The Dallas Cowboys "dress rehearsal" game Saturday night against the Houston Texans couldn't have gone any better if it had been scripted. The 34-0 shellacking was awfully impressive, but this game had much more meaning than what the final score was. It was yet another chance to evaluate the roster ahead of the fourth and final week of preseason.
As a unit, the Dallas Cowboys were pretty impressive in all three phases of the game. But for evaluation purposes individual play has to be accounted for and some players stood out more than others. With roster cuts around the corner playing well could be the difference in making the team o| not.
With that in mind, I thought I would share with you five Dallas Cowboys players who I think probably earned a roster spot against the Texans. All of the players listed below were probably on the roster bubble ahead of Saturday's nights matchup, but I don't think that's the case any longer.
Let's take a look…
RB, Jordan Chunn
Second-year Running Back Jordan Chunn spent his entire rookie season on the Dallas Cowboys practice squad, but he's made the most of his opportunities and might just have locked up a roster spot Saturday night against the Houston Texans.
Chunn has arguably been the most impressive RB in preseason not named Tony Pollard. He not only has done well with his opportunities on offense, but has been efficient on special teams as well. That's what the Cowboys are looking for in their RB3. I believe he is the new "Rod Smith" and has the potential to be even better.
WR, Devin Smith
Not much was expected from Devin Smith when he originally joined the Dallas Cowboys, but he's certainly making up for lost time and missed opportunities thus far in preseason. Excluding Michael Gallup, Smith has been the most impressive and consistent WR for the Cowboys. He's put on display the talent that originally got him drafted in the second-round the 2015 NFL Draft.
Smith may be nothing more than a depth WR on the Cowboys final 53-man roster, but he's proven he can be relied upon if needed in my opinion. He can also add another dimension to the offense due to his ability to be a deep threat and that alone could help carve out some kind of niche role in 2019. He's also performed well on special teams, which is a must for backup WRs.
WR, Cedrick Wilson
Cedrick Wilson started his preseason strong in Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers, but unfortunately had to leave that contest early after being on the receiving end of an illegal head-to-head hit. That forced him to miss Week 2, but he certainly picked up where he left off Saturday night against Houston Texans. The way he played against Houston probably earned him a roster spot.
Wilson's ability to play on the outside or the slot could prove to be invaluable at some point during the 2019 season when injuries start to rear their ugly head. He's also surprisingly looked pretty good as a punt returner and could be an emergency backup in case something were to happen to Tavon Austin. All of that could make him a valuable asset to have on hand.
S, Donovan Wilson
Donovan Wilson is the only safety other than Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods who I believe has secured a roster spot for the 2019 season. He's played well in the first two preseason games, but what he did Saturday night against Houston Texans might just have put him in contention for more playing time early on, quite possibly as the starter next to Woods.
Wilson added to his preseason interception total (2) with an impressive toetapping pick Saturday night. He probably would have had a second INT earlier in the game if C.J. Goodwin wouldn't have snagged it first. He continues to show he knows his responsibilities and seems to always be in the right place to make the play when needed.
DE, Joe Jackson
Rookie DE Joe Jackson hasn't really shown up on the stat sheets the first three preseason games, but that doesn't mean he's not playing well, because he is. He's been equally effective pressuring the QB as he has against the run, and for a rookie that's pretty impressive in itself. But, he's also played a little defensive tackle and that only adds to his value.
I could be wrong, but I believe Joe Jackson has locked up a roster spot to start the 2019 season with the Dallas Cowboys. That however could be short-lived once Robert Quinn returns from his suspension, but that's a problem Dallas will have to face when it comes. For now though, I believe Jackson has to make the 53-man roster because I don't think he will make it through the waiver wire process.
Do you think any of these players locked up a roster spot against the Texans?
Loss to Minnesota Could be the Final Nail in Jason Garrett’s Coffin
The 2019 NFL season kind of seemed like a do or die situation for the Dallas Cowboys current Head Coach Jason Garrett. He is currently in the last year of his contract and his future with the Cowboys organization could be hanging in the balance, especially after the devastating loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
If Jason Garrett isn't extended beyond this season, this loss to Minnesota could possibly be where his career with the Dallas Cowboys started to circle the drain. There are still several games left on the Cowboys schedule this season, but this one loss could be the one that ends up knocking them out of the playoffs. If that's true, it's hard to believe JG will be retained.
Jerry Jones, and son Stephen, have both fully supported Jason Garrett since he became the Cowboys full-time head coach back in 2011 after serving as the interim HC for Wade Phillips in 2010. That's nearly a decade of the Jones' sticking by JG through all of the thick and thin over years. That unwavering support however could be coming to an end though.
The proof is in the pudding as they say. As a head coach Jason Garrett is slightly above average according to his all-time win/loss record. His regular-season record as the HC with the Cowboys is 82-62 (.569) and he's 2-3 (.400) in the postseason. Add all of that up and he's 84-65 (.564) in his career… slightly above average.
If I know anything about the Jones', I know getting the Dallas Cowboys back to the promised land as one of the best teams in the NFL is at the top of their list. That's why we've seen them over the years take chances on players other teams wouldn't in order to put together the most competitive roster they possibly could. Now that attention might need to be shifted from the players to the head coach.
Much like the Jones', I've supported and stood by Jason Garrett over the years. That support is dwindling though after each and every loss this season, at least on my part. Personally, I'm ready to find some new blood and move on. What the Jones' end up doing though is completely up in the air.
