After watching the game, again, a couple things were apparent, first, this was not the first string team at anytime during the game.
Missing from the game was franchised quarterback Tony Romo, running back DeMarco Murray, wide receiver Dez Bryant, defensive tackle Henry Melton, safety Barry Church and two of the three starting corner backs, Brandon Carr and Maurice Claiborne.
My hat goes off to quarterback Brandon Weeden. Weeden played a solid game and left absolutely no one crying over missing Kyle Orton and his over generous salary. Weeden looked like he has rededicated his self to playing quality football. Leaving Cleveland was the best thing that could have happened for Weeden. Last night was a small sampling of his talent when he has quality players surrounding him.
Running Joseph Randle has a renewed commitment to be a Dallas Cowboy. Randle played hard and was even in on a special teams tackle. Randle played with a new confidence that was not evident in his game last season.
Gavin Escobar and James Hanna are going to be good enough to take the pressure off tight end Jason Witten. These two tight ends both have good hands. Hanna was beat badly in pass protection, but he did score the only touchdown of the game for the Cowboys. Escobar looks like another big weapon for Tony Romo.
Secondly, this defense is still in disrepair. The Cowboys are going to need Tyrone Crawford, Ken Bishop, Ben Gardner and Nick Hayden to play with more urgency. The group as a whole needs to do better hand work to get off their blocks.
Rookie safety Ahmad Dixon set an example of how to approach this game. He led the entire team with double-digit tackles. Refer to the previous paragraph to explain why a safety is making all the tackles. This young man left everything out on the field. It was a respectable showing for Dixon.
Rookie Davon Coleman played a solid game. He needed more help from his linemen teammates.
The secondary allowed one big play. It was a 70-yard touchdown against #41, newly acquired cornerback Korey Lindsey. Lindsey was forced into playing without the benefit of one single practice with the team, and it showed. Not only did he give up the biggest play of the game, he was also flagged twice for holding. Remember, not one single team practice for this player.
There were at least four times when the initial contact occurred in the backfield and the tackle was poorly executed, leading to huge gains. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will clean this up or players will be looking for employment elsewhere.
I usually do not talk about the kicking game. Yes, Dan “Mr. Automatic” Bailey is important to the team. Rookie punter Cody Mandell had an excellent NFL debut. Whether off the tee, or punting, this young man has a good career ahead of him. He looked very polished for a rookie kicker.
For the first preseason game of the NFL 2014 season, there were bad and good points. The really good news is that this offensive has an abundance of talented players and Tony Romo should have his best season yet. In less than 8 days from now, and the Baltimore Ravens will be coming into AT&T stadium to play the second preseason game. The game is scheduled to be broadcast on the NFL Network at 6pm Central Time/4pm Pacific Time on August 16th. This will be our first chance to see the majority of starters on the field. It is time for this team to prepare for the Ravens. Go Cowboys!
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