Last night at AT&T stadium, the Dallas Cowboys squared off against the Minnesota Vikings. This time the Cowboys decided to give their starters some playing time. Although Dez Bryant sat out as a precautionary. This game was about testing the running game and seeing the improvement on defense.
I loved what I saw from the starters. Tony Romo finished 5-8 for 88 yards and throwing for two touchdowns, including a 60-yard touchdown to Terrance Williams. Dustin Vaughn and Jameil Showers both struggled and both threw for a combined 43 yards. Brandon Weeden missed the game due to a concussion sustained against the 49ers last week. The running game was better than the previous two games. Darren McFadden made Cowboys fans excited as he finished his night with four carries for 37 yards and averaged 9.2 yards per carry. Joseph Randle, Ben Malena and Gus Johnson all finished with a combined 42 yards rushing. As far as the receiving went, the most impressive receiver was Terrance Williams’ 60-yard touchdown pass from Tony Romo. Lucky Whitehead also had a touchdown pass from Tony Romo. Overall, the starting offense looked really good, but the backups still have a lot of improvement to do. Darren McFadden proved that when he’s healthy, he’s a threat to an opposing defense.
Earlier this week, the Cowboys lost their best secondary player in Orlando Scandrick to a torn ACL. With Scandrick out for the year, Brandon Carr and Mo Claiborne have been given chances to improve themselves this season. Brandon Carr had a good night, and did intercept a deep pass. As far as Mo Claiborne, he did show signs of improvement. Unlike his past three seasons, Mo Claiborne has been healthy all off-season, and looked better than ever, and covered his opposing receivers well. But the Cowboys coaching staff will expect him to break up more passes and force more turnovers. Sean Lee played for the first since December of 2013, and finished the game with three tackles. Randy Gregory recorded another sack, so he’s definitely in for a great rookie season. The primary starters of the defense we’re able to put a lot of pressure on the opposing QB and running game, so Rod Marinelli is doing a great job.
Still struggling with covering kick and punt returns. The biggest mistake was allowing the Vikings to return a 107-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia didn’t look pleased after the Vikings kickoff return. Special Teams needs improvement in this area. Punting is doing great, so there’s nothing to worry about that. Punt and kick returning is doing all right, as well, but penalties are an issue.
The Cowboys’ final pre-season game will be Thursday, September 3rd against the Houston Texans. They will look to practice harder to prepare for Week 1 when they square off against the New York Giants in Arlington.