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Tale of the tape: Cowboys vs 49ers film review

Let’s breakdown some of the good and some of the bad from Cowboys first preseason game!

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

First off, let’s introduce this series that we’ll be doing after every Cowboys game. Tale of the tape, is put in place to go back through the game film and breakdown some of the things the Cowboys did well, and some of the things they need to work on. Let’s get started!

  • Dak Prescott silenced the doubters with a perfect series - It was short and sweet for the Cowboys third-year quarterback. One series, three passes, three completions, one rushing attempt. Prescott’s first attempt came on a play-action pass to TE Blake Jarwin. Prescott also did some damage with his legs on the first drive on 3rd down and 10. Prescott saw that the defense was in man coverage, and when nothing was open, he stepped up and took off for a gain of 14. Prescott’s best play of the night came five plays later, when he found Michael Gallup on the go-route for a 30-yard touchdown. Dak threw a perfect ball in order to complete the pass, floating an absolute dime to Gallup who hauled it in easily. Dak finished the night three-for-three, for 39 yards, one touchdown, and a 158.3 quarterback rating.
  • Rod Smith, and the rest of the Cowboys running backs all shined - It was a great night to be wearing the star and running the football. Rod Smith finished the night after three series with eight carries for 32 yards (4.0 ypc), and also hauled in one reception for six yards. Smith had an excellent night running with power, burst, and vision, but so did his teammates. Bo Scarbrough also looked very good in his first game action as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. Scarbrough finished the night as the teams leading rusher after carrying the ball nine times for 33 yards, and one touchdown. Darius Jackson also looked good in his six carries and adding 21 yards to the Cowboys rushing attack.
  • The Cowboys “no name” receivers had a great first game - The talk surrounding the Dallas Cowboys since Dez Bryant’s release has been how bad this wide receiver corps could look. If Thursday night’s game is any indication on how the season will go, there should be few questions surrounding the group. Michael Gallup, Tavon Austin, Allen Hurns, Lance Lenoir, Terrance Williams, and even Marchie Murdock all impressed in their first game action of the season. No one receiver had more than two receptions, but five different receivers caught two passes, and eight different wide receivers hauled in at least one reception. Gallup showed off his route running and his ability to win down the field, Austin showed off his ability to be a down the field receiver, Terrance Williams made two nice catches, Hurns showed off his blocking ability and made a “Dez like” catch on a slant on third down, and Lenoir continued to impress in the red-zone. There was a lot to like from this receiving corps, and they did that without Cole Beasley, Deonte Thompson, and Noah Brown.
  • Tight ends weren’t great, but had a solid first game - The Cowboys tight ends had their moments on Thursday night. Blake Jarwin stood out the most hauling in two balls for 21 yards. Dalton Schultz and Rico Gathers also had a reception each and looked pretty good blocking. Nothing really wowed from the tight end group, but there were things to like.
  • First team offensive line was excellent - The group of Tyron Smith, Connor Williams, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and La’el Collins were almost perfect except for the first quarter sack. After the sack, the Cowboys first team offensive line was just toying with the 49ers defensive line. If this unit stays healthy, they will soon regain their title as the best offensive line in the NFL.
  • Cowboys linebackers and starting defensive line could not be stopped - It was a great night at the office for the Cowboys first- and second-team defense. The unit that was the least impressive was probably the one we have been talking up the most in camp - the secondary. The front seven was flawless in the first quarter of the game. DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Taco Charlton, Dorance Armstrong, and even Charles Tapper all flashed and made at least one “splash” play in the game. The interior defensive line looked very solid too. Antwaun Woods carried over his hot start to camp into the game, Jihad Ward had a few nice rushes, and also made a play or two against the run. Brian Price showed up against the run, as well as Datone Jones. The defensive tackles have been a low point so far coming out of Oxnard, but almost everyone of them played well on Thursday night.

The Cowboys linebackers were just as good if not better, and that was without the defensive captain, Sean Lee. Jaylon Smith and Joe Thomas absolutely stole the show in Thursday night’s game. Neither Smith or Thomas could be stopped in both the passing game and the run game. Jaylon Smith looks like a completely different player than what we have seen in the past, if he keeps this up he’ll return to Notre Dame form in no time. Joe Thomas is looking like a free agent steal after one game wearing the star. Thomas was making plays all over the field in both the running game and passing game. Leighton Vander Esch had some good plays and some he needs to improve on. It was the rookie’s first NFL game, so we can’t expect but so much, let’s hope he can improve over these next three weeks. Even Damien Wilson, Tre’Von Johnson, and Justin March-Lillard played well. This linebacker core is deep, but unproven. Thursday night’s game was a great first impression for the group.

  • The secondary had an up and down night - The starting base cornerbacks looked good in the amount of playing time they received. Byron Jones played very well in his first game action of the year. Chidobe Awuzie gave up a few receptions, it was surprising to see him out there after injuring his knee just a week ago, but it looks like he’s all good to go. Jones was very impressive, and is looking for a fresh start in Dallas at a new position. Xavier Woods and Jeff Heath both played well at safety. Both guys were able to show of their range and instincts in the back end of the secondary. The Cowboys technically have two free safeties starting in the secondary, and that was on full display. The cornerback depth wasn’t quite as impressive as most thought it would be. Anthony Brown struggled in coverage, run support, and drew a big defensive pass interference call due to him not getting his head around on a severely under thrown ball. Jourdan Lewis was okay, but did give up a big completion on a miscommunication from himself and Marqueston Huff. Donovan Olumba was flagged on the play before the go ahead touchdown, but upon further review it did not look like defensive pass interference to me. Let’s hope these young guys can shake of the jitters and perform much better against the Bengals next week.

Check back next week as a new Tale of the Tape will be available after the Cowboys take on the Bengals back at AT&T Stadium.

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