The Dallas Cowboys finally opened up their 2019 preseason Saturday night, doing so with a 17-9 road loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
While the starters played very limited time during the contest, with many key players not playing whatsoever, there’s still a ton to take away from this game. Let’s dive right into my game notes from the Cowboys loss, and discuss who shined and who disappointed in the preseason opener.
- For his first live-action drive this season, I thought quarterback Dak Prescott played well. He and Michael Gallup clearly have developed a rapport over Gallup’s first year-and-change with the team, and they are going to keep trying to hook up on that fly route down the sideline this season. It drew a defensive pass interference call Saturday night which set up the first field goal of the game. Prescott might’ve been lucky his third down attempt to Blake Jarwin got tipped, though, as that could’ve been a red zone interception had it gotten through the line.
- Chidobe Awuzie had a real nice day. Not only did he have a solid pass breakup on a third down to force a punt, he was also aggressive and controlled as tackler in the open field. He looks as comfortable as he ever has out there, and his tackling was impressive. He struggled to make plays on the ball in 2018, so the pass breakup was great to see. His time working as CB1 in practice these past few weeks might be sharpening his coverage skills even further.
- Speaking of young corners having good nights, add both Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis to that list. Brown specifically had an excellent tackle in the fist quarter on third and ten. He played good man coverage, and though he allowed the reception he made sure to keep the receiver short of the sticks. All of a sudden the Cowboys have an embarrassment of riches at the cornerback position, and when Byron Jones comes back one of these guys is going to be relegated to a bench role they deserve better than.
- Then there was rookie safety Donovan Wilson. The sixth round pick came up with a nice interception in his first game action, and began to show signs of the player that the Cowboys seem to believe can help fill their safety hole in 2019 and beyond.
- While the young defensive backs looked as good as advertised, the young wide receivers had a bit of a rough night. Jon’Vea Johnson came in with a ton of hype, but a big third down drop stalled both the momentum of the Cowboys’ offense and his own hype train at once. He still came up with a nice sideline catch towards the end of the first half, but the drops are beginning to become an issue. Still, his route running is impressive and should not be overlooked. Jalen Guyton didn’t do much himself, though Mike White didn’t help these wide receivers out either.
- Speaking of Mike White, it wasn’t pretty for the young quarterback on Saturday night. Cooper Rush looked composed and comfortable, and put even more space between him and White for the QB2 role. If Dallas really does only carry two quarterbacks, it might be curtains for Mike White.
- Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about the offensive line. The first unit (minus Zack Martin) was really solid. Tyron Smith was downright dominant in pass protection, even producing a viral internet clip by throwing the pass rusher down to the ground with ease. I though Connor Williams looked good and is certainly carrying his newly added weight well. La’el Collins did get beat inside once on the pass attempt which resulted in pass interference, but I felt they did a nice job as a group overall. Once the rest of the linemen came in, though, there were some issues. Though Adam Redmond, Joe Looney, and Xavier Su’A-Filo held their own on the interior, Mitch Hyatt had a really rough night. Hyatt just isn’t ready for the NFL game, particularly concerning his play strength.
- One last parting shot: the Cowboys need to do something about Brett Maher. There simply can’t be a single player, coach, or fan that feels confident in him when he comes into the game at this point. Maybe some veteran competition will get him right. Maybe not, but it’s worth a shot.