ReFo: Cowboys @ Rams, Week 3
There was redemption of sorts for Morris Claiborne who sealed Dallas’ win with an interception after being burned consistently throughout the game. The Rams jumped out to a 21-0 lead and you could tell Jason Garrett was feeling the pressure in a game the Cowboys were expected to win. Come the final whistle, however, he was the one smiling with Jeff Fisher deservedly receiving a large amount of criticism.
While he has no control over the injury to Sam Bradford it was his defense that gave up 34 points including leaving Dez Bryant wide open for a long touchdown. Assumedly he also made the decision to go for it on 4th-and-1 in the red zone. Dallas denied St. Louis and those three points proved crucial in the end. Another drive was ended by Scott Wells snapping the ball as if the quarterback was under centre when he was actually in shotgun resulting in a lost fumble. As for Dallas, they will hope this warning sign will prove the launching point for Tony Romo in particular who has had a slow start to the season.
Let’s get into some individual performances …
Dallas Cowboys – Performances of Note
Tyron Smith, LT: +2.7
Breakdown: Everyone expected Smith to win his fair share of battles against Robert Quinn but his level of dominance was surprising. Overall he gave up just the solitary hurry to Quinn and even that was marginal leaving Romo plenty of space to step up. He proved too much for Quinn and others in the run game too, recording the joint best grade of any Cowboy in that department (+1.3). Outstanding performance for Smith who is now the ninth-ranked OT overall.
Signature Stat: Smith is currently ninth amongst tackles in pass blocking efficiency, having given up a sack and two hurries in 97 drop-backs.
Tyrone Crawford, DLE: +3.7
Breakdown: After an outstanding outing as a pass rusher against the Titans (+4.3, one hit and five hurries) Crawford put in a more complete performance against the Rams. He had a hit and three hurries on just 25 hurries dominating Davin Joseph on stunts in particular. Crawford also recorded the best run defense grade (+2.1) making a pair of stops along the way. Cap problems have forced a reshuffle on the Cowboys’ line and they need their drafted players to take up the mantle.
Signature Stat: Crawford is currently second in pass rush productivity behind Cameron Wake. His three hits and eight hurries (13.8 PRP) leave him only eighth overall in terms of total pressure but he’s done his damage on just 60 snaps.
Morris Claiborne, RCB: -4.0
Breakdown: The former sixth overall pick hasn’t lived up to his potential so far in his career but, despite a very poor day, secured the win for Dallas. Overall in coverage he gave up five of seven targets for 108 yards a pair of touchdowns and the all-important interception. It says a lot that he’s still not starting entering his third year in the league and the touchdown he gave up to Brian Quick sums up his struggles so far. To compound matters Claiborne has never been a great run defender and he missed another tackle in that department here.
Signature Play: The first play in the second quarter saw Claiborne miss his jam on Quick and then beaten outside and deep in cover three. The first question to ask is why he was jamming in the first place and the second why on earth he was playing aggressively against inside routes.
St Louis Rams – Performances of Note
Joe Barksdale, RT: +4.4
Breakdown: Al Davis deserves some serious posthumous praise for identifying the talent of Joe Barksdale. It may never have worked out in Oakland but why they gave up on a raw talent after just a year remains inexplicable. After an excellent 2013, Barksdale looks like he could be kicking on even further. He gave up just the solitary hurry in 45 drop-backs and stood out as a run blocker (+2.4).
Signature Play: Nothing too flashy from Barksdale but the way he gets to the second level in the first quarter at 10.17 sums up a consistently strong showing.
Zac Stacy, RB: +2.9
Breakdown: If the Rams are to succeed at all this season, considering the injury to Bradford, they’ll need their running game to pick up some slack. After a couple of below average performances, Stacy responded with a very impressive game against the Cowboys. On just 12 carries Stacy forced four missed tackles with 44 of his 67 yards coming after contact. He also contributed as a receiver catching five of six targets (all for first downs) for 54 yards providing Austin Davis with a reliable checkdown.
Signature Play: The moves he puts on, with three converging defenders, to pick up a first down at 11.44 in the first quarter shows his quality.
Robert Quinn, DRE: -3.6
Breakdown: Quinn hasn’t put in a performance as poor as this since his sophomore season. While he seemed to be selling out to generate pressure, leaving openings behind him in the run game, Quinn also missed a pair of tackles in that department and recorded just a single stop. A solitary hurry in 23 rushes is also unexpectedly little return for such a good rusher. A lot depends on Quinn (no player recorded a positive pass rush grade) and in this one he failed to deliver.
Signature Play: The play at 4.08 in the second quarter sums up Quinn’s day. He was blocked outside initially and showed no interest in falling back once Murray had gone past him leaving the edge open for a big gain.
PFF Game Ball
Barksdale did enough on the losing side to earn the game ball although Crawford was a close second.
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