Jerry Jones told us his bottom ranked defense had no where to go but up however that actually turned out not to be the case. There was room to get worse and they did.
The tackling was absolutely awful with a large number of failed arm tackle attempts on the night. Yes the Cowboys were without both starting corners but the Chargers were missing some guys too. It was amazing that the Chargers only managed to score 10 points at the half. The Dallas defense allowed over 100 yards rushing by halftime and the Charger QBs were a perfect 7 of 7.
It was like practice for the Charger QBs who finally had an incompletion after 12 straight completions. They finished a near perfect 14 out of 16.
A look at the Cowboys who did manage to impress and those who did not.
Randle is in a battle with Ryan Williams for a roster spot. I thought Randle looked sharp running the ball as he finished with 50 yards on 13 carries. He made a very nice move on a run that helped set up their first score. Also Randle made a tackle on punt coverage. While Williams also had a decent night, I think Randle is in the lead to secure that third RB spot.
With the emergence of Escobar, Hanna is sometimes forgotten but he caught a TD pass and finished with 2 catches. Hanna reminded us to not forget about the other young talented TE.
Who needs Johnny Manziel after watching Weeden scramble and throw his first TD pass as a Cowboy. Weeden seemed poised and able to improvise which makes me feel a little better about Romo’s backup. Weeden finished 13/17 for 107 yards.
It wasn’t easy to find positives on the defensive side of the ball but I came away very impressed with the play of Dixon the rookie from Baylor. He flew around to the ball and at times seemed to be the only guy on the field making tackles. He may not be a huge asset in pass coverage yet but Dixon is a great tackler that brings the proverbial wood. I may be out of bounds here, but I think they should consider moving Dixon to Linebacker since he is so good in the box.
He finished with an outstanding 11 tackles and made a strong case to keep this guy on the roster.
Linebacker play overall was weak but I thought the rookie had a pretty good game. He made an outstanding tackle at the goal line early in the game finishing with 5 solo tackles and 3 assist. In pass coverage, Hitchens appears a bit slower than required but he shows some instincts in run defense. Not a bad game for the rookie.
The 4th year pro defensive end has been getting noticed though out camp and I’m starting to believe he may be this year’s Selvie. Wilson knifed into the backfield and made a nice tackle for a loss. With Lawrence out with injury and Spencer not playing yet, Wilson is needed.
The Cowboys traded up in the draft to get Street and he didn’t disappoint in the preseason game. Street had 4 catches for 43 yards and did not appear to be a rookie. I look for Street to earn more and more playing time during the season.
Did not Impress:
I’m sure Webb made my list of not impressive players last year too. Webb looked lost most the night and didn’t appear to be a willing tackler either. I’m calling this 2013 4th round pick a bust and I don’t look for him to make the roster this year. With injuries at CB, it was an opportunity to shine but he didn’t.
The 7th round pick in the draft played a lot because of the missing starters and while some have liked his play in camp, I’m just not seeing it. He had two pass interference calls and he has been doing that in camp too. He did come up with a fumble in the endzone but most the night he was out of position in coverage. I like him a little better than Webb but that’s not saying much.
The Defensive Line:
Too many names to call out but as a group these guys got whipped all night. They were pushed around, missing tackles, and ineffective.
Carter struggled last year but word was he had looked better in camp. While he did make 4 tackles, his pass coverage was weak just like last year. Dallas better be looking for an answer at LB because I’m afraid Carter is not it.
The 3rd string veteran QB was sacked and fumbled. Thought he held the ball too long all night and failed to move the offense effectively. Hanie did not make a case to keep him as the third QB. The undrafted rookie Dustin Vaughan actually looked better.
I couldn’t find a #41 listed on the roster and with the way he covered, I wouldn’t list his name either. 41 was burnt for a long TD pass and frankly looked like he sneaked onto the field when no one was looking. The Cowboys were desperate at corner coming into the game, and having the “unknown corner” on the field was proof.
It was only a preseason game and many key players on both sides of the ball were missing but still it’s not easy to come away feeling good about things. Lot of work to be done back in Qxnard. The Cowboys may have rolled into San Diego on a train but right now, this Cowboys train looks like it jumped off the track.