The Dallas Cowboys completed their second preseason game of the 2021 season with a 19-16 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Similar to their first preseason game, it had its sloppy moments and once again the offense struggled to put up points. Fortunately, they finally found the end zone in the fourth quarter thanks to a sidearm touchdown pass from Ben DiNucci. But unfortunately, the Cardinals just won the field goal battle and edged out the win.
There is certainly a lot the team needs to clean up, but the game also featured some good plays as well. Here are five thoughts on Friday's action.
1. The "Connor Williams at center experiment" may be over
It's nice to have flexibility and that's what the team is hoping for by giving center reps to Connor Williams. The team's starting left guard over the last three years has looked decent in camp playing center, but he struggled in this game. His snaps were all over the place - too short, too long, and too bad too often. He even had a moment of confusion that resulted in a delay of game penalty. These miscues killed a few plays despite quarterback Garrett Gilbert's best effort to attempt some Tony Romoesque improv play.
2. Garrett Gilbert looked pretty good
It wasn't always apparent because of poor snaps and drops by his wide receivers, but backup quarterback Garrett Gilbert actually played well. He stayed composed in the pocket and was on target with his passes. Unfortunately, none of that culminated into anything good because his teammates were making too many mistakes. Regardless of the outcome, it was good to see Gilbert perform well. He finished the game going 7/16 for 80 yards with no touchdowns or picks.
3. Edge rushers owning the Card's tackles
I have no idea how good the Cardinals' offensive tackle depth is, but they weren't up to the task of handling the Cowboys defensive ends. Dorance Armstrong had a nice game sneaking around the edge, not once, but twice for sacks. He also had a nice deflected pass that he almost turned into a highlight play. Ron'Dell Carter juked his blocker so bad that he had a free shot on Colt McCoy. He also had a second sack later, but it was negated by an offsides penalty. And even though Bradlee Anae was called for roughing the quarterback, he still had a nice spin move to get around the blocker. It may have not have looked like it on the surface, but Anae was generating a lot of pressure in this game.
4. Linebackers were hit or miss
The team has a lot of different options at linebacker and it will be interesting to see how the playing time rotation turns out. The rookie Micah Parsons continued to show off his great speed. Veteran Leighton Vander Esch was making plays, but he was a little slower in getting there. Jaylon Smith runs as if he's in a cartoon as it takes him too long to get his feet moving. And Keanu Neal showed his hard-hitting ability with a nice strip to give the Cowboys a takeaway early in the game.
The linebacker I was most impressed with was the other rookie Jabril Cox. He flashed some of his great speed and was found making several plays. It's unclear if he's processing the game well enough to warrant playing time once the regular season starts, but he's starting to make a good case for himself.
5. Injury updates
The biggest goal of a preseason game is to come out of it as healthy as possible. The Cowboys suffered a blow early when they lost their starting defensive tackle Neville Gallimore early in the game.
Reserve tight end Sean McKeon was expected to see more action with Dalton Schultz out with an ankle injury, but McKeon ended up leaving the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury himself.
And swing tackle Ty Nsekhe left the game with a knee injury and didn't return.
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