the expectations the front office and coaches believed he had.
The biggest issues that Claiborne has faced have not been how he has played, but his overall health and lack of time on the field — in both practice and games. For a young man, he has missed too much time with these injuries and it affects the way that he plays.
When Claiborne struggles with his confidence as a player, he is no good to this defense. With that being said, this defense needs him. B.W. Webb is not ready to play and when Claiborne is on the field it at least allows Kiffin a decent option to match up against receivers by putting Scandrick in the slot.
Morris Claiborne needs to find a way to stay on the field but more importantly, he needs to find ways to make more plays.
Six-Game Forecast: Cornerbacks will continue to be tested
It has not been easy for this group all season in having to deal with what seems to be an elite quarterback every week. In these last six games, there appears to be no relief in sight either, with dates against all three division opponents, Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers ahead.
Where this group has struggled the most is when they have had to line up and play in zone. I am not saying that they haven’t had their struggles in man as well, but they look more comfortable and sure of what they are doing when they are playing man. Jerry Jones said that one of the bye week adjustments that he expected to see before the Giants game is this secondary playing more man coverage, which would help this group tremendously.
If this defense is going to succeed down the stretch handling these quarterbacks, these cornerbacks are going to have to play a huge role. Playing more man coverage should help.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout
COWBOYS VS. SAINTS GAMEDAY PRIMER: NFL Films Game Preview | Scouting Report on New Orleans key players | Tony Romo game winning drive
NFL Films Preview: New Orleans Saints vs. Dallas Cowboys
NFL Films previews the 2013 Week 10 matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints. (Watch Video)
|Know The Enemy: Film Breakdown and Scouting Report on Saints DE Cameron Jordan||Know The Enemy: Film Breakdown and Scouting Report on New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees|
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NFL Sound FX: Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo Mic’d Up
This is going to sound a lot like whining, but it’s really just an interesting observation.
A couple of days removed from his injury on Monday Night Football, we’re now aware Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a broken clavicle. The Packers’ signal-caller is slated to miss at least three or so weeks, but he is expected back before the end of the season.
By a twist of fate, that simple fact is likely going to affect the NFC East championship race in a very direct manner. The NFC North drew the NFC East on the schedule this season, which pits the Packers against all four East squads.
Rodgers and Co. have only played one team from the division to this point, however. The Packers crushed the Redskins, 38-20, in Week 2 of the season. But the other three matchups against the NFC East are slated for later in the season.
And now it brings us to this point. The Packers’ next two games, with Rodgers sidelined, are a home date against Philadelphia this weekend and a road trip to play the Giants on Nov. 17.
Obviously, anything can happen in any NFL matchup – that’s what makes this league so much fun. But you’ve got to admit the prospects of defeating Green Bay with Seneca Wallace running the offense look a lot brighter than if it was one-time NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers round into view on the Dallas Cowboys’ schedule on Dec. 15, by which point it’s a good bet Rodgers will be coming back to full health, if not back on the field already.
In the same vein, the Bears look likely to have Jay Cutler back for the home stretch – which includes the Cowboys – after Cutler said he planned to play this weekend against Detroit. Cutler went down with a groin injury early in the Bears’ game against the Redskins – a game they lost. But he will be back in the mix for games against the Eagles and Cowboys.
It’s the NFL. So counting games ahead of the schedule is an exercise in futility. Green Bay is still probably a good enough team to beat Philadelphia and New York without Rodgers. And with four games on the schedule before the Packers come to town, it’s not worth fretting over matters outside the Cowboys’ next opponent.
But it’s certainly not a twist that looks likely to benefit the Cowboys.
2013-2014 COWBOYS ROSTER: Dallas Cowboys sign Everett Dawkins from Vikings practice squad | Manley and Davis fill practice squad
IRVING, Texas – Who’s next to join the Dallas Cowboys’ always-rotating defensive line carousel?
That would be Everett Dawkins, a rookie defensive tackle from Florida State who has been on the Vikings practice squad. Dawkins, a seventh-round pick (229th overall) in 2013, fills the spot vacated by Marvin Austin, who was placed on the waived/injured list on Tuesday because of a back injury he sustained in the last game against Minnesota.
Dawkins (6-2, 300) would be the 17th defensive linemen to play for the Dallas Cowboys this year, assuming he will be ready to get snaps this week against the Saints.
