We chug along through most of February, March, April, May, June, and July to hear three sweet words.
"It's football season."
Such glory can only be topped by a special four-word sentence.
"The Preseason is over."
That's right. The next time that our beloved 'Boys hit the field it'll be for real. Get hyped! While that's so exciting that I want to eat my foot (what's wrong with me?) the Preseason finale must be discussed, analyzed, and considered.
Here are my 10 takeaways from the Cowboys preseason finale, a loss at home to the Houston Texans.
Darius Jackson Is Going To Be Very Valuable For This Team
When the Cowboys drafted Darius Jackson in the 6th Round of the 2016 NFL Draft, many scratched their heads. Just two days earlier they exercised the fourth overall pick on Ezekiel Elliott, and they'd already signed Alfred Morris, so... what?!
Darius Jackson may have only carried the ball 9 times for 21 yards and caught 3 passes for 32 yards (not to mention a fantastic screen he took to the house), but he does all the dirty work. This is a running back who will do whatever you ask him to do, and that's just the kind of guy that you want on your football team.
Jameill Showers Is Not Ready To Be A QB2
I like Jameill Showers. A lot. I actually, despite this point's heading, believe that he'll make this team's Final 53-Man Roster.
The reason Jameill is going to make this team is because of the circumstances surrounding that spot. He is one half of the two people that:
- Are currently capable of playing quarterback.
- Have a deep knowledge of the 2016 Dallas Cowboys playbook and scheme.
What we saw from Jameill was how do you say... not good? It wasn't terrible, but it was enough to tell me that I don't want him to be one injury away from being the primary signal-caller for America's Team.
Deji Olatoye Had A Bad Game
The Cowboys have a precarious amount of depth at the corner position, and Deji Olatoye is part of that. Prior to the Preseason finale he was actually considered pretty great by most standards.
If you were unable to watch the Cowboys/Texans game in its entirety (I recapped it for you on the RJOShow) then here's what you need to know about Deji's night - he made Brandon Weeden look good. That's how bad it was.
Deji Olatoye is a human being so he's subject to a bad game. He'll be alright. Don't panic.
There's No Way That Devin Street Makes This Team
If Devin Street defies logic, common sense, and gravity (shout out to Elphaba) and somehow makes this team... Andy Jones should consider it a personal insult.
Devin Street showed us who he is and who he's always been since being drafted in 2014 - a bad wide receiver. He, like Jameill Shower this season, has made the roster two years in a row as a result of circumstance. That gravy train is ovah.
Cedric Thornton Has Been Disappointing
It caught the astute minds of Cowboys Nation off guard when Cedric Thornton played so much in what is typically a rest game for veteran starters... which is what we thought Cedric Thornton was going to be when we signed up for this whole dealio.
Cedric not only played, but he played pretty poorly. He's still getting his feet wet under Rod Marinelli, but this didn't do much to inspire the hope that Cowboys Nation has for an already depleted Defensive Line.
Cedric Thornton just had such a poor swim move that they should call it a drown move.
With nine days separating today and the season opener, Cedric Thornton needs to take some advanced swimming lessons and he needs take them yesterday.
Rod Smith Would Make A Great Fullback
A former Ohio State Buckeye carried the ball seven times (for 42 yards) for the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night, and his name wasn't Ezekiel Elliott. Say whaaaat!
Rod Smith put on a nice little showing in the preseason finale, and he showed that he's certainly an able back in the NFL... against weaker talent on defense. Rod has undoubtedly spent a great amount of time since April 29th being known around the halls at Valley Ranch/The Star as "Jaylon's brother," but for one night - he was the Star.
It's hard to tell exactly what direction the Cowboys are going to go at fullback, but if they go Rod Smith's he'll be able to handle it.
Rico Gathers Is A Football Player
Rico Darnell Gathers made his first NFL catch and even made a great move, demonstrating some athleticism, right after it to gain eight yards.
How does Rico have such high levels of athleticism? He played basketball! I'm sure you've never heard that before.
It was nice to see the Cowboys Tight End project get some work and show off what Mike Pope has been teaching him. The Cowboys might try to stash Rico on the practice squad, but it won't necessarily be a slam dunk. Hey, I had to get one basketball pun in.
Anthony Brown Was A Great Choice
The Cowboys celebrated the drafting of Cornerback Anthony Brown in the sixth round because they had a fourth-round grade on him. That's what we call an actual slam dunk! ...sorry I had to.
Brown was all over the place throughout this contest, and he gave Cowboys Nation flashbacks to 2015 when we saw Brandon Weeden throw an interception... into Brown's awaiting arms. To make matters even more fantastic, Anthony took it to the house.
Great corner play... man I like that.
Kavon Frazier Can Cover As Well As He Hits
Dallas found themselves in multiple goal-line defensive situations, and Kavon Frazier took care of some business when they did.
