first-team, starting with the defense:
- OK, so it's only one play. But it seemed a tad ironic that Roy Williams came flying into the picture on the very first play of the game to make the tackle on a short run. Sure, we all want to see what he does in coverage, but for the first play, it was a nice glimpse of the old days.
- The second play was even better. The Cowboys will show a 4-4 look, taking out a cornerback, Mike Jenkins in this case, and inserting nose tackle Tank Johnson, who just so happened to get a sack. The Cowboys will look to match up personnel with opponents. If they see two tight ends, with two running backs, they're going with that bigger package. And you can do that when you have cornerbacks that cover.
- OK, promise not to dissect every play, but the third play of the game was interesting, too. The Cowboys went with a dime package, putting six defensive backs on the field, with Anthony Henry lining up in a safety slot, to cover the tight end. The key with this defense will ultimately come down to how much pressure the Cowboys can generate with only four down linemen and a linebacker. The result was a 1-yard screen pass that safety Ken Hamlin blew up from the start.
- On offense, you have to give credit to that starting line. They kept Romo with a clean pocket. He was able to just sit there and play catch with Witten and Crayton.
- The line pushed the pile in the running game, too. And even when there wasn't much room, Barber was . . . well, Barber. That's what he is, a bruising running back.
- When the Cowboys went three-wide, Sam Hurd entered the game, along with Crayton and Owens. Now, that might change next week. With Miles Austin having a nice game - five catches for 64 yards - don't be surprised if the Cowboys let Austin get some looks in that role.
- Despite Martellus Bennett listed second on the depth chart, Tony Curtis was used often in the two-tight end looks. He is more versatile than Bennett right now because he can play the H-back role as well.
OK, so there are some first-team assessments. Sure, I saw the rest of the game. I know there were plenty of problems.
But honestly, isn't that the way you would prefer it? Wouldn't you rather see your starters go out and execute with near perfection on offense and show some muscle on defense. If someone has to struggle, at least it is the backups.
Now, for depth purposes, sure, you'd like for the entire team to play well. And maybe, over the course of the preseason, that will be the case.
But playing like this beats the alternative. You sure would hate for the starters to come out flat and stink up this place, only for the third-teamers to save the day.
Work to do? Definitely.
But this is really no different than what we expected coming into camp. All of the major question marks and uncertainties surrounded the backup positions anyway.
And nothing that happened Saturday night has changed that perception.