One of the biggest indicators that football season really is here is a particular thing going on at this very moment - The Little League World Series.
When it’s LLWS time you know that things are getting serious on the football front. The same can also be said, and it is more appropriately said, on today of all days. It’s dress rehearsal time!
The rumors are true and on Saturday night the Dallas Cowboys will host the Houston Texans in the penultimate game of the preseason part of the season. It’s typically in this game that starters (“the 1s” as the cool kids refer to them) get their most playing time before things start to matter for real in the regular season.
So with all that being said, which Cowboys need to have big games against Houston to either further solidify or outright earn their roster spots for 2019? Well golly gee we just so happen to have a list right here, how convenient that is!
If this feels like we’re getting this conversation off to a weird start then mission accomplished. Look, Cooper Rush is making the Cowboys roster. You know that, I know that, and Mike White sure as heck knows that. While any great or poor play from Rush won’t necessarily alter that, we are at a point where it would be nice to see some solid football from him in order to feel some peace about the backup quarterback position.
The reality is that if Dak Prescott were to go down for any period of time things would already be in serious jeopardy for the Cowboys so it’s not like Cooper is going to pull a Kurt Warner in all likelihood; however, we need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s the guy before we submit official 53-man roster predictions. Right?
Here we go, now we’re talking.
Devin Smith did a lot to make his case for the team’s final roster last week in Honolulu, but he has to prove that he can do it on a consistent basis. That’s what these teams are looking for in moments like these. It’s not about how many yards or touchdowns he can catch necessarily, it’s about consistency. Touchdowns obviously help, though.
There are four, maybe five with Noah Brown, roster spots locked up at wide receiver for the Cowboys. Neither Jalen Guyton nor Jon’vea Johnson have done much to make a case for a sixth themselves, everything is going Smith’s way right now.
It’s time to keep that momentum up.
Similarly to Cooper Rush, it’s not like Taco Charlton isn’t going to be on the team’s roster in two weeks, especially given the suspension to Robert Quinn for the early part of the season.
Right now Taco is more the benefit of circumstances around him at the defensive end group than he is one of the clubhouse leaders with individual production. That’s not exactly something that you want to hear of a third-year former first-round pick, but that’s why Saturday night is so critical for him. With more opportunities than he would likely get in a standard game against quality competition (Houston will probably have their starters in for two series at maximum) he has to make a statement. Here’s what BTB’s own Danny Phantom wrote about Taco earlier in the week.
If he made the team, what would his role be exactly? He’s not getting very many reps with all those guys ahead of him, so whomever they keep after that is going to be someone to be used for the future. That is where a young defensive end like Jackson or Jelks makes more sense. Both the rookies have had some pretty good moments in camp to the point where it could be risky trying to sneak them on the practice squad. With the rookies, the Cowboys get four years of super-cheap service, versus just the two with Taco. Even if Charlton took a nice step up this year, the team isn’t likely going to be picking up his fifth-year option, meaning he could be gone after the 2020 season.
These are fair words which is why Danny called for Taco to potentially be traded early on in the season (after Quinn returns). Charlton could go a long way towards erasing those thoughts from our minds, it all starts against a weak Texans offensive line. If it can’t happen against them, who can it happen against?
This goes without saying and in some ways could actually be the most important one we’ve listed, but Brett Maher needs to have a big night on Saturday.
Maher saw his field goal percentage this preseason shrink last week against the Rams thanks to a big miss, but a lot of people gave him the benefit of the doubt considering the strong pacific winds of Hawaii. I’ve never surfed or been to Hawaii so I can’t validate these personally, but I trust weather people!
Whether or not weather was a factor for Maher last week, the truth is that he’s going to be in the confines of AT&T Stadium on Saturday night. He needs to do well, and he needs to partly do well from the right hash specifically. We can’t be dealing with kryptonite during the regular season.
This preseason Brett Maher is 50% from the right hash and 100% from the left on field goals.— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) August 18, 2019
On both extra points he’s taken (you get to choose on XPs) he’s gone from the left and made them both.
The right side is clearly an issue. https://t.co/j8anAITrc1
Part of the reality with Maher is that his struggles reach so far back in time that he could be perfect on five kicks and there would still be doubters.
That’s why he needs to do very well.
The Dallas Cowboys in general
That’s correct. I’m casting a wide net for number five.
The last two weeks have been quite long in many respects for the Cowboys. Days of Dak Prescott and $40M per year talk feel like forever ago, but they’re not too far in the rearview mirror. This entire week has been all about Ezekiel Elliott, him on planes, Marshall Faulk wanting to make him puke, and speculation that a deal with him could come as soon as this weekend. We’re kind of exhausted as a group.
Just kidding! We love this stuff. It’s far better than the days of June when we had no idea what to do with ourselves, but with everything feeling like our pets’ heads are falling off it sure would be great to see the Cowboys play well in their last bit of semi-serious football before the dance truly begins two weeks from now against the New York Giants.
A solid performance from the Cowboys would make these next two weeks go by a lot more smoothly. Consider this game like the piece of gum that you chew before an airplane takes off in order to help your ears not pop. You don’t totally need it, but it helps what you know is coming pass all the more quickly and easily.
Juicy Fruit, Bubbalicious, Big League Chew, whatever man. Pass the gum. Let’s party.