Kavon had a phenomenal pass break-up when he leapt up in the air and batted the ball away with his hand. It was so foreign and weird to see a Dallas Cowboys Safety do something besides try to obliterate someone with their shoulder-first tackle. Weird.
Ryan Russell Cannot Be Counted On
The most forgotten-about storyline of the offseason seems to be that DeMarcus Lawrence is going to miss the first four games of the season, oh and Randy Gregory might not ever play again. So yea. Cool.
This team is in drastic need of some pass-rushers and the hope/prayer all along has been that sophomore player Ryan Russell would step up and fill that void. He hasn't. At all. Not even a little bit.
Russell has perhaps been the most disappointing player of all 90 that the Cowboys started the Preseason with. He, like Jameill, is going to make this roster simply out of its necessity for people who play his position. Yikes.
The Brady Report: Tony Pollard, Devin Smith Steal The Show On Offense
The Dallas Cowboys earned their first win of the 2019 preseason on Saturday night, defeating the Los Angeles Rams 14-10 in Hawaii.
Despite the low scoring affair, there were certainly standout performances from both offensive and defensive players for Dallas. Some who are looking to earn a roster spot, and others who are rather solidified in their place with the team.
Let's get into some of my game notes from the Cowboys preseason victory.
- Tony Pollard. I mean, I've said enough right? The rookie running back was awesome in his one drive of action Saturday night, rushing 5 times for 42 yards and a touchdown on the team's opening possession. Pollard was decisive, patient, and comfortable in the zone blocking scheme, and seemed to know exactly where and how to run on each rep. Pollard is looking like a complete back, rather than just a receiving threat for the Cowboys offense going forward.
- While undrafted free agents Jon'Vea Johnson and Jalen Guyton have garnered much of the attention, it was Devin Smith who impressed the most out of all the Cowboys' down-roster receivers this week. He caught 3 balls for just 24 yards, but had a fantastic touchdown grab from Cooper Rush in the third quarter.
- Speaking of Cooper Rush, he's your backup quarterback for the 2019 season. The coaching staff gave Mike White a chance to work with the 2's this week, allowing him equal ground for competition with Rush. But even with this opportunity, Mike White did not play well whatsoever. He's indecisive in the pocket, abandons clean protection, runs into pressure, and just looks kind of lost out there. Hopefully White can improve, but Rush is certainly deserving of the QB2 spot going forward.
- While Rush solidified his position as the QB2, QB1 Dak Prescott led another impressive drive on Saturday night. Prescott has command in the pocket and of the entire offense, and he orchestrated an excellent touchdown drive in his own possession this week. Prescott went 5/5 for 64 yards, but the highlight of the game for Prescott was his third and seven completion for 31 of those yards to Michael Gallup. He and Gallup seem to be connecting this preseason, and if that's going to happen regularly, look out.
- Now to the defense. Defensive tackle Maliek Collins continues to show signs that 2019 could be a career season for him. He was disruptive in limited playing time this week, and showcased a scary spin move on the inside. He can be an electric interior pass rusher for the Cowboys, and he looks to be "putting it all together" this year.
- Jourdan Lewis is too good to rot away on the bench, guys. Though he did get beat for decent completion in the first half, Lewis was also sound as a tackler and sticky in coverage once again this week. Lewis looks to be playing at the highest level we've seen from him yet, but once Byron Jones comes back he may not be getting the playing time he'd easily earn elsewhere. Dallas has a bit of an embarrassment of riches at cornerback right now, and Lewis just needs to keep competing every week.
- Lewis' Michigan teammate Taco Charlton had a decent night himself. While Dorance Armstrong has been the talk of the town at defensive end, Charlton deflected a pass at the line of scrimmage and was credited with 2 quarterback hits against the Rams. He wasn't creating the level of pressure you'd hope to see out of a former first round pick playing that deep into a preseason game, but you can tell he's looking a bit better as of late. Still, there's a whole heap of defensive ends on this roster who are flat out better than him right now.
- The Cowboys linebackers showed up to play on Saturday night. Of course, Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander-Esch are who they are, but Justin March-Lillard led the team in tackles with 6, and Justin Phillips came away with an exceptional interception in the third quarter. He made a play on the ball that you don't expect to see from any linebacker, let alone someone of his roster status. This is a really deep linebacker room, and there's a strong chance the Cowboys will have to let go of a good player.
DAL 14, LAR 10; Tony Pollard, Cooper Rush Standouts in Preseason Win
The Dallas Cowboys' second preseason game wound up being the first victory of 2019. But more important than the irrelevant standings in August, the game helped us further see who deserves to make the roster this season. The 14-10 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Hawaii helped to reinforce things we saw in last week's game versus the 49ers.
