WEEK 1 – NEW YORK GIANTS
No McClain, No Hardy – Game 1 of 4 game suspensions. The defense really played well against the Giants. It was possibly the best game of the season for JJ Wilcox. Tyrone Crawford was excellent. Hardly gave up anything. Eli Manning repeatedly tried to attack Tyler Patmon with Odell Beckham from the slot, with limited success. Randy Gregory looked great against rookie Erick Flowers at LT, but rolled his ankle badly and was lost for months. One sack and no takeaways, however there were two “near takeaways” where JJ Wilcox broke up a pass that looked like a fumble.
Coverages: 34 pass plays – 13 in Cover 1, 8 in Cover 3, 2 in 2-Man and 11 in Cover 2 (Zone) – with 4 of those in Tampa 2 – all 3rd down. Defense played great, but still needed an amazing screw up by Tom Coughlin with clock management to survive and an equally amazing drive by Romo late in the game. Jeremy Mincey with a horrendous personal foul late. The offense was sputtering all night, but came to life to save the game.
WEEK 2 – AT PHILADELPHIA
Coverages: 42 pass plays – 22 in Cover 1, 1 in Cover 3, 1 in 2-Man, and 18 in Cover 2 with most all of those coming late when the Cowboys were sitting on their lead. This was also a game where the team received a blocked punt for a touchdown. Again, there were all sorts of good things from this game. Sean Lee had an end zone interception, JJ Wilcox had a center field interception, and the team had three takeaways, dominated 3rd downs (2 for 11), and allowed only 4.1 yards per play. So good.
WEEK 3 – ATLANTA
No McClain, No Hardy – Game 3 of 4 game suspensions. No Gregory, No Mincey, No Terrell McClain (put right on IR). This means that the defense was at a distinct personnel disadvantage for much of the game with issues like Ryan Russell starting in his first NFL action. Additionally, Davon Coleman and Ken Bishop played inside with Russell and Jack Crawford on the outside quite a bit. On top of all of this, Sean Lee was hurt pretty badly on the 1st play of the 3rd Quarter and wasn’t the same for a long time after that. Cowboys forced 3 3-and-outs in the first 4 drives and did very well overall until a short field after a Weeden interception gave a TD and then a blitz here Devontae Freeman was matched up with Jack Crawford and that went very badly before halftime. However, the team was still up 28-17. The 2nd half featured 3 Falcons drives and all were long touchdown drives. The Cowboys tried Cover 1 against Julio Jones and he destroyed them and Tyler Patmon on this. Then, the running game of the Falcons showed no mercy in the 2nd half and the game went in the wrong direction very quickly. Almost no splash plays, no takeaways, and just a Sean Lee sack on a blitz on the first drive of the game. 438 yards against and nothing close to a stop in the entire 2nd half. This is where the safety play was pretty disappointing with Wilcox further and further from where they needed him.
Coverages: 41 pass plays – 14 in Cover 1, 15 in Cover 3, 7 in 2-Man, and 5 in Cover 2. The Cowboys are starting to see more and more pick plays and rub routes from playing so much man coverage and also teams are now trying to find Patmon to take advantage of the Orlando Scandrick injury. Overall, it sure seemed the worst performance of the year followed the best by just 7 days.
WEEK 4 – NEW ORLEANS
No McClain, No Hardy – Game 4 of a 4 Game suspension. No Gregory, Russell scratched. Cowboys started Gachkar at the SAM, but with the Saints keeping them in nickel, that wasn’t vital. Yet, Lee was hurt on the 2nd drive of the game and Gachkar had to play the remainder of the game at WILL, with Damien Wilson now at SAM. Once again, the Cowboys did a pretty decent job of limiting the Saints offense early as most of the damage that Drew Brees was able to get was underneath as he paired his RBs with Cowboys backup LBs. Tyler Patmon and Gachkar both had near takeaways as Patmon dropped an INT and Gachkar’s strip was ruled knee down on Mark Ingram. As the game went on, Brees was getting a better and better feel for things and he rolled up another 438 yards of total offense and would have won in regulation if not for a missed FG after a rather easy drive down the field that included finding Patmon in a Cover 1 and going after him. David Irving made his debut and made some flash plays quickly. Corey White played for the first significant time. Jeff Heath started doing more and more at FS in certain sub packages. Wilber started playing nickel DE. Overtime was two very similar plays that included a pick play on a RB that took out Gachkar and then on the next play Damien Wilson lost CJ Spiller down the sideline for a wheel route TD where Barry Church showed he was no better at FS than Wilcox.
Coverages: 44 pass plays – 21 in Cover 1, 9 in Cover 3, 1 in 2-Man, and 13 in Cover 2 (with 2 instances of Tampa 2). Damien Wilson was pretty good at times against the run. Gachkar was pretty solid. DeMarcus Lawrence was great. Morris Claiborne fought hard in man coverage.
Through 4 Games – Coverages in 161 pass plays: 70 in Cover 1, 33 in Cover 3, 11 in 2-Man, and 47 in Cover 2.