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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cowboys and Chargers Pregame coverage

First Half Analysis:

From the first whistle, the Chargers dominated the first half with over 200 yards of offense, as well as holding the Cowboys offense to under 50 total yards. Two turnovers at the end of solid drives hurt the Chargers scoring chances, but the Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeil-less offense has looked smooth and efficient. Here are some points I took away from the half.

  • For the Chargers, Matthews showed the ability to wear down a defense, while consistently gaining positive yardage. Coach Norv Turner attacked the Cowboys outside linebackers in the passing game with multiple screens, which went for 1st downs. The combination of flash-back Darren Sproles and rookie Ryan Matthews was very effective against mainly starters from the Cowboys defense in this pre-season matchup.
  • Phillip Rivers is still Phillip Rivers. Even without Vincent Jackson, the Chargers passing game doesn't seem to have missed a beat. Malcolm Floyd made an impressive catch along the sideline, Antonio Gates provided a consistent target as always, and all three running backs; Mike Tolbert, Darren Sproles, and Ryan Matthews contributed in the passing game.
  • Legedu Nanee and Malcolm Floyd seem poised for solid seasons. Each showed good route running ability and a secure grasp of Norv Turner's offense.
  • The line did not dominate, but held their ground against an elite Defensive Line from the Cowboys.
From the Cowboys perspective, the red zone touchdown by Miles Austin on a 3rd and 8 stop fade route was encouraging, but 49 total yards of offense will not cut it. Tony Romo seemed out of rhythm the entire half with his fellow receivers. Twice he miscommunicated the blitz check route with Miles Austin, and Roy Williams even fell. Here are some other points I took from the 'Boys.

Felix Jones has a more physical running style than last season. Instead of busting a move on defenders, Jones seems reluctant to go with the stiff arm more and more. The increased size makes one believe that he can handle a full-time role, yet I feel he is just a faster, more explosive, and less powerful version of Marion Barber.
If Jason Garrett can implement a RB committee that can utilize all three backs (Tashard Choice, Marion Barber, and Felix Jones), I feel that the Cowboys could pose a Top 10 rushing threat in 2010.

  • That said, the offensive line needs to heal, and fast, as the injuries to Alex Barron, Marc Columbo, and Kyle Kosier were evident in the 1st half.
  • The red-zone touchdown to Miles Austin was the 1st red-zone touchdown in two preseason games for the Cowboy's starters. It was nice to see Romo and Austin connect on the stop fade, a timing route that only a select number of quarterbacks can throw consistently.
  • Terrence Newman, one play aside, covered Malcolm Floyd very well. Inside the red-zone, Newman made a great play on the ball and picked off a corner route intended for Floyd.
  • Barry Church. Barry Church is a ball-hawking safety who got involved in a number of defensive plays. Church does a good job of coming downhill through running lanes while keeping his balance. Church also recovered a fumble and took it down the sideline for a near touchdown.
  • Pass rush was consistently there, forcing 2-3 hurries, while also recording 2 sacks.
All in all it seemed to me like a "Bend, not Break" night for the Cowboys.

Will update this post after the game with a second half analysis.


Second Half Analysis:

For the Chargers and Cowboys, both backup sets of offensive linemen looked terrible. Missed blitz pickups were very common, and sloppy play on both sides (10 penalties on the Cowboys, and 4 penalties against the Chargers.) Nevertheless there were some good things I saw from the second half.

  • After two miserable drives, Jon Kitna showed some poise and leadership in conducting a 67 yard scoring drive, capped by a 19 yard TD pass to Martellus Bennet.
  • Martellus Bennet, often criticized for his lack of growth as an NFL player and overall underachievement, showed strides in his game as he made 4 catches for 40 yards and a TD in tonight's game. Also note that 3 of 4 catches came on the above mentioned scoring drive.
  • Lonyae Miller showed some burst out of the backfield en route to a 16 yard screen pass, ran for 11 yards, and finished the game with a key 3rd down conversion.
  • For a second preseason game, the depth at the linebacker position has lead Dallas to a victory. Against the Bengals it was LB Brandon Sharpe with the pick-six; tonight, it was Victor Butler who sealed the deal. Butler sacked QB Jonathan Crompton, forcing a fumble and consequent safety against the Chargers. The safety gave Dallas a 16-14 lead which they held onto for the ensuing 3 minutes.

For the Chargers, a few players really stood out to me.

  • Fullback/running back Mike Tolbert impressed me throughout the game with his hard nosed running style, explosiveness between the tackles, and surprisingly good hands. Tolbert was the driving force in nearly all of San Diego's drive's in the 2nd half. It seems as if Tolbert will likely fight Jacob Hester for first team snaps during the 2010 season.
  • Receiver Seyi Ajirotutu, "ajeerawha?", showed his big play ability, getting behind the Cowboys secondary on his way to hauling in a 56 yard reception. That play looked however as more of a miscue by Dallas than a big play for the Chargers. Nevertheless Ajirotutu went on to make two more catches for a total of 3 catches for 71 yards.
  • Billy Volek and Jonathan Crompton failed to leave a good or bad impression on me, as both fell victim to the Cowboys intense pass rush, and suffered from poor offensive line play.

What it boils down to is this, the Chargers and Cowboys both looked shaky offensively due to injuries/holdouts on the offensive side, as well as both teams playing determined defense. The Cowboys have tremendous depth across the board, mainly at WR, TE, and LB, and the Chargers have many running backs who can churn out yards. It doesn't seem like the Chargers are badly missing Vincent Jackson, however with Jackson their offense would vastly improve. Both teams must work on discipline, either in penalties, missed blocks, and/or miscommunications in the passing game. But these wrinkles will be ironed out, as both Wade Phillips and Norv Turner are excellent coaches; besides, its the preseason....Does it really matter? ........ just kidding.

1 comment:

  1. Way too many penalties......... 11 penalties too much....