I was looking at the schedule for Dallas, and the more I looked, the unhappier I got. This is just not good for the team.
Not who we need to be playing.
Now, if some fans or trolls from those teams come here, they might be a little unhappy with what I have to say. But if you look at the numbers, you pretty much conclude that as a group, our preseason opponents kind of suck. Not lockout suckage, but still sucky. A combined 26 - 38 record. No playoff teams. San Diego is the only one that had a winning record, barely, at 9 - 7.
In other words, the Cowboys are playing themselves from last year. And I don't think that is very good. I would much rather see one or two playoff teams from last year on the schedule. I would be happy if all four of the preseason opponents had better records from last year than the 'boys did. But they don't. With the possible exception of the Bolts, they look kind of like patsies.
When my favorite team is trying to get ready for a turnaround season, I don't want them playing patsies. You don't get better playing teams that are about the same as you are, if not a little worse. I think you improve by testing yourself against teams that ought to be better than you are. Those of you who have been on BTB for a while remember the 2010 preseason, when we all watched the games and saw that the Cowboys just did not look ready for prime time. We were right, despite all our denials about vanilla play calling (which, unfortunately, we seem on track to see Thursday) and the always popular excuse that "It's just preseason". We all convinced ourselves the starters would turn it on when the games started counting. Well, they didn't. Chalk up another hit for the "Camp Cupcake" atmosphere.
Last year's preseason schedule was a more balanced one, even though we also played Miami and San Diego that year. But San Diego was coming off a 13 - 3 playoff season. They slumped in 2010. As a matter of fact, all of the teams we are playing this preseason except Miami got worse in 2010, and Miami stayed the same with 7 - 9 records both years.
It just seems too much of a lose-lose situation. If the Cowboys don't look good in these preseason games, it will be very discouraging because the other teams are all in about the same position as Dallas. If we look good, it will not be as persuasive because we are playing a bunch of teams that just don't seem all that good. The 'boys have a lot going on that needs to be put to the test. For instance, we need to find out if going with one and maybe two rookies on the OL will be feasible, or if it will get Tony mashed again. Denver has some pretty good players on defense like Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller, but Miller is a rookie playing a new position, and Dumervil is coming off an injury.
And it would be nice to see the secondary get tested. The projected starting quarterbacks the Cowboys face, who we might only see for a quarter or so each game, are going to be Kyle Orton, Philip Rivers, Donovan McNabb, and Chad Henne. Now, outside of Rivers, how much of a challenge do any of them really look like? In one ranking, based on the traditional quarterback rating, Rivers comes in 2nd, followed by Orton at 15th, McNabb at 24th, and Henne 26th. That gives Rob Ryan and his defense one really good quarterback (who didn't get much support from the rest of his team last year) to work against, and three who are mediocre or worse. Plus the last two QBs the Cowboys play are the weakest. Again, I would like to see one more top 10 quarterback show up on this schedule, or at least another middle of the pack passer, but it is not going to happen. The likelihood is that just as things should be jelling, they will more than likely be facing jello to test themselves against.
I would think that this is going to be another test for the coaches. They are going to have to take into account the problems the other teams have. If the Cowboys don't look so good against mediocre competition, they will have their work cut out for them. If the Cowboys look good, they have to keep them down to earth by reminding them that they were not up against the Packers or the Patriots out there.
This is one of those things that is what it is. There is no real solution. I do think that the 'boys will look pretty good in preseason, but we will still have a bit of an uneasy feeling until we start hitting some tougher opponents in the regular season and find out what we really have. As fans, I think we need to keep this in mind as we try to evaluate what the team is like during the preseason. If the first and second strings look sloppy and disorganized like last year, we need to get very concerned. But if they look really sharp, we may need to take that with a grain of salt.
Yeah, I know, this is not as optimistic a post as most of my more recent ones have been. It just is something that is bugging me. And something I think all of us should keep in mind while trying to figure out what is happening with our favorite team. Mostly, I just wanted to complain. It is, after all, only preseason.
But on the plus side: FOOTBALL ON THURSDAY!
It is about time.