The Dallas Cowboys were able to rebound from last weeks loss to the Los Angeles Rams with a 24-19 win over the Indianapolis Colts with a lot of the starters making their preseason debut.
Just like last week, the Cowboys showed improvements in some areas and still need work in some areas. Here’s what we learned about the Cowboys after preseason game three.
Cowboy fans finally got their first look at Dak Prescott this season and picked up right where he left off hitting Dez Bryant for a big gain on the first play of the game. Prescott then proceeded to lead the Cowboys to a score hitting Bryant for the touchdown to cap off a 95-yard drive that did not see a third down. The second drive was much of the same before running back Darren McFadden fumbled the ball. He finished 7-8 for 106 yards and one touchdown. Back up Kellen Moore came in on the third drive of the game and immediately fumbled the ball that was recovered and returned for a touchdown. Moore was inconsistent and struggled again as he was only able to lead the Cowboys to three points. Cooper Rush came in late third quarter and jump-started the offense as he hit receiver Noah Brown for a touchdown completing 4-4 passes for 62 yards on the drive. Rush would finish with two touchdowns and increasing his chance to not only make the team but beat out Moore for the backup job.
With Ezekiel Elliot not playing, McFadden got the start and started off strong behind the starting offensive line. He showed great vision and great burst when hitting the hole totaling over 50 yards rushing midway through the first quarter. Alfred Morris came in late in the first quarter and looked good as well also showing good vision and burst and had some good runs in the second quarter behind the second team offensive line. Fullback Rod Smith also had a strong game as well showing great power, speed, and hands for a man his size. He could be a real tough goal line back.
Bryant also made his preseason debut and made his presence felt early as he took the opening pass for a big gain and hauled in the Cowboys first touchdown. Slot receiver Cole Beasley and tight end Jason Witten also looked well converting short dump off passes to good sized gains. Brice Butler also started strong as well becoming the favorite target of Moore. Brown also had a strong game including a touchdown and is looking better each game. Nwachukwu Uzoma had a strong connection with Rush hauling in a fair amount of catches with him at quarterback. Lance Lenoir, who has struggled in the return game and catching passes, was able to haul in a touchdown.
With all the starters playing the offensive line picked up where they left as well paving holes on the ground and providing strong pass blocking as well. Guard Jonathan Cooper did well starting for La’el Collins, who moved over to right tackle to take the spot of the retired Doug Free. Both played really well. Chaz Green started in place of left tackle Tyron Smith and impressed as well showing his versatility playing both left tackle and left guard where his competing with Cooper for the starting guard spot.
The defensive line showed great improvement getting a strong pass rush early on and was also stout against the run with the starters playing. Sadly when the backups came in that did not continue the positive momentum as they were gashed in the run game and had a non-existent pass rush. Taco Charlton had a solid game providing a nice pass rush against the Colts starting left tackle along with defensive end Demontre Moore.
Jaylon Smith finally made his much-anticipated debut and looked good as he came up big making a huge third down tackle. He also looked well in coverage and did a good job at flying to the ball. The linebackers did well in run support but still, need improvement in coverage as they are still too far of the receivers allowing for receivers to pick up 5-7 yards before attempting to make a tackle.
Orlando Scandrick impressed early making a few open field tackles and had an impressive deflection that almost resulted in an interception. They were also strong against the run and when called on to blitz did a solid job there as well with Scandrick making a few tackles from that spot. Duke Thomas also had a strong game as well. However, there were still too many open receivers and blown assignments. This is a position that is tough to get a read on because of all the injuries to the much-anticipated rookies.
Special teams also need a lot, A LOT of work. The return game could not get going as every return was called back because of holding. There was also a blocked field goal midway through the third quarter.