The Dallas Cowboys have already officially played two games, but the rest of the NFL is entering preseason week 2. The Cowboys will be squaring off against the Indianapolis Colts this Saturday afternoon (August 19) and there are certainly no shortage of storylines for Cowboys Nation to watch.
There is no doubt that the Dallas Cowboys have had their ups and downs so far in their first two contests, but now that it is the third preseason game for them maybe the can find some kind of consistency. Continue reading below to see the five Cowboys storylines I will be personally paying close attention to, but that doesn't mean there aren't any others. There is a lot they need to clean up, but thankfully that's what preseason is for
Darren McFadden vs. Alfred Morris
Odds are Ezekiel Elliott is looking at some kind of suspension. But, as of yet the number of games he will miss has yet to be determined. This makes the backup running back position for the Dallas Cowboys all that more important, which in turn means Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris' offensive role becomes more prominent.
McFadden and Morris haven't really inspired a lot of confidence with their play so for the first couple of preseason games for the Cowboys, which means they really need a good showing against the Colts. McFadden is probably the favorite to take over if Zeke is suspended, but Morris is arguably the better fit in the Cowboys zone blocking scheme.
Both players really need to step up their game, because neither is as talented as Zeke Elliott. Maybe the Cowboys will give Rod Smith a chance to work a little bit more with the first team to see what he's capable of.
Kellen Moore vs. Cooper Rush
After two preseason games, I don't know how anyone can claim that Kellen Moore is deserving of the title of backup QB behind Dak Prescott. He may have the advantage of knowing the offense and supposedly being "one of the best" college QBs to play the game, but his play so far leaves much to be desired.
In fact, the argument could be made that undrafted free agent Cooper Rush has played just as well, if not better than Moore. Rush hasn't performed much like a rookie QB and has looked comfortable in the pocket. He is throwing with accuracy and has shown more arm strength than expected. If he is able to put together another strong showing against the Colts, he could just earn himself a roster spot and possibly unseat Kellen Moore.
It is unlikely the Cowboys coaching staff would choose keep Cooper Rush over Kellen Moore as Prescott's backup this season, but stranger things have happened in the past. Moore really needs to step up his game and prove to everyone why he has the coaching staff's confidence.
Will Noah Brown continue to impress?
It's only been two preseason games for the Dallas Cowboys, but their seventh round draft pick Noah Brown has showed up in both as a wide receiver. He has only had three catches for 41 yards, but he has also drawn a pass interference call.
Noah Brown hasn't gotten as many chances as I would like in the passing game, but he has done a lot of dirty work that goes unnoticed. He is an excellent blocker and can be used in that capacity as a split WR and as a situational tight end. Brown could possibly be the best blocking WR currently on the roster.
Noah Brown has already shown enough through two games for the Cowboys to consider keeping him around, but he still needs time to refine his skill set. These next two preseason games could help determine if he makes the active roster or if the Cowboys are willing to try to slip through waivers and add him to the practice squad.
Can Lewis Neal continue to be disruptive?
I don't know about you, but I've been paying a lot of attention to the Dallas Cowboys defensive line play through these first two preseason contests. There really hasn't been very much to inspire a lot of confidence or excitement, but undrafted free agent Lewis Neal is the one player who has seemed to continuously make plays behind the line of scrimmage.
In this preseason week 2 contest against the Indianapolis Colts, Lewis Neal really needs to continue to be disruptive if he wants to gain more playing time and earn himself a defensive role in 2017. Right now I think he could be the favorite to backup Maliek Collins at the 3-technique, but he will have to continue to show up.
If Lewis Neal can put together another impressive/disruptive performance against the Colts, he could go from an unknown undrafted free agent, to a key role player this season.
Jaylon Smith & Jourdan Lewis' NFL debut
The Dallas Cowboys have two players that will be making their NFL debut against the Indianapolis Colts in preseason week 2, Jaylon Smith and Jourdan Lewis. Both players are expected to be key contributors in 2017 and Saturday will be the first chance the majority of us will have to see them in action.
Jaylon Smith's NFL debut might be just the most anticipated debut for an NFL player in the history of the league. There are endless amounts of fans who want to see the talented linebacker back on the field to finally see how he has progressed from his knee injury. We may not get to see a lot of him, but any playing time he does receive is encouraging for not only his future, but for the Cowboys defense.
