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Cowboys Seek Consistency In Raiding Oakland

Any player can have a great day and appear to be an all-star, just as anyone can be owned on a bad day.  And then there are those mundane performances where a player held his own, but mostly went unnoticed.

Almost every single football player who played a significant amount of years has experienced each of those three.  The funny thing is that most will be able to recall the exact setting and details of those great and awful games.

One of the key traits that defines any player’s real worth to his team is simply described in one word…consistency.  Last week he was great, this week he was awful. The real question is how does the player perform over a span of games.

Dallas coaches got a good look at many of their younger players last Sunday against Miami.  The powers that be have broken down the film and graded out the players.

The next step is to see what they do in back-to-back games.  Can they continue their solid performance from one week to the next?   Will they raise their subpar play from last week and avoid negative consistency.  Either way, the key to analyzing these players at this point is judging their consistency from both games.

Below are 4 key areas/players that revealed a significant presence in the Miami game.  I will discuss the consistency factor relating to each, and what Dallas coaches will be looking for.

 

1)  FREDERICK MAKES HIS MARK

We’ll start out with center Travis Frederick who certainly had the eyes of many Cowboys fans attached to his back last Sunday.  Frederick was the first round draft choice with much debate among fans as to his real selection value.  Add that to the fact Dallas has been pathetic over the last 2 years at the center position.

With the nation watching, Travis Frederick proved to be a worthy draft selection in his first NFL game action ever.  Travis flashed a combination of effective traits.

He showed run power, displayed good communication skills, switched off blocks well with G Ronald Leary, and even was effective blocking downfield in the second level.

Needless to say, Frederick certainly impressed at center.  His time at guard was decent yet not quite as satisfying.  To me that is of little concern, center is exactly where I want to see this kid unleash his talent.

The new inspection of Frederick is how he performs in the second outing.  He now faces a new set of defenders who have seen him play on film.   Will he be consistent and prove the Miami performance wasn’t a fluke?

 

2)  SELVIE SHOCKS US ALL

The shining performance of the night hands down goes to George Selvie.  I’m sure he left his former NFL coaches scratching their heads while watching on Sunday, all wondering where that beast was when they had him.

Selvie record 2 impressive sacks, both heavily impacting the game.  The first was a 14 yard loss on a play that started on the Cowboys’ own 5 yard line, all but eliminating the Dolphins’ chances for a TD.

The second sack came on a key 3rd down later in the game, which resulted in a punt and the Cowboys regaining possession. The journeyman DE recorded 2 sacks, along with several QB pressures, and set the edge well on run defense by often collapsing his man.

George Selvie’s performance was unexpected, completely dominant, and nothing short of All-Pro caliber.  Now it’s time to see if the animalistic showing by Selvie was nothing more than an abberation.  Or did the Cowboys hit the jackpot when signing help to ease the pain of losing Tyrone Crawford?

Selvie turned in such an eye-popping performance against Miami that he may just have to hold his own for the remaining 4 games to earn a roster spot.  On the other hand, if Selvie even comes near revealing the monster he showed last Sunday, it’s a certainty he will cement a 2nd string role in the DE rotation.

With Anthony Spencer’s potential exit in 2014, Dallas may have just uncovered a dream team with both Crawford and Selvie filling the DE hole that would be left behind.  It would be a big luxury to avoid spending a high draft pick to replace Spencer if he leaves.

 

3)  LEARY CLEANS UP LIVINGS’ MESS

There is no doubt the irresponsible signing of guards Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernardeau is a lingering failure.  Yet before we rake Jerry Jones even further over the coals, we must remember another bold move Jerry made in the 2012 off-season.

Jones is the guy who unusually secured an undrafted free agent with guaranteed money. Ronald Leary was guaranteed $214,000 to sign with Dallas in 2012 after going undrafted.  In comparison, Danny Coale was drafted in the 5th round by the Cowboys, yet he received an inferior $190,000 bonus.

While Jerry is striking out with Livings, he seems to have hit a clean double with the bold move to snag Leary.  Luckily Leary and Livings play the same position.

If Leary can live up to his 2013 performance up to this point, Jerry may have the luxury of calling it even with his 2012 signings at LG.

Livings wasted a year with subpar starting play in 2012.  Yet Ronald Leary is 24 years old and would pair with rookie center Travis Frederick for a very long time, health willing.

Nate Livings is sidelined as usual nursing his injuries just like 2012 camp.  This time it seems Ron Leary isn’t willing to let the opportunity slip away to steal his job right out from under his lazy, fragile backside.

The Cowboys are looking for Leary to build on his solid performance in Canton last Sunday, and show the type of consistency they have so sorely missed at the left guard position.  Or throughout the entire offensive line for that matter.

 

4)  PUNCHLESS TIGHT ENDS

I saved the worst for last.  To effectively run the football and get tough yards in today’s NFL, a team needs either a capable fullback or a solid blocking TE.  Many teams employ both, some excel with one or the other, but nobody has a powerful run game with neither.

Unfortunately from what I’ve seen to date, the Cowboys’ roster has neither.  Contrary to public opinion, not a one of the new additions at TE is a solid blocker.

Dante Rosario has never been known for that.  He did not excel as a blocker on any of the 4 teams he’s played on in the last 4 years.  Just as his slim 242 pounds would suggest, on Sunday night the guy looked flimsy both at the line of scrimmage, and especially from the h-back spot.

Gavin Escobar is a slimmer, non-powerful player certainly not drafted for his effective blocking ability.  James Hannah in his 2nd year was not brought to Dallas to serve as a powerful blocker.

The one prayer Dallas has is with big Andre Smith, the 270 pound 2nd year blocking TE.  I never saw Smith in the Oakland game, nor have I heard a peep about any great success in camp.  For now, I have to assume Smith will not be able to unseat any of Jerry Jones’ 4 poster boy TE’s for a roster spot.

The question going into Oakland is simple…are the TE’s going to be consistently inadequate at blocking for the Cowboys’ strong talent at RB?  Or will they begin to improve enough to be effective?

Yes Dallas did have 170 yards rushing, most of which came from nice blocks by linemen between the tackles. The h-back rarely lead the way on those tackle box runs, while many times the blocking TE lost his battle on the line of scrimmage in short-yardage.

If the current Dallas TE’s show up for Week 1 without drastic blocking improvement or new help, it will certainly effect the ability for Dallas to run the ball with consistency.

The Cowboys desperately need to improve upon 2012 by powering the ball across in short-yardage and near the goal line.  They must realize the burning need to acquire a power blocking TE for the position to effectively accomplish this goal.

 

 

 

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