The Dallas Cowboys fresh off of their Hall of Fame game win over the Arizona Cardinals could not carry over the winning momentum as they fell to the Los Angeles Rams 13-10. While the Cowboys did not win the game, they did improve in some areas and still showed that they need work in others. Here is what we learned about the Cowboys after preseason game number two.
With Dak Prescott sitting out again, Kellen Moore once again got the start and played the whole first half. It was not an impressive first half as Moore struggled greatly and finally led the Cowboys to their first first down of the game in the second quarter. The Cowboys would only muster three points in the first half under Moore but would start the second half strong as Cooper Rush took over. Rush started a perfect 8-8 with 93 yards and one touchdown before a drop towards the end of the third quarter. Veteran Luke McCown took over in the fourth quarter and didn’t look good as well failing to lead the Cowboys to a comeback victory despite having two chances late in the fourth quarter.
With most of the offensive starters resting again, Darren McFadden got the start and impressed showing great power and vision. Alfred Morris played with the whole back up offensive line in and didn’t get a whole lot going. Ronnie Hillman saw action in the fourth quarter but also didn’t do too much. I look for McFadden and Morris to do much better behind the starting offensive line and carry the load until Ezekiel Elliot returns from suspension.
Tight end Rico Gathers continues to impress as he had another strong game. He scored the Cowboys first touchdown of the game and continues to show improvement. Rookie Noah Brown also had an impressive game hauling in his fair share of catches and showing nice power by running over numerous defenders. Uzoma Nwachukwu also had a decent game as well. I look for Gathers to continue his strong play moving forward in his attempt to make the active roster this year.
Two starters, Zach Martin and Travis Frederick, started along with La’el Collins who is making the transition from guard to tackle. Collins showed great improvement from last game as he was not pushed around as much as he was last week. Tackle Byron Bell struggled with penalties getting called for holding at least twice and missed some blocks in the run game. Martin, Frederick, and Collins all looked good which is a great sign for Cowboys fans.
Taco Charlton recorded his first career sack in what was a much better game from him. He got consistent pressure and made some impressive plays like running down a Rams running back five yards down the field for a tackle. The interior was a hit and a miss as at times they would be stout against the run but then give up a big play. The inside pass rush is still lacking from the backups but tackles Jordan Carrell and Lewis Neal had good games for the most part. Defensive end Damontre Moore also had a strong game as well.
Jaylon Smith did not make his much-anticipated debut which gave way to the same linebackers from last week. Just like last week the linebackers struggled making tackles and were slow to the ball allowing Rams receivers to pick up 2-3 yards before being close enough to make a tackle. Damien Wilson was the bright spot as he made solid plays on both defense and special teams. This is still a position that has a lot of work to do moving forward.
The starting secondary played most of the first quarter and did well given the limited pass rush they had. Saftey Jeff Heath and cornerback Orlando Scandrick had strong games, especially in run support. Xavier Woods saw more action and delivered some solid hits. I was really impressed with the physical play of safety Kavon Fraizer who had his fair amount of big hits. The coverage, however, is still a problem as at times there was a lot of space between the receivers and defensive backs. Missed tackles were also a problem that the Cowboys will have to fix moving forward.