Dallas Cowboys: 5 Things, or Lack Thereof, to Take Away from Preseason Win
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Thank goodness I don't write for the Associated Press. I'd hate to be the one who wrote the actual recap for this game.
The Dallas Cowboys finally introduced themselves to the rest of the football world on Monday night, but the problem was that they didn't have much to display in their thrilling 3-0 win over the Oakland Raiders. It wasn't because the first teamers weren't on the field for only one or two drives, either.
The first team offense was on the field for almost a quarter and a half.
And not one minute of what was shown on the field was a pleasant breath of fresh air for Cowboy fans across the globe.
Luckily, this is why teams play four or five preseason games to see where they're at, and if this game was any indication of things to come, Jason Garrett may need two extra preseason games to find out who will be starting on the offensive line in Week 1.
It's hard to find five things to take away from a 3-0 ballgame, but let's give it a shot anyway: Here are five things to take away from the raising of the 2012 Dallas Cowboys' curtain.
Offensive Linemen Become Biggest Question Mark in Camp
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It's not a good thing when your franchise quarterback is taking sacks in the very first preseason game.
It's also not a good sign when the pressure coming after Tony Romo is plowing through the middle of the offensive line.
Thought to only play one or two drives for the entire game, the first team offense didn't come off the field until less than nine minutes to go in the second quarter, and it was not the best of showings for one of the most talented offenses in the league.
By all accounts, Romo had an OK game, going 3-for-6 and accumulating 30 yards through the air, but had zero help from his interior offensive linemen, en route to being sacked once and hurried three times.
One of those sacks and a hurry came on back-to-back plays, with Lamarr Houston just missing Romo and Tommy Kelly coming right back the next play and bringing the Cowboys' signal caller down to the turf.
David Arkin handled the majority of center reps by filling in for the injured Phil Costa, and he was the biggest reason as to why Romo faced the pressure he faced in the first half.
With this awful play, the status of the starting linemen has become the biggest concern for the rest of camp, and that will be the No. 1 area to look at when the Cowboys play San Diego on Saturday.
In Case You Were Wondering, Dez Bryant's Hamstring Is Fine
Despite a troubling offseason, Dez Bryant reminded everyone he can still be lethal on the field when healthy.
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There was only one highlight this entire game, but it was a beauty of a play. And if there were any concerns about Dez Bryant's nagging hamstring, they were thrown out the window.
With 12:03 left in the second quarter on 2nd-and-10, Romo threw a pass behind Bryant with Raiders safety Michael Huff draped all over him, and Bryant came back to the ball to make a leaping catch for a 24-yard gain.
This is the most critical season of Bryant's young career, in determining if he can contribute both on and off the field to the Cowboys organization. Things didn't help when the situation with his mother first surfaced, and it didn't make matters any better when he hurt his hamstring over the weekend.
But when he made that catch, it served as reassurance that when he's healthy and locked in like he has the potential to be, he can be the monster to opposing defenses like he's capable of being.
Things won't be set in stone until he can stop having run-ins with the law and can't stay healthy, and with Miles Austin's yearly hamstring problems starting over again, his presence in the offense will be bigger than ever until Austin can prove he can stay just as healthy.
But that catch was nice, wasn't it?
Andre Holmes Is First Young Receiver to Step Up and Make Plays
What typically defines a third receiver in an offense?
He's usually a quick guy who can beat corners and linebackers over the middle and get the yards that you need for the first down.
Andre Holmes is 6'4", 223 pounds, and not as fast as one would hope. But he's a large body who can get up, catch the ball and be physical at the line of scrimmage.
They sound like qualities and attributes for someone better suited for a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver on the depth chart, but Holmes is one of many young receivers who are trying to make a statement to Jason Garrett and Jerry Jones in that they should pick him.
Holmes led all receivers with three catches for 40 yards on Monday night, and even though it doesn't seem appealing in a 3-0 victory, the catches he made and the way he moved after making the catch were promising sights.
Cole Beasley got the start in the slot on Monday night, but don't be surprised to see Holmes get more reps on Saturday against the Chargers.
Rob Ryan's Henchmen Steal the Show, but Run Defense Still Needs Work
Gerald Sensabaugh made the play of the day for the Cowboys defense with an interception on Oakland's first drive.
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If you get rid of the dead weight and add some muscle, it can rub off on the rest of your teammates.
Who's to say that Terence Newman was the dead weight in the secondary that caused all-around lackadaisical effort from his former teammates, but it surely helped Gerald Sensabaugh.
Early in the first quarter, Sensabaugh read Carson Palmer's eyes all the way as he fired a deep ball to Jacoby Ford—who was already covered tightly by Orlando Scandrick—and made a play on the ball that resulted in something Dallas fans aren't used to seeing: an interception.
The defense did a great collective job containing the Raiders offense all night long, but the one concern from the win was how problematic the run defense was from all units.
The Raiders combined for 89 yards and averaged almost four yards per carry, which means that the interior defensive line, minus Jay Ratliff due to injury, still has some lingering troubles stopping the dynamic backs like Darren McFadden.
This may finally be the year that Ratliff moves to the defensive end position and the Cowboys get a big body like Josh Brent or Sean Lissemore in the nose tackle spot.
They've at least got the secondary figured out, for now. That's a giant plus.
Dan Bailey Is the Player of the Game
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What else did you expect from a 3-0 game?
Give the Player of the Game award to the only one on the team who contributed to the scoreboard, and give it to the guy who has finally eliminated all past demons of kickers that have haunted the Cowboys.
Dan Bailey's 33-yard field goal with over eight minutes left was the difference maker in Monday's game, for what it's worth.
Of all the people who we've talked about that should have a big year in order for the Cowboys to succeed, Bailey's name has hardly come up, but in his second year as the Dallas kicker, eyes will be on him to succeed and make field goals that he should make.
In the long list of kickers who never succeeded in Dallas years beyond their rookie season, Bailey is the one who has to break that dreaded curse.
And if he can make more field goals in 0-0 ties and win the game for the Cowboys, that's all that'll be required.