The Cowboys took a quick train ride over to Los Angeles to face the Rams in their second preseason game of the season. If you didn’t get enough to cheer about last week, this game certainly didn’t disappoint as there were several interesting storylines coming out of this game. Let’s have a looksy, shall we?
1. Rico Gathers is looking like everything we’ve hoped for
The Cowboys experimental tight end project is coming along nicely.
Rico Gathers has been thrown to 7x this preseason. He's caught them all for 106 yds & 2 TDs. Not bad for a guy who's barely played football.— Jordan Ross (@CHQ_Jordan) August 13, 2017
Rico still has to work on his fundamentals as he had another penalty this week (holding), but these are things than can be corrected with experience. The raw talent is on display and the team looks like they may have discovered something special here.
2. Kellen Moore shouldn’t be the #2 quarterback
As soon as the game started, it just felt like it he was going to struggle. I have no confidence in him whatsoever. He was throwing short too much and gave the offense no chance to move the chains. It didn’t take long for fans on twitter to express their displeasure.
Watching Kellen Moore play quarterback like: pic.twitter.com/t30KMoEeLz— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) August 13, 2017
It’s pretty bad when you’re upsetting the kicker.
Moore played the entire first half and finished 8/17 for a very unimpressive 69 yards. Strangely, things immediately got better when undrafted free agent Cooper Rush came in. The rookie just looked more poised, stepped into his throws and did something Moore couldn’t do - throw the ball down the field. In just one quarter of play, Rush would finish 9/11 for 104 yards and both his incompletions were drops that the receiver should have come down with.
Luke McCown played in the fourth quarter. While he did throw the ball down field, his accuracy was off and the Cowboys could never move the ball. He mis-handled a snap and had one pass that should have been intercepted. It was embarrassing. He finished 6/13 for 31 yards.
This makes things very interesting in Dallas when it comes to their quarterback situation. Rush is going to see more action this preseason and if he keeps playing like this, how does he not earn a spot on this roster?
Some people have already updated their own personal depth chart.
QB1: Prescott— ✭ DCBlueStar ✭ (@DCBlueStar) August 13, 2017
It’s still a small sample size, but Cooper Rush clearly looks like the best backup quarterback so far.
3. Cowboys defense hitting hard
There was some sloppy ball handling by the Rams that caused them to put the ball on the ground. Unfortunately, the Cowboys couldn’t come out of the pile with the ball early on.
@DannyPhantom24 We've hit them hard, they've put the ball on the ground, but it seems to be bouncing their way, especially the TD.— Brad Caudill (@flyfishfreek29) August 13, 2017
But you have to be impressed by the tenacity of the defense. The constant hitting created more opportunities to jar the ball loose.
Cowboys’ defense may not be recovering fumbles but they are knocking all the soul particles out of the Rams tonight.— Patrik Walker (@VoiceOfTheStar) August 13, 2017
I counted five total forced fumbles. One by Anthony Hitchens, David Irving, Kavon Frazier, Mark Nzeocha, and Duke Thomas. Even Xavier Woods appeared to knock the ball out of the receivers hands, but that play ended up being ruled incomplete. It was like Oprah Winfrey was handing out forced fumbles.
You get a forced fumble! You get a forced fumble! pic.twitter.com/vnJTGlNLOx— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) August 13, 2017
4. Taco got a sack!
It was great to see the Cowboys first-round draft pick have a good game. He was always around the ball, finishing with three tackles. Of course, fans went crazy when he got his first ever sack.
Taco Charlton destroys the LT for a sack pic.twitter.com/9hNeT7GDqJ— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 13, 2017
As expected, it’s going to be a work in progress all preseason, but at least there’s progress.
It seems like Taco does *something* right on most of his snaps. Just usually not everything. If he can consistently do it all right ...— David Helman (@HelmanDC) August 13, 2017
5. Linebacker play was outstanding
I don’t know how many snaps Damien Wilson played, but he was all over the field early on. Whether it be against the run or in pass coverage, Wilson was making the play. He’s been having a great camp, but it really hadn’t sunk in just how well he’s playing until seeing him in action tonight.
Anthony Hitchens would have had a touchdown saving play when he laid the wood on the Rams receiver, but the ball just didn’t bounce his way. It looked like Jeff Heath had a shot at grabbing it, but it was just out of his reach and the Rams got a gift touchdown. Even still, that was a great play by Hitch.
Mark Nzeocha had a good game as well. Not only did he have a tackle that caused the running back to lose control of the ball, but he also caused a holding penalty when he was blitzing the quarterback.
6. Defensive line depth showed up
There hasn’t been a lot of buzz regarding the pass rushers outside of those usual suspects that are expected to make the team. On Saturday, two players had nice games. The Cowboys seventh-round pick Joey Ivie made some good tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage. The team doesn’t really have a #4 defensive tackle behind Maliek Collins, Stephen Paea, and Cedric Thornton. If they end up keeping a fourth, Ivie could play himself into the conversation.
But the most impressive plays came from edge rusher Lenny Jones. He had a sack, knocked down a pass, caused a holding penalty, and had a few other plays where he almost make a tackle in the backfield. With so many other edge rushers missing time early on due to suspensions or injury, more play of this caliber could give him a chance to make the roster.
7. Left guard still a mystery
It’s never good when you hear your number called as an offensive lineman. That’s exactly what happened to Byron Bell twice over the span of three plays. Darren McFadden had a couple running lanes early when Zack Martin and Travis Frederick were in the game, but they closed up quickly when the next group came in. Alfred Morris and Rod Smith didn’t have much room to run. The Cowboys still have a lot of work to do sorting out their LG situation.
8. X marks the spot
Xavier Woods showed why the team swung a deal to get back in the draft to select him. He played a physical game, making a nice hit on the wide receiver that knocked the ball loose. Woods would lead the team in tackles with seven.
9. Not so special teams
I feel bad for Lance Lenior. He’s got to come up big if he has any chance to make an NFL team. So it’s unfortunate when you see him muff a punt. Maybe the sun had something to do with it, but as Jason Garrett will tell you - the sun’s been around for five billion years.
10. Worried about a rule change
The unnecessary roughness call against he Rams when Noah Brown was hit on a deep pass was odd. I know the NFL now has a rule to protect defenseless receivers this year, but that looked like a play we see all the time. If they are really going to be calling this, it’s going to upset a lot of people. I’m all for player safety, but I got to say - I’m not a fan of this rule.
What things stood out the most to you in the Cowboys preseason game against the Rams?