I want to believe the Dallas Cowboys are ready to move on from JG, but I'm not completely convinced. The fact that his current contract is about to expire after the season suggests they're at least considering parting ways, but that's all it does. I think how the rest of season turns out after the devastating loss to the Vikings will end up determining his fate.
If JG somehow sneaks the Cowboys into the playoffs it could save his job. That unfortunately is no easy thing to do with the teams they have left to play this season. Because of that, the Week 10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings could end up being the final nail in Jason Garrett's coffin.
What do you think? Is it time to part ways with Jason Garrett?
Lions QB Matthew Stafford’s Status Still Unknown for Cowboys Game
The Dallas Cowboys are headed to Detroit this Sunday for a Week 11 meeting with the Lions. As Dallas tries to get back to winning games, they may get a boost from the absence of Lions' Quarterback Matthew Stafford. After missing last week's game with a back injury, Stafford's status for this week remains unclear.
Stafford was a limited participant in practices all of Week 10 for Detroit and went into their game with the Chicago Bears as a game-time decision. He was ultimately ruled out due to fractures in his back; the first start Stafford's missed for the Lions since the 2010 season.
Jeff Driskel got the start as the Lions fell in Chicago. He is 1-5 as an NFL starter overall, going 1-4 in games for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2018.
The Lions are now 3-5-1 on the year and at the bottom of the NFC North. They are also far behind in the Wild Card race, which leads to speculation that they could shut Stafford down for the season to preserve his long-term health. Based on Matthew's contract, the earliest Detroit can easily get out from his contract is after the 2020 season.
For his part, Matthew Stafford has said he has no plans on staying out this season as long he's medically cleared to play. He certainly would love to be active this Sunday against the Cowboys, the team of his youth, after playing his high school football in Dallas.
Even if Stafford plays, Dallas has done solidly overall against opposing quarterbacks in 2019. They are sixth in passing yards allowed per game and 14th in opponent passer rating.
Detroit is fourth in passing offense right now in the NFL but that was based on eight games with Stafford at QB. Jeff Driskel will not perform at that same level, and the Lions' rushing attack has been very weak since Kerryon Johnson went on injured reserve.
We'll see in the coming days if Matthew Stafford is at practice for Detroit and to what extent. But even if he does practice some, as he did last week, it could once again be a last-minute decision for the Lions if Stafford actually plays on Sunday.
With the Cowboys desperate for a win, they'll take all the help they can get.
The Time has Come to See More of Tight End Blake Jarwin
When Jason Witten made his triumphant return from the Monday Night Football booth to the Dallas Cowboys' locker room, the addition was met with a bit of reserved optimism. On the one hand, it was awesome to get one of the best players in the history of the franchise back on the field and in the locker room. On the other hand, it meant that he would eat into the snap counts of Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz, or any rookie they potentially drafted in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Though, upon arrival, the Cowboys and Witten stated the future Hall of Famer would only play roughly 25 snaps a game, it didn't take long to figure out that Witten was the starting and full-time player at tight end. In training camp, Witten got a majority of the first-team snaps. In the first nine games of the 2019 season, Witten's played nearly twice as many snaps as Blake Jarwin.
It's an unfortunate turn from the narrative we were being fed in the offseason as Blake Jarwin provides a receiving dynamic that no other tight end for the Dallas Cowboys can. He's quicker, more agile, and has much more athleticism than Jason Witten.
On a per snap basis, Blake Jarwin is offering more in yards per snap and in yards per route run. Jarwin has accrued 0.811 yards per snap to Jason Witten's 0.711. Basically, if you prorate Jarwin's yards per snap total of 0.811 to Jason Witten's snap count of 475, Jarwin would theoretically have nearly 50 more receiving yards than Witten while providing another downfield threat to the passing game.
If we look at yards per route run, Jarwin's outpacing Witten 1.97 to 1.37 per Pro Football Focus. If you were to give Jason Witten's number of routes run to Blake Jarwin and prorated based on Jarwin's production in 2019, he would have roughly 484 receiving yards or 150 more receiving yards than Jason Witten.
Obviously, Jarwin's still got some development that needs to happen as a run blocker to be able to get on the field more. The Cowboys coaching staff, however, has still elected to roll with Jason Witten over Blake Jarwin even in pass-heavy situations as we saw on Sunday Night Football. This is the first game of the year where the Cowboys needed to be in heavy passing mode, but they continue to keep one of their more athletic weapons on the sideline when they need to get chunk plays.
Jarwin's ability to attack up the seam can help open everything up for everyone else in the offense. Just having another vertical threat on the field can create space for Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Randall Cobb underneath.
Jason Garrett and the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff isn't going to flip their snap counts anytime soon, but the time has come for Blake Jarwin to get more of the situational passing work. When the Cowboys get into obvious passing situations -- 3rd and longs or in two-minute situations -- Blake Jarwin needs to be the tight end on the field.
We've seen each of the last two weeks what Jarwin can do once he gets the ball in his hands. Against the New York Giants, he ripped off a game-changing 42-yard touchdown run and catch. On Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, Jarwin had a big 26-yard reception that helped get the Cowboys going offensively.
Jason Witten will go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor. It's time he and the coaching staff recognizes that the Dallas Cowboys could be an even more dynamic offensive team by getting the more athletic Blake Jarwin on the field more.
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