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Scouting Report: Luke McCown A Welcome Backup QB For Cowboys

Sean Martin

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Scouting Report: Luke McCown A Welcome Backup QB For Cowboys

In need of QB depth with four days before their first preseason game of 2017, the Dallas Cowboys signed veteran backup quarterback Luke McCown and waived the injured Zac Dysert.

McCown did not appear in a game in 2016 as a Saint, his third year backing up Drew Brees and fifth team overall after being drafted by the Browns in 2004.

Winding the clock back to 2015 though - to McCown's lone start against the formidable Carolina Panthers - there is a legitimate chance the Cowboys not only added their experienced camp arm but a candidate for the primary backup QB spot  behind Dak Prescott this season.

Here is what I saw from Luke McCown on the tape.

McCown1 - Streamable

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McCown kept the Saints in this game against the Panthers by doing what any backup QB should be expected to - stay within the offense and execute a game plan.

Setting himself up in the pocket to deliver passes with touch and accuracy was not a problem for McCown, almost to a fault at certain times as I would have liked to see him climb the pocket more and generate more zip on the ball.

Even still, McCown overcomes both velocity issues and a lengthy throwing motion to get through his progressions and consistently hit receivers in stride.

The short and intermediate game is where McCown will settle nicely into Scott Linehan's offense, as he'll hit his targets out of breaks with a sharp pre-snap understanding of the defense in front of him.

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When asked to push the ball down the field, McCown expectedly was short on a few shots, but more times than not completed the ball to all fields with the slight movement skills in the pocket to create throwing lanes and set his feet.

McCown2 - Streamable

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This final throw that I'll show here from McCown is an example of the good and bad that you live with in your backup signal caller. The mechanics and setup are far from perfect, but Luke completes a deep out route to move the chains against tight coverage.

These are simply not plays that penciled-in backup Kellen Moore has made with the Cowboys in his opportunities that will continue into this five game preseason for Dallas. What will help Moore is that McCown's best backup play remains from 2015, meaning he is two years removed from meaningful reps.

With the accuracy, mobility, and mental edge to back up Dak Prescott, I expect McCown to push Moore significantly over the coming weeks until the team must decide which to keep - not expected to carry three quarterbacks with depth better applied elsewhere on the Cowboys' roster.

Tell us what you think about "Scouting Report: Luke McCown A Welcome Backup QB For Cowboys" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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8 Comments
  • John Williams

    First. And since I’m the first, let me be the first to say that I am extremely excited about this.

    That last throw is what I needed to see to be excited. The deep out route is what can earn McCown this job.

    Moore is limited as well downfield, but also doesn’t have much experience to help a team should somethin unfortunate happen.

    McCown will have a learning curve to catchup in the playbook, but he’s the backup I’ve been hoping for them to sign this offseason. If Sean Payton is comfortable enough to let you be the backup to Drew Brees for three years, that’s good enough for me.

    • https://InsideTheStar.com Sean Martin

      Thanks as always for reading, John. The last point here about Payton is spot on when it comes to McCown. There’s a trust he’s clearly built with coaches that goes beyond the physical elements of playing QB – the mindset that is so important in backup quarterbacks. Luke can do nothing but help this QB room just as Sanchez did last year, and some of the skills are there to at least give this offense a chance without #4.

      • John Williams

        Absolutely. With as much as the Saints love to throw the ball around, you need to have a backup that can step in and execute the game plan and provide as seamless a transition as possible. McCown isn’t Drew Brees, but trust plays a huge role in putting any player on the field. This is why Lucky is no longer with us. The team lost faith in him.

    • George_Johnson

      Kellen Moore not having much experience is probably not much of a problem. S Linehan has called him a veteran. S Linehan has said he doesn’t need many reps since he knows exactly what to do. Since he has been playing QB since he could walk his dad was a coach and he was totally absorbed studying, practicing and playing QB relentlessly, I think his total experience is way beyond anyone in the NFL that has only played in three season games.

      • John Williams

        A veteran equals not a rookie. Anyone with 1 year or more is considered a veteran.

        Playing instinctively is good, but you also have to have the talent to do so. I have good instincts for Goalie in Lacrosse, but I’m not good enough to play at the professional level.

        It’s great that he’s been studying and playing quarterback all of his life, but you also have to have the arm talent to play the position. When it is all said and done, Kellen Moore will likely make a great coach in College or the NFL, but as a player, not so much.

  • George_Johnson

    Dream on Sean. You continue to under estimate Kellen Moore and don’t know a lot about K Moore’s skills/abilities. Quit judging him by the fact he looks like the equipment manager or an administrator on the team rather than an NFL QB. Start judging him by what S Linehan says. K Moore is the 2nd team QB for 2017, period. He will get the 2nd team reps and 2nd team preseason play. In order for him to lose this position he is going to have to start screwing up. This is not likely. He should be very ready at this point and this is his only opportunity to shine. I expect him to play well in preseason games and shut up his critics.

