Well, Sunday did not go as hoped. The Dallas Cowboys were in complete control of the game early, but Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers eventually stole the lead in the fourth quarter. Dak Prescott played like a superstar, Ezekiel Elliott ran for over 80 yards in the fourth quarter alone, and the Cowboys’ offense actually outscored and out-gained the Packers. Unfortunately, though, a few costly plays and Rodgers’ brilliance ultimately came out on top.
How did the rookies perform on the big stage in a pivotal game? Cooper Rush was once again inactive, as Kellen Moore continues to get the nod at QB2 behind Dak. Noah Brown, who was active for weeks two through four, did not make the 46-man roster in week five. Other than that, though, every other rookie saw some action this past Sunday.
The Cowboys’ first-round draft selection has yet to make any kind of impact through his first five career professional games. The Michigan Wolverines product showed some flashes throughout the preseason, but Charlton has not had any success against starters in the NFL. While Taco has recorded a TFL — in garbage time against the Denver Broncos — he hasn’t had any other impactful plays.
In fact, Taco barely saw the field on Sunday. The 28th selection of this past draft was a non-factor in a huge week five game, only seeing a total of eight snaps of action against the Packers. Not ideal for a guy that was expected to grow into a solid contributor for a defense in need of playmakers.
Has Taco Charlton seen the field today? I don't remember him out there.— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) October 8, 2017
The return of David Irving may have limited the impact that Taco could have had, but we are five games in and haven’t seen anything from Charlton. Here’s hoping he can do more than record three total tackles over the next five games.
Taco Charlton: 109 snaps, 3 tackles, 1 TFL, 0 sacks, 0 QB hits— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) October 9, 2017
But, hey, maybe Taco will prove Jerry right.
Jerry Jones talking about Taco Charlton on @1053thefan: "I think he's gonna be a great player for us. I really do."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 6, 2017
There have been high hopes for Chidobe Awuzie; unfortunately, those hopes have been put on hold as the second-round defensive back deals with nagging hamstring injuries. Awuzie showed flashes of developing into a reliable playmaker in the secondary during week one, but he has been limited or held out each of the last four games.
The same story unfolded on Sunday. Awuzie saw some action at safety against the Packers. Known for his versatility, the Cowboys are exploring ways to get their rookie onto the field in different situations. Awuzie totaled two combined tackles in week five; however, the Colorado product left the game in the fourth quarter due to re-aggravating his hamstring injury.
Chido Awuzie has been ruled out for the rest of today. Hamstring injury.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) October 8, 2017
There seems to be a lot of talent in 33, but we are forced to be patient before we get to see him realize his potential. Hopefully the bye week comes at the perfect time for Awuzie, allowing him to grow into an effective player in the second half of the season.
Jourdan Lewis has been the best rookie on the Dallas Cowboys so far this season. In fact, he has played like one of the better defensive players on the team. Originally thought to play in the slot due to his lack of size and inconsistent tackling ability, we have seen the third-round selection grow into a formidable player for Dallas as he has been out on the perimeter and has been making plenty of open field tackles.
Ever since recording his first career interception in his debut back in week two, Lewis has been a major bright spot for the Dallas Cowboys. So far, Lewis has made the front office look smart in trusting a rookie to defend quality receivers week in and week out. Yes, Lewis was the defender that gave up the winning score, but, I mean, how many corners can actually defend an Aaron Rodgers pass with the game on the line? Lewis was also called for a costly defensive holding penalty in the game, but he played very well for the most part. Just take a look at this series of tweets:
Jourdan Lewis sure as hell looks like a 1st round pick to me.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) October 8, 2017
Jourdan Lewis is going to play football for the Dallas Cowboys for a long time— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 8, 2017
Jourdan Lewis is honestly the best open field tackling DB the Cowboys have had since Darren Woodson.— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) October 8, 2017
Hellllloooooo, Jourdan Lewis. The Cowboys have not employed a CB who can reliably make a play like that during my time here.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) October 8, 2017
The best defensive player for the Cowboys today has been rookie Jourdan Lewis. Six tackles and three passes defensed. Really impressive.— Jeff Sullivan (@SullyBaldHead) October 8, 2017
Listening to this audio of Jourdan Lewis after the game and I already loved this kid, but now I'm all-in.— Patrik Walker (@VoiceOfTheStar) October 9, 2017
He's going to be special.
Unfortunately, the casual fan will remember Lewis’ game for giving up the winning points. Bryan Broaddus wrote about that particular play:
Jourdan Lewis might have been beaten for the game-winning touchdown, but prior to that, he had a really good shot at a game-ending interception. He was in outstanding position to play the Davante Adams route, as Adams tried to go over the top of him. Lewis was only able to get his right hand up due to him holding off Adams with his left. If Adams could have had both hands in position, there was a pretty good chance that the ball would have hit him right between them, with Adams trying to play defense. Instead, he could only knock it away, forcing the Packers to come back at him the next play.
Here was one of Lewis’ best plays from Sunday:
Jourdan Lewis is going to need his own island y'all. pic.twitter.com/rNXOeKAIRb— JustWinBaby (@Future_NFL_GM) October 8, 2017
The future looks incredibly bright for Jourdan Lewis. Sure, he may make a mistake or two here and there (who doesn’t), but it is obvious that he has a lot of talent. Lewis looks like CB1 for the Cowboys for the foreseeable future.
Ryan Switzer was drafted to become the Cowboys’ return man after putting up historic numbers for North Carolina during his collegiate career. Switz has busted out some impressive returns and looks to have an exciting future as he continues to learn and develop; unfortunately, he has made his fair share of mistakes as well.
Fortunately, Switz did not have the same kind of mistake that he had last week when he muffed the punt that allowed the Los Angeles Rams to regain some momentum and get back into the game — which turned out to be the major turning point of the game. Switzer, though, did have some questionable decisions on Sunday. For instance, Switz made a daring decision when he opted to field a punt from the Packers in the fourth quarter instead of calling for a fair catch. He was immediately dragged down for a one-yard loss and nearly gave it up.
Pretty bold of Ryan Switzer to field that right there.— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) October 8, 2017
Call a fair catch, Ryan Switzer!— Jonah Tuls (@JonahTulsNFL) October 8, 2017
Switz returned one kick for a 25-yard gain to go along with that one punt he opted to take his chances with. There’s still a lot of time for the fourth-round selection to improve and grow across the board.
Much like Awuzie and Lewis, Xavier Woods has garnered a lot of hype. The sixth-round selection was considered a big steal for the Cowboys this past April, and the Louisiana Tech product has impressed at times throughout this season. Unfortunately, the staff has opted to go with Jeff Heath over Woods at safety.
Woods only saw 23 snaps on Sunday. Since playing 34 defensive snaps in week two and 46 in week three, Woods’ snaps on defense has begun to decline. Last week, Woods only played 16 snaps on the defensive side of the ball. For whatever reason, Woods isn’t on the field as much as his talent warrants him to be.
Woods totaled one total tackle against the Packers. He has the talent to be a strong contributor for the Cowboys, so here’s hoping the coaching staff allows him to grow into a larger role after the bye week.
Which rookie has impressed you the most, BTB?