Cowboys 7, Cardinals 12: Three Things We Learned, Three Things We Knew

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

We take a look at three things we learned, three things we already knew and three things we still need to figure out after the Cardinals game.

Things we learned

1. The Cowboys can have six turnovers, and Romo doesn't have a single one of them.

Before Tony Romo left the field after 16 snaps on offense, the Dallas Cowboys had already coughed up the ball three times, and three more turnovers would follow.

Turnovers may seem like the same old story for the Cowboys, but if the previous story always revolved around Tony Romo and his turnovers, then this is an entirely new story.

2. The O-line looks solid.

The first team unit consisting of Tyron Smith, David Arkin, Travis Frederick, Mackenzy Bernadeau and Doug Free played through the first half and into the first series of the third quarter and acquitted themselves well. In principle, with the return of Leary, perhaps Livings and potentially Waters, things should only improve from here.

Good to see the starting O-line gets lots of snaps together - and escape without injury.

3. Dunbar looks really good in space.

The Cowboys really only have one "space player", a player who can work the flats and soft spots on the football field, and that's Miles Austin. Lance Dunbar may be the second guy, if yesterday's two brief receptions are anything to go by.

Dunbar looks like he has the speed and the 'wiggle' to exploit the creases between defenders and one-on-one situations against guys unable to cover them. Of course, if he could hold on to the football, that would be even better.

Things we already knew

1. The passing game is explosive.

Minus the turnovers of course, but those are more an aberration than anything else. Tony Romo is healthy. Dez is a monster. The O-line can pass-protect.

The Cowboys can get the ball down the field through the air with ease. The only question is whether that explosive passing game can be complemented by an improved rushing attack. The ground game seemed to be making progress under coach Gary Brown, but the running backs only recorded 32 yards on 14 carries yesterday, a frightening 2.3 yards per carry.

2. Rich Bisaccia still has a lot of work to do until his units deserve to be called special.

Over the last two games, we've seen a blocked field goal attempt, a fumbled return, a muffed punt, a 51-yard kickoff return allowed and two missed fair-catch signals. At least Dan Bailey is kicking the ball through the uprights.

3. No injuries.

Will Allen took a shot to the ribs yesterday and was briefly sidelined, but appeared to be okay afterwards. And that was largely it for yesterday. Remarkably, the Cowboys have come out of all three preseason contests largely unscathed - quite an achievement considering the injuries sustained throughout camp.

Things we still need to figure out

1. How good is this defense really?

Three games into the preseason, the Cowboys haven't allowed a single touchdown in the first half of games. They've conceded six field goals, but no touchdowns. Over the entire preseason, opponents have had a paltry redzone scoring percentage of 18% (2 for 11).

Then again, last year the Cowboys only allowed two field goals over the first halves of the first three games, and still ended up with the 24th-ranked scoring defense in the regular season.

2. What do we make of Tanney?

For what it's worth, Tanney did engineer the only scoring drive for the Cowboys, and looked relatively solid doing it. 14 for 19 passing certainly isn't bad, but I'm far from ready to abandon Orton. Sure, Tanney looks better than McGee did, but that may not exactly be the gold standard for QB evaluation purposes. Ultimately, keeping him would mean keeping a QB ahead of whoever the 53rd guy on the roster would be: perhaps a tenth offensive lineman, a sixth receiver, a fifth safety, or a fourth running back.

3. Falling from grace?

Here are some players who surprisingly didn't get any snaps yesterday.

  • Nick Stephens didn't get any playing time yesterday. Have the Cowboys soured on him so quickly, or is this part of an elaborate ploy to stash him on the practice squad?
  • Phillip Tanner also didn't see the field as the Cowboys gave Joseph Randle 31 snaps and the opportunity to show what he's got. Tanner looked good in camp, so this was a little surprising. Less of a surprise was the absence of Kendial Lawrence, who hasn't stood out in camp.
  • TE Colin Cochart didn't play. Andre Smith got all of one snap. Are they the odd men out in the TE rotation?
  • WR Eric Rogers looked promising at the start of camp, but his curve has been pointing downward for a while now.
  • Jermey Parnell was also a healthy scratch, though that may have been precautionary, as the Cowboys may not have wanted to rush him back.

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