The 2015 NFL Preseason couldn’t get here fast enough. This is when we get our first look at the rookies in pads at the NFL level.
The 2015 NFL preseason will showcase what we believe to be the best draft since Hall Of Fame head coach, Bill Parcells, departed almost a decade ago.
The staff here at YDCFF, not only loves this time of year because it affords us the opportunity to grade the Cowboys draft, but we get to share our thoughts and predictions for the upcoming games. In this post we will feature the Dallas Cowboys vs the San Francisco 49ers.
The Niners saw a lot of changes prior to the 2015 NFL preseason. They not only lost their very successful head coach who took them deep in to the playoffs every year, Jim Harbaugh, they lost some key players to suspension and free agency. Aldon Smith is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, but just can’t seem to keep his nose clean. His loss is a huge blow to the defense. Gore moved on to the Colts. His ability to get the tough yards will be missed.
The change that should concern Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett the most, is the promotion of Bill Belicek protege, Eric Mangini, to defensive coordinator. Mangini has three super bowl rings as a defensive coach in New England. As the Texans learned last week, he loves to go after the quarterback. I strongly believe that with all of the injuries along the offensive line, Garrett should let Romo sit out of this one. The young quarterbacks not only need the reps, it gives them an opportunity to get some experience dealing with disguised blitzes. This helps them learn to make quicker reads and work on pocket awareness.
The 49ers used their first round pick on Arik Armstead, who some draft pundits thought was a defensive end prospect for the Cowboys. I wasn’t one of them. The Tampa 2 defense is predicated on speed and the ability to get consistent pressure on the quarterback by only having to rush four. Armstead was one of the best run defenders in the draft, but not very effective as a pass rusher. He also lacks that quick-twitch ability Rod Marinelli looks for. I find it hard to believe that he will ever be as effective as Aldon Smith.
Eric Mangini made it clear when he addressed the media that despite veteran players typically inheriting positions in the NFL, all positions are wide open.
“That whole group, thereâ€™s great opportunity for young players to have a chance to have a significant role on a defense,â€ Mangini said of the secondary. â€œOften times, you come into a team and you got no shot and maybe you get some work as a nickel or you get a little bit in dime, things like that. These guys have a chance to distinguish themselves and really, weâ€™re going to give them the opportunity to make a case for themselves, and whoever makes the strongest case is going to get that chance. Weâ€™ll give them all though that chance to do that.
Second year CB Dontae Johnson said the defense is more aggressive than what he remembers from last year, but itâ€™s an opportunity to help the secondary. He claims there is a better chance to make plays from interceptions to tipped passes.
â€œLast yearâ€™s scheme was more so just playing,â€ Johnson said on Tuesday. â€œThis year, itâ€™s a little more thinking. I feel like the guys have really worked hard this offseason to understand the thinking, to understand the process of what Eric Mangini is trying to teach us. Honestly, weâ€™re just continuing to grow each and every day with meetings and then practice. Itâ€™s coming along.â€
I can’t help but wonder which RB will get the touches on Sunday. Joseph Randle left practice with his persisting oblique injury, Gus Johnson sustained a shoulder injury vs the Chargers, Dunbar just returned from an ankle injury, and I am not sure the coaches want to risk “The Man Of Glass”, Darren McFadden getting injured. They just cut Seastrunk which leaves two ranch hands. Gosh, I hope the Cowboys aren’t going back to the pass, pass, pass, punt offense due to their lack of a healthy RB. Mangini will have a field day.
I am not sure how many reps the starters will get, but the players to watch include, Randy Gregory, La’el Collins, (this will be an excellent opportunity for him to get a look at some complex blitz packages), Corey White, Tyler Patmon, Lucky Whitehead, Damien Wilson, Keith Smith, Shane McDermott, Gavin Escobar, and Davon Coleman.
I would like to be able to say the Cowboys can win this game, but with the issues at RB, the lack of depth at QB will be a problem if they have to rely on the pass. Taking in to consideration the poor offensive line play from last week, I don’t see these young QBs being able to handle the blitz. Brandon Weeden has always struggled with pressure, Vaughn lacks the poise and ability to get through his reads fast enough and Jameil Showers is a rookie. However, I see him as the most mobile. I am excited to see how he handles this aggressive Mangini defense. My gut tells me, if they get too aggressive, he may burn them with his legs.
As a result of injuries on offense, I expect Rod Marinelli’s young group of fire pissers to steal the show. I predict at least one sack from Gregory and a solid showing from Corey White. Davon Coleman has shown flashes, but I want to see him prove that he can be consistent. Hopefully, the player he is, and the player he can be, meet. I am not predicting a score. To me, it’s meaningless. The 2015 NFL preseason is all about giving the young guys, who are fighting for their NFL lives, an opportunity to prove they belong on the 53 man roster. So get your popcorn out and enjoy the game. How Bout Dem Cowboys!