"Not real good,’’ head coach Jason Garrett conceded. "We didn’t play with great rhythm. We didn’t run it as well as we need to and didn’t drive it as well as we need to. I think the self-inflicted wounds were a part of that.’’
Garrett saw too many mistakes and penalties that never allowed the game to get into any kind of rhythm:
"There were way too many mistakes, certainly way too many penalties," head coach Jason Garrett said. "We had some young guys playing. I think some of the penalties and mistakes were a result of those guys trying to do too much, ‘I’m going to make the play,’ rather than just doing their job. I think they settled down once the game got going."
More quotes from players and coaches after the break.
For what it's worth, the Cowboys did record a shutout, their first in a preseason game since 1995, and Garrett sees that as a good thing:
"The defense did a real good job. I thought our intensity was good," Garrett said. "Any time you hold an opposing offense to zero points, that’s a good thing."
Anytime you shut out your opponent, the defense is predictably pleased with itself. The defense played a largely vanilla scheme (that included a surprising amount of 4-3 looks) and benefited from some dropped passes, but a shutout is a shutout, and DeMarcus Ware was happy with the defensive effort overall:
"I felt like the first team did pretty good," said
DeMarcus Ware. "There are always some things that we need to work on, but I think it was a good first half."
Second-year OLB Alex Albright also liked the teams' defensive performance:
"Yeah. Absolutely," said fellow linebacker Alex Albright. "It’s big for morale. It’s big, especially, for the defense. It’s what we strive to do. Even if it is pre-season, it’s tough to shut out teams in the NFL. I’m very proud of our defense."
And Sean Lee also weighed in, calling the defensive performance an accomplishment:
"Anytime you can shut out a team, no matter what the game plan is, it’s an accomplishment," inside linebacker Sean Lee said. "If you look at some of the second-team guys, some of the younger guys, the passion they played with was good. The first game usually there is a lot of mistakes, but you saw a lot of guys play hard. That’s why I think we were able to keep them out of the end zone."
Tony Romo was very statesmanlike in his assessment of the game, but acknowledged that there were a lot of mistakes that need to be addressed:
"I think we need to eliminate some of the mistakes that put us in a hole tonight," said Romo. "We have a lot of young guys playing right now and we are just going to be able to evaluate this tape and get better from it. Right now is a time for us to correct the mistakes that are on the tape. I think the effort was there tonight, we just need to have better execution and we will."
Alex Albright led the team with nine tackles, two of which were for a loss as he saw extended playing time yesterday. Apparently, that was more playing time than he had anticipated:
"When you get into these preseason games the stuff you plan for kind of gets thrown out the window," Albright said. "Guys are all over the field and depth charts get mixed up and whatnot. I expected to play a good amount, but not quite the amount that I did. I think I handled it well and the young guys handled it well and we had a pretty good game."
TE James Hanna was one of the winners of of the Oakland game, as he got to showcase his versatility over an extended period of time. Hanna caught two passes for 15 yards; he was also an effective blocker, lining up both split out wide and with his hand on the ground; he was tied with Andre Holmes as the most targeted receiver, and he even made a special teams tackle after the kickoff following the game's only score. It follows that he was upbeat about his performance:
"I have a lot of things to watch on tape, to see how I can improve," Hanna said. "I got to go against some different guys, a different defense, and got my first NFL experience. It was more fun than I was expecting, even."
There were some raised eyebrows across Cowboys Nation when Dez Bryant lined up for the first couple of snaps yesterday. After all, he had missed parts of practice on Saturday with tightness in his hamstring. But wide receivers coach Jimmy Robinson emphasized the need for Bryant to get more snaps, despite being a third-year veteran:
"He’s a young player that needs to play whenever he can play," Robinson said. "He felt pretty good. It wasn’t bothering him. It didn’t feel like it was tight. I tried to encourage him to let us know how it felt, and if it was tight at all we would err on the side of caution. But he felt good, so he got a few snaps."
Guard David Arkin had a rough night, but at least he didn't botch a snap. Not an insignificant achievement for a player who had no previous center experience:
"That was definitely the big thing tonight. Just getting all the snaps right," said Arkin, who also had a hand in allowing a first-quarter sack of quarterback Tony Romo. "That’s a huge credit to the three quarterbacks I played with."
Fellow guard Derrick Dockery was also happy not to see any balls on the ground:
"I was really happy for Arkin," Dockery said. "Tonight was an opportunity for him. There were no balls on the ground. He competed. Now, he’s got to go back and see where he can correct his technique and get better."
For Garrett, the important thing was for Arkin not to place the ball on the ground, and he provides some perspective on the sack that Arkin allowed:
"The sack on the screen coming out was a misidentification from him coming out to let that guy come right up the middle clean on Tony," Garrett said. "For the most part he competed well. The fact that he we didn’t have a ball on the ground was an important thing for us."
Both Barry Church and Gerald Sensabaugh received generally favorable reviews for their performance. Church got a lot more playing time as the coaches wanted to see how he would do captaining the second team secondary. Looks like he did a good job:
"Everybody got pulled off. They wanted to see if I can man the field back there without Sensabaugh," he said with a smile after the Cowboys’ preseason opener against the Oakland Raiders. "I feel like I did a pretty good job with the 2s in there. They said I did a pretty good job. We were communicating on all levels."
Jerry Jones has frequently talked up Andre Holmes over the past couple of months,and once again liked what he saw from the tall receiver:
"Well, I think Andre certainly didn’t hurt himself out there tonight," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "He’s just got to do consistently the things that he’s supposed to be doing and go where he’s supposed to go and that will take those reps that we’re getting up in Oxnard will help him out. And I expect him to get better and better and better, I really do."