No big deal, the Dallas Cowboys, lost 12-7 to the Arizona Cardinals, and are now 0-2 in the preseason.
Camp has been good so far for the Cowboys, the team hasn't had too many season-ending injuries. The defense is playing with vigor and tenacity, and the offensive line is finding ways to protect Tony Romo
With a loss like yesterday's, you can see that there is room for improvement. Overall, the team played well enough on defense to hold a team to 12 points. Granted, it was the preseason, but it has to start somewhere right?
The offensive production was paltry at best, and if it wasn't for some youtube sensation named Alex Tanney, the Cowboys would have been shutout. That simple. The Cowboys had 12 total first downs, and only two of them were on the ground. The Arizona Cardinals finished 28th in rush defense last year.
For the long haul
Right guard Mackenzie Bernadeau struggled early, and often against the Cardinals in the first quarter. There were moments where he held his own in pass protection, and there were moments where he was just flat out molested by DT Darnell Dockett. Dockett is one of the better defensive tackles in the league, and should serve as a barometer of the talent that the Cowboys will face in the NFC East. Mackenzie has improved (a little) every week, and will face his tallest task, against Cincinnati next Saturday.
Film always tells the story
The Cowboys offense was hit in the mouth on their first drive, and never recovered. If it was not for a Cardinals penalty, the Cowboys would have went three-and-out on back to back drives. The continuity is not there yet, and it usually takes the offensive a little longer to come around, especially when your starting quarterback misses OTA's. The Cardinals defense ruined the Cowboys timing on every snap, They were more physical (by a longshot), forcing five turnovers. The secondary was able to limit the big gains from the tight ends, and forced many incompletions. The offensive has some time to get it together, but they are behind the power curve.
Linebackers, front and center
With linebacker Alex Albright missing the 2013 season (back surgery), it is good to know that guys like Ernie Sims, and Brandon Magee are around. I'm not saying that Sean Lee will miss playing time this season, but he has yet to finish a season in his career. It is good for the Cowboys defense to know that there are solid backups behind him this year. Magee was great in pass coverage, and consistently plugged in the gaps. He is not the biggest, but the key to a good 4-3 defense is gap technique, and Magee is an instinctive player that can make plays if needed. He will be a guy to keep an eye on in the next few weeks. Devonte Holloman hasn't had a bad tape yet, and continues to find a way to create turnovers. He is a playmaker on defense.
Young guns, and not the quarterbacks
The Cowboys defensive line is proving to do well with the absence of Jay Ratliff, Josh Brent, and Sean Lissemore. Defensive linemen Ben Bass, Kyle Wilber, and Rob Callaway looked solid on the defensive front. George Selvie was a little more consistent this week, but will never have another matchup like the one he had against Miami. They stayed at the line of scrimmage, and kept pressure on the quarterback. Defensive tackle Nick Hayden had a very good showing on film. There were moments when he was out of gas, but that comes with early preseason games. Hayden will be a big part of the success of the Cowboys defensive front.
The offensive line project is coming along well under head coach Jason Garrett, and is leaps and bounds better than last year's unit. The zone blocking scheme is having some success, and Dante Rosario will make the difference as a blocking tight end. His ability to seal the edge is the best on the team, and he looks to be the only tight end (besides Witten) that can get open. James Hanna emerged as an a target late in the game, but was not effective against Arizona's first team defense. The Cowboys tight ends have struggled with getting open so far this preseason. It may look bad for the offense, but I am almost certain, that we have only seen a small percentage of the Cowboys actual offense this preseason. Things could be worse.
It's special for a reason
There's a lot of tine tuning being done by Special teams coach Rich Bisaccia at the current moment. the changes have been drastic, and we have seen everything from starters wanting to play special teams, to muffed punts, and blocked field goals. The improvements cannot be negated by consistent mistakes on special teams. The past three games have not been great for special teams, and should improve by week one of the regular season.
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