Preseason Week 2, Cowboys vs. Chargers: What We Learned
Note: I am having some trouble securing the game film for this contest. Hopefully, I will have it by tomorrow.
Before the Cowboys’ third preseason game in San Diego, I gave you 12 things to watch. Here is what we learned.
1. How much will the starters play?
Fairly long, actually. Tony Romo was again the first player out on offense, and backup quarterback Jon Kitna got some reps with the first team. That’s just what I wanted to see and, despite public opinion to the contrary, Kitna is an above-average backup.
On defense, most of the starters played nearly the entire first half. Shoulder injuries to Gerald Sensabaugh and Keith Brooking may have been blessings in disguise, as it gave us an opportunity to see more of rookies Barry Church and Sean Lee.
2. How will the offense execute against a 3-4 defense?
Terribly. Dallas’ first team offense (and defense) was dominated. They did score a red zone touchdown, but it was set up by a fumble return to the San Diego eight-yard line.
The good news is that both Montrae Holland (left guard) and Robert Brewster (left and right tackle) played well.
3. Will Robert Brewster, starting in place of the injured Marc Colombo, step up after a lackluster start to the 2010 preseason? Can he contain Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips?
Well, Merriman ended up not playing, but Brewster still held his own. He looked really comfortable on the right side of the line. His footwork was light years ahead of where it was in the Cowboys’ first two games this preseason.
4. With his roster spot possibly on the line, how will receiver Kevin Ogletree respond after two poor games?
Despite a solid week of practice, Ogletree was rather quiet in San Diego. He did make a nice catch on a terrific comeback route (his best route, in my opinion), but he also got ripped into by special teams coach Joe DeCamillis. His roster spot isn’t a lock at this point.
5. Will the offense continue to use so much Shotgun?
I will have to watch the film again to know for sure, but Dallas certainly ran less Shotgun plays than last week.
6. Will Dallas be more effective on their draw plays?
Again, I will have to break down the film. The Cowboys did appear to not lean on the draw play as much in San Diego, though.
7. Will we see the debuts of rookies Sean Lee and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah? If so, how will Lee perform in coverage and will AOA show something special on returns?
We did see action from both players. Lee was over-matched initially. He got called for a (phantom) illegal contact penalty and looked lost at times through the first few quarters. He did pick it up at the end of the game though, showing why Dallas drafted him when he took on a block, shed it, and made an important tackle.
Owusu-Ansah looked a little hesitant on kick returns and needs to secure the football, but he also displayed great burst on a 45-yard punt return. It got called back due to a penalty, but his decisiveness on the return has to make the Cowboys happy.
8. How will the linebackers and safeties perform against one of the league’s premiere tight ends?
Not bad. Gates was held to just one catch for seven yards. Linebacker Keith Brooking again looked sensational in coverage, running step for step with Gates before he (Brooking) went down with a minor shoulder injury.
We didn’t get to see much of Sensabaugh, but Barry Church needs to work on some things in coverage. He doesn’t have a particularly quick first step and blew an assignment in the third quarter to yield a huge play downfield.
9. Will nose tackles Junior Siavii and Josh Brent continue to play well enough to force the coaches to contemplate keeping both players?
Yes. Siavii was awesome again, particularly against the run. He still needs to show he can get to the passer though.
This was the most quiet game for Brent, but he did get less playing time than usual.
10. It is a make-or-break game for rookie cornerback Jamar Wall. Will he show something?
Not really. I will watch him more intently once I receive the film, but he sure didn’t make any big plays. He is getting outplayed severely by Cletis Gordon and Byran McCann. I would place the odds of him making the team at about 10:1.
11. Will Leon Williams continue to show he deserves a roster spot?
I’m torn on Williams. He always seems to be around the ball, but he is pretty poor in space. He showed that on a screen pass where he failed to properly break down and just flew by the ball-carrier. He also dropped another interception, although this time he got jacked up as he caught it–by teammate Jason Williams.
Overall, Leon’s roster spot is a 50/50 proposition to me at this point.
12. Can David Buehler continue the success he had against the Raiders?
He didn’t really get the opportunity. No field goal tries and two extra points. No news is probably good news for Buehler, though.
Check back later for film obervations (hopefully) and final player grades.
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