The Dallas Cowboys annihilated the Miami Dolphins on Friday night, 41-14. As always with preseason games, it’s not really who wins or loses but it’s how they play the game. During preseason, teams are always looking to evaluate young players, returning veterans or new additions to the team. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some winners and losers from the game.
Dak Prescott - For the second straight week, the rookie quarterback has dazzled the masses. This week, he earned a perfect quarterback rating and decided to add a few touchdowns on the ground to his performance. He almost threw his first interception (he was bailed out by a defensive penalty), but other than that, all you can do is tip your hat and say the kid has it going on. No reason yet to look for another backup quarterback.
Tony Romo - With all the Prescott talk, it’s easy to forget that the Cowboys real leader was back under center for the first time in a while, and came away looking pretty good. Romo connected on four of five passes on the night and led a 72-yard touchdown drive. Seeing him throw to Dez Bryant reminded us all of what can be in 2016. He also took a hit and walked away with no problem.
Alfred Morris - The veteran free agent looked very good in extended playing time. While Ezekiel Elliott heals, Morris is proving that the Cowboys running back situation is in great shape. When you’re running behind the Cowboys offensive line, good things will happen. Morris showed patience while waiting for holes to open up, then turned the ball upfield, running hard. He ended with 85 yards on 13 carries and one touchdown.
Shaneil Jenkins - Another week, another sack, this time coming with a fumble that was recovered by Dallas. Jenkins got a lot of time running with the second unit as a defensive tackle and made the most of it. This mid-camp signing might just be playing his way onto the roster.
Brice Butler - The long bomb from Prescott was a thing of beauty. Butler has always been capable of running the deep pattern, but he also added a touchdown catch on a pretty tricky back-shoulder throw immediately following the bomb. It was a beautiful sequence for Butler and proved that he belongs in the Cowboys wide receiver rotation.
Special teams - Last week, Lucky Whitehead took a kickoff back for a touchdown. This week, Vince Mayle blocked a punt. Splash plays from special teams are one of the biggest momentum drivers in the game. Nice job two weeks in a row.
J.J. Wilcox - Did you catch who was totally fooled by the long pass from Ryan Tannehill to Kenny Stills early in the game? Yeah, that was Wilcox caught flat-footed playing a two-deep zone with Byron Jones on the other side waving for him to get deep. Lack of feel for the game and constant bad angles makes Wilcox a liability in coverage.
Cowboys Penalties - On the Cowboys first drive they had three holding penalties. Overall they had 12 penalties for 113 yards. Twice, the Dolphins had the choice of a personal foul penalty or an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a play. In one five-play span, the Cowboys scored three touchdowns but only the last one counted as the other two were called back by penalties. Sloppy.
Mark Nzeocha - Hopefully it’s not serious, but the promising linebacker hurt his Achilles. Jason Garrett called it only a strain, not torn, so there is hope he’ll be back sooner than later. But a tough break for a kid that was coming along nicely.
31 Other Team’s Drafts - I bet there are a lot of scouts and front offices out there right about now thinking: “Why didn’t we draft Dak Prescott?” Seven quarterbacks were taken before Prescott, any team had ample shot to pick him up. Some quarterback-hungry franchises are probably thinking they could have saved some draft capital and just picked Prescott up in the third round. Okay, we’re overstating the case, Prescott has only played two preseason games, let’s not anoint him just yet. But still, it’s fun to think about.