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Eatman: Winless Preseason Or Not; Concerns Are Valid


ARLINGTON, Texas – You're not going to find many people who dismiss the results of a preseason – whether it's a game or as a whole – more than me.

It's just not always a great preview of what we're going to see in the regular season.

So I'm not going to say that it's alarming that these Cowboys went 0-4 in the preseason, thanks to a lackluster 27-3 loss to the Broncos at AT&T Stadium. No, it's not the winless part that would have me concerned. But, make no mistake, this is rather concerning.

There's reason for concern as the Cowboys get ready for the start of the season. Even Jerry Jones, Mr. Glass-Half-Full himself who is always flowing with optimism, said in front of a room full of sponsors and fans Wednesday at the team's annual kickoff luncheon that this upcoming season will be "an uphill battle."

That's not exactly Jerry-like. We've seen him talk about Super Bowl aspirations before seasons that ended 5-11. Not saying that's where we're headed here, but when the owner is calling it uphill, maybe that's exactly what it's going to be.

Again, I don't think this is any different if the Cowboys find a way to beat the Dolphins in the third game. A 1-3 record and 0-4 really doesn't matter much. Obviously no one wants to enter the season winless. It's happened four other times in Cowboys' history and only once have the Cowboys made the playoffs or had a winning record.

The last winless preseason occurred in 2000, Dave Campo's first year as head coach, and the Cowboys went on to a 5-11 campaign. Only the 1998 season that saw Chan Gailey go 0-5 did the Cowboys turn it around in the regular season.

So yeah, it's possible. Anything is possible.

The concerning part to me isn't so much what we've seen, but what we haven't seen.

The one thing that was supposed to carry this team this year is the offense. And granted, it still might. But during a four-game preseason, you want to see consistent results from the area that not only will be the strength, but needs to be dominant.

Yeah, Romo had a nice drive against the Ravens, which came after a lost fumble that led to a touchdown, but that's really the only thing positive we've seen from the offense. Romo hooked up with Dez Bryant, who made several big plays against Baltimore. But we knew that was going to happen. Dez being a stud isn't anything new.

We never really saw Terrance Williams take off this preseason. Same with Jason Witten, either. We didn't see the offensive line just push people around like we all thought.

Granted, it's not a huge sample size. But I don't think anyone considers the Dolphins to be the NFL's next Wrecking Crew defense. Yet, in a half, the Cowboys couldn't get a touchdown and needed a 50-yard kickoff return by Dwayne Harris to lead to one of the field goals.

Do I think the offense will be a good unit? Yes, I still think that way and I've been on record as saying it'll be a top-3 offense this year. It's still possible but you'd like to think you could show more flashes during a four-game span than that. Then again, Romo had just 46 snaps from center, so it's tough to gauge that part at all.

Now, let's get to that defense. It was supposed to be bad again this year. Well, it hasn't been good.

There were games like Miami and some stretches against the Ravens where the defense played well. But overall, it's hard to tell because that defensive line hasn't been put together. In the offseason, we thought it might be a starting four that consisted of Henry Melton, Terrell McClain, George Selvie and DeMarcus Lawrence with Anthony Spencer as a wild card.

Only for a brief time in camp did we see the first four together, but obviously never in a game, considering only Selvie has played in the preseason among those five.

With the defensive line in shambles for the preseason, every unit behind that is also hard to evaluate. [embedded_ad]

Personally, I think Rolando McClain looked his best in this game and he'll be able to contribute. But every other linebacker and most of the secondary outside of Barry Church is a question mark.

Overall, it's our jobs to try to form an opinion on what we're going to see this year. And it's one of the more difficult times to do that because of how little we saw of the starters – and how little they performed when they were in there.

Personally, I just think a group that consists of Romo, Dez, Witten, Murray and this offensive line will be good enough to win a fair share of games. But if that's the case, then you have to look at the defense and wonder if it's good enough to win any.

A winless preseason isn't the reason to be concerned. But there's a lot of other signs to point to.

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