The Dallas Cowboys returned home to AT&T Stadium tonight, looking to put a good showing in front of their home fans in their second preseason game against the Miami Dolphins. Dak Prescott was once again up for the challenge, as his dazzling performance included four touchdowns - two in the air and another two on the ground - culminating in a 41 to 14 blowout win for the Cowboys.
Before we saw Prescott, Cowboys Nation was greeted with the return of Tony Romo. Romo moved the ball well on Dallas' opening drive, but three separate holding penalties ultimately ended the drive with a punt. Big plays from Darius Jackson and Cole Beasley were taken away from the Cowboys, whose defense would make quick work of the Dolphins on their initial drive in order to get the ball right back into Romo's hands.
Three plays after a Tyrone Crawford third down sack, Romo was back out on the field zipping passes to Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. Working with good field position, these plays put the Cowboys past midfield, where Alfred Morris was able to finish off the drive.
From 15 yards out, Morris cut past left tackle Chaz Green and into the end zone to put the Dallas Cowboys ahead 7-0. This would be all for Tony Romo in his 2016 debut, as he looked sharp on this 6 play drive that covered 72 yards.
Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins looked prime to answer the Cowboys' scoring march on the ensuing possession, but Rod Marinelli's defense would tighten up in the red zone thanks to Morris Claiborne.
The confident corner got his hands on two passes, ending Miami's drive with a pass breakup in the back of the end zone on fourth down. The stop brought out electrifying rookie Dak Prescott, backed up near his own goal line.
Naturally, Prescott was able to rely on his offensive line and running game, while making some big time throws of his own, as he calmly drove the Cowboys 95 yards for a touchdown. Prescott once again hooked up with Dez Bryant in the end zone, as Bryant's 28 yard score put the Cowboys ahead 14-0.
After threatening for a touchdown on their first offensive drive, the Dolphins answered this drive by Dak with a touchdown of their own. On this drive, the Dallas defensive line failed to create much pressure.
When they did, it was Ryan Russell screaming off the edge, and unfortunately getting called for a roughing the passer penalty that merely extended the touchdown drive. Tannehill hit Kenny Stills for what would be his first of two touchdowns from 13 yards out to put the Dolphins on the board.
The Cowboys' starters would exit after this drive, once again leaving the game with the lead. Working with the second team offensive unit, Prescott would watch Alfred Morris continue to run through the Miami defense with ease before having a touchdown rush called back. Taking matters into his own hands, Prescott timed a perfect fade pass to Brice Butler, who leaped up for the acrobatic catch in the front of the end zone.
Butler's acrobatics drew an offensive pass interference call, leaving Dak just one more option. Prescott escaped the pocket to his right and bolted up the field for his first career rushing touchdown - scampering in from 20 yards out.
Kenny Stills and the Dolphins would once again answer with a touchdown, as the Cowboys' second team defense took the field, but the spotlight continued to sign on Dak Prescott. On the seventh drive of his Cowboys career, the Cowboys put up points for the sixth time, as Dan Bailey nailed a 51 yard field goal to extend the lead to 24-14. Bailey would add another field goal before the half, as Shaneil Jenkins used his long arms to force a fumble and give the Dallas defense another turnover.
Darius Jackson was unable to punch the ball in on two carries, but the Cowboys hit the locker room with a 27-14 halftime lead over the Dolphins.
In the second half, with Cowboys Nation still buzzing about Prescott, the Cowboys' defense picked up where they left off to preserve the lead. Another Jenkins play behind the line of scrimmage gave the ball right back to Dak at the start of the third quarter following a Miami punt, and Prescott needed just two throws to Brice Butler to put up more points.
First connecting for 58 yards, Prescott looked for Butler on the very next play of the drive, finding him in the end zone to put Dallas ahead 34-14. Prescott would later call his own number for one final Cowboys' touchdown, as a Vince Mayle blocked punt set up a one-yard QB sneak.
His fourth touchdown of the night helped him steal the show once again, as the Cowboys came away with the decisive victory at home. They looked mostly sharp while doing so, and more importantly moved onto week 3 with no major injuries.
Linebacker Mark Nzeocha did leave the game in the first half with an Achilles injury and did not return, but it did not look overly serious. We will keep you updated on any injury news throughout the week as the Cowboys will be heading to Seattle to face the Seahawks on Friday.
Until then, share your thoughts on the Cowboys' first win of 2016 with a comment below! Let us know what you liked, what you didn't like, and what you need to see leading up to week 3!
For more, also make sure you check out Staff Writer RJ Ochoa's post game edition of the RJ Ochoa Show, as Inside The Star Staff Writer Jess Haynie will join RJ to break down everything we saw from tonight's action.
Though Promising, We Need To Relax About Safety Kavon Frazier
With the addition of former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard to the Cowboys' defensive coaching staff, fans are hoping that Dallas will create their own "Legion of Boom." Of course this is a lofty goal, but one worth pursuing nonetheless.
