After watching the Dallas Cowboys third preseason outing, which is the match-up largely viewed as the dress rehearsal for the season opener, I have to say that if that game was a pilot for a fall television show, it might be cancelled after one episode. The good news is, there is still some time for Dallas to get its game face on before Frisco comes calling on September 7.
What was most troubling Saturday night against the Miami Dolphins was the lack of success of the Cowboys offense. To put an even finer point on it…the Dallas offense line didn’t perform well enough to keep Tony Romo off his backside. Three times the Cowboys many-million-dollar QB and his surgically repaired back met the turf during the first half against the Fins and three times a cringe could be felt throughout Cowboys Nation. If the line that was built to protect Romo and give a boost to the Dallas ground game can’t do any better than what we saw Saturday night, it’s going to be a long season for Cowboys fans and a short one for Romo.
The Dolphins defense ranked 12 in sacks for the 2013 season and, therefore, provided a reasonable test for the Cowboys OL…which they failed miserably. Given all the draft picks devoted to creating a ‘Romo friendly’ front, I had hoped for a better showing. Hopefully the Cowboys will find a way to work the kinks out and get back on track in the short time they have left before the 2014 season begins.
The most easily corrected problem that we can see coming out of Saturday night is the knuckle-headed penalties that were committed. In the midst of trying to salvage what had been a dismal first half, the Cowboys looked to be driving for a possible touchdown when their drive was stalled by…not one…but two illegal shift penalties. That kind of mental breakdown is something that can and must be avoided when the Cowboys find themselves in critical situations after the games start counting.
Both the brightest spot and the scariest situation of the night came from the Cowboys special teams. If there is one position on the Dallas roster that is not in doubt it is the field goal kicker. Dan Bailey nailed two 50+ yard kicks and gave Cowboys fans one area in which we can rest assured. Return ace Dwayne Harris made all of Cowboysland break out in a sweat when he failed to get up right away after a collision with a Dolphins defender. The cart was brought out but Harris managed to hobble to the sidelines. He later said that if the game had been for real he would have returned to action. Harris twice received league honors for his work on special teams in 2013 and given the unimpressive results of other Cowboys in the returner role, he has proven to be a valuable part of the Cowboys team.
Overall, it looks like it’s back to the drawing board for the Cowboys as the season looms closer. Hopefully Dallas will use what little time that is left wisely to make adjustments that will prove successful when the Niners visit AT&T Stadium on September 7.