The Dallas Cowboys got their first win of 2016 a week ago, defeating the Miami Dolphins in convincing fashion 44-14 from AT&T Stadium. As they now prepare for their dress rehearsal game in Seattle tomorrow, I thought it would be a good time to go back and take a look at the players that put a positive performance on the field in week 2, and break down how they can build on it against the Seahawks.
These could be players that had bounce back games, showed minor improvements, or took the world by fire. Let’s talk some football!
Starting with the obvious only feels right here, as Dak Prescott has a ton to build off of after his first two preseason outings. After electrifying Cowboys Nation in Los Angeles during his debut, Prescott put on another show for the home fans – completing 12 passes on 15 attempts and tossing 2 touchdowns while rushing for a pair as well.
Prescott has now thrown more touchdowns than incomplete passes, an amazing accomplishment that will be hard to maintain against the Seattle secondary in hostile territory.
No matter how Prescott performs, Cowboys’ fans have already embraced the journey of watching the young signal caller develop in front of their eyes. With that comes the highs that he has shown us, and some lows to be expected at some point.
Which will we see tomorrow from Prescott? Your move, quarterDAK.
Morris carried 13 times for 85 yards against the Dolphins, punishing defenders with his hard running style while cutting perfectly through the holes provided by Dallas’ line.
Ezekiel Elliott will make his debut tomorrow, but Morris will still get his opportunities. What we will see from Morris should also closer resemble his actual role on this team during the regular season, as a compliment back to Elliott that can be just as dominant.
I’ll be looking for Morris – a career model of consistency – to play with some extra burst to him when he first comes out on the field, and punish defenders for the rest of that time.
Sticking with the running back position, rookie Darius Jackson has two preseason games remaining to prove that he deserves a spot on this team. To do so, he won’t need to be better than Alfred Morris or Ezekiel Elliott, but simply continue to provide an element in the speed rushing game that neither back excels at.
Jackson has shown the ability to do this, while also having to create a lot of plays on his own with backup offensive linemen in front of him, carrying the ball 26 times this preseason for 90 yards.
After leading the team in carries against the Dolphins, look for Jackson to get a lot more work tomorrow, and hopefully make the right reads on his way to some big plays.
I don’t think that anybody on this football team was more excited about getting Tony Romo back on the field than slot receiver Cole Beasley. With a specific skill set, Beasley excels when Romo is his quarterback, able to work the middle of the field with ease.
Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan has been utilizing all of his weapons so far this preseason, moving guys around to create the best match ups. Against the Dolphins, you saw a tunnel screen to Beasley on the first drive that went for positive yards from Romo.
While it is unclear how much of Tony Romo we will see tomorrow, expect Beasley to be one of his main targets against a fierce Seahawks pass rush, and in the absence of Dez Bryant.
Speaking of the absence of Dez Bryant, the Cowboys will get a good look at Terrance Williams and Brice Butler in this game. Both players seem to still be competing for the second WR spot, although Williams hasn’t done anything to warrant a significant loss of playing time.
One of the most memorable plays of Friday’s win was Dak Prescott connecting with Brice Butler for a bomb down field, something that Butler was brought in here to do. Seeing him finally get vertical was refreshing, and he will make great strides in putting pressure on Terrance Williams if he can do it again against the Seahawks.
In watching his game against Miami for the second time, Chaz Green not only had the bounce back performance we all noticed in watching it live, but was actually really impressive in multiple aspects of the game.
Showing why he could be valuable as a tackle or a guard, Green played with a lot more consistent leverage and power on all of his sets.
On Alfred Morris’ touchdown run, Green was able to slide and handle the speed rush – something he couldn’t do against the Rams – clearing a lane for Morris to cut back and score.
Second-year player Byron Jones continues to be good at everything for the Dallas Cowboys. In watching him against the Dolphins, Jones excelled multiple times in run support, particularly in the red zone.
Of course, Jones was also able to use his length and speed to break up a pass that he had to come a long way for, displaying his full range of versatility.
We should expect more of the same on the West Coast from Byron tomorrow.
The confidence and attitude that we have seen from Claiborne throughout training camp carried over to his home opener, as he saw plenty of action and was able to get his hands on the ball multiple times.
If the Cowboys’ coaches want tomorrow’s game to feel like a legitimate regular season game, they should want Morris Claiborne to repeat his performance and continue to make plays – something he has never consistently done, while dealing with his fair share of injuries.
Staying on the field has been his biggest issue in this league for Terrell McClain, but the defensive tackle has shown what he can do at full strength with the Cowboys this summer. Against the Dolphins, it was refreshing to see yet another interior defensive linemen on this team that can play with a great first step and get up the field to make plays.
Cedric Thornton drew attention to himself by putting in similar plays back in Los Angeles, and again against the Dolphins. Now, with Maliek Collins set to return, we could get a look at an absolutely dominant rotation of DTs for the Cowboys tomorrow – hopefully featuring a steady dose of McClain.
It may have been some minor progress, but Ryan Russell finally put together some snaps to feel good about after being held in check against the Rams. Russell was able to get up the field numerous times around the edge, drawing a personal foul for a hit on Ryan Tannehill where he exploded around the right side.
Russell also generated pressure on the stunt with Shaniel Jenkins that resulted in Jenkins forcing a fumble, and ultimately giving the Cowboys a chance to add to their lead before the half.
Chasing after Russell Wilson will be an even tougher task for Russell, who could make Rod Marinelli feel a lot better about his rotation at defensive end should he finally put together all of his traits to have an impact on the game.
Some roster decisions are going to have to be made after this game for the Dallas Cowboys, and special teams is always a key denominator when it comes to deciding who makes the cut.
Most special teams snaps for Cowboys on Friday: LB Keith Smith 16, TE Swaim 15, LB James Morris 15, TE Austin Traylor 14, WR Andy Jones 13.
Depending on how much of James Morris we see in the dress rehearsal, it will be evident that this team wants him to make the team based on the chances he has gotten on special teams.
As a linebacker, I also thought that he had some snaps on Friday where he was able to read his blocks incredibly well, and avoid getting taken out of the play before rallying to the football.