The Cowboys game against the Bengals didn’t go exactly as planned. Sure, the first units looked pretty good, but once Zack Martin injured his knee, the wind came out of the sails. Multiple other injuries combined with some poor play doomed the Cowboys to a 21-13 defeat. More importantly for a preseason game was that the depth players failed again after last week’s performance versus the 49ers.
Let’s take a look at some of the things that stood out from the boxscore.
- Rico Gathers was the Cowboys leading receiver with only 32 yards. How did a guy who really didn’t see action until late in the game (18 snaps on the night) become the leading receiver for the game? One big pass play is how. Gathers had two catches on the night that totaled 32 yards, which led the Cowboys for the night. His 25-yard catch where he went up and over a Bengals defender for the catch was certainly a highlight of the night, and was also the Cowboys’ longest reception on the night. It certainly points to the Cowboys’ issues in the passing game against Cincinnati, especially after Dak Prescott left the game. But even when he was in there, the offense was reliant on the short passing game. Having Cole Beasley, Tavon Austin, and especially Ezekiel Elliott in the offensive flow should loosen things up and allow the Cowboys to go a little deeper down the field.
- Tight ends were the main target. None of the Cowboys tight ends really distinguished themselves on the night, the competition is still happening although Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin are 1a and 1b. On this night, though, the Cowboys quarterbacks used the tight ends as security blankets. Overall they were targeted on 16 of the Cowboys 40 passes (Dalton Schultz with six, Blake Jarwin with five, Rico Gathers with three and Geoff Swaim with two). They ended up making 10 of the 24 receptions.
- Anthony Brown tied for the lead in tackles. Brown had five tackles on the night, tied with Jaylon Smith for the team lead. Part of this is because Brown logged a lot of snaps in the game (40 snaps), but when a cornerback is making a lot of tackles, that’s usually not a great thing unless you’re playing a triple-option offense. It usually means guys are catching a lot of passes on you and you’re then tackling them.
- The Cowboys only managed one sack on the night, courtesy of the improving Taco Charlton. He managed to power his way through a holding call to get the takedown, but that was it for sacks. Charlton went ahead and added a forced fumble for good measure during the game.
- Randy Gregory returned for his first action since the 2016 season-finale by playing 10 snaps, but you wouldn’t know it from the boxscore. Gregory failed to scratch, getting shut out on the night. Still, that really doesn’t mean much, just having him back in action after all he’s been through was a win.
- Dak Prescott ended the night with a 103.8 passer rating, his second straight week topping 100 in passer rating. This week wasn’t as efficient as last week, but in longer playing time he did complete 10 of 15 passes.
- Darius Jackson ended up with an average yards per carry number of seven. On six rushes he collected 42 yards, plus he caught four passes for 22 yards. But he fell short of Rod Smith in overall production who totaled 68 yards on the night, but it took him 13 rushes and one reception to total that number.
- And finally, your tackles for loss leader? Brian Price who had two.