The Cowboys are 1-3 and doing their best to challenge Monte Kiffin for worst defense in franchise history. There are very few positives to point out with this team right now, but one of those positives has been their rookies, who put together another solid showing on Sunday.
CeeDee Lamb, WR
It’s hard to believe that CeeDee Lamb is a rookie, as the Cowboys’ top draft pick has played like a veteran so far this year. Sunday was no different, as Lamb made big plays all day long and scored his first two touchdowns of the year.
Lamb finished the game with five catches for 79 yards along with those two scores. He also continued to go out for punt return duty, returning three for 26 total yards. However, later in the game Dallas sent out Cedrick Wilson for a punt return, indicating that they will pick and choose his spots returning punts.
Sunday’s game was yet another indicator that Lamb was far and away a great pick for the Cowboys, and the chemistry he’s built with Dak Prescott in short order has been one of the few encouraging developments this year.
Trevon Diggs, CB
Trevon Diggs was bound to have a truly bad game sooner or later. It happened sooner. While Diggs’ first three games could best be summed up as a mixed bag of very promising flashes and discouraging mistakes, this week was almost exclusively poor for the rookie.
Once again playing every single defensive snap, Diggs was thrown at frequently and struggled to keep positioning. There were several times where Diggs did his best to recover and disrupt the catch point, but there was too much ground for him to make up. It’s understandable that the rookie would struggle against the likes of Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., two very talented receivers, but it was still strange to see him struggle this much. Diggs also failed to record a pass break up for the first time this year.
He did, however, record a sack and finished with eight total tackles. Diggs still comes out of this game as the team’s best cornerback by far, but that designation is quickly generating a “by default” asterisk next to it. It will be interesting to see how Diggs manages to bounce back next week.
Neville Gallimore, DT
For the second straight week, Neville Gallimore was inactive. But with the Cowboys defense looking
like a dumpster fire* bad, maybe Gallimore gets some opportunities in the future as the coaching staff attempts to shake things up.
*Out of respect to dumpster fires everywhere, I apologize for comparing this defense to a dumpster fire.
Reggie Robinson II, DB
Reggie Robinson continues to be inactive, but if this defense continues to get burned the way they have been, Dallas might as well let the rookie from Tulsa have a shot, right?
Tyler Biadasz, C
Tyler Biadasz entered the regular season as the center of the future, but the future is already here. After Joe Looney got hurt on the opening play of the game, Biadasz came in and ended up playing the remainder of the game. He had a couple of poor snaps on the first series, but nothing Dak couldn’t handle. Later on, Biadasz got called for a false start.
But aside from that, Biadasz looked more than ready to be the starter going forward, regardless of Looney’s status. He was forceful in the running game and stout in pass protection. It’s become clear that, had their been a preseason, Biadasz likely would have ripped the starting job from Looney’s hands.
One thing I noticed while watching Tyron Smith was that Tyler Biadasz appeared to hold up well too.— John Owning (@JohnOwning) October 5, 2020
He should be the starting C moving forward even when Looney is healthy, I think today cemented that. https://t.co/oWLv7GDvIt
Bradlee Anae, EDGE
It’s not hard to understand why Anae hasn’t been seeing the field much. DeMarcus Lawrence, Everson Griffen, Aldon Smith, and Tyrone Crawford are better edge rushers right now, even though they didn’t produce against Cleveland. So it’s not surprising to see Anae get zero defensive snaps while seeing 18 special teams snaps.
If the DAL defense is going to continue to be bad, I'd at least like to see more of Bradlee Anae.— John Owning (@JohnOwning) October 5, 2020
That said, with the way this defense has performed, it can’t hurt to give Anae some snaps just to see how he does. The few times he’s made it onto the field this year, he’s shown some flashes. But for now, he’s just a special teamer.
Ben DiNucci, QB
To absolutely nobody’s surprise, Ben DiNucci was inactive.
Terence Steele, OT
With Tyron Smith coming back, Dallas had to make a choice between Brandon Knight and Terence Steele at right tackle. They chose to go with Steele, but kept him on a short leash. After getting beaten like a drum by Myles Garrett, Steele was pulled in favor of Knight after the fourth offensive series.
It needs to be reiterated that Steele was an undrafted rookie who was asked to start with no preseason games under his belt, so it’s hard to judge him harshly for this game. Even Knight, who played better, struggled against Garrett in the game. Steele showed some promise in his few starts, but he’ll do well to sit on the bench the remainder of the year and grow from this experience.
Francis Bernard, LB
Francis Bernard became a cult hero in the Cowboys fandom during training camp, and for Sunday’s game he was called up from the practice squad to finally see some game action. Anyone expecting Bernard to play much was sorely disappointed, as he only logged 13 total snaps, all on special teams.
However, one of those 13 special teams snaps yielded his first career tackle. It was a rather humble beginning for Bernard, who may end up seeing more snaps in the coming weeks.
Rico Dowdle, RB
As has been the case all year, Rico Dowdle was used exclusively on special teams, where he saw 11 snaps. Barring any injuries, this is the ceiling for Dowdle this year.
Sean McKeon, TE
Sean McKeon was active but did not play. In the past two weeks, he’s seen very minimal action in three-tight end sets, but Dallas didn’t use him this week, as they had to spread things out considerably to catch up.
Rashad Smith, LB
Rashad Smith was inactive.