While it’s easy to get excited about how rookie quarterback, Dak Prescott performs in his encore performance, it’s extremely important that Tony Romo has a respectable preseason. Over the last couple seasons, the Cowboy have limited the amount of time Romo has gotten during camp. And likewise, he doesn’t see a lot of preseason action.
While it’s imperative to keep the team’s franchise quarterback healthy, he’s had to shake off the rust once the regular season gets going. We all remember his dreadful week one performance in 2014 against the San Francisco 49ers. Romo was 23 out of 37 for 281 yards, throwing three interceptions. Nobody thinks too much about that game as his poor play didn’t linger. It didn’t take long for him to get back into a groove as the Cowboys would win their next six games and finish the season with a 12-4 record.
Ultimately, he’ll be just fine as long as he stays healthy, but if he’s rusty – it will make it difficult to win games early. With two big games against the top two divisional foes, it would be nice if Romo was sharp to start the season. He doesn’t need to be Dak Prescott-esque in his first action of the season, but just showing some kind of rhythm would be good to see.
Dak under pressure
Last week, my concern was – how would Prescott do with his deeper throws? I expected him to play it safe and pull a Weeden with short little dump offs. But it didn’t go down like that. Instead, Prescott rose up to the challenge as he was dead on accurate with all his throws. It was a great performance for the rookie quarterback, but it does get an asterisk. And that asterisk denotes that Dak played with a lot of protection from the offensive line. While that still counts for something, one of the biggest concerns for Prescott coming out of college is how he struggles when the protection breaks down.
Against the Dolphins, it should be a different scenario for him than it was last week. With Romo using up some of the first-team offensive line reps, Dak will have to play with the second-string. If you are wondering what that will be like, the Cowboys gave us a little taste last week against the Rams. The final two drives of the first half was with the backup offensive line unit. They went three-and-out after Darius Jackson got stuffed in the backfield on a third and short play. The interior line just got blown up on that play. Some people called it vanilla play calling, but the Cowboys executed a similar short-yardage play with Alfred Morris in the first quarter. The difference was the players in the trenches. Then, after Mark Nzeocha intercepted the ball, Dak and the offense weren’t able to do much as the offensive line broke down with penalties as well as giving up a sack. Prescott would still make enough plays to get the team in field goal range.
So, how is Dak going to perform with more of those type of situations? He’s going to have to make some throws under pressure. A rough outing will serve as a reminder that he’s still has weaknesses that need work, but a quality outing will get fans even more fired up.
Morris, the cat
Keeping with my rule of only having three pet cats – a rookie (Anthony Brown), a free agent (Alfred Morris), and a second-year vet (David Irving), I have found myself a little shy on pets to cheer on. Both Irving and Brown are injured, which is especially unfortunate since they were having a great camp. That leaves Morris. With Ezekiel Elliott resting his hamstring, Morris should get a few series with the starting group. Additionally, with Romo not overextending himself, the Cowboys should work in a nice ground attack while he’s in the game. This is a good opportunity for the veteran back to remind fans that they have a very reliable running back on their team if he is needed.
Give me some Mo
If it was up to most fans, Morris Claiborne would have been sent his packing papers long ago, but fans don’t make personnel decisions. The Cowboys coaching staff has held on to the idea that Claiborne is a good football player to the point where they didn’t let him walk after his rookie contract expired.
But Mo is back and he’s back with a vengeance. While it seems like a familiar song to hear that he’s done well in camp, this year he’s stepped it up. He has been a lot more consistent in his play and his back and forth with star receiver Dez Bryant has given him some swagger. The Cowboys will not have to play against any wide receivers that are better than Dez Bryant so if Mo can hold his own in those matchups, I like his chances against other guys.
While he won’t ever live up to that pick #6 draft stock, he might still have a chance to be a legitimate first-round talent.
What will you be looking for Friday night?