Are you ready for some football! Yea, its the first preseason game. Yea, the Broncos are not the Redskins, but still, I expect an exciting start to a game between two proud franchises looking to put last year's ugliness behind them. A number of factors exist for this to be an interesting game.
I am a Bronco fan first, and a Cowboy fan second. I closely follow both teams, and though I know that Dallas has historically not cared too much about how they look in a preseason game, there should be some interesting match-ups:
1. Can Tony Romo build on the momentum of his leadership and work during the lockout? Every fan of the NFL is jealous of how Romo and the Cowboys came through the lockout. Romo needs a crisp, clean start against a team that is somewhat in disarray after the McDaniels DISASTER. The Broncos are a team that was last in defense in the NFL last year, and its defense has been completely retooled with new coaches and cast-off players. Historically, unfortunately, the 'Boys tend to live down to the competition, but to sustain the lockout workout momentum through the season the pressure will be on Romo to look sharp - even though it is the first preseason game.
2. Can the new, young 'Boy Oline hold up against a fierce pass rush? Don't look a last year's Broncos for guidance. Elvis Dumervil was injured before the first preseason game and sat out the entire year. He led the league in 2009 with 17 sacks, and was the person primarily responsible for the Cowboys' loss in Denver that year. He stands 5'10" tall, but his speed, long arms and low center of gravity make him possibly the biggest challenge that the Oline will face this year. I saw Dumervil and new rookie Von Miller team up to shred the Broncos (2nd team) Oline in a scrimmage on Saturday. They will be a real test, and don't be surprised if the Broncos win this matchup. Romo will need to start with quick passes.
3. DeMarcus Ware vs. tackle Ryan Clady. Both of them are healthy. No excuses. Time to show what they are made of. Skill, quickness, and power vs. skill, quickness, and power.
4. Are the Cowboys ready to stop Michael Vick? Granted, Tebow is not nearly as quick, and not nearly as effective as a passer, but the kid is tough to bring down. A running quarterback presents a different kind of a challenge to a defense. He will be playing against the Cowboys second team, and he will provide a challenge. Could be a good opportunity to work on a special scheme.
5. How goes the Cowboys running game? On paper, the 'Boys should shred the Broncos on the ground. As I said, I watched them scrimmage and came away throughly unimpressed with the Broncos first team run defense. Although a fierce pass rusher, Dumervil's small size makes him a liability in the running game. Anything less than total dominance by the Cowboys run game will be disappointing.
6. Do the Cowboys want to win this first preseason game? Historically, as a hold-over from the Landry era, most Cowboys teams and fans haven't cared whether a preseason game was won or lost. Remember the tight-jawed look that Landry would give on questions about whether they won or lost in the preseason -"It is a time for evaluating young players - period"? Ever see Staubach get much action in preseason - "I know how he plays"? I think that Landry purposely wanted his team to look bad in preseason and not reveal anything.
This season is different. The Cowboys want to get off to a good, strong start to validate the players' lockout workout sacrifice and momentum. I think that they want to come out of the gate strong. Very strong. It means more than most preseason games. Look for a strong running game, very few passes and a blowout by the first string of the Cowboys. I know it is early, but look for them to send a message to the rest of the league that they are back.
Lastly, why no love on this site for my fellow Colorado Buffalo Andre Gurode? I know a team that is second on the waiver wire that would take him if you are done with him. In fact, I think that I might know 31 teams.
ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?