The Dallas Cowboys finished up their dress rehearsal preseason game in style with a convincing 34-0 shutout over the Houston Texans. The offense came up with some nice plays, and the special teams dazzled with a couple big plays that helped put points on the board. Brett Maher was perfect kicking as he had two field goals, and knocked down four extra points without any moments that made us nervous.
But the big winner from last night was the defense. They were outstanding whether it was the starters or the backups. It took an encroachment penalty by Trysten Hill at the end of the third quarter for the Texans to finally get into Cowboys territory. They would not gain another yard on that series, and the Texans never got a chance to run a play in Cowboys territory again.
Overall, it was a great showing by the Cowboys. After reviewing the tape - there were a few things that stood out from the game that we wanted to share, so let’s get to it...
The Good - Michael Gallup
Usually Dak Prescott and the first-unit offensive line don’t stick around very long, but the coaching staff decided to keep Cooper Rush in for a series with the rest of the starters. Despite only coming away with three points, this was my favorite series of the game. Rush did a great job of looking up field rather than checking down at the first sign of pressure. He slid to his left to hit Michael Gallup for a fantastic yards-after-catch touchdown (which was called back, but who cares - it was still awesome). Then, after being behind in the chains, he looked to Pollard to make up a chunk of yards. Despite again being called back by a penalty, it’s nice to see the team recognize how dangerous Pollard can be in space. And check out that Michael Gallup fella with a great block.
Michael Gallup has been tearing it up as a receiver, but check out this great job he does blocking to help spring Pollard for an extra 15 yards. pic.twitter.com/68JUJIBzxJ— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) August 25, 2019
There are a lot of reasons to be excited about this revamped Cowboys offense, and one of them is that Gallup appears to be turning into a star right before our eyes. The second-year receiver looks like a completely different player this year. He’s more physical off the line of scrimmage, his route-running has been sharp, and he’s now coming down with contested passes that he wasn’t doing last season.
The idea of he and Amari Cooper at wide receiver for the Cowboys... wow, what a difference a year makes.
The Bad A%$ - Maliek Collins
Training camp star Maliek Collins has been carrying over his great play into preseason games. The former third-round pick from 2016 is showing up over and over on tape, despite only seeing a couple series. The Cowboys had 14 points off of turnovers in a blink of an eye, thanks to great plays made by Taco Charlton and Joe Thomas, but it does not go unnoticed who helped them get there.
Offensive lines simply cannot block Maliek Collins. In just two quick possessions, Maliek forced two holding penalties. pic.twitter.com/TMIeNOnI4c— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) August 25, 2019
Collins penetrated the gap to take out Lamar Miller (please get better, Lamar!), but also had two plays where the Texans offensive line had no choice but to hold him.
While Gallup could be on the cusp of having a breakout season this year, don’t be surprised if it’s big ol’ Maliek doing some breaking out of his own. It would sure be nice to get him locked down for several years to come, but regardless of what happens - this Cowboys defensive line is going to be so disruptive this year.
The Ugly - Justin March
I don’t mean to constantly hate on the guy, but it just feels like when a big play occurs - Justin March is the guy out of position that causes it. His ability to diagnose the play doesn’t seem to be there, and he doesn’t have the athleticism to make up for it when he’s wrong. Here he starts pursuing in the wrong direction, and when his fellow linebacker Justin Phillips has to take on the block, it leaves a huge running lane for the Texans running back to churn out a 15-yard run.
I feel like every bad play that occurs on defense features Justin March doing something wrong. pic.twitter.com/QNewFdV7Wi— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) August 25, 2019
March had another play in the second half where he allowed the Texans to convert on third down after being beat in coverage by the tight end for a 22-yard gain. And later, when he was waving his fingers believing he made a play after blitzing the quarterback, he actually whiffed on the tackle, allowing undrafted free agent Shakir Soto to come up with the sack.
Special teams ability or not, I don’t see how March makes the final roster cuts when there are so many other quality players fighting for spots.