Good, Bad, and Ugly All Evident In First Preseason Game

Coaches and fans got their first look at the 2010 Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night against a highly touted Cincinnati Bengals club that many are predicting to be a Super Bowl contender this season. The Boys had an impressive showing for a preseason game, not allowing Cincinnati to score until the late 4th quarter. However, there were also some loose ends the Cowboys need to tie up before they take the field against Washington in the season opener. Let’s play a game of “Who’s hot, who’s not” to summarize the first preseason game.

Who’s Hot

*Tight end John Phillips. He took advantage of the absence of Martellus Bennett and showed great all-around ability throughout the night. He had a couple of superb catches, and also showed his blocking ability on several occasions. With Bennett’s problems of late, I would not be at all surprised to see Phillips get more playing time than Bennett when the season starts.

*Defensive end Stephen Bowen. He also took advantage of the absence of a fellow teammate (Marcus Spears), and was a force along the defensive line all night. He was constantly in the backfield and recorded a sack before his night came to an end. With Bowen, Spears, and Jason Hatcher all playing on one-year tenders, I expect the competition to continue between the three.

*Offensive tackle Doug Free. Though he only played one series, Free looked very comfortable at left tackle, and had his way with Bengals defensive end Antwan Odom in both passing and running situations. Free definitely looks to have a leg up on Alex Barron in securing the starting left tackle spot. It will be interesting to see how he performs the rest of the preseason against pass rushers like Shawne Merriman and Mario Williams.

*Backup linebackers. A solid night on defense was topped off by the impressive play of players like Brandon Williams, Victor Butler, Jason Williams, Steve Octavien, and Brandon Sharpe. Jason Williams, Butler, and Octavien all showed their ability to get to the quarterback with a sack each. Brandon Williams and Sharpe showed their abilities in coverage with an interception each, Sharpe’s going for the only touchdown of the evening for the Cowboys. The Williams boys and Butler are showing flashes of the abilities the Cowboys saw in each of them when they drafted all three last year. Keep an eye on the ‘backers again in the next preseason game, as Sean Lee should step on the field for the first time and show his skills, too.

Who’s Not

*Offensive lineman Robert Brewster. He looked simply horrendous playing both tackle spots, and gave Stephen McGee no time to throw the ball all night. It is safe to say the intent of the Cowboys to develop Brewster as a tackle has run horribly amok. His footwork is below average and his ability to get out of his stance is poor. If the Cowboys want to avoid missing on yet another offensive line draft pick, they should consider moving Brewster to guard, where his slow feet will be less noticeable.

*Backup running backs. In a virtually impossible battle for a roster spot at running back, Herb Donaldson and Lonyae Miller did nothing to prove they are even worthy of a spot on the practice squad. Donaldson fumbled the ball early, and Miller had less than one yard per carry. With Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice all locks to make the team, Donaldson and Miller will be nothing more than camp bodies for the duration of training camp.

*Return specialists. The return game for the Cowboys was non-existent the entire night, with Titus Ryan, Jamar Wall, Bryan McCann, and Cletis Gordon sharing the duties. Ryan had a decent return to start the game, but left early with a broken thumb. Wall, McCann, and Gordon shared the punt return duties, but none of the three did more than fair catch and flirt with potential disaster when a return was possible. Gordon and McCann were also creamed on one of their returns, McCann’s coming on a terrible non-call in which he clearly called a fair catch.

Run Baby Run

Tashard ChoiceThe Cowboys offense did something last night that has not been done since 1979, they ran for at least 200 yards in two consecutive games.

Last night they rushed for 214 yards and that was without Marion Barber. Felix Jones was also hurt in the third quarter, but Tashard Choice kept the ball running and RUN he did.

The Cowboys’ offense was still lacking in the receiving area. Jason Witten caught the majority of passes.

I believe the Cowboys have found the running game and some say they should have kept running last week and maybe they would have beaten the Giants.

