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Tale of the tape: Why the Cowboys first-team offense and defense dominated the Bengals

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Let’s take a look at the tape, and see what the Cowboys did well, and what they need to improve on!

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys came up a bit short in Saturday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. While Dallas was not able to win the game, the first- and second-team played very well in the live viewing. After a second watch of the game, let’s see what the tape tells us.

Dak had another nice day at the office.

Dak Prescott finished with a good stat line going 10/15, 86 yards, and a touchdown. Prescott showed good mobility in and out of the pocket to avoid pressure on multiple occasions. Prescott made some impressive throws under pressure, and spread the ball around to six different receivers in his short time on the field. We did not see Prescott take the big shot down field like we saw him do against the 49ers, but he did an excellent job of taking what was given to him, and moving the football well against a tough Bengals defense.

Darius Jackson was SPARQing

Rod Smith again had another good game, but Darius Jackson may have been the most impressive running back of the night for either team. Smith and Jackson combined for 19 carries and 91 yards. Smith and Jackson both ran with good vision and burst and were able to break off a couple of really impressive runs.

Jamize Olawale also had a solid night playing in multiple roles for the offense. Olawale had a couple of really nice blocks that opened up running lanes for the running backs, and also hauled in a reception for eight yards. Olawale is being deployed as a weapon for this offense, not a just a boring blocking fullback, let’s hope that rolls over into the regular season.

Dak Prescott has a new best friend - and maybe more than one.

The starting wide receivers again had a solid night for the Dallas Cowboys. Michael Gallup, Terrance Williams, and Allen Hurns all showed signs of being a very good group of receivers, and that was without Tavon Austin, Cole Beasley, Deonte Thompson, and Noah Brown. Gallup is again proving to be a steal of a third-round pick, and Dak Prescott’s new best friend. Terrance Williams was able to haul in the Cowboys only touchdown of the game on a broken play that Prescott was able to turn into six points. Williams always does a great job of working back to the quarterback when plays break down, and he again found himself in the right place at the right time.

The tight ends will git er done

The tight ends didn’t set the world on fire, but also weren’t terrible either. Rico Gathers led the team with 32 receiving yards, Dalton Schultz led the team in receptions with four, Blake Jarwin had a few really nice catches and was targeted a bunch. This isn’t a group that will lead the league in receptions, yards, or touchdowns, but they are proving to be a group who can at least get the job done.

Should we be worried about the offensive line?

The offensive line did not have their best night against the Bengals. Tyron Smith looked good, as did La’el Collins. Connor Williams, Cameron Fleming, Chaz Green, and Kadeem Edwards all struggled more than you’d like to see against the Cincinnati defensive line.

Joe Looney played well given the fact he played more snaps than any other offensive lineman, and having to play center, which is not his natural position. Zack Martin suffered a scary injury and left all of Cowboys Nation on the edge of their seats until good news came out on Sunday morning. Martin looks to be okay, and all signs are pointing to him being available for week one.

D-line starting to look like rock stars

The starting defensive line, and even some of the second team, looked very good against the Bengals offensive line. DeMarcus Lawrence, Antwaun Woods, Taco Charlton, and Datone Jones all played well. Taco Charlton had one of his best games as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, which is something every Cowboys fans has been wanting to see from the 2017 first-round pick. I am still wanting to see more from Jihad Ward who was impressive in the early offseason, but has faded. Brian Price flashed in the third and fourth quarter against the run and the pass. Price is not a guy who is going to stand out a ton, but he spent a lot of time in the backfield in the second half.

Gotta like that linebacker depth ...

The first and second team linebackers had a good night again on Saturday night. Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, Justin March-Lillard, and Joe Thomas all had solid nights against the run and in coverage. With Leighton Vander Esch out, we saw Jeff Heath play a little of a linebacker role early on, with Joe Thomas and Justin March-Lillard getting playing time in the first half as well. Jaylon Smith wasn’t quite as good on Saturday as he was last Thursday, but he still looks so much more explosive than he was in 2017 for the Cowboys.

... but slow your horses on that cornerback depth

The first team corners again impressed on Saturday night. They limited Andy Dalton to just 41 yards on five completions. Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie are names the average NFL fan will soon be familiar with if they continue to play at the level they are. Unfortunately for the second team cornerbacks, they aren’t playing quite as well. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown are still struggling to play at a consistently high level. Brown and Lewis both had some positives against the Bengals, but they also struggled in coverage more than we’d like to see. The Cowboys cornerback depth hasn’t played as well as many had predicted at the start of the season, that’s something to keep an eye on as teams begin to trim their rosters over the next few weeks.

All your free agent safeties are belong to us!

The safety position took a big blow when Xavier Woods went down with an injury in the first half and wasn’t able to return. With Woods out, Tyree Robinson was the next man up and played well in the time he had on the field. Robinson did a good job in run support, and seemed to do a nice job in coverage down the field. Jeff Heath looked very good with the first team even after tweaking his ankle earlier in the week. The depth at safety is a serious issue with Xavier Woods sidelined, it’ll be interesting to see how this front office handles that position this close to the start of the season.