The Dallas Cowboys got back into the win column after a brief slide. Dak Prescott made a bunch of wow plays, Ezekiel Elliott finally found the end zone, and Demarcus Lawrence bullied the Cardinals’ offensive line all game long.
It was awesome to see the team finally get going in a big way in the second half. While Dak, Tank, and Brice Butler were the stars of the night, the rookies had some major contributions on the big stage. The two young defensive backs played well, Ryan Switzer looked really good, and even the seventh-round selection recorded his first career reception of his very young NFL career.
Cooper Rush, the team’s third-string quarterback, was again inactive. Chidobe Awuzie did not suit up due to a hamstring injury that he re-aggravated last week against the Broncos. Let’s see how the rookies performed in the Cowboys’ second win of the 2017 season!
While many fans were hoping — maybe even expecting — Taco Charlton to be an instant impact player this season, it’s taking a while for Charlton to truly make his presence felt thus far for the Cowboys. The first-round pick did not show up at all in the stat sheet in week one; however, Taco did record a tackle for a loss against the Broncos.
In week three, it was again the Demarcus Lawrence show on the defensive line; nonetheless, Maliek Collins, Tyrone Crawford, and Stephen Paea were still able to make some key tackles in the game. Taco, though, only recorded one tackle on the night.
It’s way, way, way too early to give up on Taco. Sure, he hasn’t performed like a first-round selection is expected and hoped to and he hasn’t had a game like T.J. Watt’s versus the Browns, but there is still a lot of time for Charlton to improve. The 28th pick of the 2017 draft should only get better as he gains more and more reps in Marinelli’s system.
Jourdan Lewis had himself a game. The rookie out of Michigan was one of the biggest bright spots of the defense on Monday Night Football. He played solid coverage, didn’t make many mistakes, and looked like the Cowboys’ best tackler in space on Monday.
The Cowboys’ third pick in the 2017 NFL Draft has come on strong lately. After missing the season opener against the Giants, Lewis has made big plays against both Denver and the Cardinals. Last week, the rookie recorded his first interception when he took advantage of a Trevor Siemian and Demaryius Thomas mistake. This week, he was blanketing receivers and was consistently making impressive open-field tackles.
He ended the game with six solo tackles, one tackle behind the line of scrimmage, and a pass deflection. Check out some of Lewis’ highlights from Monday night here:
Jourdan Lewis has ball skills. pic.twitter.com/REgDhUg80o— Cowboys Nation (@CowboysNation) September 26, 2017
Jourdan Lewis is pretty good when he's allowed to do play his style.— JustWinBaby (@Future_NFL_GM) September 26, 2017
Press Man Coverage. My pre draft comparison for his was Xavier Rhodes. pic.twitter.com/kpoayL8MX4
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
Lot of rookies playing big snaps the Cowboys right now, Jourdan Lewis included. #cowboyswire— Rob Phillips (@robphillips3) September 26, 2017
Jourdan Lewis has made infinity open field tackles tonight. This game could be out of hand without him.— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) September 26, 2017
Pro Football Focus recognized Jourdan Lewis for his impressive week three performance. He was absolutely terrific covering the Cardinals on Monday. Sure, he gave up five receptions, but he didn’t allow a very high passer rating when Carson Palmer tested him.
Bryan Broaddus had this to say about Lewis in his latest scouting notebook:
No offense to Nolan Carroll, but I am going to find a way to keep playing Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis in his place. There is just a different attitude in the way that those two play, which gives this defense an edge. The scouts told me during training camp to keep an eye on Lewis when he gets healthy because he had special skills. What I enjoyed most about watching him play this week was his willingness to come forward and make open-field tackles. Give me a competitive cornerback who is willing to tackle and our defense will find ways to win games. I think that’s what you get from him and Brown.
Lewis looks to be another gem in the third round.
Unfortunately, Jason Garrett said that Lewis is dealing with hamstring issues. Hopefully it’s nothing serious for both he and the Cowboys.
