Preseason game number three has concluded and that has provided us with another four quarters to dissect the play of the Cowboys players. Here is the latest stock report to find out who’s doing well and who’s struggling.
The Cowboys starting offense
It used to be for me that in preseason games all I really want to see is the starting unit come in and whoop some butt and then exit healthy. After that, it’s wasn’t all that important what happened next. If that was the metric, then the Cowboys starting offense got a gold star A+ for the night. They looked exceptional. When did the offense decide they wanted to play up tempo? All I know is that they came out with their foot on the gas and never let up. Dak Prescott was outstanding. He threw two passes each to Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, and Jason Witten and every single one of them was either for a first down or touchdown.
It’s a shame Darren McFadden fumbled the ball in the red zone on the second drive. It would have been great to have the starters put up 14 quick points so effortlessly. If you’re not excited about the explosiveness of this 2017 offense yet, you soon will be.
Believe it or not, there are still so many people out there trying to rationalize why Kellen Moore should still be the number two quarterback. I’m doing my very best to keep an open mind and understand that there could be something I don’t get that adds more value to Moore’s existence on the team than I realize, but it’s a struggle with each new preseason game.
What is clear though is that Cooper Rush is playing great football. His comfort in the pocket has been a staple to his game, but watching how calm he was rolling out and throwing the ball just indicates that this kid’s confidence is high.
We can throw out all the excuses and hypothetical scenarios we want to try to convince ourselves to not be in a rush to give him a roster spot, but he’s doing everything right so far. He puts the ball where it needs to be, he doesn’t turn it over, and most importantly - he leads the offense on touchdown drives. These are all great things.
The Cowboys veteran cornerback looked sharp. His best play came from what he does best when he went step-for-step with his man across the middle. He was in perfect position to get his hand in and knock away the ball and force the Colts to punt. It’s plays like that one that makes Scandrick one of the best slot corners in the league.
He also had a nice pass deflection when he came blitzing off the edge and a good open field tackle when he threw his shoulder at the ball carrier’s legs. Scandrick played at a high level and the only real worry is can the 30 year old veteran stay healthy all season? He did come out of the game late into the first half and went inside that special collapsible blue tent, but all indications is that he’s fine.
Orlando Scandrick was fine after the game. He got hit in the head. But no concussion. He was his usual prickly self— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) August 20, 2017
The more I see David Irving playing on the left side, the more I feel like he’s found a real home. In both his preseason games he has been bullying offensive linemen around, constantly shoving blockers into the backfield.
@Caliboy_95 David Irving is either blowing up the play or wrestling with two blockers. There is no third choice. pic.twitter.com/vu0NCWyrp4— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) August 20, 2017
Most impressive defensive player? Easily David Irving. IND couldn't block him, even with two defenders. Love him at LDE.— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) August 20, 2017
This news is bitter sweet because although he is coming along well on the edge, the Cowboys will be without his services until week five.
Every time I see David Irving fly around and show his tremendous upside, I get annoyed at his suspension all over again.— Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm) August 20, 2017
It brings such great satisfaction seeing the starting left guard fit in with the other guys. Jonathan Cooper has gotten better in each preseason game and looks to be in great shape to win a starting spot. He held his own with each rep, but even more impressive is how well he moved to secure blocks in the second level. This sprung Darren McFadden for a couple nice runs.
Jonathan Cooper was your gameball winner for the Cowboys 24-19 victory last nighthttps://t.co/ndVLbxPT2Q pic.twitter.com/xSdMkVVpBQ— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) August 20, 2017
Get ready to listen to announcers talk all year about how the Cowboys have five first-round talents on their offensive line. Isn’t it great?
The Cowboys running back situation is in good shape. When evaluating these guys I focus on what each of them can do with what they’re given. It’s that reason that I’m more of a Alfred Morris guy than a Darren McFadden guy. Watching the tape, it’s commendable how Morris can do so much with so little. He’s a grinder and hits those creases with more power. Several times he would churn out a nice seven yard gain when it didn’t look like he had much space. Then there were times when McFadden had nice holes, but couldn’t maximize them. On the surface, they looked pretty similar, but when you take into account how much traffic each of them had to maneuver around, Morris ran the ball better.
