The Dallas Cowboys played their first home preseason game against the Colts this past Saturday, and luckily there were several positives to take away from the game.
*The majority of starters opened the game and picked up right where they left off. The offense with the likes of Dak Prescott, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten began the game in “11 personnel” and ran the no huddle to perfection. Prescott looked comfortable delivering the ball accurately and the offensive line (Smith, Cooper, Frederick, Martin and Collins) were paving the way for running back Darren McFadden. Prescott’s first deep throw resulted in a touchdown pass to Bryant. Bryant started with a double move but leaps up for the back shoulder fade and muscles over Vontae Davis into the end zone.
*It was an amazing sight to see linebacker Jaylon Smith not only participate in his first NFL game, but to start at middle linebacker. With Sean Lee on the sidelines, it was Anthony Hitchens who started at Will linebacker. It was a positive sign to witness Smith record his first tackle, where he dropped back into coverage and then instantly closed on the ball with a third down stop. He looked great on the mental side of the game, which was something I personally wanted to see, especially when you don’t play football for as long as he did.
*Byron Jones introduced himself into the game early with a stop on 3rd down. He managed to stay out of traffic near the line of scrimmage and kept his eye on his man with the play out to the flat. Jones continues to shine using his awareness and his ability to read and react.
*The first play of the second series was a nice gain by McFadden. The offensive line went zone to the left with a hole on the right wide open. With the Elliot suspension, the Cowboys still have a chance for a very good running game due to the offensive line and a stacked running back by committee.
*One of the run plays involved a fake sweep to Beasley. Watching the film, a linebacker for the Colts bites on the fake to Beasley creating room in the second level which resulted in a nice gain and a first down. Jonathan Cooper did a great job getting to the second level with a nice sustained block.
*Continuing with Cooper, he looked comfortable playing left guard, although it helps playing between Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick. Cooper should be the starting left guard in week 1 against the Giants. Often injured Chaz Green missed time in the off-season, and now looks likely to be the swing tackle.
*Cole Beasley continues to be difficult to cover. He just finds it easy to be route savvy and get himself open, no matter who is covering him.
*Stephen Paea looks comfortable in this scheme, picking up where he left off with Marinelli years ago. He looked disruptive in the game causing problems with his power and stopping runs inside. Paea and Maliek Collins looks like a strong pairing on the defensive line.
*I was surprised there weren’t more sacks against the Colts. All eyes were on Taco Charlton who at least managed to generate pressure, where at one point Charlton’s presence aided Damontre Moore to a sack.
*Backup quarterback Kellen Moore continues to struggle, leaving many question marks on the depth chart behind Prescott. Undrafted rookie Cooper Rush continues to shine in preseason, throwing for at least one touchdown in each game he has played. He is placing the ball where it needs to be, showing poise, accuracy and touch. Rush threw a beautiful touchdown pass to Noah Brown against the Colts, where Brown ran a “sluggo” route causing the cornerback to bite. Rush doesn’t waste the opportunity and isn’t afraid to sling the ball around.
*This was another big showing from Rod Smith at running back. He played with power using his big frame but also showed the ability to cut and burst. He’s also showing what he’s capable of as a receiver also. Smith finished the game with 53 yards on 7 carries.