The question as to whether or not the Hall of Fame game on August 4 was a testament to how good the Cowboys might be or how bad the Miami Dolphins are going to be was answered Friday night…and it wasn’t entirely what Cowboys Nation was hoping for.
With the starters standing on the sidelines in Canton, the Cowboys’ run vs pass ratio was nearly two to one. One short week later, with the starters returning to the line-up, albeit for a brief appearance, Dallas reverted to its pass-happy former self.
On a positive note, Tony Romo looked much sharper in his second series behind center and ended up with a tally of six out of eight passes completed for 88 yards on the night. The bad news for Cowboys fans is that once again Dallas showed signs of stalling inside the red zone. This was particularly painful on the opening offensive series, when a sack by Sean Lee resulted in a fumble recovery that put the ‘Boys in business on the Raiders 16 yard line. The ensuing Cowboys offensive series included a holding penalty, tipped pass and sack. It looked an awful lot like deja vu to me, folks.
The Cowboys looked more comfortable in their second series, but, as has become a disturbing norm in recent years, what started out as an impressive looking drive stalled and netted zero points after the Raiders blocked Dallas’ field goal attempt.
I, for one, thought that when Jason Garrett relinquished play-calling duties to Offensive Coordinator Bill Callahan, the Cowboys would enter the 2013 season with a much more balanced attack than in recent years. Since it was only the second preseason game, my fingers are still crossed that Friday night wasn’t a preview of what we are going to see when the New York Football Giants come calling on September 8.
The Dallas offensive line is obviously still in a state of flux with injuries already taking their toll on a group that struggled in 2012. All reports out of The Ranch seem to be glowing for rookie Travis Frederick and we in Cowboyland are all holding our breath that the first-round draft pick out of Wisconsin will make a positive impact when September rolls around.
On the defensive side of the ball, though, the Cowboys seem to be headed in the right direction. A swarming Cowboys D has forced four turnovers in their first two preseason outings. I know these games don’t count, but we still have to remember that in all of 2012, Dallas managed only 16 takeaways. That looks like progress to me…
Sean Lee’s sack of Matt Flynn resulted in a turnover on the Raiders first possession of the night. The Cowboys weren’t done yet, as rookie J.J. Wilcox intercepted a pass from Terrelle Pryor in the end zone to end Oakland’s scoring threat in the second quarter. At the very least, the Cowboys seem to be quicker and more aware of the ball than they have been of late. The ball-hawking style isn’t the only element in the equation. The switch to a four-man front will hopefully provide DeMarcus Ware and company with opportunities to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks this year and that can only lead to good things for the ‘Boys.
The Cowboys next preseason game will be against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday, August 17 at 3;30 p.m., Dallas time.