The Cowboys took down the Bengals 24-18 on the back of Monte Kiffin’s defense, which forced four turnovers. Had Dallas been a little more unlucky with takeaways, though, they would have lost this game. Here are my thoughts on the contest.
- I really hope all of the early rushing attempts we’re seeing from the Cowboys aren’t going to make their way into the regular season. While it’s popular to praise coaches who “stick with the run,” Dallas is going to consistently lose games if they don’t try to pass early and often. They ran the ball 43 times against the Bengals, averaging 3.6 YPC. The ‘Boys win nearly twice as often when they pass the ball a lot early (over 57 percent of the time through three quarters) as opposed to passing less frequently. The “balance” is an illusion that comes late in games they’re already winning.
- I really liked the way DeMarco Murray returned to the game after fumbling. He ran very hard and proved that he’s a step above the rest of the Cowboys running backs. Running back is probably the least important position in football because it’s so dependent on the offensive line for success, but I still think the Cowboys’ offense would really suffer again if Murray goes down.
- Meanwhile, rookie Joseph Randle rushed for 66 yards on 16 carries. He’s averaging 3.7 YPC on 45 preseason carries—a nice sign of what the 198-pound back with 4.63 speed is going to provide during his career.
- DeVonte Holloman needs to start next to Bruce Carter and Sean Lee. He’s clearly playing better football than Justin Durant. He led the team with five tackles against Cincinnati, adding a sack and a quarterback hit. I think it will be really important to see what Dallas does with him; for so long, they’ve been afraid to move away from “known” commodities, even if they’re worse options. If they start Holloman, it will be a sign that things are changing under Jason Garrett.
- Tyron Smith looks outstanding this year. There have been rumors that he’s struggled in practice, but he has yet to allow a pressure in 68 snaps in pass protection. Based on his pressure rate last year, he typically allowed just over four pressures for every 68 snaps in pass protection.
- I’m not typically a fan of the fade near the goal line, but everything changes with Dez Bryant. He’s so talented and possesses such amazing ball skills that the Cowboys should pretty much back-shoulder him every time he has single coverage. Near the end zone, it becomes really difficult to double a player, so Tony Romo should take advantage.
Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.