Scouting Report Week 5 – Bye Week Part I

Scouting the Cowboys

“This series is all about the next opponent. Just like the players, we have to move on.”

This standard opening for the Weekly Scouting Report does not apply this week. Instead we peer at what the Cowboys may be addressing during their yearly pilgrimage to the mecca of healing otherwise known as the NFL bye week.

We will look at the support staff, Special Teams and the offensive side of the ball in Part I, detailing the defensive side and JG in Part II.

Efficient usage of the bye week is a key to a winning season. Other than the obvious healing window a bye week gives, there are other needs-based objectives that vary from year to year. The game is won or lost by the players on the field (direct reference to last nights game), however the bye week is all about coaching. New schemes, refinement of current ones, a new player or an overhaul are all items that can be addressed more effectively in a bye week period as full preparation for the next opponent (the Ravens in week 6) will not begin til this Sunday. As Raf pointed out in his post-mortem to the Bears game,

“the bye could not have come at a better time”.

Let’s look at some of the goals that should be on the Cowboys Coaches plate over the next week.

Training Staff – Get Ratliff (ankle), Costa (back), Coleman (knee), Albright (neck) and Spencer (shoulder) back on the field. The time off will also do our walking wounded wonders (Austin, Jones, Lissemore, Spencer, Ware, Vickers and Wilber). The chance to win increases when you give the coaches more options and a higher talent level. Getting a full contingent of chess pieces on the field is critical.

Mike Woicik (Strength/Conditioning) – Matt Johnson is the injured draftee this year. Following in the footsteps of Lee and Bruce means as much time with Woicik as injury permits. Make no mistake about it, Woicik is a big reason Lee and Bruce have come back as strong as they have. Unless Arkin can challenge Bernadeau he may also come under Woicik’s wheelhouse again this year as a maximum strength building program is much different than an in-season maintenance regimen.

Joe DeCamillis (ST) –  Dallas ranks not only last in special teams so far in 2012 (per ProFootballFocus), but it is not even close as the next to last team (Titans) is better than us by a factor of 3.8! The play on the field reflects the ranking and leaves Joe D with a veritable laundry list of items:

  • Protection scheme and execution on punts
  • Blocking scheme and execution on punt returns
  • Blocking scheme and execution on kick-offs
  • Blocking scheme and execution on kick returns
  • Find a new Kick Off return man or get Felix’s head in the game
Joe D is officially on the hot-seat. Jerry Jones is loyal to a fault however and DeCamillis will have til the end of the year to right the ship. He has a long, strong history in Big D. We need this problem solved and I hope Joe D can get it done. Recent history however suggest he may not.
John Garrett (TE) – With Witten seemingly back to his reliable self and enjoying an extra week to heal his spleen, the integration of Hannah into the passing game would bode well for the future. Does Dallas have the blocking TE it covets? The ghost of Bennett is large in the run game as he is showing with the G-Men. Phillips is a hybrid and Hanna is a better blocker than expected but is still a finesse guy making this group more 1 dimensional than it has been in years.
Steven Van Over –
Oggletree learning from Dez?

Jimmy Robinson (WR) – The good, the bad and the ugly. Which body part is more important right now, Dez’s head, his hands or Oggletree’s shoulder? The good is that Dez and Romo were able to fight through poor play and remain productive (8 rec – 105 yds). That is a new step for Dez to be able to retain his composure enough to focus. The bad is the route running. Both Dez and Oggletree issues with route running last night were only out shined by the Ugly. The drops came in bunches and were game changers. We will talk about Romo later, this is about balls hitting a man in the hands and the player coming up with air. These guys should have a jugs machine in their bed rooms catching at every opportunity. It takes hard work to be the best. These guys don’t seem to be putting in the hours. Ask Jerry Rice, ask Michael Irvin. No one worked harder than those two. Tough to be the best if you are at the mall chilling.

Skip Peete (RB) – The running game is not up to par. Yes the OL is a huge part of the issue. So is Felix Jones showing up to camp out of shape. Felix head does not appear to be in the game. I realize Felix is Jerry Jones pet cat. It looks like it is time to move on, start the game time replacement of his snaps with either Tanner or Dunbar. If not, what are Tanner and Dunbar?

Wade Wilson (QB) – Can he get Romo to resist the impulse to “do it all”? Can any QB be consistent behind this porous OL or with WR who can not catch balls that hit them in the hands? In a true chicken/egg conundrum we are left with the end result rather than to muse how it got here. Bottom line, turning the football over is a bad thing. Wade Wilson has to get this one thing through Tony Romo’s head. The QB’s 1st job is to take care of the egg. The rest is superfluous. Fair or not, for a QB that is the reality of playing, and winning in the NFL.

Bill Callahan (OL) – Respect for Hudson Houck should be growing by the day. Remember how Callahan was the savior to our OL issues? Hudson Houck was out of touch, no longer able to get the job done? Doug Free and Tyron Smith had excellent years under Houck. So did a lot of players. Callahan is now keenly aware of the same two lessons Houck learned. Great players make great coaches and Jerry Jones seems to have an aversion to spending high draft picks on talented OL.

Steven Van Over –
Callahan’s O-Line a work in progress

We have what we have. What we can do with it is the question. Current results aside, Callahan is a master technician and coach. No one expected this OL to look the same as it did on opening day. If we can get Costa back at center look for Cook to slide into the RG slot leaving Bernadeau backing up both G/C as he is capable of doing. Arkin is also a possibility at RG, however I believe he still needs another year under the eye of Mike Woicik. Regardless of what moves are made, I don’t believe the current lineup will be in place against the Ravens in week 6.

Click here for Part II

Author: Steven Van Over

Rafael Vela
Started covering Dallas Cowboys @ in '95 and '96. Two more stops along the way and here I am. Senior Analyst for
Rafael Vela