Well now. If you had any type of overreaction to the Cowboys performance in the preseason's opening game in Oakland; you are demanded by law to think the first-half was the performance of a playoff contender. The Dallas Cowboys might have fallen 28-20 the San Diego Chargers, but when those that will play played together, Dallas was in charge.
This is what makes preseason interesting. Look at the final score; needing a late TD says Dallas was outclassed by San Diego. Does anyone that watched from the opening whistle really believe that was the case though? Dallas entered halftime up 10-0 on the back of a Jamize Olawale goal-line power run TD before the half. The first-team offense that's missing Miles Austin and Jason Witten didn't crack the end zone, but they did move the football.
The Dallas defense continued is stonewalling of opposing offenses, shutting down the Chargers for no points through halftime. That's six straight quarters of oh's.
I'm unsure of Norv Turner's plan going into the game, but he kept the Chargers first-team offense in the game for the entire first half. They weren't able to amount anything close to a drive until near the end of the half. That drive was thwarted by free agent CB Brandon Carr's second interception of the game; a personal tip drill he finally corralled in. To say Rob Ryan is building a foundation of material for progression would be an understatement.
Carr had previously collected the third Dallas interception of the preseason; leaping in front of an underthrow to Robert Meachem to pluck off Phillip Rivers.
On the other side of the trench, save for three disheartening penalties by fifth-string turned backup center David Arkin, the Dallas Cowboys offense delivered a competent, hope-inspiring performance in San Diego tonight. The offensive line provided Tony Romo with plenty of time in the pocket. There were several plays when Romo scanned the field for what seemed like an eternity.
Dez Bryant again proved he is regular season ready, as has been reported all camp. On a negated play (Arkin hold), Dez made a disturbingly athletic one-hand catch that was correctly ruled out of bounds, but it was awe-inspiring. Running along the out-of-bounds line, he lept in the air and snagged it at the high point; with the hand closest to the quarterback! Well... just look at it.
Both Tony Romo and Kyle Orton were precise in the passing game. Orton completed a huge bomb to Kevin Ogletree who caught the pass between two defenders. His sole pick was a blown call by the refs; a throw to Andre Holmes into triple coverage when Holmes was struck with a helmet-to-helmet that forced a bobbled interception. The refs called the penalty but let the interception stand.
Of course, this was just a preseason game just like the one from Monday night when Dallas looked a bit unsure of the team they would be. There were spot moments to be processed though, so here they go.
Chuck Norris Sean Lee is Chuck Norris Sean Lee. 3 solo tackles, 3 assists for 6 total. Chuck Norris is suing Sunny D because only Chuck Norris can unleash the power of the sun.
-- Dallas first team D featuring Josh Brent, Sean Lissemore and Kenyon Coleman again, but there was no repeat of last week's Darren McFadden exploits.
-- DeMarco Murray looks ready to be featured by this Cowboys offense. No signs of the ankle injury; shifty moves, quality checkdown option. Those are the things that get backs to 1500+ yards from scrimmage on the year.
-- There is nothing that will convince me that Stephen McGee needs to be on this roster. On third and 9 in SD territory, his eyes never even made it to the yard marker; finding Hanna with no shot of the first. On 4th and 9 in SD territory, his underthrow led to a virtual pick six if Radway doesn't make the tackle at the one.
-- The Cowboys continued to trot McGee out deep into the fourth; leading me to think that Rudy Carpenter is not making this 53. He'll be on their practice squad (which I didn't think was possible at beginning of summer due to his age, but it is), but I wanted Dallas to give him the opportunity to lead a fourth-quarter comeback. Didn't get any burn until game was out of reach, but he still led a touchdown drive at the end. No way McGee plays before him next week in a fair fight.
-- AOA also caught my ire. When SD broke the defense's cherry in the second half, he was checking Vincent Brown in the slot. He attempted to jam him/ throw him off his route and didn't get a hand on the receiver; who blew past him and raced into the end zone to catch the nice fade by Whitehurst.
- Mario Butler continues to show up as a cornerback; good coverage, good run support.. and then he whiffs as a safety on San Diego's third touchdown of the half. Went for a kill shot and completely missed the WR. Oh yeah, that was AOA's man by the way.
-- Cole Beasley made plays when asked to and when needed. He worked himself free across the middle and made a nice fourth-quarter toe-drag sideline catch on 3rd and 2. Beas was also featured in garbage time as Rudy Carpenter's main target. Seven catches for 104!? He got sandwiched late in the fourth and had to check out with Dallas threatening from the SD 8.
-- Victor Butler had a much better performance than PSWeek 1. He had a early sack on Rivers, then flushed him out the pocket on the next play.
-- At running back, yes. It's time to be a bit concerned about Felix Jones' lethargic camp/preseason. And Felix is my boy, but the concentration lapses (dropped passes) are troubling when mixed in with a lack of balance/vision on his runs.
-- Dwayne Harris also looked good. Early punt return sent him backwards and he still turned it into 16 positive yards. As a receiver, 4 catches for 42 including a 4th down TD reception from Carpenter.
-- Not making snap judgments, but Dan Connor not being able to stay with Randy McMichael cements my thoughts that Bruce Carter needs to win the ILB starting spot for this defense to make "the jump". McMichael beat him then outraced him to the sideline; leaving Connor eating white dirt.
-- Adrian Hamilton caught my attention again. He was robbed of a good special teams tackle on a punt, and he had a pseudo-sack of Whitehurst (scramble, gain of 1 yard) Not as overwhelming as week one, but he didn't disappear.
-- The bottom of the roster defenders (second and third stringers) seemed a bit overmatched by the Chargers backups.
-- I didn't do a good job tracking Morris Claiborne or Ben Bass today, sorry. I'll get a look on the film review. I remember Claiborne's tackles but didn't track him well. Hey, that sounds like a good idea for a Tuesday post (if only Preseason Pass gave us the All-22 like Game Rewind will)
-- Second game in a row I'm happy with the Cowboys coverage units. The return game was improved from last week (no penalties) as well.
-- Orie Lemon flashed; recovering a botched snap fumble and having five tackles. Alex Albright checked in with four tackles as the battle for final linebacker spots is getting very interesting. Hamilton, Lemon and Albright would make nine. Does the team go there?
-- Dan "Split'Em" Bailey is still Dan "Split'Em" Bailey. 49 yarder had plenty to spare. Book it, and I love it.
As usual, we'll have plenty more coverage as the week unfolds. Let us know what you took away from the game in the comment sections.