- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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It was just one preseason game, and for the Dallas Cowboys this summer it's one of five instead of the usual four. So from a strictly mathematical perspective, it means less than even a normal preseason game would. These August games carry no predictive value whatsoever. Just because a team or a player is good at something in a preseason game doesn't mean they will be good at the same thing in a real game. They might, but if they are it could have nothing to do with the way they looked against the Dolphins in Canton on Aug. 4.
Those disclaimers out of the way, here are some of my thoughts after watching the Cowboys' preseason opener Sunday night:
The run/pass ratio of 34/24 is interesting, of course. They only had one game last year in which they ran the ball that many times, and because of the offseason hullabaloo about the change in offensive playcaller it's being hailed by some as a sign of Bill Callahan's increased control. Could be, but I think it's going to be important for everyone to remember that this is still Jason Garrett's offense; Callahan's just calling the plays. Is it possible Callahan will maintain a commitment to the run throughout the game better than Garrett did? Sure. And if backup running backs like Phillip Tanner and Joseph Randle show they can handle things, doing that will be easier. We'll still have to see how this holds up once the starting quarterback, starting wide receivers, starting tight end and starting running back are actually playing and the games count. But positive reinforcement for Tanner, Randle, Callahan and of course the interior offensive line are a good thing.
Rookie center Travis Frederick impressed me with his strength, and it's not hard to see him starting at center or even at guard if Phil Costa can stay healthy. The Cowboys' offensive line has a lot of question marks and a long way to go, but unlike this time last year, it feels as though the work they did to make it better in the offseason might bear some fruit. Still there is alarmingly little depth behind the starters, especially at tackle.
George Selvie is a fun story for Cowboys fans. If the Tyrone Crawford injury created a depth problem and the team actually fixed it with a late-July street free agent, that's found money right there. Selvie sure looks like a fit in this Monte Kiffin/Rod Marinelly 4-3 front as a defensive end with good instincts and lateral movement. There's a reason he was on the street, of course, and the best thing he can get out of a strong preseason is a spot in the backup defensive end rotation. But again, even if it's against low-quality competition, success in these games can help a player's confidence. And seeing a guy actually get to the quarterback can help a coaching staff's confidence in that guy. Ideally, Selvie emerges as someone who can be deployed as a situational pass-rusher, which was the minimum they were expecting from Crawford this year.
Matt Johnson barely played, got hurt, rinse, repeat.
Backup quarterback Nick Stephens is obviously very unpolished and needs a lot of work on learning how to get rid of the ball quickly, but he's got some arm.