Top 10 Impressions from Cowboys-Chargers

Top 10 impressions from the Cowboys 31-17 preseason-opening loss in San Diego...

#1 Here's the truth about what matters most about Saturday: First-team vs. first-team, Dallas was very successful. The Chargers think of themselves as the Cowboys do – legit Super Bowl contenders. So Tony Romo and Marion Barber's efficiency in shoving the possession down the throat of the SD defense is the story of the night.

Romo was completed his three passes for 33 yards, his 16-yarder to Patrick Crayton setting up Deon Anderson's 2-yard scoring run. Barber (24 yards on four carries) did the rest of the plowhorse work as Dallas went 54 yards on eight plays for a 7-0 lead.

And time for Romo to put on his ballcap. Backwards.

#2 I still don't like the idea of intentionally first-round-drafting a backup runner or a complimentary runner. But that is a criticism of the things SAID by the Dallas braintrust, and not a criticism of the selection of Felix Jones. And it is damn sure not a criticism of Felix, who has taken every single correct step in his young career so far. Included in those steps against San Diego: Clever cuts near the line of scrimmage that freed him on his 19-yard run and on his 28-yard reception.

There was some Chargers' overpursuit of Felix (six carries for 32 yards) initially And then later in his turns, there was underpursuit – "underpursuit'' being another way of saying "nobody can catch him.''

#3 Dallas' first-team defense was almost as sound as its first-team offense, though it is probably worth nothing that the Chargers offensive front played without the injured Marcus McNeill, with Jeremy Newberry making his first start in place of Nick Hardwick at center, and with no Antonio Gates.

Oh, and no LaDainian Tomlinson. That alone should keep the Dallas defense from returning to Oxnard with the big head.

#4 Wade Phillips on this sideline. Norv Turner on that sideline. It could've easily been vice versa … though I assume both organizations are satisfied with the way it turned out.

#5 San Diego got to the AFC title game last year largely on the strength of a takeaway defense (they led the NFL with 48). And when the Cowboys started breaking down here, turnovers were indeed the reason. Danny Amendola fumbled a punt return. Backup QB Brad Johnson silver-plated an interception.

These are no-no's. In real games. In preseason games. In practice. For Amendola, it is the sort of thing that can theoretically push a kid off a roster.

#6 And for Brad Johnson? Listen, I've been saying it for years, way before he landed in Dallas: His arm is dead. His career should be. Drew Bledsoe could come back to Dallas right now and throw the football with more authority. … left-handed.

Bring on Chris Simms.

#7 Imagine how delighted Pacman Jones must've been to be back on the field, back in his element. Jones didn't start, but played most of the second half. He was flagged for an interference penalty and he noted that his "timing is messed up.'' But football evaluation aside, this truly has a chance to be a redemptive feel-good story.

If, that is, Pacman or NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell don't screw it up.

#8 Thumbs-ups to: Zach Thomas, Miles Austin and the Cowboys' first-team offensive line.

#9 Marcellus Bennett, the penalty-prone secondary and special-teams coverage.

#10 No need to overreact to this, but there are many Cowboys observers (including yours truly) prepared to marvel at Dallas' depth. I came away impressed from this game more impressed with the other team's depth. By the time it was 31-10 midway through the third quarter, some backup Cowboys might've needed to go back to the drawing board.

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