The Dallas Cowboys first preseason game kind of went the way many people thought it would. The first-half offense looked okay even though they didn't put up that many points and they played without Tony Romo, Jason Witten, DeMarco Murray, and Dez Bryant. But the Cowboys defense looked like Swiss cheese all night long. They did come up with a couple of big plays on defense to save themselves from an embarrassing halftime score.
The Cowboys offense in the first half was led by Brandon Weeden and Joseph Randle. Weeden was 13 of 17 for 107 yards and one touchdown. He had some nice passes to Terrance Williams, Gavin Escobar and the touchdown pass to James Hanna. Weeden avoided the pass rush and threw a bullet to Hanna in the back of the endzone. Randle had 50 yards on 13 carries in the first half as the Cowboys did show a little more commitment to the run.
The first-half defense was saved by a fumble caused by Justin Durant on the goal line that Terrance Mitchell recovered. They also got a big play from Anthony Hitchens followed by one from Ceasar Rayford to hold the Chargers to a field goal on another drive that had reached the goal line. But, those plays were the exception. The Cowboys front four got manhandled, the linebackers were late on tackles and the secondary really didn't make any plays in pass coverage. Safety Ahmad Dixon did manage to get his nose in on some runs and look liked one of the few Cowboys defenders to make consistent plays. Dixon could make a serious push for playing time after leading the team with 11 solo tackles. The defense was unable to create any serious pass rush, and were having trouble getting off blocks and finding the ball carrier.
In the second half, the Cowboys started to really fall apart. The Chargers hit a pass over the top of one of the new corners signed by Dallas and safety Ryan Smith was unable to run the receiver down; the play resulted in a 70-yard touchdown. On the next series James Hanna lost his block that resulted in a strip-sack for the Chargers that set their offense up in the Cowboys redzone. They easily punched it in for another score.
The Cowboys offense stalled in the second half while the defense was unable to make any big plays. The result was a game that really exposed the Cowboys defensive backups. Without guys like Henry Melton, Terrell McClain, George Selvie, Barry Church, Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick and Morris Claiborne, it's hard to get a fair read on how the Cowboys defense might actually look. But, the backups, especially along the line and in the secondary, inspired very little confidence.
It was only the first pre-season game, no time to panic, just move ahead to next week.