Sometimes things have a way of working themselves out and at least for this moment, the play of quarterback Dak Prescott will be what we take away from yesterday's contest. I'll admit two things:
1.) I was wrong to assume that they need a veteran presence ASAP.
2.) I'm glad it was my pet cat to serve me up some crow to eat.
Many of you remember that it was I who has been on that Dak Prescott train since before the draft and I'm glad he answered my trepidation with an electric first outing. There were a few things that I noticed from Dak that give me pause in running out to get someone on the street or trade for a Josh McCown-type.
What I saw was a quarterback with poise and zero nervousness on the outside though he could have had the butterflies on the inside. Prescott most certainly stood out among all the quarterbacks on the field yesterday as a guy who knows what to do. He was leading his receivers and he was placing the ball away from defenders to where it was going to be his guy or nobody catching the ball. He showed great pocket presence and awareness and was even able to show that he has the jets to keep it and go if need be.
His best drive was perhaps the one that ended in the field goal before halftime. Facing a 2nd and 34, Prescott found Devin Street for 8 yards. On 3rd and 26, Prescott sees a crease and runs for 14 more yards to get the Cowboys into field goal range and allow Dan Bailey to put three more points on the board. That was impressive to witness because when facing adversity, Prescott showed that he certainly has been listening to his tutor, Tony Romo. Make no mistake, Dak Prescott outshined every quarterback on that field going 10-for-12 for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
Before we move on, let me touch on one more point as to why I was incorrect in my former line of thinking about getting a veteran presence. I have had the chance to watch these preseason contests being it that I'm a football junkie like the rest of you. What I've seen out of the Luke McCown's, Jimmy Garappolo's, Carson Wentz's, Jared Goff's, Ryan Nassib's, Chase Daniels', Bruce Gradkowski's and others this weekend has changed my line of thinking and gave me a definite hypothesis.
There is a huge disparity between the Brady, Brees, Rodgers, Romo, Rothlisberger, Newton, Rivers, and even Manning tier than their clipboard holders behind them. If Dak Prescott is going to do what he did yesterday, there is no chance in hell (thanks, Vince McMahon) you stop that with a two-year presence. We have no idea what the Cowboys will do and maybe they believe a vet is important to have but Prescott was cool, calm, and collected. He's certainly got that "IT" factor that Jon Gruden talked about. Way to go, young man.
Now, onto other aspects of this football team. If you haven't noticed by now, Jason Garrett likes to play a string below his competition. He's done it seemingly every first preseason game that I can remember. The Rams are playing their ones, we'll play our twos and vice versa. He likes to see if his younger guys can will themselves to compete at the level of another team's best unit. I really like that about him because it is important to really baptize some guys by fire and that's exactly what happened last night.
Lucky Whitehead showed exactly why it's time for me to stop writing him off and picking receivers ahead of him. He's a special talent and he showed it twice last night. He gives the Cowboys an extra wrinkle that can be absolutely devastating on gamedays. Dez Bryant was being Dez Bryant, move along, nothing to see here. Terrance Williams caught a "Dilfer Dime" and looked great doing it. Cole Beasley was the third-down demon that we know and love.
Andy Jones really did nothing to help himself and we see things like this every year, a guy will dazzle in practice and you are certain he's going to make it only for him to fall flat when the lights come on. Jones just didn't look like the guy we saw in practice and his time is running out to make an impact. The same can be said about Geoff Swaim who caught a case of the butterfingers in this game. Jameill Showers made a really amazing play but nobody stepped up to help him cash in and that was disappointing.
On the defensive side, we know a lot of guys were missing in action but Cedric Thornton certainly made an impression on me. He lived in the backfield when he was out there and I have visions of Tyrone Crawford doing some damage if Thornton can eat up ground like that. Anthony Hitchens looked a lot faster than I remember him being and he and Mark Nzeocha looked quite good. Nzeocha took advantage of poor decision making by the Rams and made an awesome interception. I've always said that this defense is a lot better when the linebackers are the playmakers. The guys running with the one's last night did a great job and we haven't even seen them paired with Sean Lee yet.
A lot of the defensive bubble players struggled to do much of anything in this game and we need to see more effort than what we got with sloppiness and penalties. They have to find out which guys are up to snuff and so far, it's not looking good for their depth. I like the effort that J.J. Wilcox gave yesterday but he still shows those signs of overreacting and that gets you in trouble in this passing league. Deji Olatoye is going to make this team, if not for anything, it's because he knows how to pick off quarterbacks.
There are a lot of things for the defense to take back and work on but for a patchwork unit, I thought the first string did a nice enough job. I wonder what this defense looks like when the starters are all out there together. It's incomplete grading for me right now because we need to see much more than what was on display last night. Anytime you have a 24-7 lead, you got to win those games. The defense let the team down and nobody cares that there were a lot of fill-ins. Still much more work is on the horizon and Rod Marinelli is going to be a walking expletive in practice this week, you better believe it. Before we sign off, can anyone pass me some salt? 'Tis a dry bird on the plate.