Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins HOF Game Preview

The Dallas Cowboys running backs group is one of the few healthy units on the team going into this preseason. (Courtesy of DallasCowboys.com)

The Dallas Cowboys running backs group is one of the few healthy units on the team going into this preseason. (Courtesy of DallasCowboys.com)

The Dallas Cowboys will get an early jump on the preseason, by facing off against the Miami Dolphins in the Hall 0f Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium.

The spotlight will be on the defensive secondary. They have five games to become one of the best secondary units in the NFC East. They cannot have the season that they had last year. They will face many different offenses early, and will get to see some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, before they can get to their full stride.  The Dolphins will be the one of five teams that the Cowboys will face this preseason.

The Cowboys made the conversion from the 34 to the 43 defense this offseason. What was thought to be a smooth transition is slowly starting to be anything but that. The influx of Cowboy linebackers was initially thought to be a positive, and now, there are many concerns about depth at the linebacker position. The strength of the linebacker corps is Sean Lee. There is a bit of a drop off after him, and in is not crystal clear, who will start at WLB – Spencer will end up at OLB before the end of the season. The team is way too thin, and somebody will have to fill in.

The injury bug hasn’t been too bad to the Cowboys defense this offseason. The team did lose defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford for the entire season. That is a pretty big deal, considering that at some point last season, Kenyon Coleman, Sean Lee, Bruce carter, Barry Church, and nickel cornerback Orlando Scandrick all missed at least five games last season.

The Cowboys secondary is a very talented group.  They should be able to contain anyone on the outside, and with the addition of B.W. Webb. They will have more flexibility on the inside, against faster slot receivers.

Last season, the secondary never had the chance to contain receivers; it was all about the scheme. Senior leadership from Will Allen at the Safety position should help the team. The secondary has made quite the improvements this offseason, and they really needed to.

Failing to force turnovers was one of the most infamous qualities to last year’s defense. The Cowboys defense forced just seven interceptions last season. That mark tied the Knasas City Chiefs for the lowest mark in the NFL.

Alex Tanney will get plenty of playing time in the absence of Tony Romo. Tanney is a quarterback that can make every throw on you tube, but will he be able to do it on the field? Taney has impressed the Cowboys staff so far in camp. Today will be the catalyst of what could become a career in the NFL, or a career in the AFL.

With the exception on left tackle Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Calihan has no idea who his starters will be come Week One of the regular season. Nate Livings is out 2-4 weeks, after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee for the second time since last season ended. Guard Mackenzie Bernadeau has taken snaps, but will be unable to play in the Hall of Fame game.

Rookie center Travis Frederick has taken snaps at guard. Everyone on the Cowboys offensive line is being looked at in different positions so far. This could be great for the unit once everyone is healthy, but it could also be a sign of what is to come for the Cowboys offensive line.

Forget the wins, forget the fans; At this point, the Cowboys should be focused on the fact that they have five weeks to eliminate any players that cannot contribute to the team. You can see the injury example with the rest of the NFL – A lot of season ending injuries. Rookie wide receiver Terrance Williams won’t play against Miami after suffering head injury in practice Friday.


Favorite Matchup: Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee versus Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill

Lee is a very good linebacker; win stellar instincts, and a solid pass coverage skillset. This game is going to test his true range in the Tampa 2 defense. The Dolphins are going to run some option sets as well, so Lee will have to be the vocal commander of the team. Lee should be the barometer of the defenses’ progress from the 34 to the 43.

Tannehill started last season on fire, and finished ice cold, throwing for more than 250 yards just once in his last eight games. Offensive coordinator is developing Tannehill to be a receiver that can make the throws to other receivers. Tannehill is starting to trust his ability, and should come out swinging in this matchup, and for the 2013 season.