Like the fans who watched, McCarthy was fed up with the penalties.
After committing an NFL-high 141 penalties in 2021 (including 14 in their playoff loss), the Cowboys got called for 17 infractions during Saturday’s loss to the Denver Broncos.
One of them led McCarthy to bench Dante Fowler.
The newly acquired edge-rusher got called for a personal foul when pushing an opposing player off a pile. That helped Denver score a touchdown in the second quarter.
“That’s a discipline penalty,” McCarthy told reporters after the game, per the team site. “Frankly, that’s why Dante was done for the night after that. We can’t have that.”
McCarthy acknowledged that 17 penalties “clearly are way too much” while also trying not to overblow his disappointment.
“This is preseason. I don’t think this has anything to do with last year,” he said. “But I didn’t like the number of penalties. I made it clear. I talked about it at halftime and I talked about it briefly in there (the locker room). We’ll take a long look at it.”
As a 28-year-old entering his eighth NFL season, Fowler probably wouldn’t have seen much more action Saturday anyway.
Cowboys UDFA RB Davis plants flag in depth-chart competition, impresses vs Broncos - Julius Settles Sr, Cowboys Wire
Given the uncertainty surrounding the future of the Cowboys' RB room, it was good to see Malik Davis shine.
It wasn’t all bad for the Cowboys, one of areas they can feel good about going into the week of practice is how their running backs performed. All three of the Cowboys running backs averaged at least four yards per carry. Rico Dowdle started the game and finished with 36 yards on nine carries. Aaron Shampklin mixed in throughout and finished with 32 yards on seven carries. The most impressive of the three though, and the Player of the Game was another UDFA rookie, Malik Davis.
Davis easily led both teams in rushing yards ending the game with eight carries for 51 yards and a very impressive 6.4 yards per carry. He also put his receiving skills on display adding three receptions for 16 yards a 5.3 yard per catch average. The former Florida Gator was very decisive as a runner, using his vision to scan for run lanes and accelerate through holes. He also did a good running with power as he looked to finish runs when contact was finally made.
DaRon Bland Shines while Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright Struggle Against Broncos - Nick Coppola, Inside The Star
The Dallas secondary simultaneously impressed and disappointed.
While Joseph had some bright spots, the same cannot be said for Wright.
He had a penalty in the first quarter that negated his own interception and gave up multiple big plays after that. Brandon Johnson beat him deep for a 40-yard catch, and Kendall Hinton caught a 24-yard pass on Wright for Denver’s second score.
He was a project guy when he was drafted, but it doesn’t seem like he’s improved that much. From what we’ve heard, Wright has had a good training camp. But that didn’t show on Saturday.
Bland might’ve been the Cowboys’ best cornerback against the Broncos.
The rookie out of Fresno State flashed his physicality and instincts on Saturday. He blew up a screen pass on Denver’s first drive and was very active throughout the game.
Bland was flying all over the field and looked outstanding. He was sharp, saw the field well and never made any false steps or hesitations. Wherever he played, Bland was on it.
He may not play too much in the regular season, but Bland proved he can provide depth at cornerback. He’s looking like an excellent selection for the Cowboys.
What was your takeaway from Saturday’s action?
Despite a poor showing in general by the Cowboys in the preseason opener against the Broncos, there were some bright spots to speak on - one of which being the defensive line. As third-year lineman Neville Gallimore so eloquently put it in his post-game interview: “The check engine light did not come on tonight.” That was a playful jab at the comment he made following Thursday’s scrimmage, his first time ever playing in Denver, noting the altitude immediately took its toll on his stamina and breathing.
But after a walkthrough on Friday, Gallimore seemed fully acclimated and played the majority of snaps on Saturday (deep into the second half), joining compatriots like Quinton Bohanna, Dante Fowler and Tarell Basham in making it virtually impossible for the Broncos to run the ball. In the end, the Cowboys defense allowed only 39 yards on 22 attempts (1.8 yards per carry) - a major nod at the likelihood of Dallas having potentially fixed what was once their biggest Achilles Heel on defense.
Even in an ugly showing during the preseason, there is a lot to take away.
Here we look at which of those questions were answered and ponder on new questions birthed from the Dallas Cowboys 17-7 loss against the Broncos.
A big boy flashed early and, for the most part, played well in his reps. Opening drive the Cowboys stall, but 1st round rookie Left Guard, Tyler Smith, showed good athleticism and power on 2nd and 3rd down. Getting to the second level and then holding up in pass protection for Cooper Rush. It was a promising sign in the early goings. Smith was hit with a couple of holding penalties in the second quarter which is something he’ll have to work on. Otherwise, he was impactful in the run game and held up in pass pro. An overall good night for the Dallas Cowboys new Left Guard.
The Defensive Line may have been the best unit on the field for the Dallas Cowboys. First defensive possession was impressive. Neville Gallimore was disruptive getting into the backfield for a big TFL on the first defensive play of the game. Gallimore played well, putting pressure on the Broncos quarterback on a number of occasions, which you would expect from one of the few starters on the field for either team.
There is more than enough blame to go around, but a decent number of players showed out on Saturday.
Stud: Tyler Smith
When Dallas added Tyler Smith in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, they praised him for the power he played with while at Tulsa. On Saturday night, he got his first chance to go against NFL talent and he didn’t disappoint.
Cowboys first-round pick Tyler Smith (73) on the opening series pic.twitter.com/OJyNHw4Fqr
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 14, 2022
Smith looked like a veteran out there as he pushed his defender around with ease. He was usually the one clearing the way in the running game and when Rico Dowdle followed behind him, good things tended to happen.
He was flagged a couple of times for holding, but the calls were questionable, at best. Still, he has to see what he’s doing to draw these flags and attempt to clean it up, especially since this was his No. 1 issue in college.
Dud: Nahshon Wright, CB
Nahshon Wright was drafted due to his size as Dallas wanted the 6-foot-4 cornerback to be able to use his length to contend with taller receivers. On Saturday night, he found himself trying to high-point a ball in the end zone and was unable to do so, as he was beaten out by 6-foot-0 Kendall Hinton.
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