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Cowboys vs. Raiders Preseason Analysis

August 14, 2013

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DeMarcus Ware: For a long time we’ve seen his long, lithe body that was perfect for the speed rushes that he was so good at. Yet due to a combination of the team moving from a 3-4 to a 4-3 and the fact that as a slightly undersized player he had been nicked up the past few years he decided to change his body. It’s an impressive transformation as he is much thicker and noticeably bulkier in the upper body. On the first play against the Raiders he slipped the LT’s block and hit Darren McFadden hard in the backfield to ruin that play immediately. If Ware can show that he’s still just as quick and fast as he was at the lower weight then we could be seeing a +20 sack season from him. If he exchanges some speed with power we might be disappointed as his speed and agility were what made him the 2nd fastest player in NFL History to accumulate 100 sacks and I’m not sure I’d take him as a better run stopper if it means it reduces his talents as a pass rusher.

Sean Lee: There are very few better playmaking linebackers in football today than Sean Lee. His penchant for getting interceptions (7 interceptions after only 35 games is rare for a LB) has been regularly acclaimed by this website yet Monte Kiffin might be adding to Lee’s repertoire as Sean looked quite comfortable blitzing the QB in this game and made a huge hit on Matt Flynn to get a sack and forced fumble. Sean has 0 career sacks in the regular season so it’s a skill that hadn’t been shown off before but if he looks half as good as he did in Oakland than I suspect we will see Lee blitzing quite regularly this season.

JJ Wilcox: The Cowboys must have been thrilled when Wilcox read the QB’s eyes and broke to the ball for a nice INT. He has great hands due to being an offensive player his first 3 years in college but is also extremely raw due to that same fact so I still suspect he’ll start the season as the team’s #3 safety and will battle for playing time as the season progresses. Yet if he puts together a few more games like last week’s where he led the team in tackles to go along with his red zone interception then there’s a chance he’ll be starting on opening night.

Ronald Leary: Leary has gotten quite a lot of buzz this offseason considering he’s only a 2nd year undrafted free agent. The buzz will only grow louder after his impressive 2nd preseason game as I made a specific point in watching him and came away impressed. He instigated a 12 yd run by Lance Dunbar when he walled off a penetrating DT which showed me that he’s not just a big guy but also quick. Combine that moment with the movement he regularly got when he drive blocked, he is after all 330 lbs so size and strength are still his calling cards, and I see Leary as the team’s best OG. Right now that’s hardly a ringing endorsement but if the season were to start tomorrow I’d be shocked if Leary wasn’t the starting LG for the Cowboys.

Travis Frederick: I really hated the Frederick pick this past April as it seemed like a bad pick for a number of reasons. First off the Cowboys moved down in the 1st despite a Top 5 talent at a position of need falling to them at #18 (Shariff Floyd by the way looked great in his first preseason game with a TFL, a few run stops, and a batted ball at the line of scrimmage against the Texans). Secondly they moved down to #31 while getting worse compensation than the trade down should have netted. Thirdly they moved down without having a clear strategy in mind on the trade down, that was proven when the Cowboys admitted they became “stuck” at #31 and were forced to pick when other players they were interested in were taken ahead of them. Fourthly they ended up drafting a player in the 1st round that didn’t even have a 1st round grade on their own board! Fifthly they took a player in the 1st round that many people didn’t even have a 2nd round grade on. The drafting of Frederick at #31 was a horrible move and that is basically inarguable at this point. Yet Frederick is trying his damnedest to turn that error into a positive as he has looked like an absolute rock at both center and right guard in these first two preseason games. The question now becomes where will the Cowboys play him. Babe Laufenburg stated that he thought a starting 5 of Costa at center and Frederick at RG appealed to him the most as he wants his best 5 offensive linemen starting and he thinks Costa is better than Nate Livings or Mackenzy Bernadeau. I understand where he’s coming from as Livings is injured and has shown no sign of being ready anytime soon while Bernadeau was neck and neck with Doug Free last year for the team’s worst offensive lineman. Yet there’s an argument to be made that Frederick is the team’s 1st rounder for a reason and they should treat him like the foundation type player he is and play him at his best position. Frederick was drafted to be a center and he’s played very well at center this preseason so the team shouldn’t overthink things and should put Frederick’s name in ink at center. Also whether it’s Leury, Bernadeau, Arkin, Livings, or possibly Brian Waters being added in free agency there likely will be a revolving door at the two guard spots the next year or two so why not put Frederick in at center so at least there is continuity at some position in the interior. I understand both arguments but I personally think Frederick should stick to playing center. Continuity is extremely important for an offensive line so I think the sooner they implement Frederick as the team’s starting center the sooner they’ll have a foundation on the interior to build around. Frederick looks like the real deal and very well could be the team’s starting center for the next ten years. The team should let that era begin now.

Nick Stephens: Last week Stephens had a very impressive game that made me think he was worth a roster spot going forward. This week not so much as he threw an INT on his first pass play of the game and ended a very mediocre 7 for 12 for 78 yards with a 43.1 passer rating. This won’t help his case for a roster spot with the coaches as there was already discussion that with veterans Tony Romo and Kyle Orton at the top 2 spots the 3rd quarterback would be on the practice squad instead of the 53 man roster so they could use the additional spot at a position of greater need. If Stephens plays like he did against Miami there will still be a chance the Cowboys keep 3 QBs but if he plays like he did against the Raiders then the decision will be rather easy and the only thing left to find out is if Stephens will pass through waivers to make it on the practice squad or if another team makes a claim for him ala Matt Moore a few years back.

Jared Green: He’s gained notoriety as the son of former Redskins great Darrell Green yet it should be the only thing Cowboys fans remember of him years from now as the kid has 0% chance of making this roster. He’s rail thin and is easily muscled out of his route, he has poor hands as seen by his two drops on the Cowboys final drive, and he has a noted history as a diva. He transferred from Virginia to play his final season at Southern University after getting into it with the head coach and there were plenty of whispers that the Southern coaching staff was quite ready to see him go as well. On talent alone he’s a one dimensional speedster with little chance to stick but add in his character issues and the kid is just a fun media storyline. He likely won’t even make it to the final cut down and could be gone in as little as a week.

 

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