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.

Follow Up On Jason Williams; And Romo’s Hot Seat?

-Last week I did a piece “Know Your Cowboy” on Jason Williams, the rookie Linebacker from Western Illinois. It was something just to help the casual fan learn a bit on one of our up and coming players. Like most rookies the transition from college to pro takes time so Jason struggled in training camp and in the first preseason game against the Raiders.

Coach Wade Phillips attributes the slow start to “because he was thinking instead of playing”. However in his second preseason game against the Titans he started playing more instinctively, which forced an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone and resulted in a safety.

The Cowboys are not trying to overload the young player by putting too much on his plate. They like his physical style and his ability to run, so for the time being they want him to concentrate on special teams and become a “Good special teams player”, and take the time to learn the defensive side of the game a bit slower. Once they see his confidence building then they will incorporate him a bit more into the regular defense.

-Tony Romo on the hot seat? According to Dan Fouts of CBS Sports Tony is one of a few Quarterbacks this year on the hot seat.

“The pressure is really going to fall on Romo now, but that’s the way it should be. When you’re the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback, with that tradition and history, it adds pressure. Deal with it.”

As Cowboy fans know, Tony Will be able to handle this pressure Fouts speaks of. He will just have to play and make everyone else shut their mouths. Seems like Romo and Roy Williams have got a lot of people to put in their places this season, and I cant wait to see them do it!

First Preseason Game

Hey folks, well the first preseason game is coming up on Thursday and it I cannot wait. No, it will not be a game in which the starters will play much, if at all. What it means is that the season is right around the corner and we will finally get to see what the Cowboys have learned from last year’s performance.

We will get to see some young rookies show what they have and maybe show us that they deserve a starting position. We never really learn a lot from the preseason games, but it is football and the real games will be here soon enough.

Hopefully we will get to see a series or two of Romo and the other starters, I am curious to see the changes in the offense or lack of changes.

Anyway, it will be great to see some Cowboys playing football and to see some hitting by the defense. Even though we have experienced some injuries already, hopefully we will not have more. We will see what happens.


How to find Perspective in Total Darkness

Hey LoneStarStruckers,

This is Fred or Fredooch or whatever you want to call me. I am devastated as I am sure most of us are. Our Dallas Cowboys lost to the hated NY Giants. I will give respect where respect is due. Congrats Giants. You beat us fair and square. I am not going to sit here and make excuses for the way the Boys played. We had 60 minutes of football to prove we were the better team and we failed. So again my congrats.

Earlier I made some references to needing a change due to the fact that a 13-3 team shouldn’t lose in a divisional round. Even though I still believe that, I now can’t wait for the first preseason game next season. These next few months will be hard to swallow but we will be okay. The sad thing is that I never would of imagined this being a team that would be scratching their heads thinking that they couldn’t believe they lost to the Giants after beating them twice this past season. But enough of the Giants and enough of this season. Its over and there’s nothing you and I can do about it.

So how does one find perspective in total darkness? Well for one, it was a great and fun season. There were highlights this season that will be replayed 20 years from now. Like when Romo had that bad snap against the Rams and turned a 35 yard loss into a 6 yard first down for example. Or when Nick Folk hit that 52 yard field goal against Buffalo on that Monday Night game back in October. There were many memorable plays this season so thanks Dallas Cowboys.

Thank you Tony Romo for giving us fans one of the greatest seasons any Dallas Cowboy QB has ever had. Thank you Marion Barber for giving us everything you had every time you touched that ball. Thank you Jason Witten for catching all those clutch 3rd down catches and becoming the All-Pro TE we all knew you already were. Thank You Terrell Owens for being the game changer and TEAMMATE you have been since you became a Dallas Cowboy. That post-game interview last night where T.O. cried defending his QB made me order a T.O. jersey from the Dallas Cowboys online Pro Shop.

Thank you Dallas O-Line for blocking and protecting all season long and deservedly so, having three Pro Bowlers on that line. Thank you Dallas D-Line for all of your big plays this season. Thank you Demarcus Ware for becoming the pass rushing beast you have become. Thank you Greg Ellis for becoming the professional and pass rusher we knew you always were. Thank you Dallas corners & safeties for all those big plays and clutch interceptions. Thank you Dallas LB’s for all those run stuffs and QB Sacks.

Thank you Nick Folk for finally giving us some consistency on field goals and that clutch kick against Buffalo. Thank you Matt McBriar for another great season pinning opponents on the other side of the 50. Thank you Wade Phillips and the rest of the coaching staff for those 13 wonderful game plans. So Thank You all Dallas Cowboys listed and unlisted here for a great season but an awful end.

So its roughly 7 months ’til the start of training camp. Its gonna be a long and arduous wait. I have been a Dallas Cowboy Fan-atic since birth so bear with me if I am taking this loss a little too personal and hard.

As my friend Jorge stated to me earlier in a myspace bulletin he wrote, "And for you guys that say "Why do you care about Dallas Cowboys"? Hey, it is a primitive instinct to want to belong to a clan. We (fans) adopt a team, and in the psychological aspect of things…. We feel as we are part of that clan (favorite team). I know, it might sound stupid, but they (Cowboys) are like family. When you grow up watching a team for so many years…. they are in a way just part of your life." I couldn’t have said it better myself Jorge.

Thats how to find Perspective in Total Darkness.