The Dallas Cowboys and the LA Rams opened the season last night on Sunday Night Football in the new So-Fi Stadium. It was a fun game to watch if you weren't a fan of either team but as a Cowboys fan? Not the best but, I have optimism. Here are my 5 takeaways from last night's game.
#1: Secondary Help is A Must
The Dallas Cowboys let Byron Jones go after last season simply because there wasn't enough money to pay everyone. I was okay with this but they Cowboys did little to nothing to try and improve their CB room this off season. They drafted Trevon Diggs out of Alabama in the 2nd round which was good. The kid showed some spark last night and I believe he has some potential once he cleans his game up. They signed veteran Safety HaHa Clinton-Dix to a 1 year deal and then cut him before the season started leaving their starting Safeties to be Xavier Woods and Darian Thompson. I'm a fan of Xavier Woods but Darian Thompson not so much. He has shown little to no ball skills and whiffs on tackles consistently. Last night the Cowboys' secondary was getting picked apart by Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Tyler Higbee when it counted. Our 3rd down defense was atrocious and we need shut down guys in the secondary to defend that at least some of the time. I believe was Jourdan Lewis gets back it will be better but a big name guy like I dont know...Earl Thomas would do wonders for this secondary. Even a guy like Tony Jefferson would instantly improve this secondary.
#2: This Offense Will Be Amazing...With Time
After a slow start the Cowboys offense looked great last night to put it simply. Firing on all cylinders the passing game was great and came in clutch on multiple 3rd down situation as well as the run game. Ezekiel Elliott hasn't looked this light on his feet and fluid since his rookie season. He was breaking off some big runs and juking defenders just like his 2016 self. Dak was delivering well placed balls and while we didn't see them throw deep often, he hit some great deep balls. Including the deep ball to Gallup at the end of the game that the refs blew but we'll get to that later. The offensive line was a little rough but with Aaron Donald and an UDFA starting at RT for the out of shape La'el Collins that was to be expected. With all the pressure coming at Dak he was still able to deliver strong accurate balls which just shows how poised and consistent he has become. Some of the play calling can be improved on like running on 3rd and 6 and then going for it on 4th and 3 when you had the chance to tie it with a FG. But, I won't fault the coaching staff for being aggressive because that's what we got on the last coaching staff for not being. There's just a time and a place to do things like that and that wasn't it. This offense has all the weapons and potential to be a dominant one.
(Joe Hong, Associative Press)
#3: Run Defense Is Going To Be An Issue
The Cowboys front 7 couldn't stop the Rams' run game last night. It got better as the night went on but the first 3 quarters of the game was dominated by the run game of the Rams. Dontari Poe was brought on to be a run stuffer and he was no where to be seen last night. Aldon Smith, Everson Griffen, and Trysten Hill were all whiffing on tackles that they were more than capable of making. While it could of just been rust, especially in the case of Aldon Smith, it still needs to be worked on and fixed ASAP.
(Wally Skalijj, LA Times)
#4: Aldon Smith Was A Great Signing
Having not played in an NFL game since 2015 Aldon Smith was a huge question mark as a signing heading into Training Camp. But, with his contract being next to nothing it whether he turned out or not it was worth a shot. Last night he showed up and delivered consistent pressures and a sack that lead to a Chidobe Awuzie interception. While yes he missed some tackles he still made some big tackles on third down and put pressure on Goff that lead to some punts. If he can come in and get better with his tackling (which I believe he will as the weeks go on), keep pressuring, and get anywhere from 6-10 sacks then he's on his way to being an amazing signing by the Cowboys.
(Katelyn Mulcahy, Getty Images)
#5: The Refs Still Suck
While yes this has nothing to do directly with the Cowboys or Rams, it's still worth mentioning. All night the refs were missing calls and calling bad penalties. Starting the game off the Rams drove down the field. The play clock was clearly at 0 yet they allowed Sean McVay's late timeout stand and instead of the Rams moving back 5 yards, they scored on the next play. Then on Aldon Smith's sack his hands clearly hit Goff in the helmet and that should've been called as illegal hands to the face. Then of course, the "OPI" on Michael Gallup. This was the worst OPI call I've seen in recent memory and it really isn't close. That late into the game you just let the CB and WR fight and whatever happens, happens. Unless it's blatantly DPI or OPI you just let it happen when it's that close. But of course the refs decided to call the BS penalty and cost the Cowboys the game. For both teams all night the refs were terrible. The league needs to start holding these guys accountable because if they don't they will never get better.
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