In the offseason, the Cowboys brought in a new $50 million Carr that is looking like a good investment. CB Brandon Carr intercepted 2 Phillip Rivers passes in the first half as the Cowboys cruised to a 10-0 halftime lead against the San Diego Chargers.
The first offense managed to score 3 points as Orton and the second team scored the Cowboys first TD of the year set up by a 35 yard strike to Kevin Ogletree. Carr’s play indicates that indeed the Cowboys secondary is better than last year.
It was a game of two halfs as preseason games can go with mass substitutions. The second half was ugly for Dallas as the Chargers won the last half 28-10 to win the preseason game 28-20. In the second half, the Cowboys offensive line was beaten by the Chargers defensive line and the Cowboys defensive line could not make plays against the Chargers O line.
Third string QB Stephen McGee did little to make a case for keeping him on the roster as he threw an interception which resulted in a Charger TD and also fumbled after getting blind sided on a sack that also set up another Charger TD. The Charger defender was completely untouched. Not even a “look out Stephen!” from O line.
QB Rudy Carpenter came in to replace McGee late in the game and threw a TD pass to Dwayne Harris. A really nice catch from Harris in the endzone as he took a shot from the defender when he caught it. Carpenter finished 6/9 with 78 yards and a TD proving to be more effective than McGee in this preseason game. This QB battle for the 3rd spot just got a little tighter.
Overall Cowboy fans have to feel good about how the defense performed especially the secondary led by Carr’s 2 picks. Their play against Chargers QB Phillip Rivers one of the best QBs in the NFL, was encouraging. Last year in a preseason game, Rivers had his way with the Dallas secondary but not this time. New Cowboys secondary coach Jerome Henderson has these guys going for the ball in the air.
Also the offensive line played much better this week giving Romo better time to throw and also producing a little bit of a running game finally. The Chargers had two sacks which came against the back up offensive linemen.
Still the first offense has to be a bit of a concern as they are not scoring many points so far. They have suffered a lot of injuries so maybe that is contributing to the poor execution at times.
Who impressed other than Brandon Carr:
RB Olawale: A FB converted to RB showed he can be a physical runner which the Cowboys will need. He punched the ball in at the goal line for A TD in the first half. With Tanner hurt and Felix Jones playing poorly, they will probably need Olawale for RB depth.
TE James Hanna: The rookie TE had 4 catches for 31 yards which is good to see with Witten out and uncertain to play in their first game with the Giants. TE Phillips has also suffered an injury in camp. Hanna has successfully quieted critics who said his hands are questionable. So far he has caught everything thrown to him in the preseason. Hanna could be needed in a big way if Witten is not able to play against the Giants.
Beasley, Ogletree and Harris: All three WRs had a nice productive game against the Chargers. Beasley led with 7 catches for 104 yards as Ogletree set up a TD with a 35 yarder and Harris caught a late TD. Both Harris and Ogletree finished with 4 catches. The WR battle between these 3 guys is very close.
OLB Victor Butler: With Andre Ware unavailable to play in this game, Butler stepped up and did a nice job pressuring Rivers and produced the Cowboys only sack early in the game setting the pace for the defense. If Butler can become difficult to block like he was against the Chargers, it will make Ware even more dangerous this season. Nice game Victor.
CB Mario Butler: The other Butler lead the defense with 5 tackles and made some nice plays in run support in particular. Butler will probably not start for the Cowboys secondary but he will be needed for depth and could contribute on special teams too. A very active night around the ball.
KICKER: Dan Bailey was 2/2 on FGs including a 49 yarder. Kicking duties appear to be in good hands or make that feet with Bailey.
There were some disappointing performances as well but I will let that be another blog. Cowboy fans should come away from this game encouraged that the secondary is indeed better than last year and the battered offensive line improved from last week.