The third game of the 2015 NFL preseason got underway for the Dallas Cowboys today when, for the first time this year, they played a game on their home field.
The Minnesota Vikings came to town for what is customarily the “dress rehearsal” of the preseason schedule. The starters, for the most part, got the most playing time that they will until the regular season and we got a small glimpse of what this team can be.
Here are some takeaways from what we saw tonight and rapid reactions to the game against the Minnesota Vikings.
One of the bigger standouts tonight was Darren McFadden. Keep in mind that this is only the preseason, but DMC looked good. He carried the ball 4 times for 37 yards, with a long run of 15. He showed some, dare I say, explosiveness in his runs… giving Cowboys fans everywhere some hope.
While Joseph Randle got the start, I think that the Cowboys might be on to something here. The running back position has been the subject of a lot of speculation throughout training camp, but if both Joey Randle and DMC can get it in gear this will be a fun backfield behind that stout offensive line.
Terrance Williams just seems to have a knack for making big plays. He showed that again when early in the second quarter he took a pass from Romo 60 yards to the house (aka da casa)! After the catch T-Will made a nice cut to the right side of the field and showed the burst that we’ve come to know from him, frolicking his way into the endzone.
There were lots of talks earlier this offseason that while Dez Bryant was holding out – Terrance was getting all of the first wide receiver work. He already had a rapport with Romo, but they seem to have expanded on it and it seems like that connection will continue well into the 2015 season.
With Orlando Scandrick’s season-ending injury, all eyes were on the secondary tonight. Even though Teddy Bridgewater burned him on a deep throw to Mike Wallace, Brandon Carr rebounded well and had an interception… giving the Cowboy ball-hawkers some confidence going forward.
I thought that Morris Claiborne played well, and he seemed to have a swagger about him during the game. As subjective as that is, he never really got beat too badly, which is a huge positive. JJ Wilcox seemed to be a bit shaken up in the first half, but it seems that everything is going to be a-ok.
Not So Special Teams
The Special Teams unit has been of great concern for the Cowboys throughout all three of the preseason games. Tonight they surrendered a kickoff return touchdown to Cordarrelle Patterson, and were a bit sloppy in ST coverage in general. I’m not saying that it’s time to sound the fire alarm, it is preseason after all, but I’m sure that Coach Garrett is going to want to see some drastic improvement in practice next week.
Cole Beasley did have a nice punt return in the second quarter that set up a Cowboys score. It’s interesting that Lucky Whitehead wasn’t out there initially and that Beasley was, but perhaps the Cowboys just wanted to see what Cole could do against the Vikings first-team unit.
Vikings Beat Cowboys 28-14
In the end the Minnesota Vikings walked (sailed? They are Vikings…) away with the dubayoo.
There were a lot of positives in this game as Darren McFadden and Brandon Carr played well in positions that we had some questions about going into tonight.
It should be noted that the defensive line looked impressive as they have throughout the entire preseason. Yes, it was a positive sign that Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne looked solid, but with an elite pass rush everyone in the defensive backfield is going to benefit.
Bobby Belt from Cowboys Cast also talked about in his Halftime Q&A on Periscope another star from tonight – Andrew Gachkar. Number 52 was making plays everywhere tonight, and he seems like he’s going to be a solid man in the middle while Rolando McClain serves his suspension… and perhaps even after that. You can listen to our Cowboys Cast interview with Andrew Gachkar here to learn more about him.
The Cowboys walked away from tonight with zero injuries and a whole lot to be excited about getting ready for the 2015 opener against the New York Giants.