It’s that time of the year again! Real football is about to begin and for the next five months Sundays (…and Mondays and Thursdays!) will have some meaning once again. But we aren’t there quite yet. A couple of preseason games are still on the schedule. Tonight’s game against the Bengals is the last chance we’ll have to see if these Cowboys are the real deal or if they are headed for another disappointing season.
It’s tradition in the NFL to call the third preseason game a ‘Dress Rehearsal’. Starters usually play more than in the previous preseason games and typically skip the final preseason game altogether. This game is usually the last viewing until the regular season opener. True, since the Cowboys started with the Hall of Fame game this is technically their 4th game and not their third. But the Cowboys are treating it like the third and using this game against Cincinnati as the dress rehearsal.
So here’s what a perfect dress rehearsal would be for the 2013 Dallas Cowboys:
They score first.
Not playing catch-up again this year will be key to having a successful season. Last year, the Cowboys were plain awful in the first quarter. As a result, they neglected the running game, the offense lost its balance, Romo had to throw too many passes and we all know what happens when Romo throws too many passes: too many interceptions. A balanced first offensive series culminated by a touchdown, would be nice for a change.
DeMarco Murray looks healthy.
I know that everybody is all excited about what Lance Dunbar can bring to the table, but this is still DeMarco Murray’s show. The Cowboys need the Murray of his rookie season (minus the injury). That year, they went 5-0 when Murray got 20 or more touches in a game. The average passer rating of Tony Romo in those five games was 112.10, with 12 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
Cowboys win the turnover battle.
This is one of the most talked-about topics of training camp, and everything seemed to go in the right direction until last Saturday 6-turnover disaster. The defense has shown glimpses of improvement that allow for some optimism in that regard, it’s the offense that just can’t stop giving the ball away! One could say that Dez won’t do that again, or that Romo has yet to throw its first interception this year, but with the Cowboys there always seems to be something. Winning the turnover battle in their last ‘real’ action before the Giants, would be a huge confidence boost.
The Defense looks dominant.
The Bengals have one of the most talented young offenses in the game, and they will present a good challenge to this Cowboys D. Sean Lee keeps playing like a beast, DeMarcus Ware gets his first sack of the year, DeVonte Holloman gets yet another interception, and even B.W. Webb looks better.
Of course avoiding injuries should be at the top of the list, and maybe Geno Atkins not wreaking havoc among the Cowboys patchy offensive line, would also be part of Jason Garrett’s dream dress rehearsal.