Garrett’s Cowboys Fall 23-6 to the 49ers, and It’s All Part of the Plan
The Dallas Cowboys lost 23-6 to the San Francisco 49ers Sunday night. This marks the seventh preseason loss in a row for Jason Garrett and the Cowboys. The good news is the record doesn't matter, the bad news is ... well, there is no bad news.
As bad as losses, even preseason losses, sometimes look, only good can come from these games. Unless you get injured (sorry, Jordy Nelson), there is no downside to the preseason. The preseason is where teams settle rosters, find gems and cut the guys who can't cut it. It's also how the NFL players get into playing shape.
I've heard a lot of talk and chatter this year about how useless the preseason is and how the NFL should do away with it for good. The NFL is also being called to shorten training camp and lessen contact in practice.
Listen: You cannot just be ready to take the rigors of an NFL season by practicing one day a week and playing a quarter total of preseason football. I guess it sounds counter-intuitive but you have to get hit in order to be able to get hit. If anything, the NFL needs to stop the brawling in NFL joint practices.
At some point, the Cowboys will have to play their starters in the preseason if they want to be ready for the Giants in week one. During week one last year with the Cowboys vs. these same 49ers, the Cowboys offense looked completely lost and Tony Romo threw interceptions like they were going out of style.
I'm not saying the whole starting unit needs to play the whole game, but a quarter or half with the starters together playing game speed will go a long ways to sync this unit up.
With all of that out of the way, the players on offense that did have extended time, were not great. After Brandon Weeden left the game earlier than expected with symptoms of a concussion, Dustin Vaughn came in and threw two first-half interceptions -- one of which was returned for a touchdown by a defensive tackle.
The defense battled well all night, only giving up nine of the 23 points. Three sacks in the first half, including one by rookie Randy Gregory, led a night of pressure. The defensive line seems to have great depth. Going against the best starting five offensive linemen in the NFL has definitely put this young defensive line on the fast track to greatness. Probably. Hopefully.
Linebackers Keith Smith and Andrew Gachkar had productive nights, and the linebacker core held their own even without the two best on the field. The Cowboys defense as a whole seems much improved, even without Rolando McClain and Sean Lee.
A name to continue to watch in the secondary is Corey White. With the defense in bad field position, White broke up a touchdown pass on the first drive of the game to hold the 49ers to a field goal.
Special teams looked rough again as they continued to give up big punt returns to put the defense in a bad spot. The special teams unit also had a bad play when Quinton Patton broke through for San Fran to block and recover the punt for a touchdown.
There were a few bright spots on offense. Joseph Randle looked capable. Gus Johnson had a big run in the 4th quarter. Geoff Swaim had almost 60 yards receiving and looks like a lock to make the team. Recent acquisition David Porter had a good game catching three passes for 30 yards.
The battle for the third-string quarterback continued, and while Jameill Showers and Dustin Vaughn had similar stats, Showers got the ball into the end zone and looked much more in control, with less snaps. Showers also got yet another tackle on special teams.
On the opposite end of the defensive line depth, the most surprising weakness in this game was the depth of the offensive line; it's a glaring problem.
Darrion Weems is not the answer at your back-up swing tackle. La'el Collins could be, but he could be starting at guard for Ronald Leary very soon. At that point, Leary, would be your back up on the interior and you still are searching for a swing tackle.
I have no doubt the Cowboys answer this question and many of the other questions that spring up after an ugly performance. I also have no doubt the Cowboys just don't really care about the preseason. Just like most of the fans.
Look for a few more starters Saturday, Aug. 29 against Minnesota, but don't blink because they won't be in long. That's Garrett's M.O. And it as long as it works, I'll be fine with it.