Last week, the Dallas Cowboys signed Everette Brown, a defensive end off the street who came right in and played meaningful snaps. He even had a key sack and forced fumble late in the game against the Vikings.
Currently at tackle, the Cowboys have starters Jason Hatcher and Nick Hayden, both of whom have been dealing with injuries. Hatcher left the game last week with a neck stinger that has plagued him for several weeks. Hayden had to miss a few plays with a lingering back issue but returned and scored his first career touchdown.
Drake Nevis has been in the rotation as well along with Austin, who suffered the back injury in pre-game warm-ups and didn’t play in the game.
In college, Dawkins played 54 games for the Seminoles in four years, playing mostly the three-technique. He only had five career sacks and 11 tackles for loss.
But coming out of the draft, he was considered a high-motor player that would get picked in the middle rounds, but fell to the seventh. However, the Dallas Cowboys had a third-round grade on him.
The Cowboys also signed a pair of players to the practice squad. Guard Phillip Keith Manley (Atlanta Falcons), from Toledo, and Cleveland’s defensive end Hall Davis (Louisiana-Lafayette) were added to fill out the eight-man squad.
Everett Dawkins: Height: 6-2 Weight: 300 Age: 23 College: Florida State
Phillip Keith Manley: Height: 6-5 Weight: 309 Age: 23 College: Toledo
Hall Davis: Height: 6-4 Weight: 270 Age: 26 College: Louisiana-Lafayette
The Dallas Cowboys continue to add defensive linemen who were former highly regarded draft picks.
Defensive end Everette Brown, a former second-round pick in 2009, was signed by the Cowboys, who released defensive end Jason Vega to make room on the roster.
Brown, a former Florida State defender, appeared in 28 games and made three starts during his two years with the Carolina Panthers, who drafted him. He recorded 35 tackles, six sacks, an interception and three forced fumbles before going to the Chargers in 2011.
He was released in March 2012 and signed with Detroit later that month, but he was released at the end of training camp and spent that year out of football. Brown was released by the Eagles during final camp cuts this year.
The Cowboys had brought Vega up from the practice squad for two games, and he posted two tackles in those appearances.
The team also released practice squad running back Davin Meggett.
SCOUTING REPORT: A closer look at Everette Brown:
6-2, 263 pounds with a 4.65 40-yard dash out of Florida State. Had 13.5 sacks his junior year for the Seminoles.
Drafted in the second round by the Carolina Panthers in 2009. Released two seasons later. Spent time in San Diego, Detroit and recently Philadelphia.
Report based on games studied from Philadelphia’s 2013 preseason: New England, Carolina, Jacksonville, New York Jets.
- Played as an outside linebacker for the Eagles in their 3-4 scheme. Had some rushes where he put his hand on the ground and was used as a nickel rusher.
- Will play as a defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys in their 4-3 scheme.
- Physically, he has some length to his body, long arms, doesn’t look like he is carrying 263 pounds and doesn’t look overly big or thick.
- Was a much better player with his hand on the ground than he was playing in a two point stance. He showed some surprising power walking the tackle back for Carolina. When put his head down, got his hands inside the framework and pushed, he made some things happen, but he’s not going to make a living walking tackles back. He will need to play on the edge and not attack blockers down the middle. When he loses his momentum, he can have some issues.
- Has the quickness to get to the edge, stays active, showed a quick inside move, can be used on twist stunts to make something happen, will sharpen the corner on his rush.
- Will run the play down from the backside, can dip his shoulder, then work around the blocker, doesn’t give you much hitting surface on his rush when he dips his shoulder, will chase the ball when he is free.
- Can use a spin move going a couple of different ways to try and free himself from blockers.
- Doesn’t always play strong. His biggest problem was getting rid of blockers more quickly in the running game. He’s much better playing off tight ends and fullbacks than he is tackles. Does not play with enough strength to go toe-to-toe with a tackle and expect to be productive – he needs to beat them quickly before they get their hands on him.
- Best work is as a pass rusher — had some really nice edge rushes against the Jets, showed a burst getting around the tackle and slapping the ball out of the quarterback’s hand. He can cause some problems when he is near or around the quarterback.
- When he was in position to make a tackle, he was able to wrap up and get his man on the ground.
Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout