Preseason game number three: the unofficial "dress rehearsal" game that serves as the biggest test for the starters heading into the season. The first two games have been underwhelming at best and Cowboys fans are itching for a little domination, just to ease some of those fears that have come up the past few weeks. Last year the Texans treated the game at home against the Cowboys like it was their Super Bowl, now its time for the Cowboys to come out a little fired up. I'm not saying that it's do or die but it would be nice to see a little more enthusiasm in the team than we saw last week. With that being said, here is what I am going to be looking for tonight:
Sharpness: The Cowboys starting offense needs to come out sharp and move the ball like we know they can. While Jason Garrett won't exactly be unleashing the hounds, I expect to see a little less vanilla gameplan than we saw last week. Felix Jones needs to get in with the starting offense and alternate with Marion Barber like he will once the season starts. If The Cat can break those runs behind the second string offensive line, imagine what he could do once Barber wears them down a bit.
And on a personal level, I want to see the Cowboys throw right at Jacques Reeves. I want to see Hurd or Crayton, or even better TO himself, catch a couple 10 yard comeback routes on the cornerback who cost Dallas a couple of games last season. For what it's worth, Texans fans are starting to see the redeeming qualities that led to the Cowboys not making an offer to keep Reeves in the offseason.
Demarcus Ware: He made a couple of nice plays against the run last week, but Ware has yet to lay a hit on the quarterback. Ware is poised to have an even greater season than he did last year, aided by an improved secondary playing behind him. Against Denver the Cowboys hardly blitzed and played soft zone coverage, and Jay Cutler was able to quickly get the ball away. Just once tonight I want to see Ware explode off the end, dipping low to the ground as he blasts past the left tackle and then lays a big hit on the blind side of Matt Schaub.
Turnovers: The Cowboys have yet to force a turnover so far in the preseason. With the amount of playmakers we have on defense and special teams that is astounding. Granted, the starters haven't played much, but the closest the Cowboys have come to a turnover is when Adam Jones came this close to a pick-six in the second half against the Broncos. With Brian Stewart not following the pleas of an email asking for the Cowboys to play nice, the defense should have some opportunities tonight to make a game changing play. An interception by Jones would be nice, but a fumble causing hit by Roy Williams would be even greater.
Isaiah Stanback: Stanback should get Miles Austin's reps tonight against the Texans and he needs to make the most of his opportunity. Stanback has looked good so far in the preseason, especially on special teams, but he needs to show some playmaking ability on offense for me to feel better about the receiving group in Austin's absence. No more of these 8 yard curl routes out of the slot, I want to see Stanback flying down the sideline.
5Blings has a Fanpost up about what he is hoping to see tonight as well.