The Dallas Cowboys beat the Oakland Raiders on Saturday, 24-20. The Raiders starters outplayed the Cowboys as they left the game leading by three points. The Raiders are a good team and it was a tough test for the Cowboys, but how did the players do? Here is the latest stock report to find out who’s doing well and who’s struggling.
Ten first half points aren’t anything to get very excited about, but it’s hard not to feel charged up about the play of the Cowboys second-year quarterback. Prescott only had 113 yards in a half of football, but he was very smart about where he went with his passes. He completed 79% of his passes and was able to fire darts a few times with defenders in his face.
It’s just a really great feeling when number four is out on the field because we all have developed confidence that he’s going to do something great. It’s like the Tony Romo play-making ability has never left.
I always felt like it would be tough to transition from a Romo-less Cowboys team, but Prescott came along and wiped that all away. Now, my mind wonders about how this team will every get along without Jason Witten. It’s easy to forget how dynamic of a player he is. You need someone to seal the edge, he’s on it. You need someone to break down the seam, he can do that, too. Witten is the most complete tight end in the game and with his six catch, 74-yard performance Saturday night, it looks like he can go on for years. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for that one.
If you were impressed by Prescott only having three incompletions, then you had to be thrilled when you saw Rush only throw one. And even that one was catchable as he looked for Noah Brown deep. It looked like Brown was going to come down with it, but the defender was able to get his hand in enough to knock the ball away. As accurate as Rush was, it was a little frustrating when the receivers kept falling short of the first down marker on a couple of the drives in the third quarter. And then things got worse when the ball was knocked out of his hand for the big fumble recovery touchdown for the Raiders.
But you have to hand it to the kid for keeping his focus and going out there and reloading to throw two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. People are making Romo comparisons because of the undrafted free agent thing, but seeing this kid unfazed might be a legit Romo-like trait.
I know I’m a joke-maker sometimes, but I am completely serious when I say this:
Is Cooper Rush the preseason MVP right now? Not just for Dallas, but for the entire league? 6 TDs so far.— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) August 27, 2017
I haven't felt this good about the Cowboys backup QB position since way back in 2016.
There can be issues with consistency for the Cowboys third-year linebacker, but it’s looking like he is starting to put things together. In Saturday’s game, he essentially took over where Hitchens left off. On several plays he would find a straight-line path to the ball carrier and stopped him in his tracks. It was great to see him perform well, especially with news of the Hitchens injury. He’ll now be taking on some more reps and if he can just harness his good plays, he will do just fine.
While Rush is the undrafted free agent that is gaining all the attention, the Cowboys might have found another UDFA gem as well. In each preseason game, Neal keeps showing up. Against the Raiders, he had a quarterback sack and another tackle for a loss.
We all can faintly recall bottom roster guys like Ken Bishop and Davon Coleman, but I certainly don’t remember them making plays like Neal has been. He’s been discussed as a possible roster guy, especially while the two defensive linemen are serving their suspension. But now, he’s making it difficult for the Cowboys to even part ways with him later. Neal is a guy who adds some nice depth on the interior line and he’s making a strong push to make this team.
What a difference a quarterback can make. After spending a lot of his reps catching passes from Kellen Moore, Butler got an opportunity to play catch with both Prescott and Rush. And he looked like a good target for both of them. While the stat sheet isn’t impressive (two catches for 28 yards), the tape tells a different story. Butler wasn’t just running deep routes over the top. He was running crossing patterns, and looked great with the back shoulder pass. Two different penalties wiped out two 18-yard receptions, but even still - Butler looked good making those catches.
There has been a good battle between sixth-round pick Marquez White and free agent Duke Thomas. While White has outperformed Thomas in practice, it’s been Thomas who has showed up in preseason games. On the surface, it looked like Thomas had the edge, but now an injury to his left knee has put his roster spot in jeopardy. White had a good game against the Raiders and did a great job closing on a pass that held the receiver short of a first down, forcing them to punt. With the rookie DBs all nursing hamstrings, the chances of the Cowboys carrying a sixth cornerback seems likely. But now, that player looks more like White than Thomas.
Green was the favorite to win the starting left guard spot to fill out the Cowboys offensive line, but that looks like a lost cause as this point. Once again, Green got himself hurt. Whether it’s a shoulder injury, cramps, or now - an ankle, he just cannot stay healthy. The Cowboys were hoping to mold him into a key component of their offensive line, but it looks like they need to put him back in the kiln a little longer so he hardens. The guy is just too soft.
Jonathan Cooper - welcome to the starting unit, buddy.
If it hadn’t been for the injury to Anthony Hitchens, I’d be inclined to say that Mark “Aint Gotcha” Nzeocha wouldn’t be making the 53-man roster. It wasn’t all bad for him as he made a play in coverage and tipped a pass, but the real issue is all the whiffing he’s doing trying to tackle people. He’s so close on several plays so you just keep thinking he’ll get there, but he continues to miss tackles.
Many fans were curious to watch the Cowboys second-year CB back on the field after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury. There were plays were Brown allowed too much space between him and his man and could close fast enough. This allowed the Raiders to convert twice on third down.
And if you thought maybe he was just playing it safe and staying back, that idea could be tossed out the window after Amari Cooper got behind him for the big 48-yard touchdown. I’m not sure how much of this had to do with his mental game or physical player, but regardless - it wasn’t a good showing for the young corner. Maybe Brown thought he had help over the top, which brings me to...
Nobody can say that Jones isn’t having a great camp as he has been all over the place making plays. And that’s why it was a little surprising to see Amari Cooper flying down the sideline. Jones took a poor angle and wasn’t able to get to Cooper in time. This is uncharacteristic of Jones as he’s always provided a nice safety valve for when these big plays happen, but they usually don’t result in touchdowns.
His partner in crime, Jeff Heath, can be on this list too. It’s not clear what happened on the Cordarrelle Patterson touchdown pass, but it’s definitely not suppose to be that easy.
The starting secondary, as a whole did not have a very good showing, with the lone exception of Orlando Scandrick. Can you remember when people wanted him traded? Man, wasn’t that silly?
Is if fair to judge Moore when he didn’t have much of a chance to do anything? Well, yes it is because he has been jumped as the teams backup quarterback. We can pretend like we don’t know that to be the case as nothing has been officially announced, but who are we kidding? Rush is the man.
The problem for Moore now is the same problem we all thought Rush had a couple weeks ago. Should the Cowboys carry three quarterbacks? I struggle seeing the value in holding on to Moore when there are actual good players who could help this team. People said this last preseason game against the Houston Texans would be the determining factor in whether or not Dallas keeps three quarterbacks. That very well could still be true, only it should be Moore playing to save his job, not Rush.
Which players impressed you? Who struggled? Did anyone’s performance affect their chances to make the roster?