On the first scoring drive for the Cowboys, Tony Romo went to Dez Bryant five consecutive times, once for a touchdown. The following drive, Romo fed the ball to Miles Austin and was able to find him for a score. The Cowboys were having no problems moving the ball against the Bengals secondary.
The Bengals were without two players who could have made an impact in the passing game. Safety George Iloka and Defensive End Carlos Dunlap were inactive. Dre Kirkpatrick was forced to match up with the Cowboys top receiver Bryant and was exposed.
Kirkpatrick had a rough night. He was exposed for what he is, and incredibly talented corner that has no NFL experience. In coverage he was step for step with the receivers. His issues were all around playing the ball. Pass interference penalties and not tracking the ball were two terrible pieces to Kirpatrick's game and the hope is that this will be fixed with experience.
Terrence Newman and Leon Hall also were burned at times and the tackling ability of the corners seemed suspect. The corners have to do a better job in the regular season.
So what can change?
A better pass rush is going to make the secondary much better. The Bengals have struggled to generate much pressure up front. This can be attributed to Geno Atkins being off the field, Carlos Dunlap not playing and Robert Geathers playing behind Wallace Gilberry.
The shorter time the corners need to be in coverage, the easier it is to cover. The Bengals are going to show a different front in the regular season and it is assumed that this is going to generate the kind of pressure we grew accustomed to last season. If this happens, we can all breath a sigh of relief in terms of the secondary and their ability to cover.
However, if the Bengals defensive front is not able to pressure the QB, I have serious concerns about the Bengals ability to lock down the talented receivers they face this season.