It’s great to see players perform, but one of the best thing about this game is that the Cowboys came out unscathed.
Who got hurt? The Cowboys did not announce any injuries during the game, but they had a number of starters not play, including Romo, Jason Witten, Smith, Sean Lee, Orlando Scandrick, Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence. Romo and Witten have not played in a preseason opener since 2012.
Are you sick of hearing about how great Dak Prescott’s debut performance was? Yeah, me neither, so here’s some more stuff...
Prescott went 10-12 for 139 yards and two touchdowns. He finished with a 154.5 QB rating. He was taken in the fourth round with the 135th-pick overall. So, how did he compare to all the other QBs taken before him?
Next week fans will get to watch Tony Romo in his first action of the preseason. But even after his reps are done, I’m going out on a limb and saying that many will be just as interested in watching Dak follow up his great debut performance. Come on, don’t be embarrassed. You’ll be like Oliver Twist, "please sir, I want some more?"
Prescott started for Tony Romo, doing his best to quell concerns over the backup situation in his NFL debut by leading scoring drives of 80 and 75 yards en route to a perfect passer rating and 21-7 Dallas lead after 15 minutes.
Nothing helps out a quarterback more than having one of the best receivers in the game to go up and snag your passes. And as luck would have it, that’s exactly what Prescott had.
Bryant, playing in his first game since undergoing foot and ankle surgery in January, finished with two catches for 28 yards in the Cowboys’ preseason opener against the Rams. He and Dak Prescott connected on an 18-yard back-shoulder throw and then on a 10-yard fade for a touchdown in the first quarter.
Is it possible that maybe, just maybe - the playmaking Dez is back?
Cowboys coaches and fans likely reminisced about Bryant returning to his All-Pro form even though he played only 10 snaps. This is a guy who was never himself a year ago.
While the play of the backup quarterback stole the spotlight on Saturday, it shouldn’t go unnoticed that the Cowboys took a nice step forward in another area of grave concern last season - turnover margin.
That’s what helped make them successful in 2014 and part of the reason they were dreadful in 2015. The Cowboys had the worst turnover margin in the NFL a year ago, giving the ball away 33 times and only took it away 11 times.
In 2014, they had 31 takeaways to 25 giveaways.
The Cowboys would take the ball away twice and not turn it over at all. Hey, they’re back in the positive so that’s a good start! Jason Garrett had this to say:
"The defense did a good job taking the ball away," Garrett said. "They’ve done a really good job in training camp taking the ball away, very active that way and good to see it in a ballgame."
Jon Machota provides us with his five takeaways from the game, which happens to include the Cowboys actual takeaways.
Forcing turnovers was the Cowboys' biggest defensive problem in 2015. As a team, they intercepted only eight passes. Baltimore [six] was the only team with less. On Saturday, Cowboys defenders picked off two passes.
Could it be a sign of things to come? Well, it's probably too early to tell. Linebacker Mark Nzeocha and defensive back Deji Olatoye made the two plays. Nzeocha, who intercepted Goff, didn't play last season because of a surgically-repaired knee. He's been showing a lot of upside the last couple of weeks at middle and weakside. Olatoye has been working at multiple defensive back spots. He's one of only four defensive backs to record an interception last season for the Cowboys.
While generating turnovers rely on having opportunistic moments, the Cowboys came up empty a lot of times last year when the ball was right there for the taking. It was good to see the extra effort from Olatoye to come down with that interception.
Preseason is the time where the stock market of players will be all over the place. Which Cowboys drove up their price after Saturday’s performance? Steven Mullenax discusses five players, including the German linebacker, Mark Nzeocha.
A Cowboys seventh round selection in 2015, Nzeocha recorded five tackles and one interception in Dallas’ preseason opener. It was a great 2016 debut for the second-year player out of Wyoming who tore his ACL during his final year in college.
Nzeocha wasn’t even activated by the Cowboys till mid-November, playing in just two games during his rookie season. That being said, Nzeocha is essentially coming off a redshirt season in Dallas. On Saturday, the 26-year old showed surprising speed and agility. If he can continue to grow throughout the preseason, Nzeocha could certainly help fill the void left by McClain.
It’s no secret that we are a fan of Mark Nzeocha over here at BTB, especially to those who have the first official autographed jersey by him (yes, Cool One, we know you love him), but his fan base is going to keep getting bigger if he makes plays like he did on Saturday.
We can’t have the good without the bad, right? Here are five droppers, including one in the literal sense.
Of all the undrafted wide receivers the Dallas Cowboys signed this year, not one has been able to match the hype Jacksonville University’s Andy Jones has been able to generate this offseason. Making draw-dropping catches, running sharp routes and earning the trust of veteran quarterback Tony Romo; Jones has been impressive. He’s even spent some time on the first team offense during training camp.
But all of that hard work may have been undone with Jones’ terrible performance on Saturday night. The undrafted rookie was targeted three times in the Cowboys preseason opener. Jones caught only one pass and dropped a ball on a critical third down late in the game. The 22-year old crumbled on special teams as well, as his missed block resulted in a big gain by the Rams. The game simply seemed to big for Jones.
I feel like I brought this on myself. Even after telling myself I would not fall for the training camp hype, I still couldn’t lay off from professing my love for Jones. Sorry, buddy.
While his drops were easy to spot, Jones didn’t help his cause on specials teams either.
His special teams gaffe caused a big return for the Rams. Regardless of who the fifth receiver is on the roster, they will be expected to be a contributor on special teams because it is unlikely they will see many reps at wide receiver. Jones may have been safe with a few errors of offense, he’ll likely get a chance to redeem himself and prove his camp showcase true, but he cannot afford to struggle on special teams on top of struggling on offense.
The Cowboys pass rush was unimpressive on Saturday as the defense only recorded one sack. They had a variety of players giving it a go, but the teams starting defensive end expected more of himself.
Irving didn't seem overly impressed with his own performance.
"I played all right, but not good enough," he said. "I know I need to be more consistent. We have to pick it up. ... I'm feeling comfortable, I just feel like I need to do more."
Sports betting experts provide the odds for every team’s chances of winning the Super Bowl. They are pretty good at what they do. But what if they left it up to the fans? Well, here’s a geographical look at who fans think will win the Super Bowl.
Not surprising that folks in Texas believe in their Cowboys.