The Cowboys faced a very tough Oakland Raiders team last week. There were plenty of interesting matchups to discuss after looking back at the game film.
*Running back Ezekiel Elliot’s first preseason action. There were many positives from the star running back. Even though it’s possible Elliot can start week one, the Cowboys would certainly miss him if he doesn’t. He is a special player, but a classic example of Elliot was on his fourth carry of the game. Travis Frederick was a tick late getting to the second level due to traffic which gave the linebacker a chance to stuff Elliot. He then spins off the tackle and uses his strength to break another before being taken down for a 4-yard gain.
*The backups at running back looked great once again. Alfred Morris in particular ran for 56 yards on 9 attempts, averaging 6.2 yards.
*Quarterback Dak Prescott looks more comfortable as a pocket passer than he did last year. Even with pressure in his face, Prescott is poised in the pocket, waiting to choose a passing lane without forcing a bad throw. Oakland couldn’t handle Prescott picking them apart underneath with the likes of Cole Beasley and Jason Witten.
*La’el Collins took on a heavy task of handling pass rusher Khalil Mack. I was surprised how well he did considering he has had his struggles with several penalties. Collins’ footwork was able to get him outside and keep Mack wide. His punch was strong but the right hand is still an issue. He needs to learn to place his right hand as he gave away face mask penalties and placing his right hand too wide. Other than that, solid showing from Collins.
*Chaz Green got the start at left guard, but was unsurprisingly helped off the field with another injury. Jonathan Cooper seems to look more comfortable at guard. I imagine Cooper will start the season there with Green as the swing tackle.
*Backup quarterback Cooper Rush was strip-sacked which was returned for a touchdown. The sack was from a missed block from Alfred Morris (although he has improved in this area). Rush once again showed why he is staying on the 53-man roster by having another impressive showing after the early setback. Add on another two touchdowns to his preseason total.
*Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence could have his best season yet if he can continues to play well. Against Oakland, he managed two tackles, one of them for a loss which resulted in a difficult third down situation. The Raiders failed to get the first down and were forced to punt. Lawrence may not have had a sack, but at one point he looked to the inside of Jackson before making a rip move to Jackson’s outside and getting into the backfield. Unfortunately by this time, Carr already had thrown the ball but it was nice technical work from Lawrence.
*The secondary had its up’s and down’s against Oakland. Scandrick and Carroll had tough jobs on their hands with the likes of Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper but handled them very well. It’s the mental side of things that let the secondary down with busted coverages. The first touchdown from Oakland resulted in Carroll passing Cordarelle Patterson to Jeff Heath but Heath wasn’t in position which left Patterson wide open. Amari Cooper’s 48-yard score was from another safety hiccup. Derek Carr gets Jones to bite on a pump fake which gave him a bad angle to get to Cooper.