Cowboys First Preseason Game: The Good & The Ugly

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Jul 31, 2014; Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden (3) throws a pass at training camp at the River Ridge Fields. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I’m extremely optimistic regarding everything about the Dallas Cowboys. After watching the preseason game against the San Diego Chargers, that optimism hasn’t faded – much. The Cowboys had 27 inactive players in that game, most notably: Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, DeMarco Murray and more.

I’ve still watched the game a countless number of times. With each viewing, I discover positives and negatives which generate questions. How many of the positive things will carry over into the regular season? How many of the negative things were done because it’s merely preseason?

Positive :

Nothing has changed with Cole Beasley. Last season, he had 39 receptions of which 20 were for first downs. Beasley picked up where he left off last season by catching a pass for a first down on the first Cowboys possession. At 51%, it’s not the best first down / reception conversion rate in the league. Every team needs a receiver with sure hands and an ability to create mismatches that help to move the chains.

Negative :

I was hoping that Brandon Weeden would seize the moment. His addition to the team has been highly criticized by Cowboy Nation. For the record, I like Brandon Weeden, but there were occasions where he stared down receivers. It’s another new offensive system for Weeden and statistically, he didn’t have a bad night. Even without the starting offensive weapons, he looked better in the second drive with the backup offensive line. I want to see him go through his progressions and look off defenders.

Positive :

Cowboys offensive and offensive line picking up a first down by running the football on 3rd and 1. We can thank Scott Linehan, Bill Callahan and the addition of fullback Tyler Clutts. The Cowboys have transitioned from a team that couldn’t run the football into a team that choose not to run the football. The challenge is running the football when the defense knows you are going to run the football.

Seeing the Cowboys in an I-formation and actually running the football should have given everyone goosebumps. That was with Joseph Randle who doesn’t scream “power back” at 6′, 210 pounds. This season may finally mark the return of a smash mouth, downhill, power running game.

Old habits are hard to break though. The Cowboys had an incompletion on 3rd and 1 with their third possession. Just when I thought the power running game was back.

Negative :

Bruce Carter. I hate to call a player out, but I had high expectations and really hoped he’d show up on the stat sheet. Carter finished with 4 total tackles with 3 solo tackles. Compare that to rookie Anthony Hitchens, who had 8 tackles, 5 solo and 1 for a loss. There were plenty of plays that required Carter to read and react. Unfortunately, I saw him slow to do both. This allowed pass completions and extra yards to be gained on running plays.

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