If the Cowboys are to recreate the Legion of Boom they will need their version of two vital pieces: Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
The Seahawks defense works, in many ways, because of these two players. Thomas' ability to play centerfield and literally defend sideline to sideline gives the Seahawks the freedom to use Chancellor where he's best, as a box safety. Chancellor is a big, physical safety who defends the run effectively in the box and can blanket tight ends in man coverage with his size and athleticism.
These safeties are arguably the most critical pieces to the Legion of Boom, though having a shutdown corner in Richard Sherman certainly doesn't hurt.
Realizing Chancellor's importance, Cowboys fans are hoping that current safety Kavon Frazier can fulfill this role in Dallas. Since being drafted by the Cowboys in 2016 Frazier has made his home on Special Teams. As an impressive tackler in both punt and kick coverage, Frazier earned himself time at safety down the stretch of the 2017 season.
All in all, Frazier played rather well. Against the Washington Redskins he stepped in and made a few splash plays at the line of scrimmage, causing Cowboys Nation to lose their minds. After that impressive Thursday night game, however, Kavon Frazier didn't really reach that same level of performance.
Frazier is still a liability when asked to cover, especially when asked to play as a two deep safety. He also struggles when taking angles at times, though playing downhill as a tackler is his best attribute. Frazier actually reminds me a bit of Barry Church, though over time Church became more refined in coverage than Frazier currently is.
Some have argued that Kavon Frazier's presence should stop the Cowboys from considering a first round safety. I would disagree, and actually believe that if Florida State's Derwin James is available, the Cowboys should consider making that pick.
If you could combine the athleticism and coverage abilities of Byron Jones with the physicality and "box safety" qualities of Kavon Frazier, you'd have a fantastic safety. Unfortunately, this isn't the Marvel Universe and we are left without any super heroes in the back-end.
Hopefully Kris Richard will figure out how to correctly place all of these pieces in the Dallas Cowboys secondary going forward.
Maverick Carter: LeBron James Considered Cowboys During NBA Lockout
Maverick Carter is a pretty important man in the world of sports. As a business man, entrepreneur, and manager of one of the best basketball players of all time in LeBron James, Maverick Carter is certainly used to making headlines.
This week, while on former NFL running back Arian Foster's podcast "Now What? with Arian Foster," Carter claimed that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones once attempted to negotiate a contract with LeBron James.
During the 2011 NBA lockout, Carter claims that Jones contacted LeBron James and discussed bringing him in as a Cowboy while the NBA was without games.
"Jerry Jones, being the smart marketer he is...one day out of the clear blue sky LeBron got a contract I think it was for like one year, a couple million bucks to play for the Dallas Cowboys." - Maverick Carter.
Carter then states that LeBron may have the paperwork framed in his house to remember these discussions with Jerry Jones. LeBron's fandom for the Cowboys has been well documented, as has been his high school football prowess.
We may never know how "real" these discussions were, and of course it is long over now, but just imagining LeBron James getting a chance to play for the Dallas Cowboys would break the internet.
You can check out the full episode of the podcast here, and I highly suggest listening to the other episodes Arian Foster has to offer.
Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?
February 20 is an important day for NFL clubs this year. Why? It's the first day in which teams can franchise tag any player. Since 2015, when the Dallas Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before they were able to work out a long-term deal, Jerry Jones & Co. haven't used the franchise tag. In 2018, though, that will change.
DeMarcus Lawrence just played his best season yet in 2017, and he's looking to get paid big time. Through three years, he had been able to rack up nine sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles. In just 2017, he sacked opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times, had 35 tackles and managed to force four fumbles.
Not only did Lawrence look like an elite pass rusher, but he also improved as a run defender a lot. The Cowboys have been looking for a "War Daddy" for a long, long time and Lawrence seems to be the answer for this football team.
After such a big year, one would expect the Cowboys to sign him to a multi-year enormous contract. But there's a catch. Lawrence failed to remain healthy early in his career and really didn't make as much of an impact until last season.
There's no question that D-Law will be wearing a star come the 2018 NFL season, but will he be doing it under a long-term deal or under a franchise tag?
Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.
For now, according to David Moore from Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence with the objective of getting a deal done in July. The tag however, is not expected to be placed as soon as possible.
In 2015, the Cowboys didn't place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant until the final deadline day. This year's deadline is March 6th, so it may be two weeks before they make it official with DeMarcus Lawrence. #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys
What would franchise tagging DeMarcus Lawrence mean for this team?
First of all, they'd make sure he doesn't hit free agency in March. This gives the front office time to get to work and restructure players' contracts if they have to in order to open up as much cap space as they can before giving him a deal.
It's worth mentioning as well, cap savings from players who are designated as post-June 1 cuts will already be available. If you want to be more familiarized with the Cowboys' cap situation, I highly recommend you read John Williams' deep dive on the matter.
It'll continue to be a very interesting story for this offseason, as handing a franchise tag to a player tends to become a non-friendly situation for both parties. Let's hope that's not the case for the Cowboys and Lawrence this year and that everything works out fine.
Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue updating you and the rest of Cowboys Nation throughout the offseason.
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