The Cowboys Report

The Dallas Cowboys get in some work to prepare for the season; Rams up next

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The Dallas Cowboys began their 2019 NFL Football season Saturday night on the road when they took on the San Francisco 49ers in their first preseason game of the year.The Cowboys went into halftime leading 9-7 but eventually lost by the final score of 17-9.

Almost all teams use the preseason as glorified practices to get players game speed repetitions and evaluate new players or players coming off of injuries.This is why most starters don't play much for any of the teams.

Starting Quarterback Dak Prescott looked good on his only drive of the game by completing all four of his passes as he led the Cowboys on a 9-play 65-yard drive that ended with a Brett Maher 25 yard field goal.He looks to have a great connection with second year receiver Michael Gallup who caught two passes for 19 yards on the drive as well.Another bright spot of the game was seeing Pro Bowl Center Travis Fredrick return to action. He missed all of last season due to Gullian-Barre Syndrome.

Most notably missing from the team was two-time Pro Bowler and last year's leading rusher Ezekiel Elliott. He has yet to report to the team and is holding out until he can secure a new contract even though he still has two years remaining on his original rookie deal.This a bit strange because most players hold out when they only have one year left but Zeke is probably the best running back in the league and wants to be paid as so. The position he plays has a very short shelf life and I don't blame him for wanting to get fully compensated.

The Dallas starting defense looked good in the two series they played.They only allowed two first downs and shut out the 49ers in the first quarter.

3 things to watch for

1.Running backs (T. Pollard or A. Morris): With Zeke away from the team, it will be good to see who can help replace his production.Rookie Tony Pollard from Memphis played with the starters on Saturday.He had 4 carries for 16 yards.Free agent acquisition Alfred Morris did not play this game but since he just signed with the team a few weeks ago he is probably still learning the play book.

2.Red Zone issues: The Cowboys have not been good at scoring touchdowns from inside the opponent's 20 yard line.This game was no different as they went 0-4.They have added a new offensive coordinator (Kellen Moore) and the return of 11 time Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten should help improve this.Witten did not play on Saturday as well.

3.Kicker Brett Maher: The second year kicker from the Canadian Football League went 3 of 4 on his field goal attempts on Saturday. He missed from 35 yards in the second quarter. He tends to struggle between 30 and 40 yards. If the Cowboys Red Zone problems continue, Maher will have to be more effective.

Coming Up

Saturday, Aug. 17th the Cowboys (0-1) will be on the road again taking on the Los Angeles Rams (0-1) in Honolulu, Hawaii at Aloha Stadium.This one should be a little more interesting as both teams will be looking for their first preseason win and all starters might play a little more than a series or two.

Currently, the line on this game is a pickem with the over/under at 43.5.Yes, I know what you are thinking, "Who bets on preseason games?" but you would be surprised on how many people actually do. I will be staying away from it but if you have to play it, I would lean on the under. Both the Rams and Cowboys combined for only 12 points this past weekend.


Saints 36, Bears 25

Saints vs Bears: Good, bad and ugly

New Orleans Saints official Twitter account

The Saints went into Soldier Field and took on the Bears minus several key players. Despite being shorthanded, they easily handled the Bears 36-25. Here are my observations:

The Good

-Michael Thomas did Michael Thomas things (nine catches for 131 yards). But it was Latavius Murray filling in for Alvin Kamara who did the heavy lifting. He ran for 113 yards on 25 carries and two touchdowns. He added five catches for another 31 yards. Murray looked like the 2015 Pro Bowl version of himself.

-The defense was awesome! The Bears went two full quarters between getting a 1st down (2nd to 4th). Not to mention a safety, two fumble recoveries, a blocked punt, two sacks, allowed 17 yards rushing and gave up only 10 points. I know Mitchell Trubisky just returned from a shoulder injury and the Bears offense hasn't gotten more than 300 yards of offense in any game this year, but this was impressive.

-Right tackle Ryan Ramczyk got some praise from the announcers for his play. Not only did he do a good job on Khalil Mack, but they wondered why he hasn't been to a Pro Bowl. Ramczyk has consistently handled himself well against some of the best pass rushers in the league and should see his first Pro Bowl this year.

The Bad

-Right after recovering a fumble and going up 9-0, the special teams gave up a 102-yard kickoff return. Momentum swings like this can deflate one team and ignite another. Far too often the Saints shoot themselves in the foot like this. When they're playing well, they don't give up easy scores after they've scored.

-Kicker Will Lutz had made 35 straight field goals on the road with his first attempt against the Bears. It set a new NFL record. Unfortunately, he missed his next two. One went wide right, the other fell short. It didn't cost the Saints the game, but here's to hoping Lutz gets his mojo back.

-Too many cheap yards given up when the game was already decided. I know when you're up by three or four touchdowns, attention seems to fade. They gave up a final score when Allen Robinson juked rookie Chauncey Gardner-Johnson out his shoes and caught a skinny post for a touchdown. Icing on the cupcake was the Bears' tight end Adam Shaheen caught the two-point conversion over Eli Apple.

The Ugly

-J.T. Gray and Patrick Robinson both left the game in the first quarter. With P.J. Williams serving a two-game suspension, the defense needs defensive backs to stay healthy. The defense has been playing very well over the last month or so. The next couple games could test that. More icing on the cupcake: Apple went down with what looked to be a pretty bad leg injury with under a minute left.

-34 seconds before halftime, the Saints force a punt. Deonte Harris returned it 67 yards for a touchdown, but it was called back because of a holding penalty on Zach Line. I thought the league was going to go easy on ticky tack holding calls? Obviously not as this one took points off the board.

-With 4:33 left in the game and it's clearly over with the Saints up 36-10, Gardner-Johnson stopped Tarik Cohen for a six yard loss after catching a pass. He and Apple proceeded to make height-mocking gestures to Cohen. They weren't flagged, but it was pretty dumb. Two guys who haven't done a damn thing in this league making fun of a guy who made the Pro Bowl and All-Pro team last season is beyond dumb and really pissed me off!

No Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Jared Cook? And this team won on the road again? Time to stop doubting those who are non-believers. This is arguably the best team in football right now. Most of the credit goes to defensive coordinator Dennis Allen and the defense. They've collectively rallied and turned themselves into the best defensive unit over the last five plus games. Head coach Sean Payton has called plays masterfully. They made Teddy Bridgewater the highest paid backup in the league for a reason. Teddy Two-Gloves is now 5-0 as a starter this year. Brees is trying to come back next week against the Cardinals. I say let him chill until they play the Falcons after the bye week...unless he's healthy. This team will be a real problem once they're all fully healthy down the stretch. The rest of the league is on notice.

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