I know it’s the St. Louis Rams. I know it’s only the preseason. I know a lot of the starters weren’t in the game. But it was exciting to see an outstanding performance from the Cowboys’ first-teamers on Saturday night. In particular, you have to be ecstatic with the play of Tony Romo. With 198 yards and 15.2 yards-per-attempt in the first quarter alone, Romo looked sensational on just about every one of his 13 throws.
In my pre-game “What to Watch”
article, I posed three questions heading into last night’s contest. Here are the answers. . .
Will the Cowboys come out throwing?
I told you yesterday the Cowboys have a stout .636 winning percentage when they throw at least 57 percent of the time in the first three quarters of games. Simply put, they pass the ball to win games, then run it to put them away.
The Cowboys’ passing attack was on full display last night, with Romo airing it out on 65 percent of his snaps. Actually, on the Cowboys’ first 12-play drive, the offense lined up in a Shotgun formation half of the time, including three times on first or second down. The ‘Boys had at least three receivers on the field on two-thirds of their 12 first-drive plays.
It might annoy football traditionalists, but it sure is nice to see the Cowboys passing early and often.
Will Tony Romo continue to look downfield?
Romo threw the ball 20 yards or more on only 6.6 percent of snaps in 2011. After last night’s game, that number is up to 12.5 percent in the 2012 preseason. With 51 plays from the first-team offense, we have a sample size of around a full regular season game worth of plays.
Romo also averaged a distance of 9.1 yards on his throws last night, even though five of them were three yards or fewer. That averaged was inflated quite a bit by the 61-yard touchdown strike to Dwayne Harris, which traveled 47 yards in the air. Nonetheless, it’s great to see the Cowboys have some early success with the deep passing game.
Can Tyron Smith handle Chris Long?
Smith actually didn’t see many snaps against Long, instead getting matched up on Robert Quinn. He actually struggled in this game, yielding a few uncharacteristic pressures.
I wouldn’t be too worried about Smith heading into the regular season, though. He still was solid in pass protection in the Cowboys’ first three exhibition contests. In the running game, Dallas backs have totaled 8.0 yards-per-carry with Smith at the point-of-attack in 2012. That’s obviously outstanding.
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.
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