Friday, August 14, 2009

What Did the 1st Preseason Game Tell Us?

The first preseason game is in the books and it gave some insight into the current state of the Dallas Cowboys. The starters on offense put together a very nice touchdown drive to end their day. The defense was shaky and it was obvious that they were working with young, inexperienced cornerbacks. Once both starting units finished up things got a little bit scary. The youth of the team depth was very apparent but I know the young guys will get better the more they play. Here is what I saw out of each position group last night.

Quarterbacks: Tony Romo is still Tony Romo. He is a very good and potentially great quarterback. He looked good running the offense, and, most importantly, he seemed composed and patient. He didn't force the ball to any receiver in his limited attempts and he was calm in the pocket. Jon Kitna was up and down, but really got things going with Sam Hurd. Kitna looks like a major upgrade over Brad Johnson even if his lone deep ball was picked off. Kitna is willing to get the ball down the field. Stephen McGee is very green. He looked uncomfortable in the pocket and often scrambled before it was necessary. He was hesitant to throw the ball, but he did show a strong arm and a good ability to run. He'll only get better.

Running Backs: Marion Barber looked ok but Felix Jones was exciting. I was happy to see Barber back to full health but we probably won't see him truck over many defenders until the regular season. Felix Jones was explosive and it going to make the defenses honest. I love how he opens up the entire offense just by being out there as a threat. Tashard Choice was solid but missed one key blitz pick up. Things like that are going to cost him playing time and he isn't going to get much as it is. Deon Anderson was missed as a lead blocker. Julius Crosslin missed a couple of blocks and needs to get it going because the Cowboys might need him in the first few games of the season.

Wide Receivers: Roy Williams and Tony Romo connected on a nice timing route. Patrick Crayton was his usual self, but the guy that stole the show for the receivers was Sam Hurd. He was on fire in the second quarter and looked leaps and bounds ahead of Miles Austin at this point in the preseason. Sam Hurd was the one guy on the field that really got my juices flowing because he was flat-out dominating. Miles Austin dropped a perfectly thrown ball on a slant that may have been a huge play. After that it was really hard to judge the receivers because Stephen McGee struggled so much running the offense in the second half. Isaiah Stanback did look good on a couple of kick returns and Kevin Ogletree nearly broke a return for a touchdown.

Tight Ends: Jason Witten was his usual all-pro self and caught a TD pass from Romo. No surprise that Romo went to Witten when the play broke down. Martellus Bennett caught a short pass in the flat and then steamrolled over a defensive back for a nice gain. I didn't notice much in the running game for either tight end. John Phillips looked decent in his time on the field. Scott Chandler made a few nice plays as well.

Offensive Line: The starters looked pretty good, but a mistake by Kyle Kosier on the goal line was irritating. I would love to see Holland get a shot with the starters. Doug Free actually looked pretty good manning the backup left tackle role. Cory Proctor and Jon Kitna had some snap issues that should never happen. One was a fumbled snap and another was a shotgun snap over Kitna's head. I don't know why the Dallas centers have so much trouble with the shotgun snap.

Defensive Line: Olshansky really did a good job stuffing several runs in his direction. I didn't notice Marcus Spears but the defensive scheme doesn't showcase the ends. Jay Ratliff caused chaos in the middle was usual. Junior Siavii and Tim Anderson didn't show up much during the game but it is hard to judge what they did since they primarily need to hold up the middle of the line. I know Marcus Dixon played but I only saw him jog off the field so I have no idea what he did.

Outside Linebackers: Demarcus Ware looked good as usual. Anthony Spencer didn't put much pressure on the quarterback but he did make a nice play covering the fullback in pass coverage. Spencer will have to do a better job rushing the quarterback or Ware is going to get doubled all year. Victor Butler put pressure on the quarterback a few times but he looked lost against the run.

Inside Linebackers: Keith Brooking made a sack thanks to a perfectly executed blitz by the defense. He was active and around the ball. Bradie James was solid. Bobby Carpenter got extensive playing time and did a good job. He was all over the field and made a nice pass breakup on a seam pass to the tight end. I think he has the nickel job sewn up. Jason Williams was completely lost out there. He got beaten by about 10 yards by the tight end on one play and was out of position on several plays. He did a good job rushing the passer though.

Cornerbacks: Ouch. The Cowboys need Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins out there or they are going to have trouble against the pass. Orlando Scandrick played great and Alan Ball was solid. After that the cornerbacks were awful. Mike Mickens didn't seem to understand that a game was going on. He was beaten time after time after time. Courtney Brown couldn't cover anyone either. I think there are four guys ready to play cornerback, but Mike Mickens better turn things around before the season starts or depth is going to be a major concern.

Safeties: Gerald Sensabaugh and Ken Hamlin both did a good job in coverage. Hamlin dropped an interception but made the play against a streaking, speedy receiver. Sensabaugh was called for a pass interference on a deep ball. Mike Hamlin is going to be a starter some day. He was good in run support. Pat Watkins didn't play very well and I'm starting to think his days with Dallas are over.

Special Teams: Can you say David Buehler? He delivered on a touchback on a kickoff as promised. And he was all over the place on the special teams units. He even ran down the field to make a tackle on a kickoff even though the announcers failed to notice it. Nick Folk missed a short field goal but I'll give him a pass since they were playing on a baseball field. Matt McBriar had some good punts and some not so good punts. I'm sure he'll be ok when the season starts. Willie Reed didn't show anything on punt returns and DeAngelo Smith misplayed a punt. The search for a punt returner besides Patrick Crayton may come up empty.

The best news of the night was that there were no major injuries. I found myself terrified at the thought of an injury to Tony Romo. I'll be glad when the real games start so I don't think "don't get hurt" on nearly every play the starters are out there.


  1. Very good stuff there. I think the starters all did a good job. The biggest concerns for me are the penalties and tackling. It seemed like there were just as many flags as the Cowboys usually have. Tackling seemed to be a lost cause. I thought the backups were really bad, even the starters weren't very good. Hopefully it was just rust or timing.

  2. I watched the game on my DVR. Romo and the 1st team looked sharp! Man if Felix Jones get going I promise u the offense will be so so good. I love M. Bennett too. I want to see a lot of 2 TE sets, and a lot of M Barber & F jones too. If we do that The Wide Outs will be very successful! Sam Hurd gets my vote as the #3 so far. Seems tougher than Miles. Scandrick is the man. My only fear is at the cornerbacks though. I would love to see a veteran CB signed be4 the season start. Newman gets hurt too much and I don't really know what Mike Jenkins really have. The safeties should be fine. I like Gerald Sensabaugh and Ken Hamlin! -Atl_Cowboy

  3. I've read that they are having McBriar use a different way of kicking (closer to line and at a slant) and they want height rather than distance. If this first preseason game is any indication of it, i'm not a fan so far. He had some good ones but overall it just didnt seem as good as i'm used to. Hopefully they get it all ironed out.

  4. I agree with everything but lets not judge butler williams and mickens just yet lets see
    how they look in the 3rd game aginst sf if they dont improve by then it might be time to worry
    im disappointed with ball and brown though they have no excuses cuz they not rookies