First, I would like to say congratulations to Larry Allen for being inducted into the Hall of Fame. He was a great Cowboy, and one of the most powerful guards in NFL history. Secondly, football is back! Even though it was only a preseason game, it was still nice to get a quick glance of the 2013 Dallas Cowboys. This was a great opportunity to watch the backups play and evaluate our depth, since most of our starters were pulled after the first series. I would’ve liked to see more playing time for some players. Particularly our young players like Morris Claiborne, Tyron Smith, and Sean Lissemore. It was still pleasant to get the chance to see our backups. Now let’s review how the Cowboys did last Sunday.
Aug 4, 2013; Canton, OH, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Nick Stephens (3) throws a pass as guard David Arkin (62) blocks Miami Dolphins defensive end Vaughn Martin (90) during the second quarter at Fawcett Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports
To start off, out of all the quarterbacks, I was most impressed by Nick Stephens. Orton only played for one series, and just completed two short passes. While Tanney looked lost and frantic. Stephens on the other hand looked very calm and made some good decisions. He made a great throw down the middle of the field to Anthony Armstrong. He squeezed the ball through a tight window between two defenders. In addition, he showed off a powerful arm. I think the Cowboys could make room for a player like Stephens on our team.
Our running backs were the star of our offense last night. I was very impressed with the depth we had last night. Lance Dunbar started off the night, and he ran well to the outside. Dunbar would be done after one series and Phillip Tanner would come in. By far, he was the most impressive running back. It always surprises me how hard Tanner runs. He’s a bit of a smaller running back, but boy is he hard to tackle. I don’t remember his vision being this good last year. He made some nice cutbacks and found open holes to go through. Our rookie Joseph Randle didn’t impress me at first. However he got better as the game went on. Randle is an agile running back. He can make defenders miss by using cuts and jukes. I think he was very impatient when the game began, but as the game went on he let his blocks develop. One thing he needs to work on is his vision.
The wide receivers were unimpressive yesterday. From everything I heard from training camp, I was very excited to see Eric Rogers in action. He didn’t record a single reception on Sunday, and was disappointing. Tim Benford did make some plays, but he is still a long shot to make the team. Cole Beasley looked poor. He had some drops, which included a wide open throw to the end zone. At this point, it looks like the picture at wide receiver will be the same as last year. The tight ends also were also dull. They were not much of a factor in the passing attack. This was due to playcalling. I definitely saw more 12 personnel on the field; however they mainly ran in this formation. Bill Callahan committed to the run, which is something Jason Garrett struggled to do while playcalling. This is a good thing, but I would have liked to see how well the pass protection was for our offensive line. Hopefully once the regular season comes, this means a more balanced attack for the Cowboys.
Aug 4, 2013; Canton, OH, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Kyle Orton (18) takes the snap from center Travis Frederick (70) against the Miami Dolphins in the 2013 Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s move on to the offensive line. Going into 2013, the biggest questions were of the Cowboys offensive line. Everyone was watching keenly, and they weren’t bad. Of course, for the majority of the game the starters were benched. The Cowboys were also facing backups for most of the game. Our offensive line looks a lot better than Miami though. One player that got a lot of playing time was our first round rookie, Travis Frederick. He showed his versatility by playing both center and guard. His intelligence was on display, as he performed well on line calls. I didn’t see any free rushers when he was at center. In run blocking he showed his mobility and sustained his blocks on defenders. He also performed decently as a pass blocker. Frederick is proving to everyone that the Cowboys made the right pick in the draft this year. The Cowboys were up against the Miami bench for most of the game, so we should be weary of that. The offensive line did get the chance to face Dion Jordan, the third overall pick in the draft this year. Dion Jordan was obsolete this game, and I think that’s a good sign for the Cowboys offensive line.