For all intents and purposes, Thursday night’s game was a must win for the Dallas Cowboys to keep any playoff hope alive. After struggling in the first quarter, Dallas would go on to put on a dominating performance that rights the ship for one week. Here are some thoughts leaving the game.
The hot topic after a horrific three-game slide centered around the lack of adjustments made. Be it adjusting without players, in-game adjustments or personnel adjustments. The latter is where Dallas showed much improvement.
Out went Anthony Brown as a starter in went Chidobe Awuzie. Out went Byron Jones as the primary safety, in went Kavon Frazier splitting reps. Those two moves set the stage for a very solid defensive backfield performance. Dallas would create two interceptions, ironically both by players in the dog-house; Anthony Brown and Jeff Heath. Awuzie put on one of the better performances from a Cowboys cornerback this year. He surrendered no catches and had three very nice pass breakups. Coming into the game the second round pick was facing some heat, having not played a majority of the season due to injury. He put out some of that fire by being the best cornerback on the field and shutting down whoever he was guarding.
Not to be outdone, safety Kavon Frazier may have had his best game of his short career. With Byron Jones struggling in run support mightly, the Cowboys staff gave extended snaps to Frazier. He would not disappoint as he set the tone for the night with crushing hits. After the game, he would go on to proclaim himself a “new enforcer in town”, something Dallas has been missing since the departure of J.J. Wilcox. If Frazier can build on that performance Dallas can be even more stout against the run when Sean Lee returns.
Bookend Offensive Tackles Shine
If you thought the Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith was declining, Thursday night he reminded you why he is one of, if not the best, left tackle in the game. Smith is one of the most freakish athletes playing today. A number of times that athleticism was put on display.
With ease, he got to the second level creating lanes or moving bodies, as well as making defensive end Ryan Kerrigan look like child’s play.
Smith’s budding mate La’el Collins may have had an even more impressive night.
Collins was a DNP all week with back soreness, which doesn’t bode well for someone about to face one of the most dominant rushers in Ryan Kerrigan. In the previous matchup, Collins struggled with Kerrigan giving up multiple hits on the quarterback. With that in mind, and not able to practice, things looked bleak. However, it was anything but as Collins pretty much dominated Kerrigan in every fashion of the game. Given the circumstances, this may have been his best performances of the year.
Collins was technically sound, got good depth with his kick step and was very effective with his hand battles. The Cowboys paid Collins as the future at right tackle and he has rewarded them to date with steady play.