Another week, another preseason match up for our Dallas Cowboys….and if we were looking for massive strides of improvements following the previous week’s loss to the Raiders, we were sorely disappointed. That being said, there were plenty of highs and lows in the Arizona desert on Saturday afternoon.
Dynamic Defense: Monte Kiffin’s new defensive strategy seems to being gelling quite nicely in Big D. The Cowboys first teamers continued to swarm to the football against the Cardinals and were able to hold Arizona to only 3 points after an uncharacteristic muffed punt by wide receiver Dwayne Harris. The mistake came after the Cowboys had forced a punt on the Cardinals fist offensive series of the game. Rookie DeVonte Hollomanmade his presence felt by causing what looked like a sure fumble by Cardinal Carson Palmer. However, on further review, Arizona retained possession. For the Cowboys to have given up six turnovers and still held their opponent to only 12 points was impressive…even this early in the preseason…and, yes, even if it was against the less than spectacular Arizona Cardinals.
Aug 17, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Alex Tanney (7) celebrates after tight end Gavin Escobar (89) scores a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the third quarter at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Cowboys 12-7. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
Terrific Tanney: Alex Tanney made a case for the Cowboys keeping three quarterbacks on the final roster. At one time late in the game Tanney was 10 for 10 for 100 yards. He ended the night on a disappointing note by adding an interception to his stat sheet, but his cause was helped by Tony Romo’s backup, Kyle Orton, who threw an interception on his first series after relieving Romo. Again, the competition level of the players, many of whom are unlikely to make the Cardinals final cut, has to be considered. It is worth noting that Tanney seemed to be relatively comfortable in the pocket, even with the rag-tag offensive line that was in the game Saturday night.
Running Woes: Even with DeMarco Murray in the backfield, the Cowboys couldn’t manage a respectable running attack against Arizona. This was especially evident when, even after Murray broke free for nine yards, the Cowboys ended up punting after failing to convert on second and one and third and one situations. After largely failing to address their offensive line issues in the draft and free agency, Dallas is faced with the same old problem of lousy run blocking and a plethora of injuries to the big guys up front…all this and we aren’t even out of training camp. Even if rookie Travis Frederick pans out as well as the Cowboys hope, he can’t be everywhere at once and it is getting late in the game, so to speak, to try to fix a problem that has been festering for years.
Mental Mistakes: It’s impossible to take a look at the Cowboys vs Cardinals preseason duel in the desert without discussing the Cowboys six…count ’em six…turnovers. What is most disturbing is the fact that many, if not all, of the giveaways by the ‘Boys were mental mistakes. Take, for example, Dez Bryant, who made a great catch, only to fail to put the football away properly. The same can be said for Dwayne Harris’ muffed punt and Lance Dunbar’s fumble. Of course we know Dez will be suiting up when the Cowboys open the season. The same can almost certainly be said for Harris. Dunbar has shown flashes of having breakaway speed ability and will hopefully find his way onto the roster.
Perhaps the best news that came out of the weekend for Dallas is that their week one opponent, the New York Giants, looks pitiful in their last preseason match up as well.