Reaction to Preseason Game 2 @ Oakland

Tony Romo went 6-8 with 88 yards in his preseason debut

The Dallas Cowboys lost to the Raiders 19-17 last night to fall to 1-1 to start the preseason.  Here are some of the things I was able to take away from last nights game:

  • More forced turnovers from the defense.  The defense was able to force 2 more turnovers against Oakland, which is a huge sign of improvement from last year where they only averaged 1 takeaway per game.  We have now forced 2 turnovers in each preseason game, which I think is a sign of the changing defensive philosophy of Monte Kiffin.  If these takeaways continue throughout the season, this should be a fun defensive squad to watch.
  • 1st team defense had strong showing.  Demarcus Ware had a TFL on the first play of the game and a few plays later Sean Lee had a sack and forced fumble.  The aggressiveness the starters showed is something that should bode well for us going into the season.  This Monte Kiffin defense relies on pressuring the QB to make mistakes, and if they continue to get in the backfield like the starters did on the first series last night, then this squad will be a fun one to watch this season.
  • Dez Bryant is in mid season form.  Bryant had 3 catches on 3 targets for 55 yards last night, and after each catch he got up barking at Oakland DB’s.  He looks like a player primed for a big season.
  • Nick Stephens has grabbed hold of the 3rd QB spot for now.  After last night it appears Nick Stephens may be tightening his hold on the 3rd QB spot.  Stephens went 7-12 with 72 yards and an INT last night while Alex Tanney went just 1-6 for 8 yards.  Tanney got the ball with 1:48 left and Dallas down 19-17 and a chance to lead a 2 minute drill to win the game, but instead went 0-4 on the drive and turned the ball over on downs, sealing the loss for Dallas.  He will need a good week of practice and a big performance next week to get back in the race for that spot.  (side note: Kyle Orton was an impressive 6-6 for 52 yards and a TD last night.)

Despite the loss, there were plenty of positives to take away from the game last night, which is about all you can ask out of a preseason game, but there is still plenty of work to be done to get ready for the regular season opener vs. NYG.

Next up the Cowboys travel to Arizona to take on the Cardinals Saturday August 17 @ 3:30 pm.  Game is to be aired on NFL Network.

Preseason Game 2 @ Oakland Raiders – What to Watch For

Tonight’s game will be our first look at Cowboys starters for 2013

The Dallas Cowboys take the field tonight for their 2nd preseason game of 2013, here are some of the story lines to keep an eye on as you watch tonight.

Our first look at the starters.

Most Cowboys starters stayed on the sideline last Sunday vs. Miami, with only 3 projected starters seeing any snaps at all.  Tonight will be our first real look at how the team will look this season.  Will the incredible finish to last season carry over for Dez Bryant?  What will play calling look like from Bill Callahan with Tony Romo in the game?  How well is the offensive line coming together? How does the defense look?  How will Demarcus Ware play as a down defensive lineman?  These will be some of the big questions we will begin to have answered tonight.  It is possible that we won’t see the starters in the game for long tonight, but we can get some kind of idea where the team stands from tonights performance.

Can we run the ball as well as we did against Miami?

The rushing attack was great last game.  And that was with primarily 2nd and 3rd string lineman leading the way.  Tonight will the line be able to create those holes and will the backs be as effective as they were?  If the team can keep up any level of consistency in the run game this season, we should have a shot at winning the division.  Stringing together consecutive solid performances in the run game would go a long way towards easing my anxiety heading into the season.

Another strong defensive performance?

Yardage wise, last weeks game left a lot to be desired for the defense.  But we forced 2 turnovers, scored a defensive TD, and showed a true bend-but-don’t-break philosophy on that side of the ball.  We also got after the quarterback regularly, something I expect to get even better with Demarcus Ware back on the field.   The transition to the 4-3 isn’t expected to be seamless, so there should be some bumps in the road, but another strong performance tonight should improve the players confidence even more.

Stay tuned here and to our twitter @DCconversation tonight for live updates and reaction to the game, starting at 9 pm CT on NFL Network.

Reaction to Hall of Fame Game

Davonte Holloman took this INT back 75 yards for a TD vs. Miami

The Dallas Cowboys opened the preseason this past weekend with a 24-20 win against the Miami Dolphins in Canton, OH.  Even though most expected starters sat out this game, there was still a lot to learn from this game, and there were several things that hit me during the game.

1. The new defense is already looking solid.

The switch to Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 defense is what everyone is paying attention to this offseason, and the defense was solid in the team’s first outing.  They did allow 421 total yards, but this was without any of the normal starters ever touching the field and the defense displayed a true bend but don’t break philosophy.  Everything seemed to tighten up the further down the field Miami got.  There is still work to be done, but we appear to be ahead of where I expected them to be at this point

2. We may actually have a running game!

My fingers are crossed on this one.  Our running backs totaled 165 rushing yards and 2 TD on 32 total carries Sunday night.  That is a hell of a lot better than we were running the ball at any point last season.  Phillip Tanner totaled 59 yards and 1 TD on 10 carries and rookie Joseph Randle looked strong also carrying the ball 13 times for 70 yards.  If we can develop an effective, consistent rushing attack to take the pressure off of Tony Romo and our receivers, our offense has a chance to be very dangerous.  It appears Bill Callahan is going for some balance this year, and with these backs we can have a very strong 1-2 punch, no matter who they pair with Murray for the bulk of the carries.

3. George Selvie was a great pickup.

Selvie has had his struggles since entering the NFL, but the 2007 Big East Defensive Player of the Year had a strong showing in Canton.  He has the size and skills to be a solid player, he just needs to put it all together.  I have a feeling he will be an excellent backup at the 4-3 DE spot behind Demarcus Ware.  He could play some productive snaps for us this season and I think he is a player to watch this preseason.

Most importantly, this first game means that football is finally back.  I cannot wait to see the starters finally get some game action this Friday, when Dallas travels to Oakland to take on the Raiders.