Many approached this week thinking that it would be the “dress rehearsal” of the preseason for the Dallas Cowboys. With no Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, or three of the starting offensive linemen, that idea was kaput from the jump.
Regardless of who played for them, there was a football game that the Dallas Cowboys played (if you want to call it that). It did not go well, but there were a few positives, and a whole lot of negatives.
Who won? Who lost? We’re glad you asked, BTB. Here are our five winners and five losers from this week’s Cowboys game.
Winner: Randy Gregory SZN
Randy Gregory started for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night. What a beautiful sentence.
Not only did Randy Gregory start for the Cowboys, he ripped off a sack! On third down! It’s raining exclamation points!
At least this happened pic.twitter.com/t6nfY6MOIb— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) August 27, 2018
The Cowboys may have struck gold with Randy Gregory and their patience with his comeback. He looks, I don’t use this word lightly here (I use it a lot to be fair), incredible. Gregory on the opposite end of DeMarcus Lawrence is a very good thing that will be a lot of fun.
Cris Collinsworth noted that teams in the NFC East had to be terrified of the idea of Gregory and Lawrence as a pass rushing tandem. This is going to be fun indeed.
Winner: The “let’s trade for Earl Thomas” crowd
Early on in the game’s first quarter the Dallas Cowboys saw Kavon Frazier go down with an apparent injury (left shoulder). This is the second week in a row that the Cowboys have seen one of their top three safeties go down during a preseason game. That’s not ideal.
Just moments after Twitter saw plenty of “down goes Frazier” references, the social media site was overrun with people championing Earl Thomas to the Cowboys. Kavon playing is already technically not the plan for the Cowboys as they’d like for Woods to be their free safety, but injuries mount and you have to adjust.
For what it’s worth the Cowboys kept Jeff Heath in the game even after Frazier was taken to the locker room. It was tempting fate, but thankfully it didn’t blow up in their faces.
Winner: Joe Thomas as a big-time hitter
The hype has been building on Joe Thomas ever since the first preseason game in San Francisco. In the second quarter against the Cardinals we saw Thomas deliver a big hit that drew some oohs and ahhs.
Joe Thomas is a monster pic.twitter.com/3GgxO0oPDp— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) August 27, 2018
Thomas also showed up on special teams. With just over five minutes left in the first half he chased down rookie wide receiver Christian Kirk on a punt. It was all hustle and something you want on your football team.
The Dallas Cowboys have Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, and Leighton Vander Esch as their linebacker trio. This is a great triumvirate and one worthy of being legitimately hyped about.
We’ve seen that on paper though. We’ve seen the Cowboys have solid starters and then had to watch it vanish into nothing. Joe Thomas presents an option. He’s our security net, and he’s a pretty physical one at that.
Winner: Jourdan Lewis and the slot corner conversation
It was a long night for other Cowboys defensive backs, but Jourdan Lewis played well. Anthony Brown has been given the nod as the team’s primary slot cornerback over him, but many have gone to Lewis’ defense over this.
It’s unlikely that Lewis did enough on Sunday night to unseat Brown completely, but he at the very least kept the conversation within arm’s length. We know and trust that Kris Richard (who we’ll get to later) will do the right thing, and maybe Jourdan Lewis will be the right thing at some point.
Winner: All of us, we survived
This was the preseason game sent from hell. The Cowboys only scored three points and turned the ball over (LeBron voice) not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven (Monica Geller hand signal), but eight times! EIGHT.
There was no Dak Prescott, no Ezekiel Elliott, and not a single leg of the Cowboys marquee tripod of offensive linemen. They were fighting an uphill battle from the jump.
We’re officially closer to the end of the preseason than we are to the beginning. It feels good. We’re almost out of this vat of quicksand, friends.
Loser: Lance Lenoir in the punt return game
It was fumbles on punt returns that plagued Lance Lenoir’s chances at making the 53-man roster last year. Lance has played very well through training camp and two preseasons, his highlights have come as a receiver, but he fumbled the first two punts he got his hands on against Arizona.
