I cut my teeth on preseason football back in the Tom Landry era. I was convinced at the time Landry’s goal was to lose every preseason game. He almost did. Over the years, however, it became clear to my young eyes what the coaching icon was really doing, evaluating his players while giving away nothing and perhaps finding out something about the other team in the process. He also seemed to like having a loss to hold over his teams head during the week as he often let the other team score almost at will in the fourth quarter. The man took the club through 20 straight years of winning, playoff football. Losses were few and far between. Landry didn’t waste one. He would also throw in a trick play or two that he would never use in the regular season so opposing teams would have to spend precious practice time in preparation for it each week. Ultimately he viewed preseason games as extended practices under game conditions that were not meant to be won or lost, merely to be used in furtherance of the all-important goal: preparing the best possible team for the regular season.
I saw much the same approach from Jason Garrett and the Dallas Cowboys against the 49ers. To wit:
- The players that were supposed to look sharp did look sharp.
- The players that were supposed to look interesting were.
- The players that needed to get looked at were given plenty of snaps.
- QB Dak Prescott went 3 for 3 including a gorgeous 30 yarder to Gallup for 6.
- RB Bo Scarbrough displayed the RB talent he was drafted for.
- QB2/3 positions looked solid.
- TE position was ably manned.
- The WR corps sans WR1 was a success.
- Defensive speed, aggressiveness, and depth were on display.
- TURNOVERS – 2 INT (J. Thomas, D. Thomas) and a Forced Fumble (Tapper).
- Cowboys (mostly) starters were better than 49ers (mostly) starters.
- Cowboys (mostly) 2nd-string was better than 49ers (mostly) second string.
- Cowboys (mostly) 3rd string was better than 49ers (mostly) third string.
- 49ers (mostly) 4th string was better than Cowboys (mostly) fourth string.
It was a rousing success from a coaching standpoint. Looking at the results of some of the big plays of the game is further revealing. Plays that really stood out (good or bad) are in bold.
- RB Rod Smith had a nice 15 yard run off the right side
- Prescott SACKED by Buckner and Thomas
- Prescott Scambles up middle for 1st down.
- Prescott 30 yards to WR Michael Gallup – Touch Down!
- DB A. Brown gives up a 9-yard completion for a 1st down.
- DB C. Awuzie gives up 18-yard completion to WR Goodwin
- 49ers forced to punt from their own 45-yard line.
- QB Cooper Rush with broken play, low-throw, completion to WR Williams.
- RB T. Johnson gets beat around the edge for 19 yards. LVE & Awuzie catch him.
- CB Awuzie gives up 18-yarder to mid-field.
- CB D. Thomas gives up a 33-yard completion to Cowboys 12 yard line.
- INTERCEPTION by LB J. Thomas on a tipped ball!
- WR Tavon Austin w/two 1st down receptions on drive.
- RB Scarbrough breaks a tackle at the line then rips off 28-yards.
- RB Scarbrough POUNDS It in from the 1-yard line for 2nd-effort TD.
- Open zone completion for 21 yards as 2 min-warning starts (Huff/Fraizer).
- 49ers get bubble screen on the left side for 21 yards.
- 49ers TD from 2nd and goal from the one as they pound it up the middle.
- 49ers QB Bethard to Pettis for 53 yards with Jourdan Lews in coverage to Cowboys 10-yard line.
- LVE/Price stop run for 3 yard gain.
- Incomplete pass.
- Incomplete pass.
- 49ers settle for FG as Cowboys D held.
- Cowboys QB Rush 21 yard completion deep middle to WR Murdock.
- Scarbrough carries 3 guys up the middle for a first down on 2nd and 9.
- Scarbrough catches a nice slant for 11 yards putting ball inside 5-yard line.
- NICE scramble to the right by Rush to deliver to Lenoir for a toe-tap TD catch in corner of end zone.
- CB A. Brown gets outrun on the edge on a bounce-out run for 23 yards. Tyree Robinson tackles him on the sideline.
- DL Tapper forces a fumble recovered by Dallas!
- Darius Jackson with a nice 13 yard run off the left side.
- Deep pass in the middle for 38 yards brought down by fast-closing Huff.
- Some nice runs vs the Dallas right side (fourth string).
- INTERCEPTION by Cowboys LB D. Thomas (it was also tipped).
- 52-yard field goal attempt NO GOOD (by backup kicker).
- Some nice 49ers completions vs Cowboys 4th string players in wide-open attack to score in last 10 minutes of the game.
- Cowboys stuff 2-point conversion attempt up the middle.
And that is the game in a nutshell. Both teams had a lot to feel positive about but the Cowboys were clearly the better club on the field.
It was a good day.
What say you Sports Nation?
Another Left Coast Sports Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over