Here are ten things that stood out in the Cowboys first preseason game against the 49ers.
One preseason game is in the books for the Dallas Cowboys as they came out on the short end of a 17-9 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. It wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for, but that’s usually what we get in preseason games. The offensive starters only played one series, and the defense didn’t play much more so we only got a glimpse of the key players that will make up the roster. We did get a good look at many of the young players, and here are 10 thoughts on Saturday’s action.
1. Can’t finish the drives
The Cowboys struggled in the red zone, only scoring touchdowns 48% of the time (ranked 29th). So, it was a little disappointing to see the offense put together three nice drives to open the game, only to settle for field goals attempts. The offense put together four total drives deep into San Francisco territory and each time they ended with the field goal unit coming on the field.
This isn’t a good sign for a team that is trying to right the ship on offense.
2. The Cooper to Cedrick connection
Both Cooper Rush and Cedrick Wilson are in position battles as they try to work their way on their roster. They helped each other out by connecting a handful of times. Rush did a good job recognizing the pressure and hit Wilson over the middle on a slant route. They worked this play multiple times with success.
Rush also worked this play a few times to rookie receiver Jon’Vea Johnson, but the young receiver had trouble hanging on to the ball. Rush was right on the money with those slant passes.
Rush finished 16/26 with 142 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Wilson had three catches for 36 yards, but he took a head shot from a 49ers defender Adrian Colbert that kept him on the ground a couple minutes. Colbert was disqualified for the hit.
3. Incomplete-o for Chido
Last year was a breakout season for cornerback Byron Jones, but many are hoping that third-year corner Chidobe Awuzie can follow in his footsteps. Awuzie didn’t play very much, but he made great use of his time. He had a nice open field tackle on a swing pass, and then got his hand in just in time to break up a pass on a deep ball.
4. The Gifford era begins, but was cut short
The Cowboys linebacker group appears set, but don’t tell that to the undrafted free agent from Nebraska. Luke Gifford was on his way to a nice game when he had a couple good first-half tackles. He had one tackle when he shot the gap and another in the open field. But his best play was when he laid back in coverage and picked off 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens.
He was on our radar a couple months ago:
Gifford is a high-motor guy that works hard to shed blockers. He has good awareness where the ball goes and shows good burst. He’s a physical player who shows good ability to bring down ball carriers. Gifford will benefit from building his play strength, but his ability to go out and make plays right away could be his ticket to the 53.
It’s not good to over-react to just one preseason game, but it’s possible that Gifford is the fifth best linebacker on the Cowboys roster. Justin March-Lillard just doesn’t have the athleticism. Chris Covington doesn’t have the instincts. Gifford has both.
Of course, that idea may be short lived as the rookie went down with a leg injury in the second quarter after trying to plant and make tackle, but it doesn’t seem as bad as it looked initially.
Halftime injury update: @dallascowboys rookie LB Luke Gifford (left ankle) was taken to X Ray room in 2nd qtr. Gifford has INT earlier in game. X rays negative, ankle sprain. Sean Lee told me that he expected Gifford to be the team’s preseason leader in tackles.— KristiCowboySideline (@KristiCowboy) August 11, 2019
5. Taco and Dorance
The Cowboys were without their starting edge rushers as DeMarcus Lawrence is recovering from a shoulder injury and Robert Quinn broke his hand earlier in the week. This opened the door for the young guys to show their stuff and they delivered. Taco Charlton and Dorance Armstrong were very disruptive. Charlton had a couple nice pressures and a QB hit, and even caused a holding penalty on the 49ers left tackle that would have been a sack. On that same play, Armstong got his hand on the ball as the quarterback released it. On the very next play, Armstrong sniffed out the running play and tackled the runner behind the line of scrimmage.
Armstrong is having a good camp, so he’s just solidifying his place on the team, but for Charlton - this is a good sign. He needs to have more plays like that.
Rookie Jalen Jelks also played well as he was able to get pressure on the 49ers as well. Although many players came close, Jelks was the only player to come away with a sack.
6. Another Wilson sighting
Cedrick wasn’t the only guy named Wilson who had a nice NFL debut. Sixth-round pick Donovan Wilson stepped in front of a C.J. Beathard pass for nice interception.
Wilson helped his chances to make this roster and could be a nice under the radar guy to earn some playing time this season.
7. Sorry, Mr. Jackson
It wasn’t a good day for rookie corner Michael Jackson as he struggled covering 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel. He got called for a pass interference penalty (that was challenged and lost) that gave San Francisco a new set of downs. He also failed to get his body turned around on a deep ball that was underthrown, allowing Samuel to be able to haul down the pass.
That’s not a good start for Jackson as he tries to work his way on a team that is deep at corner.
8. Nice game for Blake
With Jason Witten sitting this one out, this was a perfect opportunity for Blake Jarwin to get some looks. And the young tight end had a good showing as he did a good job getting up the field. Jarwin had four catches for 51 yards, including this 33-yard play in the first quarter.
9. Forgettable night for White
While Rush had a pretty solid night, the same is not true for the other Cowboys quarterback fighting for the backup job. He finished 9/20 with 87 yards and no touchdowns.
But more than that, White had trouble hanging on to the ball. On his first play after coming into the game, White was hit from behind and lost the ball. Fortunately for Dallas, a holding penalty nullified the play. Later in the fourth quarter, White tried to step up and run with the ball when a 49ers defender was able to get their hands on him, causing him to lose control of the ball.
Rookie left tackle Mitch Hyatt did him no favors protecting his blindside, but this has been one of the knocks on White as he gets real skittish when he feels pressure. He wasn’t able to get rid of the ball quick enough and once he’s under pressure, he turns into a huge liability.
White had a four chances at the end of the game to attempt a comeback when a pass interference penalty gave the Cowboys the ball at the six yard-line, but he threw four-straight incompletions.
10. Mecurial Maher
The Cowboys kicker Brett Maher can make long kicks. And he can make kicks in general for the most part, but for some reason you can set your watch to the fact that he’s going to miss an easy one. Maher went 3/4 on Saturday, but his one miss was a 35-yarder that he needs to convert.
Brett Maher in the first half:— Ambar Garcia (@AmbarGarciaTV) August 11, 2019
25 yds ✅
40 yds ✅
35 yds ❌
31 yds ✅
This makes Cowboys fans a little uneasy.
What are your thoughts on the Cowboys first preseason game?