The Cowboys fell to the Los Angeles Rams in disappointing fashion on Sunday afternoon. Dallas fell 35-30 to the hot young team in the NFC, despite leading by as much as 13 points in the first half. The Rams adjusted their game plan to defend the Cowboys’ offense and it worked, as Dallas became stagnant in the third quarter. There were many flaws shown on Sunday, but there were some bright spots, too.
Cooper Rush was again inactive, as the Cowboys continue to roll with Kellen Moore behind Dak. Chidobe Awuzie, still dealing with nagging hamstring injuries, was held out in Sunday’s contest. Other than that, though, all of the rookies saw some action in week four.
How did the rooks perform?
We’re four weeks in and we still haven’t seen anything from Taco that warranted a first-round pick. Now, it’s very early and there is obviously a chance for Taco to put together a nice season, but he has yet to showcase his talent since the preseason concluded. He has showed up very little in the stat sheet, not even recording a single tackle in the season opener.
Fortunately for the Cowboys, Demarcus Lawrence has been a beast in the early parts of the season. The NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September led the entire league in sacks going into the fourth week of play. Unfortunately, though, that means teams are going to adjust around him. The Rams often doubled the defensive end, which should have opened up opportunities for the rest of the defensive line — including Charlton. However, Charlton failed to take advantage.
Thus far, we haven’t seen anything from Taco that shows us that he can grow into the pass-rushing defensive end that he was brought in to be. Our own DannyPhantom summed up his thoughts on the first-round pick following Sunday’s loss:
And whenever Charlton was in, he was completely outmatched. He was never able to gain any traction against the Rams left tackle. He would attempt his spin move, come up empty, and that was pretty much the end of what he had to give on the play.
The Cowboys first-round pick has been under a lot of heat due to his lack of production thus far and after this game - it’s only going to get worse. It’s still nothing to get too worked up about, but from what we’ve seen thus far, he hasn’t given fans much to be happy about.
Here was just one (of many) tweets summarizing Taco’s performance:
That last Taco Charlton rush saw #97 finish with his back to Goff and arms wide doing nothing. Woof.— Laurie Horesh (@LaurieHoresh) October 1, 2017
And then there is this, too:
Taco has the worst PRP and run stop % of any rookie edge defender who has played at least 25 percent of his team's defensive snaps #Cowboys— John Owning (@JohnOwning) October 2, 2017
Taco has three tackles through four weeks of action. Here’s hoping he is able to make his presence felt on the defense soon. Otherwise, his spot on the 46-man roster could be in jeopardy in favor of Charles Tapper — especially with David Irving now able to play.
On the other hand, the other rookie out of Michigan has been very impressive through his three games of the 2017 season. He introduced himself to the Cowboys fan base in the first game he played when he picked off a Trevor Siemian pass in Mile High. Last week, he showcased his open-field tackling ability in Phoenix time and time again.
One of the biggest knocks about Jourdan Lewis was his ability to tackle. Finished the game with six solo tackles. pic.twitter.com/Q0AaMwztWy— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) September 26, 2017
Lewis picked off where he left off on Sunday. The rookie corner continues to be a bright spot on the defense each time he steps on the field. He has been solid in coverage, and Lewis has shown the ability to help in run support. His knack for making open field tackles has been a plus for the defense, too.
Lewis was also a huge factor in why Sammy Watkins was severely limited throughout the game. The former first-round pick went for 106 yards and two scores on six catches a week ago against the Niners, but was held to just one catch on Sunday.
The future looks extremely bright for the third-round selection.
Before we get to the elephant in the room, I would like to point out the little bit of good of Switz in week four. The rookie was used on quick reverse on a play that Dallas used often with Lucky Whitehead last season. He gained three yards on the run. Switz was also aggressive in the return game, returning three kicks for 78 yards and an average of 26 yards per return.
That’s about it, though. Other than that, there isn’t really anything positive to point to from Switzer’s performance. In fact, his aggressiveness in the return game ultimately turned out to be the big turning point in a game that the Cowboys looked to be on their way to running away with.
The defense looked to be getting off the field after forcing Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and the Rams to punt down 17-6. Dak and the ‘Boys were going to get the football back with around eight minutes left in the second quarter and an opportunity to go up 18 points.
A fumble changed that.
In a move to be aggressive, Switzer decided against fair-catching the high punt in favor of making a big play. While that would’ve been great had it worked out, it instead flipped the momentum of the game on its head. He explained the play to SportsDay:
"I had a good read on the ball, judged it well," Switzer said. "It's just one of those instances where as soon as I had it, I took my eyes off to kind of assess where I was on the field. I didn't end up possessing it cleanly.
"It happens. It's not the first time I've done it. It won't be the last. Obviously it's a big play in the game."
Switz muffed the punt and the Rams recovered on Dallas’ 18-yard line. Goff would soon find Cooper Kupp for the touchdown to cut it back to a four point game.
How big was the momentum shift?
Dallas was out-scored 29-13 after Ryan Switzer's fumble.— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) October 1, 2017
Jason Witten was among the players to speak about having Switz’s back.
"He's just got to keep his confidence up," Jason Witten said. "He made some big plays last week in the return game. That's a tough position to be in. It's hard to play that spot.
"We believe in him. We're behind him. He'll get back. He's a young player. He'll bounce back."
You can’t put this loss on one player; that’s not we’re doing. However, those rookie — and special teams — mistakes can be very costly in any given game, as we found out on Sunday. Here’s hoping he is able to put this behind him and bounce back.
Much like Jourdan Lewis, Xavier Woods continues to be a bright spot in the Cowboys’ young secondary. The sixth-round pick has been building a strong case to be starting alongside Byron Jones in the defensive backfield. He flies all over the field, lays big hits, and has showed to be a sure tackler.
In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, Woods has been one of the more impressive rookie defensive backs through for weeks.
Many are on the Woods-over-Heath bandwagon. Add Bob Sturm to it.
Jeff Heath seems like a liability when trying to make place in space, but Byron Jones actually showed nice range. I'd find a way to play Woods even more. He already seems to have better instincts than Heath at times.
Marcus Mosher has been a strong advocate for starting Woods.
Xavier Woods >>>> Jeff Heath— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) October 1, 2017
Xavier Woods needs to be a starter. pic.twitter.com/WWYeFBlxNN— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) October 2, 2017
Woods finished the game with two solo tackles and looked solid. Would you start him over Jeff Heath?
The young secondary appears to be very bright in the Big D.
Exciting thing is Jourdan Lewis and Xavier Woods. Dudes with football instincts that don't miss tackles.— Jeff Cavanaugh (@JC1053) October 2, 2017
And Jerry seems to agree:
Jerry Jones: "You're going to see even more of [Jourdan] Lewis...You're going to see a lot of what [Xavier Woods] is about in the future."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 3, 2017
After making his NFL debut in week two and recording his first career reception in week three, Noah Brown again made the 46-man squad in week four. He did not see much playing time, but the Cowboys obviously see lots of potential in the former Ohio State wide receiver. Brown was used in 12 personnel when the Cowboys got down in the red zone; could he become a red zone target for Dak as the season progresses? The seventh-round selection saw seven snaps in week four and a total of 20 so far this season.
Who has been the best rookie thus far, BTB?