HONOLULU – Let’s get this part of the way. The Rams didn’t have any defensive starters playing. And the Cowboys were without arguably their four best offensive players in Zeke, Cooper, Zack Martin and Tyron Smith.
So we knew all that going into the game, so we can remove the “yeah … but” aspect from this conversation.
Let’s just evaluate what we saw on that Cowboys’ opening drive, which totaled over 100 yards – something that certainly isn’t easy to do with just one drive.
The easy takeaway from that, and the most popular one, was what we saw out of Tony Pollard. Yeah, he looked really good with the ball in his hands, and he did most of it between the tackles. If you’ve listened and watched Cowboys Break during camp, I’ve harped on the importance of Pollard running inside. If he can prove to be a weapon there, then teams won’t have a ready on him and the offense when he’s in the game.
Well, he’s shown that now in two straight games that he’s a tough inside runner. That touchdown run didn’t look like a gadget player at all. He was cutting, juking, knocking guys off him and then had power to finish the run and get into the end zone.
So what does that mean? Now all of a sudden are the Cowboys holding the cards in the Zeke negotiating? Well I don’t think it’s to that point at all.
This team wants Zeke more than ever, but I guess with each run, especially between the hashes, Pollard is making the Cowboys feel a little easier in this situation. And when it comes to the negotiations, Pollard’s play probably allows the Cowboys to hold their position better and let Zeke come back down in his requests.
OK, back to the game. The real thing that excited me about this offense wasn’t just Pollard, but the fact that Pollard was one of five or six guys contributing.
As mentioned earlier, there was no Cooper, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin or Zeke. Yet, the offense was more than functional, using a host of other players.
Nifty play call on third-and-one to use fullback Jamize Olawale on an inside run. Tavon Austin made a nice catch, as did Randall Cobb. The big play was the catch by Michael Gallup down the right sideline. The significance of that was the fact that Dak and Gallup struggled to connect last year on many deep throws. While this deep ball wasn’t exactly on the money, Gallup did a great job of locating the ball, adjusting his body and letting the defender fly by before securing the catch and staying inbounds. That play flipped the field and allowed the Cowboys to keep the drive going, using Jason Witten for a good catch over the middle and then heavy doses of Pollard, who only played that one series, as did the rest of the starters.
But that’s all that was needed.
Again, who cares who was in the game for the Rams. Yeah, they would be better on defense but the same could be said on the other side.
The real point here was how new OC Kellen Moore was getting everyone involved. And while you can argue the point that the Rams might have gotten off the field earlier, we’ll obviously never know.
But while the preseason is a time when teams don’t want to put too many things on tape, what they did Saturday in Hawaii was the perfect stuff to float out there.
So what did other teams, including the Giants, the Week 1 opponent, get from that first drive?
Well, they saw that Moore is going to spread things around and get everyone involved.
And it’s just one game, but teams have to notice this:
· Gallup can get down the field and make plays.
· Witten can still get open and move the chains.
· The fullback needs to be recognized in this offense.
· Dak has the ability to spread the ball around the lead this offense nearly 100 yards.
· And most importantly, Tony Pollard is a threat in both the running and passing game.
All that from just one drive. Then again, in the preseason, that’s about all you can ask for.
And with all of that, let’s go home.