Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 8/20/12

The Dallas Cowboys continued their California preseason tour by facing the Chargers this past weekend in a preseason matchup. Coming off of an ugly 3-0 win against Oakland, the Cowboys looked sharp in the first half, jumping out to an early 10-0 lead. But in the second half, demons of old would hurt the Cowboys, as the Cowboys committed 3 turnovers in the 4th quarter that culminated in the 28-20 final and loss to the San Diego Chargers.

Now this is preseason, and while the first-team offense looked sharp and didnt commit any turnovers, they still didn’t score a touchdown either. The first Cowboys TD of the preseason was actually scored by Jamize Olawale. It gave the Cowboys a 10-0 lead. A couple of big Brandon Carr interceptions in the first half would help keep Cowboys opponents scoreless this preseason through 6 quarters.

But in the third, the Chargers finally got going, scoring a touchdown against Dallas’ third string defense. After forcing an interception, the Chargers would take the lead, and on the ensuing possession, they would force another turnover to make it 21-13. From there, things only got worse. However, the Cowboys were able to cut it to 28-20 with under 2 minutes left in the game, and a large part of that was because of the great play of Cole Beasley, who finished with 7 receptions and 104 yards. Those numbers lead all receivers on the Cowboys to this point, and besides Bryant and Austin, Beasley just might be the most talented receiver the Cowboys have.

Despite the offensive swoon, Carr has the defense flying high.

In watching this game, it was plain to see there was better offensive flow, no one was missing their defensive assignments amongst the first team defense, and the team was cohesive, for the most part. That is to be expected was the preseason wears on. Yet, there still remain areas of concern for this team, and they may not be remedied anytime soon.

The first issue is still the lack of red zone offense, especially scoring a TD for the starters. Surely this won’t be an issue in the regular season, seeing as how some of the most key players are injured on offense, but this is still an area where the Cowboys have struggled for years. It’s good that the defense is exceptional this year, because the team may need a few defensive victories if they want a chance at the playoffs. The only other option is to figure out what’s wrong and fix it fast.

One glaring problem with what’s wrong on offense is the O-line. Injuries have decimated the line, forcing the reserves to play alot longer and at unfamiliar positions. They aren’t creating holes in the running game, and they aren’t doing a good job of protecting the QBs in the passing game. With injuries to the top 3 receivers the Cowboys have (Austin, Witten, and Bryant), this offensive line needs to be sharper than ever if the Cwoboys are going to succeed.

Also, penalties continue to be a big issue with this team. Accumulating penalties means this team has lack of discipline. This has been something that has been missing from this team for as long as I can remember. The job of the coaching staff is to make sure this team executes and is disciplined, and this constant repetitiveness of committing senseless penalties is a reflection of how lax the coaching is in the realm of discipline. I have stated plenty of tinmes how I feel Garrett has always been part of the problem rather than part of the solution, but it’s not just him. Until the Cowboys learn to play more disciplined football, they will always be shooting themselves in the foot.

I was at least pleased to see how well the Cowboys defense has been playing. If anything, the starters deserve an A for their effort thus far. The defense has been suffocating, applying pressure when they need to, and applying lockdown coverage. The defense is finally forcing turnovers, something Dallas will need to continue to improve on as this has been an area they have struggled in since 2008. Brandon Carr is shining, proving thus far that the Cowboys made the right move in signing him.

Overall, I was pleased with the performance of the Cowboys this past Saturday. Hopefully they will continue to improve in the areas that need it most. And with the team returning home on Wednesday from California, the friendly confines should provide the spark the team needs to get going. We have yet to see a perfectly executed game, but it’s getting closer.

Next up are the Rams this Saturday. It’s the third preseason game, which means the starters will see alot more playing time. How well the Cowboys perform in this game will go a long way to showing all of us just where they are as a team.

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