Jourdan Lewis' NFL debut won't receive as much hype as Smith's, but that doesn't mean it's not nearly as important. Lewis is one of the defensive backs brought in to make over the Cowboys secondary and could possibly have a huge role on defense in 2017. He is a little bit undersized, which could regulate him to the slot, but he possesses undeniable talent.
What Cowboys storylines will you be watching in preseason week 2?
Where In The World Is DE Taco Charlton?
Over pretty much the last decade, the Dallas Cowboys have been rock solid with their first round picks. With selections of Ezekiel Elliott, Travis Frederick, Byron Jones, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Leighton Vander Esch (just to name a handful), Dallas has rebuilt the core of their roster through the NFL Draft.
It's nearly impossible to bat .1000 in any round of the draft, however, and this appears to be the current case with the Cowboys' 2017 first round pick.
Defensive end Taco Charlton has not had the sophomore season that he, or anyone, had hoped for. A healthy scratch last Sunday, Charlton has only been active for 1 of the Cowboys' last 5 games, and has not recorded a sack or tackle since week 9.
Prior to disappearing with injuries and "attitude issues," Charlton had only recorded 1 sack on the season and was beginning to fall behind his Hot Boy-brethren. Defensive end Randy Gregory has reached his form over the last few weeks, Tyrone Crawford is having arguably a career year, and DeMarcus Lawrence is one of the best ends in all of football.
This doesn't leave much room for Charlton, who's now having issues even getting on the gameday roster. Rod Marinelli dodged questions about Taco Charlton earlier this week, vaguely saying they are "moving forward" and that he'd like to talk about other players on his defensive line who are performing.
Rod Marinelli on Taco Charlton's benching and being inactive last week: "We just keep moving along keep going forward. It's kinda been out there I'd leave it at that. I'd rather talk about our two tackles.
Charlton has not been quiet about his displeasure as of late, either. He's taken to Twitter to voice his frustrations, saying that not only is his shoulder fine but that the Dallas media is making up stories about his absence. He's also posted some cryptic tweets such as this one, with a picture of Allen Iverson and a caption reading "Every players needs that one coach to believe in them."
Maybe Taco is right. Maybe he just needs increased opportunity and a support system/coach that believes in him whole-heartedly. After all, Charlton has faced nothing but doubters and detractors since the second he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.
But in the NFL, the ultimate "what have you done for me lately" sport, it's hard to imagine he'll get that unwavering support anywhere in the league. He's going to have to "earn" his playing time, as head coach Jason Garrett spoke to earlier in the week. But with the plethora of talent the Cowboys are already putting out there on the defensive line, it's becoming difficult to see exactly where Taco Charlton can fit in on this defense.
It's possible, and fine, if it is simply not a fit between Charlton and the Cowboys at this point. But I'd also be wary of giving up on your first round pick in just his second NFL season. Another offseason with the team, working on his craft and getting fully healthy, should do Charlton wonders, and hopefully allow us to get a better read on his future with the Cowboys going forward.
Until then, we are all left to scratch out heads and wonder what in the world is going on with the Cowboys and Taco Charlton, and if the former first round pick will have a future in Dallas at all.
Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC
2018 has seen the emergence of high-powered offenses in both NFL conferences. The Kansas City Chiefs sit atop the AFC and the NFC is spearheaded by the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. Through 14 weeks, these three teams are the top three offenses in the NFL, each averaging over 30 points per game. This year, for the first time in NFL history, two teams scored more than 50 in the same game.
Thanks to this consistent impressive offensive performances, you would think "offense" is the name of the game for the 2018 NFL season. Well, not so fast, my friend. Despite sitting atop the NFC, the Saints and the Rams have recently suffered losses that indicate hope is anything but lost for defensive teams in the league.
The Chicago Bears were able to bring down the Rams last Sunday Night 15-6. The same offense that averages 33 points per game was limited to six points. Sean McVay's remarkable offense went home with no touchdowns to talk about on the plane back home. Instead, they probably discussed Jared Goff's four interceptions.
Weeks earlier, the Dallas Cowboys shocked the world when they brought down the Saints. Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas simply couldn't move the ball against Leighton Vander Esch, DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones. 13 points were all the Cowboys needed to score to beat an offense that was averaging 37 per game heading into week 13 but was only able to put up 10 in Dallas.