    McCown will have to learn the Dallas offense/playbook/game plans/Linehan thinking/receivers strengths and weaknesses/etc. It will take him some time. He will get the 3rd or 4th team reps and 3rd or 4th team preseason playing time. Most likely the earliest he would be able to be considered for 2nd team backup would be sometime during the regular season. So explain to me why the Dallas coaches would decide during the season to move McCown ahead of K Moore? The only thing I can think of is if Prescott got hurt and K Moore started at QB and kept screwing up. K Moore is not likely to lose the 2nd team QB position sitting on the bench. The earliest we are likely to see McCown at 2nd team if he turns out to be really good is most likely in 2018. IMO he will have to be really good to pass K Moore.

    K Moore is a master at pocket passing but with serious physical limitations. I had some doubts myself until one of the top QB experts in the world if not THE top QB expert ( i.e. Scott Linehan) says he can play in the NFL and that his arm is strong enough. He also said he compensate for his physical limitations with his outstanding pocket passing skills/abilities to get the job done. He also said he knows his limitations and does not try to make throws his arm will not allow him to. He recently described him as a machine. K Moore’s college coach (i.e. C Peterson) said and I quote, ” K Moore IS THE BEST POCKET PASSER I HAVE EVER SEEN.”

    • Willie Rogers

      I expect K.Moore to crumble and falter, this guy already proved he don’t belong, I seen enough in 2015 and im convinced L.McCown will beat him out even though I wish the cowboys would get rid of both of them and sign Michael Vick.

      • George_Johnson

        K Moore is the designated 2nd team QB so there won’t be any competition unless K Moore screws up big time and doesn’t play well overall. Therefore McCown will not likely get any chance at all at 2nd team QB. Unless Dallas keeps three QBs on the 53 man roster, McCown will likely be gone by the end of preseason.

        In 2015 when K Moore was playing for two and one half games, he was new to the Dallas offense/playbook, had never played against first team defense and had limited reps to get ready to play. S Linehan considering all the circumstances thought K Moore played well overall but did admit he made too many mistakes. I think you will see a big improvement in 2017 preseason as K Moore should be more than ready now and has a lot to prove. He is also known for not making mistakes or throwing interceptions so he is likely to clean this up.

Game Notes

Dallas Cowboys vs the New York Giants: Stock Up and Stock Down

John Williams

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The Jaylon Smith We've Been Expecting Is Finally Here

The Dallas Cowboys bounced back in a big way against the New York Giants in week two. Several players bounced back as well after struggling a bit in week one against the Carolina Panthers. Other players continued to struggle or saw a drop in play from week one to week two.

Here are the Dallas Cowboys who saw their stock rise and some who saw their stock fall this week.

Stock Up

Jaylon Smith, Linebacker

Jaylon Smith has been really good to start the season and had an excellent game against the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football. Every day Smith is removed from the devastating knee injury he suffered in his final game at Notre Dame is a day closer to realizing the elite play that many expected of him before the injury.

Pro Football Reference credited the starting middle linebacker with seven solo tackles and three assists. Pro Football Focus had Jaylon Smith with 3 stops -- plays that were a "loss" for the offense -- while becoming a stabilizing force for the linebacker position.

Byron Jones, Cornerback

The fourth year player who has made a successful move from safety to cornerback, Byron Jones has been everything the Dallas Cowboys hoped he'd be when they made him their first round pick back in 2015.

Shame that it took so long to get him to cornerback.

Against a potent New York Giants receiving corp, Jones only allowed one reception on five targets on Sunday night. He also had six solo tackles and three stops, per Pro Football Focus.

The one reception that Pro Football Focus credited to Byron Jones was by Running Back Saquon Barkley and that catch went for zero yards.

So on the night, Byron Jones allowed zero yards into his coverage areas. He's really good at cornerback and is taking to Kris Richard's coaching quite nicely.

Dak Prescott, Quarterback

After much gnashing of teeth after the week one loss to the Carolina Panthers, Dak Prescott rebounded with a strong, confident performance in the Dallas Cowboys week two win over the Giants.

He completed 64% of his passes for 160 yards and ran for 45 yards on seven carries. The passing yardage isn't huge, but on a night in which the defense was absolutely dominant, Dak Prescott made the plays that needed to be made for the Dallas Cowboys to win the game.

He was great in the read-option on Sunday night, perfectly executing it for several really good runs.

The throw to Tavon Austin on the third offensive play from scrimmage was a great throw that set the tone for the Dallas Cowboys the rest of the night. His yards per attempt and passer rating were both improved from week one and he just looked better.

