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Zach Minter Dallas Cowboys vs Ravens Single Shots

It’s the second preseason game. Scores don’t matter that much. They really don’t. Tom Landry used to lose preseason games more often than not. What matters more are how scores happen, the ability of different units and players to execute scheme and players demonstrating to coaches they can make plays. After reviewing the game again below are singularities, single shots if you will, that jumped out at me.

It was a bad hand off. I prefer not to see them but there is no cause for alarm at this point.

Plays are being called that include Hanna has a progression player. He needs to capitalize on them.

Leary still looks a week behind the rest of the line. He seems to be 1/2 step slow in a scheme that requires him to move regularly. There is no denying the plus he brings in power blocking. Will he fit with the superior mobility of his line mates?  It’s early but something to watch.

Zach Martin is still learning, still getting better. He was good but made some mistakes in space when run blocking deep in the second level. Not an easy thing to master, he will.

Any team that leaves Dez Bryant one on one deserves what they get. More importantly what will the Cowboys do when Dez is doubled and (perhaps) tripled covered?

Like last year, Special Teams play will vastly improve once the final players for each unit become settled. That said, way too many big plays. Play here will be watched closely.

Murray and Dunbar is going to be a fun thing to watch. Not so much for opposing defenses.

Davon Coleman can bring it from the 1T. He showed burst and some “want to” able to apply excellent pressure up the middle several times.

Bruce Carter with excellent coverage on a third down with the Ravens backed up on their own 25 yard line. Getting defensive stops in this area bodes well for the offense and can really change a games dynamics as the defense gets off the field with a three and out. Well done.

Tony Romo was not the only player with first game rustiness in plain view. DE George Selvie overran, took bad angles and missed tackles in his first game speed effort for 2014.

Orlando Scandrick had a very “Scandrick” game. Aggressive, technical, exceptional. He will be sorely missed for the first four games.

LaRon Byrd is catching the rock and making blocks. Going to make the Cowboys roster decisions tough.

Early in the second quarter with 11:25 on the clock and the Ones facing the Ones on third and two, B.W. Web had nice coverage on a Steve Smith slant from the left side. Using his strong hands and veteran savvy Smith was bringing the catch in with Webb draped on his back when J.J. Wilcox came in and performed the “second man to the ball strip drill” to perfection and denied the Ravens a first down just outside the red zone. This is the kind of team play and individual performance Dallas is going to need in order to get enough stops in 2014.

OT Parnell, seen playing with a fork stuck in his back is done. It’s over. Give the plays to anyone else. I have no idea why he is getting reps. He is doing “ok” at run blocking. Give him that.

Jeff Heath is the personal protector on punts for the ones and Joseph Randle for the twos. Pay attention to these things. Many roster decisions will hinge on Special Teams play.

CB Patmon showing the ability to bring physical play continues to make the CB competition a tough one. This is a good thing. At a certain point the Cowboys will have to ask themselves the question “which one is best to keep, a CB with lots of upside or a one dimensional safety prospect?”

Weeden is not as sharp as last week being just a bit off on several passes with open receivers. It’s good he’s finding the right guy. Needs to deliver the rock. He also got away with a bad throw under a little pressure and followed that up by hanging Harris out on a sideline fly as he gave the safety time to get over on a poorly thrown deep ball. Harris was thrust into a defensive role versus two defenders. He blocked out one and got hammered by the other as Weeden got picked deep. A very “Brownish” effort by Weeden.

Team are going to try hard to run on the Cowboys. If you don’t Dallas can bring pressure. Yes, I will repeat this “the Cowboys can bring pressure.” If this defensive front keeps learning at the same rate they are now it’s going to get interesting.

Terrance Mitchell gave up back-to-back completions culminating in a touch down. He went on to continue with his aggressive play showing excellent mental toughness. He looks like a find and is quickly learning. He is also a rookie and is going to give up big plays from time to time.

Rolando McClain is showing the same thing he does in camp. Excellent, powerful hitter but often happening four to seven yards down field. Also a step behind in coverage, then he’s not. For a play or three it all clicks and he shows what the coaches hope he can focus and become. Feast and famine alert, but the Cowboys look a lot better with him in the middle.

Joseph Randle is not able to create like Dunbar nor is he as explosive as Murray in the hole. He is a great compromise between the two and a VERY willing blocker. RB3 is in good hands. Williams will have to show some moxie to make this race a real conversation.

It won’t become official until the regular season, but Escobar has quelled all doubts about him fitting in with the Cowboys or being able to produce. For those who want to look at Escobar and complain about his draft position or even selection, let them.

After being an afterthought for the second  year in a a row, LB Cam Lawrence is trying to make this team and coaches have to be taking notice of his solid play.

James Hanna obviously read and responded to my earlier warning as he showed his size/speed mismatch in the red zone. This kid needs to be on the field.

Zach Minter shows up in the third and the Ravens never knew what hit them. Playing from the 3T while looking like a solid 1T, the newly arrived second year player brought immediate impact to the defensive line getting a tackle for zero yards then flushing the pocket with middle pressure leading to a Martez Wilson sack on his next. That’s the way to catch the coaches eye!

QB Hanie didn’t look near as bad as he did last week. Nice change, but the QB everyone wants to see is Vaughn, buried on the bench.

Newsome has decided to stay in the WR competition coming up with some big time catches. First one is incomplete but it was a tease of plays to come. Cowboys are deep at more than one position w/WR being one of them. Going to be a good player or two cut here.