They did great despite not being able to convert twice inside the 2 yard line. The defense came up big in this game, recording 3 sacks, 2 interceptions and a fumble recovery. Terence Newman took one back for six in the middle of the 4th quarter.

Now the Cowboys are 2-1 and maybe they have found their mojo.

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

Yes ESPN, we fans realize the Cowboys just won against the struggling (now 0-3) Panthers. Carolina played a lot better than anyone expected, mostly in the first half.

Several guys stepped up in this game, so I’d like to give credit where credit is due.

I’m talking specifically about Patrick Crayton and Tashard Choice on offense. Crayton made several very crucial plays, and kept his head in the game, playing smart football all night long.

Choice, who I believe should have started the game, came away with 82 yards on 18 carries and one touchdown plus a 2-point conversion. If not for a bone-headed move by the rookie 3rd tight end, John Phillips, Choice probably would have had another TD. In addition, after the game he had a very impressive interview on the field with the ESPN analysts.

Defensively, Keith Brooking, Jay Ratliff and Terence Newman really excelled tonight. In the beginning Newman didn’t look so hot, missing tackles and looking foolish and aged. However, his interception for a 27-yard touchdown in the 4th quarter reminded us why we love him.

I must admit I am falling head over heels for Mr. Ratliff. Who would expect our nose tackle to get the first sack of the year? Why not when its the beast who is known as JRAT.

As for Brooking, what a wonderful acquisition for the Cowboys. Brooking, a strong, solid veteran linebacker, led the team in tackles tonight with five. It seemed like every time the defense came in, I found myself cheering his name.

Special teams also deserves some props. It’s been way too long since we could say that. Well done Coach Joe DeCamillis, well done sir.

I just wanted to rant about ESPN for a minute, and say that despite the opponent – I am proud of this team and what they did tonight. I believe it was a well-deserved win and they worked hard to earn that “W”.

Then again, I am just an optimistic, biased Cowboys fan. 😉

Keepin’ the Faith


  • Led the NFL in touchdown passes over the past 2 seasons with 62.
  • Led the NFL in 4th quarter passing efficiency in 2008.
  • 2nd in NFL history with a 300 yard passing game every 2.44 starts.
  • 27-12 career record as a starter (.692 winning percentage).

Yep, you guessed it. Your Dallas Cowboys’ own Tony Romo. Your prize for the correct answer?? A n
ewwwwwwww car!! Well, not really, but it seems as if there should be some type of award given for anyone to have optimism or solid faith in Tony. I know that is probably unfair, because there are many, many fans who still are in Romo’s corner, unwavering in their faith to #9. I am one of those fans.

I guess the only point of this short piece is not to start a war of words or to crucify those with their own opinions, but to try and poke a few holes in the Romo is a celebrity quarterback who can’t play and is not a competitor or a leader conspiracy that seems to abound these days. It’s easy to jump on the pile right now, especially with our last memories being from that terrible TEAM effort in Philly (I shudder just to think of it).

The bottom line: there are teams in the NFL trotting out such spares as Kyle Orton, JaMarcus Russell, Tarvaris Jackson and J.T. O’ Sullivan, etc. We should be thanking the NFL gods everyday for blessing us with a talent like Romo. Do I need to even go through the tried and  true list of Cowboys QB’s after Aikman and before Romo? I didn’t think so.

Okay, he is 0-2 in the playoffs and has struggled at times in December. There, I admitted that he is not perfect and has room to improve. Sounds alot like me in my job, and my life for that matter. 

Let’s all just take a deep breath, try and forget the past (because we certainly can’t change it) and take time to be thankful that we have a winning team, a competitve team led by one of the top 5 starting QB’s in the league. We need to make some changes, Romo included, but this team is not far away…….

Trust me.

Cowboys Fan for Life – TD


P.S. For the interview that I watched and was inspired by this evening, click on the following link: