This past Saturday the Dallas Cowboys put some of their fans on life support with their poor performance against the Texans. The team rushed for a paltry 13 yards, averaging a meager 1.1 yards per carry, and the offensive line showed a few signs of worry when they failed to recognize a few stunts and twists by the Texans defensive line.
I guess Houston was out to prove that the saying “don’t mess with Texas” should be re-written to say “don’t mess with the Texans.”
We learned that Houston takes its preseason play pretty dang serious. Houston’s budding star running back Arian Foster rushed for 118 yards, Matt Schaub’s quarterback rating went north of 90, and the defense looked about as mean as Barry Bonds after a steroid injection.
Simply put, the Cowboys were hit by a freight train when they were expecting a San Francisco trolley. The Texans had a mid-season type of demeanor and form after their head coach Gary Kubiak said they had to get tougher after losing to the Saints in their second preseason game.
Not taking anything away from the Texans, but the end result of their victory over the Cowboys was a preseason win at home a couple of weeks before the regular season starts.
Each week I will feature a few worries that should keep Cowboys fans on their edge of their seats; something that needs immediate attention and an immediate fix, if you will.
On to this week’s set of “worries.”
The Dallas Cowboys should seriously start worrying about their offensive line. By my count I’ve written about three billion articles over the past few years pleading for the team to address their need at each position on the line. Starting right tackle Marc Colombo is starting to show signs of wear and age and starting left guard Kyle Kosier is nursing a worrisome type of knee injury. Greenhorn left tackle Doug Free is being tasked at filling the Shaq sized shoes of former Cowboy Flozell Adams and so far he’s doing a good job. But what happens if Free turns an ankle or sprains a knee, then what?
Dallas simply does not possess the amount of depth on the offensive line required to absorb too many injuries. This, I’m sure, will keep fans and pundits on the edge of their couches all season. Can the Cowboys offensive line hold up for an entire season?
Second wave of worries this week hinges on the health of Cowboys rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant. Fans will recall that way back during the start of training camp in San Antonio, Bryant suffered a high ankle sprain that has kept him away from the football field ever since. He’s pleaded with coaches to allow him to play in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Dolphins, but head coach Wade Phillips is being cautious with the anxious rookie and tamping down expectations of what he will do on Thursday.
Fans are salivating at the thought of seeing Bryant play in Garrett’s pass happy offense. His explosiveness and speed will add another weapon and layer of depth to what the Cowboys can do this season.
But Cowboys fans, allow me to throw a wet towel on your excitement. We have yet to see what Bryant can do in a real NFL football game. Yes he’s fast and yes we’ve seen what he can do on tape at Oklahoma State, but the rook isn’t used to NFL game speed and receivers are usually slow to develop. Just take a look at Tampa Bay’s once star receiver Michael Clayton. He had an amazing rookie season and has struggled ever since.
Dez is talented and smart enough to avoid the Clayton pitfalls, but allow Bryant to get acclimated to Garrett’s complex offense before we crown him as the next Cowboys great.
Last worry of the weak revolves around the ability of the Cowboys often criticized secondary. There is star corner Mike Jenkins on one side and pro bowl cornerback Terrance Newman on the other. Other than that there is pure uncertainty. In the offseason the Cowboys jettisoned safety Ken Hamlin as he signed with the Ravens and gave the starting job to Alan Ball.
Many fans remember the play action touchdown pass Ball gave up against the Texans last week and the many times that he was beat for big plays last season. But Ball needs to be given a chance to develop and Jerry isn’t usually one to hang on to players who he believes are underachieving, just ask Flozell and Ken.
Bottom line is we will not have a true assessment of the Cowboys as a unit until maybe midway through the season. They had some growing pains early on last year, don’t forget the Kansas City game, and seemed to get it together by the end of last season.
One thing is for sure, there will be no shortage of opinion on the team that American’s love to hate.
You can catch Jason’s radio show, Monday Night Quarterback, every Monday night at 8pm ET on www.blogtalkradio.com/cowboyjay.
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