And then there’s Rod Smith. He was impressive Saturday night as he just kept those legs moving. He actually looks like a McFadden/Morris hybrid. He’s got an upright running motion and will at times bounce outside, but then he’ll also hit the lanes with power. As the Colts learned the hard way, you can’t get away with arm tackling this guy.
To keep him or not keep him? That is the question. There’s no denying that fans love Noah Brown and have been trying to find a way to talk him on the roster, even if it comes at the expense of downplaying Brice Butler’s value. Well, many have given up on criticizing Butler, but that doesn’t mean they’re still not trying to make a case for Brown to be on the team.
For the second straight week, Brown had a big catch, except this one ended in a touchdown instead of a fumble. He continues to do what he’s asked to do. He’s a good blocker and could fit into the future of the team. But is he a good fit now?
If I'm the coaching staff, I'm starting to think I need to find a way to keep Rush & Noah Brown. Sounds like a tall order, tho.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) August 20, 2017
If I could intervene, Mr. Helman, I think I might have found a possible solution.
You know, there's a simple solution to this whole "not enough room on the roster to keep all the good players we like" dilemma. pic.twitter.com/of2pg0TmKg— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) August 20, 2017
Prior to a shoulder injury, Chaz Green looked like the missing piece to the Cowboys offensive line. He finally saw his first preseason action on Saturday and it wasn’t very good. He got called for a holding penalty and a chop block. While it looks like he has fallen behind Cooper for the starting left guard gig, Green wasn’t atrocious. He still moved around okay and got into the second level. His ability to play tackle makes him a valuable reserve.
It would be great if the team had six good blockers, but stop being so greedy! It’s almost unfair enough as it is.
At first glance, there wasn’t much to say about Nolan Carroll. Looking closer at the film, there were two plays that stood out. First, he allowed too much separation on a slant route that allowed a big gain. Then, on a third and short play, Carroll had a perfect opportunity to cut inside for a tackle in the backfield, but he arrived late and the RB hit the hole for a good gain.
It’s still early, but Carroll looks like the one possible liability on the defense. With a pass rush that is still less than spectacular, this could be an area of concern for the Cowboys defense.
Jaylon Smith’s Hype
Let’s be clear here - I’m a huge fan of 54 and what he has done to overcome his injury is flat out amazing. But today, he’s being graded just like any other football player who plays football for the Cowboys. While his overall performance was solid, he showed a little bit of delay in some of his movements. Our own Dave Halprin broke down his performance play-by-play and there is one important element that cannot be discounted.
He fired into the gap on a run play but the running back shifted a little in the other direction and Smith was unable to breakdown and make a quick change of direction. This was noted as his problem area in camp, quick lateral movements, and it is something that will need to be worked on. After so much time off his angles to the ball carrier are probably rusty and that can be fixed. If his drop foot doesn’t allow him to make as quick of lateral movements as he was used to in the past, he’ll need to make that adjustment as he learns his limitations through repetition.
It’s just one game, but this will be something to keep an eye on. If you had any inclination to put him ahead of Anthony Hitchens on the depth chart at middle linebacker, you might want to hold off a bit.
There is nothing about Kellen Moore that makes me feel good about him playing quarterback for the Cowboys. All we hear about is how much the coaches love him, but I’m sure there’s got to be some legitimate concerns from them as they make important decisions to better this football team.
Moore looks very predictable. Many times it doesn’t look like he goes through his progressions. He just gets fixated on a target and throws his way. As the Cool One showed in a comparison breakdown of Moore and Rush, the decisions Kellen makes aren’t always the right one.
Moore just doesn’t give his receivers a chance. There was a play where he rolled to his left and skipped a pass to Brice Butler. Whether that’s an arm strength issue or just misfiring, it’s become something we’re seeing more and more from him. The Cowboys suffered through the 2015 season watching their QB not give their team a chance. That’s the big problem I have with Moore.
Cowboys point differential this preseason when each backup QB is in the game:— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) August 20, 2017
Kellen Moore -19
Cooper Rush +19
The defense has been pretty steady across all quarters of all preseason games so this really is more indicative of what the offense is doing on the field. Of course it doesn’t help, when you have fumble that results in a defensive score or you throw an interception in the red zone.
Which players impressed you the most? And which players struggled?