It should be noted that Byron Jones ran into him on the first one so it wasn’t totally his fault. Perhaps he wanted to make up for that on the second one, but he had a really inexcusable fumble that trickled all the way into the endzone that ended in a Cardinals touchdown. He later bobbled another punt before securing it.
Lance played very well through training camp and the first two preseason games. If you’re at the end of the roster you have to be able to contribute on special teams so two fumbles isn’t ideal, but let’s not totally overreact and act as if that’s all he’s done so far.
Loser: Cooper Rush, Mike White, and the peace of having a solid backup quarterback
If we’re being frank, Cooper Rush and Mike White were terrible against the Cardinals. Cooper looks absolutely nothing like the undrafted rookie that we saw a year ago who was actually so impressive that he helped rid the Cowboys of Kellen Moore (the player), and Mike doesn’t at all resemble the highly-touted quarterback that the team drafted a few months ago.
Cooper thew a pick six to Arizona’s Patrick Peterson and hey, it’s Patrick Peterson, we can’t totally fault him for that. But beyond that both he and White turned the ball over like their roster spots depended on it, it was ugly.
Dak Prescott is the unquestioned starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, but there needs to be legitimate depth behind him. For a long time we’ve felt comfortable that Cooper Rush could be that guy or that Mike White could show flashes of being it. Sunday night was a bad outing for whoever will wind up QB2, and it was a worse one for who will wind up QB3 if there even is one.
Loser: NBC’s “The Green Zone” as a legitimate idea
This has nothing to do with the Cowboys, but it kind of has to do with the Cowboys.
We all know that as they are America’s Team Dallas plays on Sunday Night Football a lot throughout the season. This was their first appearance on NBC’s primetime slot and the network had a new toy they wanted to try out - The Green Zone.
If you didn’t watch the game imagine if on third down the broadcast took the portion of the field between the line of scrimmage and the first down marker and imagine them shading that in with a darker green. It’s disgusting and an eye sore and I won’t stand for it.
Loser: Anybody that upsets Kris Richard (basically the backup secondary)
We’ve talked a lot about Kris Richard and the intensity he’s brought to the Cowboys, but the whole country got to see it on full display Sunday night.
It all started when Cardinals running back TJ Logan took one to the house. It was embarrassing.
This is very displeasing pic.twitter.com/OQGfclWbi6— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) August 27, 2018
It’s obvious that the Cowboys defensive backs were pretty not good right here, but let’s pretend that you didn’t know that. Pretend that you sat down and were wondering who the blame would fall on. Oh hey, there’s Kris Richard. He’s destroying souls.
Kris Richard makes you as a Cowboys fan feel _____? pic.twitter.com/Loim4H88oW— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) August 27, 2018
Don’t upset the Cowboys secondary coach.
Loser: Ball security, which is kind of important
There’s a line in the cult classic Mean Girls where the main character, Cady Heron, is asked why math is her favorite subject in school. She, a student who has studied in schools all over the world due to her parents moving around a lot, answers “because it’s the same in every language.” It’s quite a nice sentiment.
The Dallas Cowboys turned the ball over eight times on Sunday night. Eight. That’s eight in every language and in every country on every continent on the face of the earth. EIGHT.
It’s the preseason so apply the necessary context that this isn’t a pure indicator of what we’ll see when it’s happening for real two weeks from now; however, eight turnovers is disconcerting no matter what the circumstances are.
You can’t turn the ball over eight times and win in the NFL. You also can’t turn the ball over in a preseason game if you want to earn a roster spot. Many of the guilty parties involved against the Cardinals may have cost themselves the chance to wear the star in a few weeks.
Congratulations, we survived the dress rehearsal. We’re Andy Dufresne and the end of the tunnel is within sight.
The good news is that we don’t have to wait much longer to watch the Cowboys again. The bad news is that it could be an even worse affair than this because fewer notable players will play.
We’re inside of two weeks to the real deal, amigos. Two weeks. TWO WEEKS!