Finally On To The Real Thing

i can't begin to tell you how thankful I am that the preseason is finally over. It might as well be renamed media season. The media just goes crazy with every story during the preseason, and there comes a point where I just can't turn on ESPN anymore because I don't want to hear about Brett Favre, Darelle Revis, Albert Haynesworth, or the best story of all, the weird haircuts and other things rookies must do as a rite of passage into the NFL. Aside from that is the fact that preseason is in fact the most pointless thing out there to judge a team. The starters go into the game knowing they will get maybe 10 plays in the first game. A quarter the 2nd game. 2-3 quarters in the third game, and no time at all in the 4th game. (The Cowboys and Bengals did pretty much the same thing even with having 5 preseason games instead of 4 since they both played in the hall of fame game) Having said that, it brings me to the topic of this article. The Dallas Cowboys preseason and what it means. To sum it up...close to nothing. Did anyone watch a Cowboys game? What were the two positions the announcers focused on? If you answered Left Tackle and Kicker, you would be correct. Doug Free has to now be the most widely known Left Tackle in all of the NFL after all the publicity he has gotten this past preseason. (Well, I guess he's behind Michael Ohr of the Baltimore Ravens, but he had a movie made about him with Sandra Bullock, so he is a give in at #1) What did we learn about these two positions? We learned that Doug Free is a solid Left Tackle, and that David Buehler can make "pressure preseason kicks" Although in all honesty I was impressed with David Buehler who seemed to make a good transition from a kickoff specialist to a place kicker/kick off specialist.

The big story coming into the preseason for the Dallas Cowboys was rookie WR out of Oklahoma State Dez Bryant. A player who was in a walking boot all of the preseason. So despite all the hype for Dez Bryant, which I am dying to join in on, we have seen nothing of him in an actual NFL game. (One can argue that a preseason game isn't an actual NFL game too, but we'll leave that for another time) The biggest news to come out of the Cowboys this preseason was the trade of Patrick Crayton to the San Diego Chargers for a 7th round pick in next years draft. The Cowboys will receive a 6th round pick in next year's draft if Crayton manages to catch 40 balls or more this season from QB Phillip Rivers. Hopefully Bryant can stay healthy throughout the season, because the Cowboys lack proven depth at the Wide Receiver position. The primary target being Miles Austin who will assume most of the focus of opposing defenses. Next in line would be the dreadfully under-performing WR out of Texas, Roy Williams. I don't like admitting this, but I was a big supporter of the Roy Williams. A big athletic receiver who will go and get the ball coming out of a dismal football team in the Detroit Lions, to America's Team, and his hometown team, the Dallas Cowboys. I guess I set my bar too high for Williams, way too high as a matter of fact as he has not lived up to expectations for the Cowboys. I have yet to see his athletic ability in jump balls, he tends to drop balls thrown in his vicinity, and he seems to have no chemistry with starting QB Tony Romo. A problem hopefully the two were able to solve this preseason. A preseason in which I'm pretty positive Williams was held to single-digit receptions. That really doesn't mean anything but still, its a stat that opens your eyes a little. Maybe the two most important receivers on this team are the Tight Ends. Jason Witten seems to be the only one that can stay healthy, and I keep waiting for the day Martellus Bennett comes out of his shell and has a huge performance in a game. He has the size, athletic ability, and the potential, he just can't translate his skills over to in-game action. He must be more focused on making rap songs or sending naked pictures to his girlfriend which will eventually leak onto the Internet.

So what can we make of the Dallas Cowboys preseason? After all their offense was nothing less than suspect, and their defense was decent at best. I would say not to look to far into the offense failing for the most part over the duration of the preseason. Jason Garrett came into every game with a very vanilla scheme while opposing defenses were planning and preparing a game plan against the Cowboy offense. Don't tell owner/GM/(insert title here) Jerry Jones that his team has a vanilla game plan though, you may be compared to someone as volatile as Dale Hansen of ABC sports. A reporter that frankly, is honest in his opinions about the Dallas Cowboys, although it did eventually lead to him being fired as an announcer by none other than Jerry Jones. Another reason you can't blame the Cowboys is that even though the players were all saying the right things, it must be hard to prepare for a preseason game when, as a starter, you know you are only going to get limited playing time. I'm not saying that the players don't try, no, it's just that the regular season has a different mindset than the regular season. Ever hear a player say they are going to take it up a notch for the playoffs? Well first off, why didn't you take it up a notch all season, and second off imagine that in the opposite direction for the preseason. The starters have minimal playing time, and most of the game the viewers are staring at guys who more then likely will never make it on the field at Texas Stadium, or will be stuck on the practice squad. It is difficult to get a true reading on a team in this way. Almost as if you looked at a baseball team's Triple A team, and from their play decided how good their Major League counterpart was. Its just not comparable.

Why do I think the preseason means nothing? Why is it that I have been bashing the importance of the preseason this whole article? There's a few reasons, but I will start by saying that it does help teams in the fashion of deciding who gets to warm the benches on the sidelines during games, and who is good enough to make it onto the special teams squad. By this of course I mean it helps the teams determine the final cuts to make the roster down to its 53 player limit. Now, why is it so bad? The whole idea of preseason is just to wet the fans' appetite for the regular season, that is the only real purpose it serves. Another reason you cannot get a true reading on a team throughout the preseason. My last reason is that records don't mean a thing in the preseason. It might as well be a 4 year old church soccer league where no one keeps score and everyone wins, because after all its just an excuse to put on the pads and put some work in to prepare for the real season. Why don't records matter? A few years back the New England Patriots were the most dominant team in the NFL going 18-1, and ultimately losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. You want to know what their preseason record was? 0-4. The Patriots didn't win a single game during that year's preseason, and still were able to be the most dominant team throughout the season. So am I worried about the Cowboys? No, not at all. They continue to be one of the league's elite teams with an offense that has weapons everywhere you look. The offense will get moving, it might be a slow start, but it will be something opposing defenses will not want to game plan for.

-Colby

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