If Dak Prescott can continue to put together performances like this, the Dallas Cowboys will win a lot of games this season.

Connor Williams, Left Guard

After getting pushed around for much of last week's game by Kawann Short, rookie Connor Williams rebounded with a really nice game.

Williams didn't allow a pressure all night and the offensive line was much better as a whole. The unit didn't allow a sack against the New York Giants.

According to Pro Football Focus, Elliott's biggest run of the night came behind Connor Williams at left guard.

Williams is an important piece to the puzzle and if he's playing well, it will provide better pockets for Dak Prescott.

Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver

After seeing only 10 snaps in week one, Tavon Austin was on the field for nearly twice as many and made them count as he ended with two receptions for 79 yards and had one rush for 15 yards.

That's 94 total yards on three touches. The "Tavon Effect" was in full force last night as the team used his speed to their advantage. Even when the ball didn't go his direction he had an effect on the game.

Damien Wilson, Linebacker

Seemingly the odd man out after the Dallas Cowboys selected Leighton Vander Esch in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Damien Wilson had an excellent game in his limited playing time.

Wilson played 17 defensive snaps and 22 snaps on special teams and was credited with three solo tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. He's was excellent on Sunday night in the snaps he was given.

It's unlikely that we'll see a big snap increase for him with the talent ahead of him on the depth chart, but he provided very valuable snaps when given the opportunity.

Stock Down

Terrance Williams, Wide Receiver

Terrance Williams who has been a starter for several years now with the Dallas Cowboys, and even started week one, saw his snap count drop from week one to week two. After seeing 19 snaps against the Carolina Panthers, he was onlyon the field for 10 snaps in week two.

There's been speculation as the Dallas Cowboys have resigned former Wide Receiver Brice Butler that Terrance Williams could be the odd man out of the wide receiver room. That snap count is either an indication of his status on the team or the game plan they had against the New York Giants.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Williams moving forward.

La'el Collins, Right Tackle

A week after allowing four pressures, most along the offensive line, La'el Collins allowed three more pressures on Sunday night against the New York Giants. He was the only offensive lineman to allow multiple pressures and appeared to struggle with the Giants blitz and stunt schemes.

The New York Giants had rushers go unblocked at times on Sunday night.

Dak Prescott wasn't sacked against the Giants, but he had to avoid some pressure on that side to throw the ball away.

Collins has to be better against the pass rush going forward to keep Dak Prescott clean and able to play better.

Dallas Cowboys Tight Ends

The Dallas Cowboys' tight end group of Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, and Rico Gathers did not have a single catch to their name on Sunday night. There were opportunities that were missed, like the Dak Prescott overthrow to Rico Gathers in the end zone. However, not being able to come up with a single catch against the Giants is a bit surprising.

Speaking frankly, their isn't a receiving threat on the TE depth chart. They need to become a factor at some point to help take pressure of Dak Prescott and give him another option in the passing game. The Dallas Cowboys prefer to run most of their formations with a tight end on the field. They need to be a factor

The Cowboys Nation Twitter account asked David Helman from DallasCowboys.com to look up when the last time the Dallas Cowboys tight ends finished a game without a reception.

Mark Lane from WFAA.com and the Texans Wire found the information.

Mark Lane on Twitter

@HelmanDC @CowboysNation @SullyBaldHead @Marcus_Mosher @CHQ_Jordan @FO_ScottKacsmar When you do, Dave, tell them that Mark Lane found it at 1:15 a.m. Central Time. It was Dec. 1, 2016 at the #Vikings. https://t.co/XS3FVrWhT8

It's unbelievable that there was a game played in which Jason Witten was around for that he didn't have a reception, and yet, there it is.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Were there any players that moved the needle in either direction for you?

Let us know in the comment section. 

 



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Dallas Cowboys

Will Cowboys Safety Xavier Woods Return This Week?

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Have Their Version of Tryann Mathieu in Xavier Woods?

The Dallas Cowboys have been without one of their defensive starters for the first two weeks of 2018; safety Xavier Woods. A preseason hamstring injury has kept him in street clothes so far, but Woods could make his season debut this week against the Seattle Seahawks.

The positive update on Woods' status was provided by Owner Jerry Jones in his regular radio appearance this morning.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Jerry Jones on @1053thefan said it appears Randy Gregory (concussion) will be available to play Sunday at Seattle. Jones also thinks Xavier Woods (hamstring) has a chance to play this week after missing the first two games

Gregory has already played this year, suffering his concussion and leaving the season opener against the Carolina Panthers. Even in his absence last week, the Cowboys got six sacks on Eli Manning in their victory over the Giants.

That's not to say getting Randy back isn't noteworthy, but the real news here is the potential for Xavier Woods to take his place as the team's starting free safety.

