My thoughts: I like the way this defense flies around to the ball and gets after the QB. Players don’t appear to be thinking too much as they did last season under Rob Ryan’s overly complex scheme. They came up with turnovers Sunday night which didn’t happen enough last season.
I’m still concerned about the offensive line. Smith looked solid in his only series and it was encouraging to see rookie Travis Frederick play well at center. The guards are still a weak spot and there really is very little depth on their line.
Players who stood out and helped themselves:
DE George Selvie– If there is one area the Cowboys could use some depth due to injuries, it would be defensive end. And in George Selvie it would appear they found a good one. Selvie was unblockable by the Dolphins line and he appeared to be a man among boys. In a goaline situation he did not take the fake to the right by the offense, and chased the QB down for a sack. Then in the 2nd half he pushed the OT out of his way like a blocking dummy and jumped on the back of the QB for a sack. Nice!
LB DeVonte Holloman– While breaking down film of Holloman’s play at South Carolina, I pointed out in a blog that he had good cover skills. Holloman picked off a deflected pass and returned it 75 yards for a TD. The Cowboys are strong at LB this season but you have to find a place for Holloman who shows he can make plays. I think Dallas found a good one here late in the draft.
DT Nick Hayden– With Ratliff out after an injury in preseason camp, Hayden made the most of his opportunity and I noticed he brought pressure on the QB from up the middle. It wasn’t a great game but I thought he gave a good effort and may help this team.
RB Phillip Tanner– It’s no guarantee that Tanner will make the roster again this year with Dallas drafting a RB. But Sunday night Tanner showed he wants to play football and isn’t ready to be put away yet. He finished with 59 yards and a TD.
WR Anthony Armstrong– Earlier I blogged that Dallas may keep 6 WRs like last year and that Armstrong is in a battle for that final spot. He made a nice catch on a pass from Stephens for an 18 yard gain. He also made a good special teams play by downing the ball inside the 5 on a punt and successfully caught the onside kick attempt to secure the win for Dallas.
Special teams play may give Armstrong the edge he needs to make the roster.
WR Tim Benford– I also pointed out that Benford was in that battle for the last WR spot and he helped himself late in the game with Tanney at QB. Benford lead all WRs that played with 3 catches and 25 yards.
QBs Nick Stephens and Alex Tanney– Stephens displayed an NFL caliber arm for sure. At times throwing it too hard for his receivers to catch. Over all, Stephens seemed to make good decisions and was effective moving the offense (4/8 24 yards).
Tanney (5/10 58 yards) played better with each snap and had a nice completion late to WR Jared Green down the sideline to seal the victory. Displayed a nice touch on the throw just like he did tossing it in the back of a pick up truck in his video.
These 2 QBs are in a battle for that 3rd QB spot and in my view, it’s even at this point.
Center Travis Frederick– The rookie first round draft pick played solid at center. He did a nice job on the goal line where Tanner scored and also did a nice job getting to the next level to set Tanner loose on another good run. Travis also played at right guard where he was not as impressive as he was beat on a reach block. Also he struggled on a screen pass that was tackled for no gain. Frederick did enough to secure his starting center spot.
RB Joseph Randall– The rookie looked good and finished as the leading rusher with 70 yards. Wanted to see more catching the ball out of the back field but maybe next game.
Players who failed to Impress:
OT Edawn Coughman– The Cowboys need help on the offensive line but I’m afraid I haven’t seen it yet from their backups. Coughman was beat more than once at his right tackle spot. Free basically has no competition at this point with Parnell injured.
Safety JJ Wilcox– The 3rd round pick looked like a rookie who had not played much safety and well, that’s exactly what he is. Reality settled in as I watched Wilcox look lost on a long pass play by the Dolphins in the 2nd Qtr. Wilcox is solid in run support but needs more work in pass coverage.
It was the first of 5 preseason games so more opportunities ahead for players to make the case to be kept on the final roster. Already we see some that are stepping up and a few that must improve.