Hey everyone. Here's my first impressions of the game. Please add yours in the comments.
BIG improvement from the offensive line. Romo had all day to throw and they made drastic improvements in the running game after a sloppy showing at Oakland. Maybe it’s the coaching, maybe the light bulb is starting to come on for some of the young guys. Either way, the O line is starting to look like an actual NFL caliber group. We’ll see if they can take the next step. Getting a few of our injured guys back will definitely help the cause as well.
Rob Ryan’s defense pitched a shut out the first six quarters of the preseason. The only interruption to that result came in the second half via San Diego’s insistence on playing their better players against our lesser ones throughout the game (their 1’s against our 2’s, their 2’s against our 3’s, etc.). The re-vamped secondary is starting to shine. Brandon Carr had two picks. Although a few BTB members commented that both balls were poorly thrown, each pick was much tougher than the ones Larry Brown made in the Super Bowl, and therefore I must give Mr. Carr all benefit of the doubt. Two picks against Phillip Rivers is still two picks. And when is the last time we saw anyone intercept a poorly thrown pass in a game lately anyway? Barry Church also layed some wood in run support. Hope I get to say that a lot more often - oh how I miss you Darren.
I believe the corner back battle is just about over. The top four spots are locked up by Carr, Claiborne, Scandrick and Jenkins. Mario Butler seems to stand out above the rest. He had some good plays in pass coverage and intermingled them with a few not so good plays. However, he was absolutely stout in run support. At this point he has to be the best 5th corner back in the league - and definitely better than Allan Ball and Frank Walker.
The wide receiver and running back battles are a little murkier. The choices are tough. We know Dez and Miles are the top two. After that it seems like more of a “roster make-up” decision. Holmes is clearly a talent that we don’t want to risk sneaking onto the practice squad, but he can only play outside. Beasley was a beast tonight with the first , second, and third teams (7/104). He snatches the ball out of the air like a monster and had a few descent returns on special teams, but he can only play inside. Harris put in a solid game catching a TD pass and Ogletree looked like a complete stud making two terrific catches (4/60). Radway doesn’t play with the sharpness he did last year. He’s still rounding out of his cuts (which almost led to a pick) and may still be working through his injury. Benford also shows flashes, but plays like a practice squad candidate.
The roster choices at running back pose a tougher challenge. Murray is the starter. We haven’t seen Tanner yet. Olawale (gotta root for my fellow UNT alum) tore it up again tonight, but he’s a lot like Tanner. Williams is that quick Darren Sproles kind of guy that can get outside - which he did masterfully on a third quarter run that was stuffed up the middle and broke it for a nice gain. He also helps on special teams (sometimes by blocking in the back, but what the heck, at least he’s hustling). Which brings us to Felix. Maybe he’s still hurt, but the dude looks like he’s playing with ankle weights (yes, a Hard Knocks reference). I love Felix, but I’m not seeing the burst of speed I once saw. On top of that, he kills a first quarter drive by dropping a ball that hit him between the numbers. And of course, the conditioning test thing comes to mind too. So what do we do here? Olawale and Tanner serve kind of the same function, but there’s no way to sneak Olawale onto the practice squad given his performance. Can we let go of Felix for some kind of draft pick? Do we hang on to him hoping for his play to get better and lose out on someone who can possibly help us long term? Tough call.
Usually there is a roster debate about keeping a fifth or sixth corner over a fifth or sixth wide receiver. Based on what I’ve seen these last two games, especially tonight, we can get away with five corners. The debate might be keeping an extra running back vs. keeping an extra receiver.
The Debacle That Is Stephen Mcgee.
Let’s remember that Mcgee has performed admirably in the regular season for us. The bottom line is he’s looked terrible. Partly because no one blocked for him tonight - partly because he continues to look terrible. He may develop into a number two quarterback one day, but we already have a number two quarterback signed to our roster for the next few years. So what are we doing here? The Cowboy’s gave him extended playing time tonight. I’m not sure why. Maybe they think they can trade him. They didn’t give him any protection and he was sacked or knocked down constantly. We already know he’s a tough kid so why put him through that. When he did get a chance he was “Check down Mcgee” as usual. We know what we have here. If Romo and Orton get hurt we’re not winning the Super Bowl anyway. Why not find Orton’s (or even Romo’s) replacement in advance.
We’ll get more answers next Saturday.<!--EndFragment-->