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Cowboys @ Chargers Post-Game Summary: Why Things Actually Went Very Well For Dallas

The Cowboys had some issues, but they actually came out winners on Thursday night.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Garrett might not have been happy about last night, but secretly, he might be thinking different thoughts. Sure the Cowboys only scored seven points in a 17-7 preseason loss to the Chargers, and they put the ball on the turf far too many times, but big picture last night was pretty much a success. First, here's coach Garrett's public declarations:

"The stuff we need to work on is obvious," Garrett said. "The first unit did a good job on the initial drive on offense. They made a critical fourth down. And the next play we snap the ball though the quarterbacks hand. They take over in the red zone with a chance to go in and score the touchdown. It's about the ball the ball the ball. We didn't take care of it there. We had another one on a punt return. It was a pretty decent return. the ball comes out at the end of the that. We gave them two opportunities inside the 50 yard line. You can't make those mistakes in this league."

"I don't think the tackling was very good in defense," Garrett said. "At different times we tackled well. But in general each of the units need to tackle better/ They made some red zone runs that were basic fundamental football. We didnt execute, getting our gaps, setting edges. Simple tackling the ball carrier. They ran the ball too easily thoughout the game, particularly around the scoring zone."

All of that is true, a very accurate and candid assessment of his team last night. I would also add in that the Cowboys second unit along the offensive line was pretty much a disaster, especially at the tackle position. (We can except La'el Collins out of that critique). But let's go a little deeper and examine why the night was a good one for the Cowboys.

1. The Cowboys came out of the game with very few injuries. And those injuries were not to crucial components of the team. So far, it looks like only James Hanna (sprained knee) and Gus Johnson (separated shoulder) are the ones who got nicked up, but everybody else came out fine. I submit that is priority number one for any NFL team in a preseason game. If minimal injuries are the one and only thing that the Cowboys do during this four-game preseason schedule, then we should declare it a success.

2. Dallas got good to great performances from their top three highly-touted rookies. Byron Jones got plenty of exposure as the Cowboys rested their top three corners for the game. Jones was still a rookie, but he was hanging tough and stuck his nose in there on quite a few tackles. Randy Gregory got a sack and seemed to improve as the game rolled on. He had a few near-misses with the quarterback and showed he belongs. La'el Collins is now famous for his double block on the Gus Johnson touchdown run, but generally looked good throughout the game. The Cowboys and their fans have been very excited about these three rookies, and at least for one night they lived up to the hype.

3. Jason Garrett has a good opportunity to rip his team. This is not something you want every week, but every once in a while it's good for a coach to let his team know they are not playing up to par. And with Garrett preaching that the success of 2014 doesn't mean anything and that 2015 is a new season, he gets a chance to do that early in the preseason.

4. They had issues (bad offensive line play, fumbles, poor tackling on occasion), but they also had some good things happen. Devin Street and Gavin Escobar, two guys who will be asked to contribute on occasion, had very good games. The backup quarterbacks weren't that bad, too bad Dustin Vaughan had to spend half the game running for his life. Ryan Russell is a guy to watch, he has good instincts for the game and ended up around the ball a lot. Beside his one big gaffe, Lucky Whitehead showed a little bit in the return game.

Overall, it was far from perfect. But when focusing on the things that really matter in preseason from an organizational perspective, Thursday was very much a success.

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