Ryan Switzer didn’t see many snaps through the first two weeks of the season. While he handled kick and punt return duties, Scott Linehan had yet to utilize his versatile skill set on offense. That changed on Monday. Switzer not only got involved in the offense, he even lined up next to Dak in the backfield and took a handoff before the play was called dead.
As you can tell, many were upset that the play ultimately did not come to fruition.
CHAZ GREEN YOU RUINED THE RYAN SWITZER IN THE BACKFIELD PLAY WHY WE DIDN'T EVEN GET TO SEE IT— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) September 26, 2017
He eventually did take a hand-off in the backfield later in the game, picking up three yards on the play.
On special teams Switz still had an impressive night. We finally got to see a little more of what the North Carolina product can do in the return game. He returned four punts for 43 yards, though he had one big return for 21 yards in the game. According to Cowboys Blitz’s Bobby Belt, Ryan Switzer has had two punt returns go over 19 yards.
2 of Ryan Switzer's 6 punt returns have gone for 19+ yards.— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) September 26, 2017
Heading into this season, Dallas had 2 returns of 19+ in their last 31 returns.
I expect Switzer to be more involved in the offensive moving forward. Broaddus wrote on that topic:
Linehan tried some creative things with Ryan Switzer on offense. I had a feeling last week that he wanted to get Switzer more involved in the offense, but with the way that things went, he just couldn’t pull it off. Switzer’s biggest contribution was in the return game where he returned four punts for 43 yards. There was one punt return where I thought if he kept his balance, he would have had a shot to score. I expect that we will see more and more added to his plate each week as that dynamic weapon.
The future looks bright for the fourth-round selection.
Jourdan Lewis wasn’t the only rookie defensive back to catch many eyes on Monday. Xavier Woods impressed on Monday night. Woods struggled in Denver, but the rookie safety played a lot of snaps in the slot against the Cardinals in Arizona. The sixth-round rookie has been forced into action with all of the injuries in the secondary, and he made the most of it on Monday.
Woods recorded three solo tackles, defended a pass, and even hit Carson Palmer on two occasions. He nearly recorded a pick-six in the game, too. Woods was flying all over the field in week three. He played a total of 67 snaps for the Cowboys — 43 on defense, 14 on special teams.
Xavier Woods is awesome. 6th round pick, line me up wherever whenever and I got you.— Jeff Cavanaugh (@JC1053) September 26, 2017
Not sure we can call Xavier Woods a rookie 'safety' right now. Working in the slot for the second straight game. #cowboyswire— Rob Phillips (@robphillips3) September 26, 2017
David Helman makes a really great point:
Easily one of my biggest takeaways from last night:— David Helman (@HelmanDC) September 26, 2017
if Lewis & Woods are playing like that in Sept. of their rookie years, look out.
Our own DannyPhantom certainly agrees.
It’s hard to say without a closer film study, but the initial review of Jourdan Lewis and Xavier Woods was really good. They both were challenged and they both were up for it. Lewis had six tackles and Woods had three. Many of these tackle were open field tackles, where they brought down the ball carrier solo.
The secondary suddenly looks very bright in Dallas. Watch out.
The rookie out out of Ohio State made the active squad for the second consecutive week. Brown was activated against the Broncos for insurance behind the dinged up Terrance Williams and Brice Butler. On Monday, Brown was somewhat surprisingly active once again.
He made it count, too. The seventh-round pick brought down his first career reception on a nice pass from Dak Prescott. Dak hit the rookie for a thirteen-yard gain to eventually set up the Cowboys’ first score of the game.
Hell of a first career catch by Noah Brown. Cardinals weren't fooled by that fake at all.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) September 26, 2017
Noah Brown: I'm not just here to block— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) September 26, 2017
I’m really looking forward to how Brown develops as the season progresses.
Which rook impressed you the most in week three, BTB?