The Dallas Cowboys began their 2014 campaign with a preseason opening loss to the San Diego Chargers 27-7. Some fans may have the mindset that this is insignificant as it is only the preseason. Au contraire mon frère.
There seems to be a reoccurring theme in the head coach Jason Garrett era of players sitting out preseason games. Quarterback Tony Romo sat out the preseason opener for a second year in a row due to back surgery. That was expected and in the grand scheme of things shouldn’t affect his play when he is healthy.
It is other players who sat out the game that have some uncertainty around them and who have something to prove that concerns me. Especially on the defensive side of the ball. You certainly could be excited about the offensive line play after last night’s game. The defense looked as pathetic as it did all of last year so it is alarming that players on that side sat out for the game. Players like defensive end George Selvie, defensive tackle Terrell McClain, linebacker Rolando McClain, and cornerback Morris Claiborne. These are all players who will play a vital role in determining the fate of the Cowboy’s defense and ultimately their season.
Before all you naysayers bash me and say this is ridiculous to make a big deal out the preseason just hear me out. I understand if a player has a legitimate injury then obviously there is no need to play in a meaningless game. However, when Jason Garrett “process” and about competition from Garrett through the years. Well then why aren’t key players out there competing in preseason games? You want to sit out stars like wide receiver Dez Bryant, running back DeMarco Murray, or Romo then that is one thing. But I believe these 2nd tier players need to be out there competing against the other teams first stringers.
In contrast, look at the Denver Broncos preseason game. Quarterback Peyton Manning played a full quarter. A 38 year old veteran who is probably the most cerebral player in the league can’t possibly learn anything in a preseason game. Yet there he was playing a full quarter. And you know why? To set a tone for the season. To prove something to everyone else around the league. To let teams know they are coming to finish off what was taken from them last year by the Seattle Seahawks.
This is the type of intensity and commitment we need on the Cowboys. Claiborne should be chomping at the bit to get out there and play against the Chargers first team offense. He should want to prove to everyone that the starting job is his and not Orlando Scandrick. Rolando McClain should be hungry to play in some real live football against another team after being removed from the game for so long.
I am tired of hearing about the “process” and about establishing competition without actually seeing it. I believe the Cowboys are destined for another mediocre season after watching last night’s preseason game. Hopefully I am wrong.