The Dallas Cowboys will take on the San Diego Chargers in their first preseason bout this Thursday. With only a few weeks of training camp under their belts, the second and third string teams will be in the spotlight to show what they’ve got. So let’s discuss the three main things everyone’s thinking about:
With veteran QB Tony Romo not playing at all, QB Brandon Weeden will be the man of the hour. Weeden was drafted No. 22 overall two years ago (the same spot as QB Johnny Manziel) and has had the opportunity to take a lot of snaps so far this camp because of Romo’s injury. Both QBs have solid receivers to throw to as well, but I think Weeden’s performance will top that of QB Kellen Clemens. If he channels his inner “Johnny Football”, he should be alright.
Both teams’ defensive units are pretty bland right now. The Chargers ranked 23rd in total defense in 2013, while the Cowboys ranked dead last at 32nd. Forcing turnovers has been a focal point all offseason long for the Chargers, so the preseason opener will be the first opportunity for defensive coordinator John Pagano’s unit to show what they’ve got. But the Cowboys’ defense has been particularly flattened. The team is on the mend after losing DE DeMarcus Ware, DE Jason Hatcher, ILB Sean Lee and rookie DE Demarcus Lawrence. So it’s only logical to assume that the Cowboys’ defense won’t be in top form. Since the linebackers aren’t superstars yet, we can expect very few blitz plays, if any. New defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will probably want his guys to stick to the basics.
I’m banking on the Cowboys to win (my father would be proud), because the first teams will have very limited play. It really comes down to which team has the best second/third team players and schemes. Yes, the Cowboys’ defense will be less awe-inspiring than usual, but the team has power in numbers. Linebackers Bruce Carter, Rolando McClain, DeVonte Holloman, Justin Durant and rookie Anthony Hitchens should help. Dallas has also invested in adequate offensive linemen, so watching the offense execute should actually be entertaining. It really comes down to the experience of the quarterbacks as well. The Cowboys’ third-string QB Caleb Hanie has four years more pro experience than the Chargers’ third-string QB Brad Sorensen.
The two teams are 7-7 when playing each other in the preseason, so it will be a close one. Tune in to see what happens!