While Woods has been out, Jeff Heath has been the free safety while Kavon Frazier has started at strong. The plan going into 2018 was for Heath to play strong safety, putting him closer to the line of scrimmage where his skills are best suited.

Xavier was one of the team's most exciting rookies last year, flashing the potential to be a game-changing presence.

Woods' upside is one of the reasons some fans haven't been as desperate about the Earl Thomas situation. While Thomas would be an upgrade in almost any defense, including the Cowboys, the chance to see what Xavier has mitigated disappointment over not acquiring the All-Pro safety.

Xavier Woods

Dallas Cowboys Safety Xavier Woods

If Woods can provide what the team hopes for at free safety, it has a positive ripple effect for the roster. Not only do you upgrade at FS, but Heath moving to his ideal role at SS is another improvement.

It also moves Frazier, who's been solid in his playing time, into a valuable bench role. It gives Dallas depth at safety which, up til now, they've lacked in Xavier's absence.

The loser in this deal would likely be either veteran backup Ibraheim Campbell, who Dallas signed two weeks ago to deal with their depth issues, or undrafted rookie Tyree Robinson. Robinson has been with the team since they signed him immediately after the 2018 NFL Draft.

With talk that the Cowboys are looking to bring back WR Brice Butler, a roster spot will be needed. Xavier Woods' return could allow for that spot to come from safety rather than receiver, where Dallas is hesitant to part with any of its current players.

In the end, all we have right now is a "maybe" about Woods' status. But with Dallas' defense already performing well this year, the thought of getting even better is enticing. With the tough road environment of Seattle and Russell Wilson coming up this Sunday, getting Xavier back could be timely.



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Game Notes

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Giants

Brian Martin

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Giants

I don't know about you, but I feel a lot better this week about the Dallas Cowboys after they thoroughly controled the game against the New York Giants last Sunday night. It amazes me how much better they played in the second week of the 2018 season as opposed to what they put on the field Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers.

The Dallas Cowboys performed better in all three phases of the game. The defense was simply outstanding, the offense looked much improved, and the fact that there weren't any breakdowns on special teams is an added plus. Overall, it's hard to be too disappointed with the way the overall team performed Sunday.

With all of that in mind, I want to share with you what I believe is The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for the Dallas Cowboys from the primetime matchup with the division rival New York Giants. I know you may disagree with what I decided to go with in each category, but that's part of the fun of it.

The Good

Taco Charlton

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

If you watched the Dallas Cowboys against the New York Giants Sunday night then you pretty much know what the good was. How could I not go with the Cowboys defense? They were simply phenomenal against the Giants and are starting to become the identity of this year's team.

The Cowboys pass rush continuously put pressure on Quarterback Eli Manning and ended the game with six QB sacks. Nearly every defensive lineman got in on the action, which is hopefully a sign of things to come. The secondary was also really impressive. They played man-to-man coverage nearly the entire game and shut down the Giants aerial attack, including Odell Beckham Jr.

I was also really pleased to see the Cowboys linebackers playing much better. You may not have noticed, but the coaching staff is going with a rotation of sorts with the LBs, and it really looked as if it's helping keep them fresh. This could pay huge dividends moving forward, especially with Sean Lee's injury concerns.

The Bad

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

I debated several different things to put in this section, but ultimately I decided the bad for the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night was Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game. Yes, it was better than what we saw from them in Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done from both Prescott and his receivers.

Unfortunately, Prescott only completed 16 of 25 passes for 160 yards and one touchdown against the Giants. Those are nearly identical numbers to what he put up against the Panthers, the only difference is he was much more successful on the ground, rushing for 45 yards on seven carries. If you take away his long TD completion to Wide Receiver Tavon Austin, those numbers are even more depressing.

The passing game and Dak Prescott needs to improve dramatically. The Cowboys simply aren't going to be able to continue to win games like this. The offense should've been able to put up a lot more points on the Giants Sunday night. Hopefully, things will continue to get better because if not, the Cowboys are in trouble.

The Ugly

There was a number of different directions I could've gone here, but for me the ugly for the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night against the Giants was the penalties. Penalties became a problem for the Cowboys in Week 1 against the Panthers and once again reared their ugly head against the Giants. Unfortunately, this has continuously been a problem under the tutelage of Head Coach Jason Garrett.

The Dallas Cowboys were lucky that the untimely penalties didn't have much impact on the outcome of the game. If they would have been playing a better team than the Giants, they probably wouldn't have overcome the long down and distances. I want to believe this can be cleaned up, but Jason Garrett's going to have to start holding his players accountable, which at this point seems a little unlikely.

The Cowboys players are going to take it upon themselves to cut down the penalties. Most of the time it's just mental mistakes, so there is reason to believe they can accomplish this task. But, they are really going to have to buckle down and focus on remaining consistent down after down.

What is your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the Giants?



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