It happened. The Dallas Cowboys played a football game, and it was beautiful.
The San Francisco 49ers edged out a win late, but as we all know scores and records don’t matter in the preseason. What’s important is what we saw from the team, and that’s what we’re here to discuss.
We learned a lot about the Cowboys from tonight’s game. Here are 10 takeaways.
Michael Gallup looks very promising off of a very small sample size
If your first catch ever (even in preseason) is for a touchdown, you’ve got to be doing something right. Such was the case for Michael Gallup who caught a 30-yard pass from Dak Prescott for the first score of the evening.
Gallup looked great on the opening drive and he would have had another big gain later on if Cooper Rush (we’ll get there) didn’t sail it over his head. The hype is justified for now.
The first-team offense looked great as a whole
There was no Ezekiel Elliott nor Cole Beasley for the Cowboys in San Francisco, but they still managed to move the ball quite smoothly on their opening drive.
Over the course of the night Michael Gallup, Allen Hurns, and Tavon Austin all got work and even did so together for a bit. At one point early on Tavon and Gallup lined up outside with Hurns at the slot. Scott Linehan is feeling wild.
Jaylon Smith might be really good
It’s one preseason game and not even a whole contest for him, but Jaylon Smith honestly looked incredible in the limited action we saw him in on Thursday. Jaylon’s movement has been heralded by various Cowboys staffers over the offseason, the brace-less life must really be a good one.
Jaylon flew around the 49ers offense early and often. He wasn’t the only Cowboys defender to play well, and he wasn’t even the only linebacker.
The Cowboys might have known what they were doing getting Joe Thomas
While there were, thankfully, a few good plays to choose from, the second quarter might have provided the most exciting play on the night for the Cowboys. Kavon Frazier tipped a pass and Joe Thomas dove to snatch it.
Thomas had a great game all night long and is a welcome extra linebacker among the unit we’ve been discussing for a few weeks. He finished with five total tackles, one TFL, one pass defense and the INT, that’s quite a night. The defense looked great, especially the linebackers, in a game without Sean Lee. Think about that.
Anthony Brown didn’t have his best game ever, and that’s okay
Many have been dismayed about Anthony Brown being given slot duties over Jourdan Lewis and while Brown has justified that through training camp, he didn’t have his best game ever in San Francisco.
Brown didn’t exactly play terribly, but he’s had better games. We know that talent is there, but we also know Jourdan Lewis is sitting behind him. Did Thursday open the door for more of a competition? We’ll have to wait and see.
Cooper Rush struggled early, but he came back somewhat strong
The first half was not too great for the second-year quarterback, but he settled into the game in the third quarter. Cooper has fought off Mike White so far through camp, and he really showed why in the third quarter.
Cooper has an ability to adjust to games as he’s playing through them that can only be obtained by NFL experience, and he doesn’t have a lot of that. It’s a quality that makes him such a great option, and one that likely keeps him as the primary back up. He finished the game 15 of 23 for 145 yards, one TD and a 97.2 rating.
Lance Lenoir should definitely be on the 53-man roster
Part of what Cooper Rush did well was find Lance Lenoir for a score. He rolled right, launched on the run, and found a toe-dragging Lenoir near the out-of-bounds marker.
Lenoir also got in some work on returns which plagued him a preseason ago; he didn’t set the world on fire but he did just fine. Lenoir is making the receiver position a much-debated one, but something that is almost universally agreed upon is that he should be a part of it.
The third running back is going to be difficult to determine
Even though Darius Jackson was listed ahead of him on the depth chart early in the week, Bo Scarbrough got the first level of work after Rod Smith.
Bo made an awful lot out of his carries, including this big-time one. He’d go on to score on a nice short-yardage run later in the game, too. Scarbrough had nine carries for 33 yards and one TD, while catching two passes for 19 yards.
There’s no denying that Bo looked good, but Darius Jackson came in later and looked great as well finishing with 21 yards on six carries. It’s hard to analyze the Cowboys running back group because of Tavon Austin and how exactly the Cowboys will qualify him, but for now the competition between Bo and Darius is close, but Scarbrough had the edge tonight
Dorance Armstrong looked great yet again
Perhaps the MVP of training camp so far has been rookie pass rusher Dorance Armstrong. Armstrong came out in San Francisco and cemented the fact that he’s changing jersey numbers because he’s making the 53-man roster and there’s no way he’s doing it as #74. He only had two tackles but was creating pressure and disruption.
Dorance is a welcome find for the Cowboys along the defensive line, and the fact that he keeps impressing is extremely positive. He’s now doing it against the Cowboys offensive line and against other NFL competition. That’s impressive stuff.
Turnovers might actually be a thing this season
It was just one preseason game, but the Cowboys forced a hat trick of turnovers. Joe Thomas and Duke Thomas each had interceptions while Charles Tapper recovered a fumble.
Part of what’s helped the Cowboys teams that have had success in recent history has been that their offense limited how often the defense had to be on the field and that the defense got a little lucky with turnovers. If the offense is grooving like we saw and if the defense is giving the ball back to them, things could be awfully neat.
There are still three preseason games to go before we do this thing for real. What did you think of the game in San Francisco, BTB? Let’s discuss.