Usually there's nothing to like about your football team when they're on the receiving end of a 30-10 thumping, but the Cowboys did have some positive moments on Thursday night. The first-team offense looked good in its cameo appearance, especially an offensive line that gave Tony Romo eons to find open receivers.
But, as they say, the scoreboard doesn't lie and there's something rotten in the state of JerryWorld. The biggest stink came from the secondary which looked awful regardless of which combination of players were on the field. Starting safety Gerald Sensabaugh got flagged for a long pass interference penalty that set up a field goal on Oakland's first drive and negated an otherwise solid first effort for the defense.
The rest of Sensabaugh's night went okay, though, and the real problems reared their head when the backups came on the field. It's well and good to write off the latter portions of preseason games because there are so many fringe players on the field, but the Cowboys need to fill out their roster with guys who are actually capable of playing when the games count. There were none of them on display in the defensive backfield Thursday night.
After all, if you can't slow down Charlie Frye and Bruce Gradkowski, what chance do you have against quarterbacks who aren't battling for the third-string job on AFC West also-rans? Not much, which should make Courtney Brown and Mike Mickens should feel very uncomfortable about their spots on the roster. The pair of would-be Cowboys were strafed more often than London during the blitz, and didn't even have the good sense to find the nearest bomb shelter to avoid the shelling.
The safeties, on the other hand, played a big role in allowing the Raiders to roll up 176 yards on the ground. Alan Ball was okay in coverage, but didn't make enough tackles to make you feel secure about giving him playing time down the road. Obviously there were issues in stopping the Raider backs from getting to the second level in the first place, but you've got to do a better job of tackling.
The upside is that the first step to fixing problems is realizing what they are in the first place. Cowboys scouts need to be watching for upgrades among the players falling off of rosters around the league and the coaches need to be dilligent about finding out which players actually have a chance to do a better job down the road.