Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What to Watch for Against the Raiders

With such a quick turnaround between Sunday's game against the Bengals and Thursday's game against the Raiders the Cowboys are going to struggle to overcome some injury issues on the roster. Of course I am primarily talking about tight end and cornerback, but I'm sure a lot of players will be dealing with minor bumps and bruises heading into the game. Fortunately the majority of the starters didn't see much action against the Bengals so they should be fresh for the game on Thursday. Here is what I will be watching for:

1. Can the first team offense score touchdowns in the red zone? Sunday was concerning because we saw the exact same problem that plagued the offense last year. They moved right down the field only to stall in the red zone. Wade Phillips mentioned that they wanted to work on some passing down there but I think it is important to establish the physicality of the running game. The offense needs to have the attitude that they will cram the ball down the opponent's throat in short yardage situations. I'd like to see Jason Garrett establish the running game down there this week.

2. Was Doug Free's performance a sign of things to come? He looked great against the Bengals but he needs to play like that every week. I'll be watching him closely until he dominates a big name player in the regular season.

3. Was David Buehler nervous or is he going to be squeaking them through all the time? Against the Bengals it seemed that the longer the field goal the more he pulled the kick to the left. I hope he can straighten it out or the Cowboys will need to find a kicker fast.

4. Will Sean Lee get on the field? I want to see what he can do. Jason Williams looked a lot more comfortable and confident last week than he ever did last year. But Lee is the guy that most people are expecting to win the nickel linebacker battle.

5. Will Martellus Bennett play? The coaches seem to be indicating that Marty B. won't be ready just yet, but with the lack of depth at tight end he might be forced into limited action. With John Phillips out we are back to counting on Martellus to step up his game. I'd like to see him on the field if he is healthy.

6. Will Alan Ball show us something? He was somewhat invisible in the game on Sunday but that isn't necessarily bad for a safety. But I'd like to see him come up and make a hit against the run and make some plays on the ball in the passing game. Maybe with more game action we'll see him make more plays.

7. Will the second team offensive line perform better? They weren't great last week which has to make you nervous. Alex Barron is probably out so we should see more of Brewster again this week. The backups need to step up their game because odds are the offense will need one of them at some point in the regular season.

8. Can one of the rookie safeties make the team? I really like how Barry Church plays. He is always around the ball and he likes to hit. Danny McCray played great in the game on Sunday so hopefully he can continue that type of play. One of these guys could push one of the veterans off the team if they keep it up.

9. Is Stephen Bowen ready to start? He sure looked good against the Bengals. But we didn't see him as much against the run as we did against the pass. The key to becoming the starter is going to be playing the run as good as or better than Marcus Spears.

10. Can Brandon Williams play the run? He sure has a quick first step off the line against the pass. He could be a great backup option at outside linebacker if he can learn to play the run. The depth overall at outside linebacker looks much better this year with an experienced Victor Butler, Brandon Williams, and Curtis Johnson all battling for playing time.

11. Can the Cowboys avoid more major injuries? This is probably the most important question of all. John Phillips was lighting it up in camp and the first preseason game before he went down. We have to hope that the key players on the roster stay healthy for the rest of the preseason.


  1. During the game I was thinking the same thing as your first point, but throughout the rest of the game watching how it was called It looked to me as if they were trying things they needed work on instead of doing things they know they can do. It is pre-season after all, we all know the odds of Barber pounding it in from the 2 so why not work on things against a different defense than the one they see everyday in camp?

  2. I was thinking that they were just working on plays at first also. But the more I think about it the more I believe that they need to run the ball better in the red zone. That would open up all kinds of opportunities in the passing game because the defenders would have to play the run first. An effective play action pass in the red zone depends on the defense respecting the offense's ability to pound the ball down the defense's throats. I can't get the San Diego goal line debacle from last year out of my head.

  3. Can't wait. I missed the last game but WBF is back and on track. Good to see you knocking the dust off your keyboard Romo2Witten.

    I would comment more but I need to see what happens tonight first.

    From last year. The running game is off and on. Needs more on. I'd like to see smarter running.

    While the WOW factor is there everytime barber SMASHES into the Defence and gets 5 yards. I'd like to see a little more elegance and longer running game. Also lets hope all injuries from last year are finally healed for this year and our running boys are strong and loose.

    As far as my boy goes. Witten is always ready to save the game in red zone just gotta look for the big jolly guy running around smashing people looking for a pass.

    Cowboys to the Superbowl this year. Whats your predictions R2W. Or is it too early to call it?

    Wittens Biggest Fan.