IRVING, Texas – A few observations from the film of the Cowboys’ 30-21 loss to San Diego:
Start to Finish
Brian Waters made his first start as a Cowboy on Sunday. Up until this game against the Chargers, Waters had been splinting reps with Mackenzy Bernadeau. Waters appeared to get through the entire game without any issues. His pass blocking was clearly once again his strength and, working in the running game, he has been improving each week. I was concerned how he was going to handle his assignments, not on the mental side but on the physical side in the running game. But Waters, being the crafty veteran that he is, figured out how to go low on those backside cut-offs and get into the legs of the defensive linemen, making them fight those blocks instead of chasing the ball. There is a nice element of nasty play to Waters’ game -- not as a cheap shot guy, but in a way to slow these rushers down. He will continue to improve on his game conditioning and pass along a technique or two to Travis Frederick that will help him develop his game.
No other position in this club has suffered as many injuries as this defensive end group. DeMarcus Ware missed some plays throughout the Chargers game with a minor back injury that should not keep him out, but he has also been dealing with a troubling stinger in his neck and shoulder area. Ware has played through the issues but against the Chargers, his linemate, George Selvie, suffered a concussion, which sidelined him in the fourth quarter. The availability of Selvie for the Broncos game will totally depend on his ability to be able to pass his protocol tests this week. If Selvie is unable to go, Edgar Jones would most likely get the start on the left side with Caesar Rayford in the role of backup. Jason Vega has been getting work on the scout team and could be an option as well if the front office wants to make a move to add some depth to the position – meaning someone who has not been sitting on the couch for the last four weeks. Regardless, how these coaches will manage reps in practice will take some work.
Murray Was Ready
In a day where there were not many positives offensively for the Cowboys, the one bright spot was that DeMarco Murray was ready to play in this game. Murray ran with that same purpose he did last week against the Rams, after a week of hearing nothing but negative talk about the way he played against the Chiefs. Murray took the ball at this Chargers front and the offensive line did an outstanding job of creating lanes for him, which allowed him to finish those runs. What has been completely different for Murray this season from years past, is that he can take the ball, see the crease and get it downhill before that hole closes. There is nothing elusive about Murray’s running style, but this line is doing a much better job of getting him into the hole without having to take on defenders right at the point of attack. Once into the second level, if Murray does encounter tacklers, he has been one of the best in the league when it has come to breaking those tackles. Looking at the big picture, there are going to be games this season where this Cowboys offense is going to need to run the ball and be effective doing it. It has to be a positive sign for this offensive staff that going forward, they can rely on Murray and this offensive line to successfully make that happen.
Justin Durant has been the starter at Sam linebacker through the first four weeks of the season and has done a serviceable job. The one thing that Jason Garrett and this coaching staff are not afraid of is putting young players on the field. They are starting basically two rookies in the offensive line, one at wide receiver and the other at safety. DeVonte Holloman is a backup to Durant and during his time through the preseason games, proved that the ball tends to bounce in his direction. Holloman was the one guy other than Frederick I thought had a chance to play right now, having watched him in training camp. The coaches have put him on special teams to let him gain experience there, but I would not be surprised if he saw more snaps on the defense during practice, in the hope of getting him ready to play now instead of six weeks from now.