Well now, that was a much better performance from our Dallas Cowboys. While the Cowboys did lose the game, that is not important and the pre-season is all about performing at a respectable level. What made me especially proud was the way this team responded from an overall poor performance in Oakland last Monday. The team that we saw last night played with intensity, but there were a lot less mistakes.
The Cowboys also faced a very good test in the form of the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers are a very talented football team that has an aerial attack that keeps teams on their toes, but they also play pretty good defense. The Cowboys played a quality opponent last night, and for the most part, the Cowboys brought their A game.
After every performance we analyze the winners and losers of the game. Some players really stepped up their game, while others didn't. Who are the winners and losers from the second pre-season game on the Dallas Cowboys? Take the jump to find out who made my naughty and nice list.
The Offensive Line
After a uninspiring performance against the Raiders, a lot of Cowboys fans were concerned about the offensive line heading into the game against the Chargers. The offensive line did a much better job of opening up holes in the running game, but they also did a really good job of protecting Tony Romo.
We needed to see this line to start coming together, and they did that last night in San Diego. It is very difficult for the first-team offensive line to operate together with all of the injuries, but they did a good job of coming together as a unit. David Arkin had a few penalties, but he is making progress. For a lineman who has never played center before in his life, Arkin is really coming along.
Doug Free was a player who needed a good performance, and he rose to the occasion. There were times were the first-team offensive line gave Romo a lot of time to throw the football, and that was very comforting. The offensive line as a entire unit was definitely big winners in my book.
The Wide Receivers
If you looked at his stat line, two catches for 15 yards on three targets, you wouldn't think Dez Bryant had a great game, but he did. A major knock on his game had been his route running, but Dez continues to show major growth in that area.
Physically, Dez is one of the most fascinating specimens that I have ever seen in my life. Last night we witnessed the amazing hands that this young man has on a highlight reel one handed catch in the back of the end zone. Dez didn't get both of his feet in bounds, but the effort was outstanding. If he stays healthy, Dez Bryant may be in for a huge season.
Cole Beasley had a great night statistically, seven catches for 104 yards on nine targets, but his performance goes beyond the stats. Beasley has a lot working against him as he fights to make the 53-man roster. His size is a major concern, but his quickness and route running ability were on full display last night.
Kevin Ogletree is really showing up this pre-season. I have been down on Ogletree for the past two seasons, but he is starting to get back on the right path. The Cowboys like the experience that Ogletree has over the other young wide receivers, and if he continues to perform consistently, Ogletree could find himself playing an important role for the Cowboys in 2012.
And last but not least, let's give Dwayne Harris some props for his solid performance. Harris seems to have a knack for extending and altering his routes, and he also shows that he can make the tough catch.
Last night we got to see why Brandon Carr was paid over $50 million to come in and play cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys. I can't remember the last time I saw a cornerback in Dallas with the coverage ability and ball skills that Carr has. His concentration on his juggling act interception was just amazing, and I cannot wait to see what this guy does in a Cowboys uniform during the regular season.
When you start a rookie cornerback against a veteran quarterback like Phillip Rivers, you would expect to have your rookie tested, but Morris Claiborne did a tremendous job last night in his first NFL game. From what I can tell, Claiborne locked up his man last night and didn't make any rookie mistakes. The cornerback play is looking very promising for the Cowboys.
Okay, so after giving out some praise for the good, now it is time for the bad.
I wrote a post the other day about whether the Cowboys should be concerned about Felix Jones, and it may be time to start worrying about him. Jones didn't show much burst and acceleration when running the football, but in the past we used to see Felix make people miss. We are not seeing that from Felix and he really is off to a bad start this pre-season.
Hopefully Felix improves and gets his act together, because we need him. DeMarco Murray is the featured running back in this offense, but we need Felix to contribute and play good football for us.
McGee should probably realize that this is his last rodeo in Dallas. He has shown very little development as a quarterback since being drafted in 2009. He is hesitant to throw the ball down the field and looks for his check down option almost every single passing play.
When McGee does throw the ball down the field, it usually isn't very pretty. Rudy Carpenter isn't a very good quarterback, but he is so much farther along in his development as a quarterback.
The Stephen McGee experiment will end soon, but the unfortunate part is that he is another failure from the dreaded 2009 draft class.
Akwasi may be a great athlete with all of the measurable's, but he is just not a very good football player. I absolutely loved this kid coming out of college, but I now see that he is never going to be able to make the transition to the NFL.
He has made a lot of effort to make it work in Dallas, but barring a dramatic turnaround, Akwasi will not make this team. The coverage skills just aren't there for him to make it at cornerback in the NFL, but his decision making and awareness are his biggest weaknesses.
Okay BTB nation, who were your winners and losers from the second pre-season game? Have at it in the comment section.