Minter, now playing from the 1T get’s a tackle for loss on one play, then a sack strip fumble as he takes over his second series as well. As we have stressed here at CowboysNation.com this defense is built to succeed while applying pressure. Guess what?!?! It works!! Minter is a HUGE blip on the 2014 talent radar at this point.

The sleeper has awoken. RB Williams decided to show up for the dance with power runs and deceptive burst. If he can keep up this type of production through the next game the RB3 conversation will be one run from a hot plate.

Zach Minter again! No one can stop this guy as he get’s a sack and the Ravens staff has to be searching YouTube to find film on this guy who’s ripping them a new hole on almost every down. Is this a one game flash or ……. ???

Vaughn comes in at QB and the team instantly picks up it’s pace and energy. He brings the Cowboys within four points late with a perfect fade to Newsome. Trying to hide this guy and slip him to the scout team is going to be VERY tough.

Rookie play allowed for the Ravens to bang out big runs. You have one rookie on the line you can  absorb a play here and there. Cowboys have a LOT more than one rookie in the defensive line rotation. Not a good math equation for game day.

The physical play being employed by the defense all camp seemed a bit more “in control” versus the Ravens. They managed to do this without giving up the benefits of the aggressive play.

One can see the part of the whole coming together. Nice, but there is a date and it’s called Game One of the 2014 NFL Season and it’s against the San Francisco 49’ers. The question is can they bring enough key functions together by that date. If they can get the 3T, 1T and MLB working at a high rate of productivity by then the 2014 season get’s instantly more interesting.

With improved play up the defensive spine that includes run stopping and improved pressure the other parts of the team all play better. The back seven get cleaner angles to the ball carrier and don’t have to cover as long. Second and third down and long will become more prevalent allowing Dallas to play from a favorable position. Special Teams get chances to pressure the kicker and the Offense gets a chance to run a more complete playbook receiving the ball in favorable field position. Life can get good or bad in a hurry when looking at defensive spine health.

Jason Garrett and the Cowboys showed glimpses of what the Cowboys need to do in order to bring home victories on game day.  It’s preseason and glimpses are good. Long looks are better and consistency is king.

Zach Minter is a huge part of the Dallas Cowboys vs Ravens recap. At 6’1″ 301 lbs Zach could be a one game dose of Cowboys Kool-Aid or George Selvie v2.0. Looking at the production he delivered in the second half versus the Ravens this past Saturday he certainly bears a closer look. As one twitter user shared “Harvey Martin must be proud” as Minter plays with similar joy and abandon.

With 31 bench reps (at 225 lbs) Minter was plenty strong coming out of college. He showed a 34 1/2 ” vertical Jump and 8’11” Broad Jump, not displaying top shelf explosion. With 4.37 20 yard Shuttle and a 4.80 40 yd Dash Zach has plenty of wheels however and versus the Ravens he displayed an explosion not previously common knowledge as he wracked up four tackles, two sacks a forced fumble, one QB hurry and four defensive stops. WOW  should about do it in the superlative department.

Although having the biggest impact by far, Minter wasn’t the only player to have a game that made you take notice of them for better or for worse.

Guys that jumped out at me (short list):

  • QB Vaughn
  • RB Williams
  • WR Byrd
  • WR Newsome
  • TE Escobar
  • TE Hannah
  • OL Parnell
  • DL Selvie
  • DL Minter
  • DL Coleman
  • MLB McClain
  • CB Mitchell
  • Safety Wilcox

Cowboys players showed up from many different positions in this game. No doubt there is still a ton of work to do. There is also no denying a ton of progress has occurred since last week. It’s preseason game two.

I will be publishing the final Part (III) of the Final 53 series next.

What say you Cowboys Nation?

Another Left Coast Cowboys Post

on Twitter: – Steven Van Over

Steven Van Over

Steven Van Over

Analyst, Editor, Photographer, Writer at SportsTalkLine
Editor, Writer, Podcaster & Photographer for @SportsTalkLine Network. I watch sports, I talk about sports then I write about sports. Catch me on Twitter @StevenVanOver
Steven Van Over





  • Taylor

    Need to keep Vaughn and carry three qb’s. Tony won’t play all 16 games. Vaughn is a talent to be watched.

  • klyngman

    http://www.nfl.com/videos/dallas-cowboys/0ap3000000379184/Ravens-vs-Cowboys-preseason-highlights

    in this video right here, the RG , I believe Martin,has an excellent blitz pickup on the play after the fumble check it out.

    • Steven Van Over

      Nice post Klyngman. Spot on.

  • Lee1936

    Good stuff, Steven.

  • Fan since 1966

    I’m looking forward to seeing more of #79, Zach Minter. He was very impressive against fellow scrubs; I’d like to see if he can perform as well against opposing starters. Hopefully, he will be the second coming of George Selvie….

  • PDXCowboy

    Nice article Steven, I think defensively, it was a nice rebound game, too. I might throw Wilbur’s name out there as another one who grabbed my attention. I’ve only watched the game once, but he seemed to close nicely in coverage and applied good pressure on the one pass rush I saw. However, our linebacking unit again did a poor job of quickly cutting off running lanes, and I assume Wilbur is as guilty as the rest. Carter may be fast in track shoes or in a straight line intersecting Julio Jones, but that extra gear doesn’t exist in most other football situations. It would be interesting to see how different our defense looks with someone with Ryan Shazier speed patrolling the middle. Maybe we’ll at last get a look at Will Smith this week.