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Cowboys @ Chargers: What they're saying


Time for the revival of the “What They’re Saying” post after games.

Up first, Adam Jones; his debut for the Cowboys was, shall we say, less than spectacular.

Jones made his Cowboys debut in the dime package on the second defensive series, then replaced Anthony Henry at right corner with the second unit. Early in the second quarter, he gave up a 21-yard pass to wide receiver Chris Chambers and missed a tackle on Darren Sproles' ensuing 21-yard screen catch. Both plays led to a touchdown.

He also missed a tackle later in the game and gave up the pass interference penalty.

"I need to work on my angles," Jones said. "With that Sproles play, that's kind of a hard play because there's so much in the open with that screen I was trying to make him cut back in."

That’s the bad news. The good news? He knows he was bad.

“There's no way in hell I'm not supposed to get that route," Jones said of Chambers' catch. "I knew what he was running because he was in a tight split. I said there's only two things he's running. He's running a quick out or a dig. He went up 10 yards and pushed off a little bit. But you know, it's preseason.”

That’s the better news. We know he has the skills, it’s just going to take a little time until they’re working at maximum-performance.

"My timing is so messed up," Jones said. "I’ll be all right. It’s the first preseason game. Hopefully, by the last preseason game I’ll be ready to go."

 Now, to the one unit who sullied their name because they were anything but special. 

"I thought our special teams didn't play well," Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips said. "They're a very good special teams (unit) and we knew that going in. We did look at a lot of people. We didn't punt the ball well to help our special teams and then our kickoff returns weren't real good. It's something that we need to address."

 Yikes. This unit had a total meltdown in the game. Coverage and returns were pitiful. The actual kicking was sub-par, the only thing they did right was make Nick Folk’s FG and two extra-points.

I guess we give them this week to fix it.

"We're all learning, and we're all making mistakes," Amendola said. "But we're learning from them. We're going to assess it on film and we're going to try to get some things straight."

Holding on to the ball would be good. Amendola had an impressive camp, but you can’t put the ball on the turf when you’re in his position. But those coverage units, man, how bad were they?

Ok, let’s not get too negative. After all, when our starters were in the game they were the cat’s meow.

"It was kind of like practice, really," Romo said after the game. "We went out there and executed and did the thing that we've been doing well in practice throughout training camp. So I'm glad we were able to take it and do it in the game."  

Indeed. Their first drive reminded me of training camp with the two strikes to Jason Witten, something we saw all of camp. And Crayton pitched in. But on offense, you have to be impressed with the three guys in the backfield. We knew about MB3, but:

"I thought Felix and Tashard ran like they did in college," Phillips said.   "We ran the ball well tonight. That was one thing I was pleased about."  

Like I said, the cat’s meow. Speaking of cats, El Gato was all he was cracked up to be.

"Man, he's got a gear that he can hit and it doesn't even look like he's changing gears," Patrick Crayton said with wide eyes.

Smooth and fast with bonus good vision. Super Kitty says:

"It was real fun to go out there and show the fans that Jerry Jones made some great picks," Felix said. "It was exciting. I had a lot of fun."

The defense put in a nice little wrinkle that paid off right away. 

Before the game's second play from scrimmage, the Cowboys substituted [Tank] Johnson in the line for [Mike] Jenkins at corner. Against a two-tight end set, the Cowboys used four down linemen, four linebackers and just three defensive backs.

Quarterback Philip Rivers dropped back to pass, but he never had a chance. Johnson poured through the left side of the Chargers' line and dumped him for a sack and 6-yard loss.

Ah, Tank was killing them in training camp and he carries it over. Also, got to give a shoutout to Marcus Spears, who I was bad-mouthing recently. I give him my shoutout and then I shut my mouth for a week; he was disruptive in this game.

Back to cloudy skies. The backup QB situation still looks grim. Luckily, the Cowboys recognize the problem.

Backup QB search - Before the game, a source noted the Cowboys are still looking to bring in another quarterback. In fact, the team had scouts at a number of preseason games this week. Possible names are John Beck and Josh McCown at Miami, who might be released following the signing of Chad Pennington. Tampa Bay’s Chris Simms, another possibility, was 6 of 10 for 60 yards Saturday.

Brad Johnson didn’t look good, but aside from the interception, he had a better completion percentage and more yards than Richard Bartel. Of course, INT’s are the biggest no-no, so the backup situation is still a problem for me. Bring in some vets for a look.

One thing that was really vexing was the sloppy play. We need to clean that up.

"Overall, we obviously didn't play well enough as a team," coach Wade Philips said. "But any time you have turnovers and penalties, those things are really going to hurt you.”

 We had busted plays, miscommunications, bobbled kickoffs and kickoffs that hit the ground before recovering, poor tackling, and other assorted ailments. Let’s clean those up this week.

A couple of rooks didn’t like their own performance.

"I played like [expletive]," Bennett said. "I knew what to do and I did my assignments. I just didn't play up to par what I wanted to play."

"He knocked [the ball] out of my hand," Bennett said. "That's a drop if I don't catch it. I didn't tuck the ball fast enough. So it's just something different. In college, you get an extra second. Here you don't get an extra second when you're tucking the ball away."

Hmm. HBO, Hard Knocks, coach repeatedly telling him to tuck the ball away. Just sayin’.


"It was definitely an experience. Everything would have been pretty good if I hadn’t fumbled," Amendola said.

But let’s not walk away on the bad side. Let’s give it up for a good story to end this post. Miles Austin, who I noted was coming on in the last week of camp, was the guy who helped himself the most in this game. Sam Hurd was invisible but Austin shone like a diamond. He’s gunning for the #3 WR spot and a move from a few reps in a game to plenty of reps.

"It goes back to practice and all the work I put in in the offseason," Austin said. "It’s all coming together"

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