Cowboys 17, Raiders 19: Three Things We Learned, Three Things We Knew

"Scary good" - Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys starters finally saw some action last night. We take a look at three things we learned, three things we already knew and three things we still need to figure out.

Things we learned

1. The offensive line may be better than many expected.

The tackles stayed in for both Romo and Orton, and both QBs had a lot of time behind the O-line. Sure, the Oakland announcing crew kept repeating that the Cowboys first team was playing against the raiders second team defense when Orton was on the field, but so what?

The left side looked positively dominant last night; now imagine if the Cowboys could just get a league average performance from the right guard spot - the O-line turnaround may be complete (finally) in its third year.

2. Deja vu?

It's fine to say the preseason results don't count, because they don't. But what matters in preseason is execution. And what we saw in terms of execution by the first team in just two drives is all too familiar:

  • Holding penalty by Jason Witten
  • False start penalty on James Hanna
  • Two stalled drives in the red zone, one at the Oakland 20, the other at at the Oakland 17.

The Cowboys moved the ball well from their own 20 to their opponent's 20, just like they did last year, but they didn't come away with a TD, just like last year.

3. Dez Bryant looked scary good.

Bryant caught just three balls for 55 yards before his night was over, but if last night is any indication he will be a monster this season. Dez ran crisp routes, out-physicaled almost everybody and did you see how open Bryant was each time?

Bryant is playing with a swagger that is hard to ignore, though he could maybe do without the trash talking. But we've got a keeper here.

Things we already knew

1. Gonna have to get used to this bend-but-don't-break defense.

Odds are, you judge a defense not just by the points given up, but also by the yards allowed. If that's the case, you may be permanently disappointed this year. The Cowboys will be an attacking defense that will give up lots of yards while they try to get stops or takeaways.

Note that for all the concern about the defense, the Cowboys have only given up a combined three field goals in the two first halves of the two preseason games so far.

2. Romo looks healthy.

There was a lot of talk the preseason about Romo's back and the severity of the procedure he had done. He has looked fine in camp and he looked fine in the game yesterday. Let's carry this one to the meme graveyard.

3. No injuries.

Cole Beasley will miss a few days rehabbing his foot, but fortunately nothing is broken. For all the injuries the Cowboys have struggled with in camp, it's remarkable that they've come out of both preseason contests largely unscathed.

Things we still need to figure out

1. How good is Ware?

Six snaps isn't a lot to go off, so you've got to wonder how his stellar training camp performance is going to translate into regular season play. Is a 20+ sack season a possibility for Ware in the new scheme?

That question of course extends to the entire defensive line. How good can they be with Spencer and Ratliff back lining up next to Ware and Hatcher?

2. What's to make of the backup QBs?

I breathed a huge sigh of relief to see that Orton was on his game last night: six-for-six for 52 yards and a TD is reassuring to see, despite limited playing time. Orton looked crisp, on target and in control. Combined, Romo and Orton went 12-for-14 for 140 yards and a TD, which translates into a 132.1 passer rating. I can live with that.

However, Stephens and Tanney didn't really do anything to distinguish themselves, Tanney for lack of playing time, Stephens for lack of protection: seems like he was flushed from the pocket on every second throw. At least we know that he can scramble.

But I guess that wondering about who your third QB will be is a luxury problem.

3. What's up with special teams?

A blocked field goal attempt, a muffed punt, a 51-yard kickoff return allowed, the missed fair-catch signal?

Rich Bisaccia still has a lot of work to do here.

Star_medium

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