Cowboys’ young talent gives Mike McCarthy ‘a lot to evaluate’ after preseason opener - David Moore, DMN
Needing to evaluate is a good thing when it comes to emerging talent.
“We’re all about education, application and evaluation,’’ McCarthy said after the team’s 28-23 loss to Jacksonville. “We’ve got a lot to evaluate.’’
Draft and develop. You hear that mantra constantly with the Cowboys. As McCarthy said, “These guys play sooner rather than later’’ in this league.
That’s why the pre-season is about creating as many opportunities as possible to evaluate the young players on this roster.
“I wanted to get our young guys as much work and really balance it out through the course of the game, get the feel of a Sunday, regular season game,’’ McCarthy said. “Hopefully, we hit the target on all of those numbers.
“I was really excited to see this young bunch play.’’
The Jaguars had more big plays than Dallas. The Cowboys didn’t protect the ball the way McCarthy demands. But they were disciplined and were penalized only six times for 45 yards.
Overall, McCarthy liked what he saw.
What is your takeaway from Saturday’s action?
Jalen Tolbert has taken a clear second-year leap
Jalen Tolbert continued to show he has progressed the way folks in the organization and fanbase hoped he would. He probably had the best game of any offensive player in the first half, when Jaguars starters and key reserves were playing.
He had two receptions for 29 yards and a touchdown, which doesn’t seem like a ton, but the offense wasn’t doing much at all before he scored the teams only first half touchdown. He also had a beautiful deep ball grab on the sideline taken back by a questionable offensive pass interference call, and that play alone had Tolbert deserving his praise.
In saying that, a second-year leap doesn’t mean he is going to be a top three receiver on the Cowboys. Tolbert did so little last season, that just showing up and being competent would be taking a big step forward.
Tolbert will look to continue his momentum in practice leading into the second preseason game versus the Seattle Seahawks.
In the preseason, the final score is significantly less important than the performance of the players. And that was evident in the Cowboys’ preseason opener.
The rookie third round pick from the University of Texas did exactly what the Cowboys’ defensive staff knew he was capable of.
DeMarvion Overshown was flying all over the field versus the Jaguars.
He finished with six tackles, one of which included a big third down tackle for loss in a short yardage situation.
Overshown, in limited snaps, showed the instincts and awareness that made him a third round pick to begin with.
Let’s just keep our fingers crossed for some consistency.
3 Cowboys who earned a roster spot in preseason Week 1, one on verge of being cut - Cody Williams, FanSided
Some fringe players moved toward a roster sport on Saturday.
Cowboys who earned roster spot No. 2: John Stephens Jr., TE
If you’ve been paying close attention to the buzz around Cowboys training camp, you’ve probably seen UDFA tight end John Stephens Jr. mentioned more than time or two.
Consistently throughout practices to this point, the former Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns star has been making plays in the passing attack and has been a drumbeat ongoing throughout camp. But the big questions for him were whether or not he could crack the roster in a crowded tight end room and, more importantly, whether that would translate to the field in the preseason.
Suffice it to say that the latter question was answered on Saturday against the Jaguars.
Stephens ended up leading the Cowboys in receiving yards against Jacksonville, hauling in five of his seven targets on the night for 56 yards and one of the two Dallas receiving touchdowns on the night.
With every exciting new name that arises, another player is in jeopardy of losing their roster spot.
Mukuamu didn’t do anything terrible to end up on this list. But he didn’t do anything outstanding, either.
The Cowboys could keep five safeties on the initial roster and three of those spots are spoken for by Donovan Wilson, Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker.
That puts Mukuamu in a battle with Markquese Bell and Juanyeh Thomas for the final two spots. Bell is a valued special teams player, giving him a leg up on a roster spot and he compiled four run stops against the Jags, good for the most on the defense, according to Pro Football Focus.
With all due respect to Sheldrick Redwine and Tyler Coyle, that pits Thomas and Mukuamu against each other for the final safety spot available.
Mike McCarthy Watch: Cowboys offense looks promising in first preseason game - David Howman, Blogging The Boys
The ‘Texas Coast’ offense is off to a good start.
It was a good first test, too, as Jacksonville played their starters to begin the game. Their defense, which finished last season ranked 11th in run defense DVOA and eighth in pass rush win rate, presented a very worthy challenge for the backup offensive line. Not everyone on the line fared so well - Matt Waletzko and Josh Ball were both charged with three pressures, while Matt Farniok gave up four - but it went better than could have been expected considering it was backups vs starters.
McCarthy’s quick-hitting scheme played a big part in that, which was encouraging to see. Rush averaged 2.18 seconds per throw while Grier averaged 2.32 seconds per throw. Both are among the 10 quickest releases of the first week of preseason football, and well below last year’s league-wide regular season average time to throw of 2.74 seconds.
Also helping things out was McCarthy’s commitment to passing on early downs. The Cowboys threw the ball on nearly two thirds of their first downs and just under 70% of their second downs. A good chunk of their early down runs came when Deuce Vaughn got into the game, and his play was so hot that it was understandable to try and feed the exciting rookie and see how he responded (spoiler alert: he responded very well).
By and large, though, McCarthy’s first game calling plays in Dallas was very reminiscent of his tenure in Green Bay, during which time the Packers led the league in early down pass rate, and not some out-of-context quote about “run[ning] the damn ball.”
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