Much of the offseason was spent marveling over the Dallas Cowboys’ cornerbacks.
Congratulating the front office for finding Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis on day two of the 2017 NFL Draft, drooling over the possibilities with Byron Jones at cornerback, and discussing how impressive new secondary coach Kris Richard has been thus far.
After one preseason week of action, however, it’s fair to say we need to see better play from these cornerbacks going forward.
Outside of Byron Jones, who was rather impressive during his limited snaps, this cornerback group left much to be desired. Chidobe Awuzie was fine overall, but didn’t play with that same edge we saw towards the end of 2017. Jourdan Lewis appeared to have a few miscommunications with fellow linebackers and safeties at times, but that is also to be expected this early in the preseason.
The real culprit of the disappointing play was former sixth round pick and current starting slot cornerback Anthony Brown. Brown, who had been receiving rave reviews during training camp, looked more like the inconsistent 2017 version of himself than the impressive 2016 version. As we have grown accustomed to seeing, Brown was even called for a pass interference in the red zone because he couldn’t get his head around in time.
Anthony Brown always seems to work himself around the ball, and has been one of the more efficient cornerbacks on the roster when it comes to creating interceptions. But, for some reason, he struggles mightily when trying to track the ball at the catch point and avoid these pass interference calls.
Despite being the most questioned group all throughout training camp, I actually thought the first group of safeties had a solid game. Kavon Frazier continued to flash on special teams as a tackler, and both Xavier Woods and Jeff Heath looked natural in their safety spots. One play which sticks out on the 49ers opening drive was linebacker Jaylon Smith trailing tight end George Kittle perfectly down the seam while both Woods and Heath came over the top to deliver a blow.
We should see more of the first team cornerbacks on Saturday night when the Cowboys take on the Bengals. And hopefully, with increased time and practices, this group starts to play as well as we know that they can.
It is also important to remember, however, that this game was played on August 9th. Things are going to look very different come week 1 against the Carolina Panthers.