The Cowboys are the #4 seed with the Bears slightly ahead of them as the #3 seed in the NFC. Together, these teams have defeated the top two in the conference. Now granted, playoffs will definitely be different.
For starters, if they are to advance to the divisional round, they'll be on the road. Chicago was surely benefited by playing in such a cold weather versus a Los Angeles team. As far as the Cowboys are concerned, few times has AT&T Stadium been as loud as when they beat the Saints.
Hopefully, we'll get to see both of these elite defenses advance to the Divisional Round to square off against this couple of high-powered offenses again. We will not only be witnessing amazing football games, but a great discussion regarding the everlasting debate between offense and defense.
For years, "defense wins championships" has been a widely accepted statement in football. The Cowboys and Bears have made that same statement resound recently with their impressive wins.
Can they do it again in January football? Can they do it on the road?
Cowboys en Español: Los Colts No Son Cualquier Rival
Al igual que el resto de la afición de los Dallas Cowboys, parte de mí se siente confiada respecto a este equipo visitando a Indianapolis Colts y resultando victoriosos. ¿El problema? Los Colts no son un rival sencillo de vencer. Si crees que la racha de los Cowboys los intimidará, piensa de nuevo. Los Houston Texans llevaban nueve victorias al hilo antes de enfrentarse a este equipo.
Siendo objetivos, este puede ser el partido que evite que los Cowboys cierren su temporada con ocho victorias al hilo para terminar el año con un récord de 11-5. Ni los Tampa Bay Buccaneers ni los New York Giants deberían presentar amenaza alguna contra Dallas. Lo mismo no se puede decir de Indianapolis.
Por primera vez en mucho tiempo, Andrew Luck está realmente de vuelta. Gracias a una reconstrucción de su línea ofensiva, su nivel de juego a regresado al nivel que conocíamos de él desde que llegó a la NFL. Afortunadamente para los Colts, Luck se ha mantenido sano toda la temporada y no se ve rastro alguno de sus lesiones anteriores en el emparrillado.
T.Y. Hilton está teniendo un muy buen año y sin duda alguna presentará un reto para Byron Jones y el resto de la secundaria de los Cowboys. Eric Ebron en la posición de tight end también será un dolor de cabeza para la defensiva.
Lo más interesante se dará en las trincheras. Los Cowboys han hecho un muy buen trabajo presionando quarterbacks opuestos en la temporada, pero si el centro de los Colts, Ryan Kelly está sano el domingo, se enfrentarán al mejor duo de centro-guardia en la liga actualmente. Con Quenton Nelson al lado, Luck estará muy bien protegido.
Sin embargo, Kelly no ha jugado debido a una lesión y aún está por verse si tomará el campo el domingo por la mañana. Los Cowboys hicieron un muy buen trabajo a la entonces ofensiva #1 de la liga, los New Orleans Saints, pero eso no significa que la ofensiva #8 que tienen los Colts no los retará.
Promediando 27 puntos por juego, la defensiva necesitará ayuda de Dak Prescott y compañía para ganar el partido. Dallas continúa moviendo el balón efectivamente, pero es tiempo de anotar touchdowns y no goles de campo.
Ezekiel Elliott será, una vez más, clave para la victoria. Enfrentándose a una defensiva Top 10 contra el juego terrestre, mover las cadenas con Zeke no será tan fácil. El novato Darius Leonard como linebacker ha sido algo espectacular otra temporada al igual que Leighton Vander Esch. Liderando a toda la NFL en tackleadas, estará listo para recibir a los Cowboys al Lucas Oil Stadium.
Lo más importante de este partido...
Por más impresionante que sea la racha de cinco victorias consecutivas, los Cowboys tienen que demostrar que pueden ganarle a un equipo fuerte estando de visita. Porque hay que admitirlo, Jason Garrett y su equipo no han tenido éxito fuera de casa. Claro, le ganaron a un equipo debilitado de Philadelphia Eagles y a unos Atlanta Falcons que va 4-9.
Este equipo "nuevo" de los Cowboys no ha ido contra un rival de calidad siendo el visitante. Es tiempo de demostrar que lo pueden hacer, ya que si quieren contender en postemporada, es justo lo que necesitarán... jugar bien de visita.
Sinceramente creo que los Cowboys ganan este partido. Principalmente gracias a su defensiva, pero también veo a la ofensiva dominar el tiempo de posesión en un juego de pocos puntos. Es tiempo de mantener esa racha.
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