Who will play against the Texans?
The elevator pitch on this upcoming season for every Cowboys fan was pretty clear: The offense should be great if the players are healthy and the defense just needs to be good enough for the team to reach playoff contention. As the team approaches their third preseason game against the Houston Texans on Saturday, it looks like fans will get a better preview of how the defense is looking and will have to continue to assume the offense will perform come September based on talent.
Before Friday’s practice, Mike McCarthy said that the amount the starters will play on Saturday is different for the two sides of the ball.
“I think our defense will reflect more where you like to be in this third game,” McCarthy stated. “You’ll see more of those guys go the whole first half.”
Unfortunately, the AT&T Stadium crowd will see less of the Cowboys’ offense. “Because of the injuries and the combination of players on offense, you’ll probably see the younger players on offense sooner.”
La’el Collins expected to play for Cowboys vs. Texans after leaving practice on Wednesday - Tom Ryle, Blogging the Boys
It sounds like Collins is just fine.
As has already been reported, Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and DeMarcus Lawrence are among the starters not playing in the game. There was some concern about another starter who had an issue previously in the week, but that has turned out to not be a big deal.
La’el Collins appeared to have some discomfort in neck/back area during Wednesday’s practice and didn’t finish the session. But he will practice today and Mike McCarthy anticipates him playing Saturday.— Rob Phillips (@robphillips3) August 20, 2021
This is important, because it looks like the team will have the entire starting offensive line operating. While Garrett Gilbert and Tony Pollard are the expected fill-ins for the backfield, having that line for pass protection and run blocking will give us a much better idea of how ready this offense is for the regular season. Gilbert will also be working with a full set of wide receivers as Amari Cooper is expected to get at least some action.
It will be a test of sorts for Kellen Moore’s offense. While it will be very vanilla and there is the obvious downgrade behind center, we still will have some indication of how things are going to work with a much healthier line than the team had last year. It also will show how Moore can adjust to working without his star QB.
It is also worth noting that having the starting defense out on the field for most of the first half will be a great preview of what Dan Quinn hath wrought. Especially riveting will be who he uses at linebacker in the nickel as well as when he deploys three. Other positions will be very worth noting as there are still open questions, such as who starts at corner and how they line up in the interior of the defensive line. There is another encouraging note from the unpadded walkthrough on Friday as well.
Secondary? EDGE? DT? You decide.
FRISCO - For the Dallas Cowboys, a return trip to the Super Bowl has been the goal since the 1996 season. Since 1996? Four playoff wins and a ton of disappointment and heartbreak are all Cowboys fans have to talk about.
That includes the historically poor 2020 season, Mike McCarthy’s first as head coach of the Cowboys, a year in which the team was 6-10.
6-10 doesn’t tell the whole story, as the Cowboys weren’t actually that good. How can they bounce back in 2021? What’s the biggest hurdle this team needs to overcome in their desire for another Super Bowl run?
Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr cites the Cowboys’ defensive interior line as the biggest problem:
DEFENSIVE INTERIOR: The 2021 draft class’s lack of interior defenders produced an interesting thought experiment for teams looking to bolster themselves against the run. Can you survive on hyper-athletic off-ball linebackers? Dallas has Micah Parsons, Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch on the field to counter a smattering of injuries and inexperience up front. Can the likes of Osa Odighizuwa and Quinton Bohanna create large enough traffic jams to produce some fluidity for that unit? Or, do offensive lines find success climbing to the second level, partially negating what should be one of Dallas’s biggest strengths?
Maurice Canady FTW.
Maurice Canady is going to make the Dallas Cowboys roster this year. Just one month ago such a statement would seem somewhat surprising given the pedigree and shear number of cornerbacks competing for a roster spot this summer.
But after a stellar training camp where Canady showed proficiency both inside and outside, there’s no logical way he COULDN’T make the 2021 Dallas Cowboys.
Based on analytic recommendations the Dallas Cowboys signed Maurice Canady, and the rest is history
When Mike McCarthy was unceremoniously let go in Green Bay, he embarked on a harsh (but needed) self reflection period. During this time McCarthy challenged his priors and entertained thoughts and ideas he hadn’t previously paid much mind to.
In this rebirth period he took on the polarizing topic of analytics – not something many old school coaches from Pittsburgh would dare do. His studies brought him the offices of Pro Football Focus where he studied their thoughts, processes and overall methodology.
He said the educational process changed him, but fans like me were skeptical. People say a lot when they’re interviewing for a job. It’s when they’re on the clock that matters. That’s the real barometer of change.
Let’s switch it up with some Jaylon Smith praise.
Jaylon Smith has easily been the most maligned player on the Cowboys’ roster for over a year now. But while many are questioning his future in Dallas, Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn took time yesterday to praise Smith for being “excellent” to coach and someone he looks to for advice and insight on how the team is doing.
With regressing play in 2019 and an even sharper decline last year, Jaylon’s become the favorite punching bag for many Cowboys fans. His tone-deaf choice this year to switch to the #9 jersey, still linked to the beloved Tony Romo, only made matters worse.
Dallas may have very well released Smith this offseason if it would’ve offered more benefit to the salary cap. But at this point, Jaylon appears to be remaining a Cowboy for at least one more year.
While this may be a source of frustration for some, Dan Quinn doesn’t seem to mind.
Play the best three.
Despite rookie corners Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright making plays, they’ve been primarily lined up with the second string defense. Wright’s a scheme fit in the Cowboys Cover 3, and Joseph shown just how lock down he is.
Brown hasn’t done anything to lose the job but he hasn’t made splash plays that both rookie corners have. In fact, he’s had a really good camp so far that won’t make the Dallas Cowboys have to rush their rookies out there.
The point being made has been that the rookies shouldn’t play their first game against Tom Brady and the Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers week one. The reasoning that it could diminish their confidence. It’s understandable. Tampa Bay has an arsenal of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski and a great offensive line. Needless to say any defense will have their hands full.
However, not playing young players in order to shield their confidence against elite quarterbacks and a deep receiving core shouldn’t keep a team from playing their best players. The Cowboys play Tom Brady and the Bucc’s week one, but this won’t be the only time this year they’ll play a great quarterback with weapons.
The Chargers, Vikings, Falcons, Chiefs and Cardinals are all 2021 opponents. All games where they will need their best defenders out there the most.
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