Cowboys-Texans: What did we learn?

August, 29, 2010
8/29/10
6:02
AM ET
If this was truly a dress rehearsal for the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday evening, Redskins fans have to be licking their chops for Sept. 12. The Cowboys' first-team offense was once again whipped by an AFC defense. And the defense wasn't much better. The Colts don't get worried about pitiful preseason performances because of their winning pedigree. I'm afraid Cowboys fans won't take the same laidback approach. Now let's assess the damage:
  • About the best thing you can say about the first half is that fourth-round pick Akwasi Owusu-Ansah opened the game with a 41-yard return. He showed a nice burst and Joe DeCamillis's unit did a good job creating a lane along the right side of the field.
  • It looked like the Cowboys' offensive line hadn't seen a stunt all preseason. On the first sack of Tony Romo, Texans defensive end Mario Williams came racing up the middle and Andre Gurode appeared to be shocked by his arrival.
  • Both Bradie James and Mike Jenkins did a nice job diagnosing plays early in the game, but Jenkins has to do a better job wrapping up. That's what Darren Woodson was really worried about with this group. Would they be able to tackle? Jenkins looked bad early in the game. Then Alan Ball started missing tackles.
  • The Cowboys are praying Dez Bryant will someday be like Andre Johnson. Matt Schaub has the luxury of being able to deliver the ball even when Johnson is closely covered. Johnson caught one ball on the first drive with Terence Newman all over him and then dragged him another 5 yards.
  • Jason Witten had no chance against defensive end Antonio Smith. Witten was overwhelmed by Smith when the Cowboys tried to run the ball to the left side. The Cowboys' running game has been bad throughout the preseason. I did like the draw play to Felix Jones on the second drive of the game. Right tackle Alex Barron did a really nice job sealing his man on that play. On the next play, Miles Austin had a bad drop in the left flat.
  • Gurode may have jump-started Amobi Okoye's dormant career in the first quarter. The Texans' former first-round pick raced around Gurode to sack Tony Romo. It looked like Gurode was in decent position and then he just watched Okoye run past him. Romo doesn't have any time to survey the field.
  • Missed the memo on former Tennessee Volunteer Arian Foster being such a wonderful running back. In the first quarter, DeMarcus Ware got pancaked by a tight end when Foster took off on an 18-yard run. Cowboys free safety Alan Ball whiffed on Foster in the open field. On the same drive, the Cowboys were completely fooled in coverage when Matt Schaub rolled right and then threw back across the field to Jacoby Jones. It looked like Ball was the player who was fooled on the touchdown.
  • Hey, at least Roy Williams came to play Saturday night. He made a nice catch off his shoetops late in the first quarter and then he overpowered Kareem Jackson on a 29-yard catch. Later in the drive, Williams drew a holding penalty on cornerback Glover Quin. The Cowboys then botched a toss to Felix Jones, who raced back and failed to recover the fumble. CBS' Gus Johnson was in midseason form on that call.
  • The Cowboys have to do a better job of knowing down and distance on defense. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick was giving Jacoby Jones way too much cushion on a third-and-6 play. There was no mystery where Jones was going with that route. On the next route, the Cowboys did the same thing on third-and-7. You think it might be a good idea to cover Andre Johnson on a crossing route? Johnson was the best player on the field Saturday.
  • Did anyone else see defensive end Igor Olshansky getting blown off the ball in the first half? That's supposed to be the strength of Olshansky's game, but he was on his heels every time I watched.
  • Scandrick simply has no chance against Andre Johnson. The Texans receiver is too physical for Scandrick. Former Texans offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has promised Santana Moss that he'll be able to do a lot of the same things as Johnson in the Skins' offense.
  • It's impressive to watch Tashard Choice on one of those slip screens. And it's remarkable to see Leonard Davis racing downfield in front of Choice. Doug Free told me recently that Davis might be the fastest player on the offensive line.
  • Wade Phillips finally lost his temper after a Foster run early in the second half. Looked like he was especially upset with Jason Williams and safety Michael Hamlin on the play. Both players took poor angles to Foster and ended up chasing him from behind.
  • With 11:47 left in the third quarter, Phil Simms says the Cowboys don't appear to be motivated for this game. You think? What a weak little attempt at a tackle by safety Pat Watkins on Jeremiah Johnson's long run.
  • On Foster's touchdown run early in the second half, Cowboys linebacker Victor Butler was driven into the end zone and never came close to making a play. Dallas had no interest in playing this game. How much should that concern Cowboys fans?
  • The Texans were double-teaming Jay Ratliff and Bradie James was overpursuing against the run. Foster just burned them all night. Simms makes a statement with 5 minutes left in the third quarter that the Cowboys are playing a lot of reserves. I looked up and saw DeMarcus Ware, Ratliff, Anthony Spencer and James all in the game. Second consecutive disgraceful performance for the Cowboys. We'll see if they can flip the switch against the Redskins.

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