The Cowboys and Broncos faced off on Saturday night in Denver, CO, with the Broncos winning 17-7 in a game that seemed out of hand from the first snap. While both teams rested their starters, the first pre-season game acts as a measuring stick to see where a team lies after training camp. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, a lot of the same issues that plagued this team last year remained. Here are three key takeaways from the game against Denver:
Under Mike McCarthy, the Cowboys seem to have had a persistent issue with penalties. Coach McCarthy preached discipline in various press conferences during training camp. If the first pre-season game was any indication, the Cowboys have a long, long way to go. Dallas was flagged 17 times for 129 yards, easily the highest in the first week of exhibition games. When asked about the mistakes, Coach McCarthy said:
“This is preseason. I don’t think this has anything to do with last year. But I didn’t like the number of penalties. I made it clear. I talked about it at halftime and I talked about it briefly in there (the locker room). We’ll take a long look at it.”
Three of the 17 penalties committed by the Cowboys resulted in all three Broncos scores, a result that would be quite problematic in the regular season. Dallas will need to shore up their mistakes as they move through the pre-season.
While Dak Prescott is the unquestioned quarterback of this team, we’ve seen time and time again what havoc an injury can cause to a team. Cooper Rush led Dallas to a victory against the Vikings in 2021, but he looked incredibly shaky in his first action of 2022. Rush seemed to be forcing the ball to receivers, throwing one interception and nearly throwing another that could’ve been returned for a touchdown. Rush finished 12-of-20 for only 84 yards and the aforementioned interception. Third string quarterback (and fan favorite) Ben DiNucci finished 9-of-16 for 112 yards and a touchdown, albeit against mostly other third string Broncos.
This was the first glimpse of the Cowboys’ first round pick in an actual game setting, and Smith fared quite well against the competition. He showed some impressive strength along the offensive line and looked solid in run blocking as well. Smith was flagged a few times, an area that plagued him in college as well. But the hope is that with experience, he’ll be able to clean up some of those mental mistakes.
The Cowboys have a few days here to clean up some of the errors shown against Denver as they get ready to face off against the Los Angeles Chargers in LA this Saturday evening.
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