Rookie Tony Pollard, starting at running back again due to Ezekiel Elliott's holdout, scored the first Cowboys touchdown of the preseason with a 14-yard redzone scamper on the team's initial drive.
Pollard had 42 rushing yards on just five carries, plus a nine-yard reception, on that one drive. It was an even more productive game than last week, and an encouraging sign if Zeke's absence were to linger beyond the preseason.
Also building on last week was backup QB Cooper Rush, who left no doubt that he's the superior player to Mike White with his play tonight. Coming in with the third-team offense, Rush completed 10 of 16 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown.
White, who got a chance to come in after Dak Prescott this game, managed just 30 yards on 7/13 pass attempts. He threw a horrible interception on the first drive of the second half, at which point Dallas sent in Rush and ended Mike's night.
At this point, it looks like White's bid to compete for the backup QB job and perhaps even a roster spot have ended as well.
- Dak Prescott remains perfect this preseason, completing 5/5 passes for 64 yards on his one drive. He was 4/4 last week against San Francisco. Tonight's throws were highlighted by a 31-yard pass on third down to Michael Gallup to move the chains and help set up Pollard's touchdown run.
- Speaking of continued trends, Brett Maher remains suspect with a bad miss on a 52-yard field goal. Maher went wide left from the right hashmark, albeit from long range and dealing with windy conditions. But he also barely made one of the extra point attempts; still cause for concern after some bad signs a week ago.
- Trending upward is WR Devin Smith, who caught Cooper Rush's TD pass with an athletic leaping grab in the endzone. Smith is starting to remind us why he was a 2nd-round pick in the 2015 Draft, and is standing out over hyped prospects like Jon'Vea Johnson and Reggie Davis in recent days.
- Johnson had two more drops tonight to continue his own storyline from a week ago. Last week it was Cedrick Wilson who outclassed him, and this week it was Devin Smith. Either way, the Jon'Vea stock is now moving in the wrong direction.
- The stock is going up on LB Justin Phillips, who looked good last week and even better tonight with an interception and seven tackles. While small at just 6'0" and 230 lbs., Phillips has been much more visible in these games than Chris Covington and other linebackers prospects.
Know Your Foe: Los Angeles Rams Looking To Avoid Super Bowl Hangover
This Saturday, the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys meet for the first time since their Divisional Playoff matchup last January. Of course, this time around, the game is much less important as we move into week two of the 2019 preseason rather than the final 8 of the postseason.
Still the link between the two teams remains strong. Dak Prescott and Jared Goff made their preseason debuts against one another, Jerry Jones caught fire for claiming his offense had Rams-level potential, and they've now played each other in consecutive seasons.
Let's take a look at the Rams and learn more about the Cowboys upcoming preseason opponent this week.
The Rams offense was one of the most dynamic in all of football in 2018. Finishing second in offensive DVOA last season behind only the Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs, the Rams put up big time points and yardage week in and week out.
They've become known for their play action passing game, so much so that it almost feels cheesy to discuss at this point. In the backfield is the talented running back Todd Gurley, who Ezekiel Elliott is looking to surpass in terms of overall contract value this offseason.
Beside him is quarterback Jared Goff, who despite being a number one overall pick and putting up some impressive numbers the past two seasons, is often questioned over whether "the system" makes him who he is. Los Angeles' receiving corps is full of weapons as well, led by Brandon Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp.
Upfront the Rams had one of the better offensive lines in football in 2018, with the veteran Andrew Whitworth having a career revitalization of sorts in recent years.
Of course, you can't discuss the Rams offense without talking about their head coach Sean McVay.
McVay has been anointed as the golden boy of creativity on offense the past two seasons, and the results speak for themselves. He took over an offense which ranked towards the bottom of the league, and has turned them into an absolute juggernaut. After a disappointing performance in the Super Bowl, however, the pressure mounted on both McVay and Goff's shoulders is as heavy as ever heading into 2019.
The Rams defense was certainly the weaker of the team's two units in 2018. Defensively, Los Angeles finished 19th in DVOA, despite some big name talent on that side of the ball. Aaron Donald is arguably the best player in all of football, and is a menace for any offensive line to deal with.
Though they lost Ndamukong Suh in free agency this year, their defensive line shouldn't experience too much of a hit overall. Donald is still the most important piece of that unit, and the team has high hopes for former first round pass rusher Dante Fowler as well.
In the back-end Eric Weddle joins a secondary that is loaded with star-level names like Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. Whether they will all live up to their hype is yet to be seen, but Rams fans certainly have to be excited about what their secondary can look like in 2019. Plus, the Rams drafted Washington safety Taylor Rapp, a player who was all over draft boards of Cowboy fans last Spring.
The Los Angeles Rams are primed to contend for another NFC West crown, and for a chance to represent the conference in the Super Bowl for the second straight year. If the Cowboys want to take the next step in 2019, they'll likely have to step over the Rams at some point in the year.
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