Tomorrow Phillips and Garrett make their live game debut in what should be a loud, frenzy-fanpacked Texas Stadium. Everyone, and I mean, everyone is waiting to see how Phillips’ defensive retooling will make the Cowboys more competitive this year. We’ll get a taste of it tomorrow night. Same goes for Jason Garrett; moreover, Garrett was the first coach hired after Parcells left, so you know he’s been at Valley Ranch studying and preparing the Cowboys offense for a return to glory, so there will be high expectations on the offense as well.

Tomorrow, these two coaching gurus will step on the field with their students. Will they pass this first test against the powerhouse Colts? It all depends on how you view the game; however, I would think the Cowboys want to make a statement at home and take the win.

Akin Ayodele describes it best:

“It starts Thursday,” inside linebacker Akin Ayodele said. “All our goals start Thursday. Even though it’s preseason for us, we’re all about dominating.”

Let’s take a look at my Top 5 areas in which I will be examining closely in this game:

  1. Defense: without a doubt, all eyes will be on the defense. Phillips was brought in here to fix the major breakdown last year. Phillips has been focusing on 3rd down defense with nickel and dime packages. How much will the absence of Hamlin tomorrow effect this?
  2. Offense: I’ll be looking at the offensive line. How does Bigg Davis really look in live games, we’ll see. Doug Free will start in place of Flo, and McQuistan in place of Colombo. The use of the tight ends. Garrett is expected to utilize the tight ends more in this new offense.
  3. FS/CB: I had Ken Hamlin here, but he’s not going to play, but its still a very key spot I want to look at. Pat Watkins will get a lot of time in. Courtney Brown will get in there too. I’m hoping for a solid game from Henry.
  4. WRs: Crayton will get the nod opposite Owens tomorrow, but Hurd will be right there as well. We all know Romo has some love for Hurd in the passing game. I expect that magic to happen in this game too. Austin is probably the next receiver on the depth chart, so I want to see how he does in this game.
  5. Bradie James: I really want to see how James does in a live game against another team. He was torched last season, lets see how Phillips uses James and whether or not he will be effective.

(special shoutout to Haynie, from the message board, he started this whole Top 5 thread, I thought it made a good topic to cover as well before the game)

One last thing to remember, this is preseason, and its more of a continuation of training camp, so whether we win or lose, don’t hold too much into it. If we lose, its not the end of the world, and if we win, be happy of course, but remain realistic. We have a long season ahead. Tomorrow’s game will just be a glimpse of things to come. We won’t see the full defensive arsenal, so don’t get too angry if we don’t make 100 sacks or force turnovers. Same for the offense, we won’t show our full hand in the preseason on either side of the ball.

I’ll get in my 53-man roster predication after I watch this first game.