Sixty minutes of Dallas Cowboys football is in the books, and it was as perfectly flawed as we all expected from the brand new Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on Thursday between the Cowboys and Cardinals in the HOF game.
The Cowboys did manage to rally to a 20-18 win thanks to touchdowns by TE Rico Gathers and WR Uzoma Nwachukwu, more importantly escaping without any serious injuries - although CB Anthony Brown exited with a hamstring injury and did not return.
I know that I was not alone in intently watching just about every snap of this first of five preseason contests for Dallas, taking some notes on what caught my eye throughout the night, which is what makes Cowboys Nation so special. Here are my takes on what we'll all be discussing between now and the team's next preseason game in eight days against the Rams.
- Damontre Moore had earned the trust of the Cowboys' coaching staff through the offseason program and into OTAs, making plays at his natural position at DE along with at SAM LB and on special teams. A two game suspension to start 2017 slowed down some of the hype on Moore, but he still flashed the potential to really push other depth players at DE or LB by filling both roles admirably. On the first drive of the game for Arizona, Moore made a play as a stand up LB that required him to shoot a tight gap and quickly discard a low blocker. Not only was he able to do this all with great balance and quick hands, but Moore finished the play with the stopping power you love to see. This play was actually more impressive than some of Damontre's reps at DE, where he was washed out with poor pad level as a WDE on the Cardinals' first touchdown.
- It would be fair to both players to wait and see much more from them, but I'll say that I was actually more impressed with rookie Taco Charlton than fan-favorite Charles Tapper on the edge early on. Taco settled in to his natural LDE position, and although he didn't remain in the game long enough to make an impact, I was happy with his ability to fight against his blocker and hold the point of attack. Playing the run is still a priority at that position, something Charlton will need to excel at. As a pass rusher, the 28th overall picked looked clunky and unpolished at times, but there were glimpses of a long-arm, swim, and spin move around the corner from him that he has time to continue improving with. Patience will be key for a player that certainly looked the part out of Michigan. As for Charles Tapper, his first step to capture the corner jumped off the page as we have simply not seen any explosive ability from a right-side pass rusher on this team recently. Despite this, Tapper did not appear comfortable with his rush moves and was too easily steered behind the pocket or sealed away from the quarterback thanks to his pad level. Transitioning to a 4-3 front is still new for him, and I expect the bend and block shedding ability to come along for him over the coming weeks.
Wow @Chido___ almost gets an INT. Almost. https://t.co/aDLF0vAEOi
- One of my go to lines when discussing the Cowboys' 2017 draft class, specifically with people skeptical of the Charlton pick, is that the noticeable impact second round pick Chidobe Awuzie will make will trump any struggles from Taco at DE. Towards the end of the half, Awuzie nearly ended a Cardinals' drive with an interception on the sideline. The Cowboys played a ton of this game defensively in their "Dime" package, loading the field with these young DBs, making the knockdown from Chido even more impressive. With his first assignment in this situation to protect the sideline throw, Awuzie accelerated to the right depth better than he had all night before effortlessly flipping his hips and driving to the football to knock it away through contact cleanly.
- With no Anthony Hitchens, Sean Lee, or Jaylon Smith, the Cowboys had to piece together this game at linebacker - where there were flashes from UDFA Lucas Wacha. Out of Wyoming, Wacha was given reps at SAM in this game, but I'm intrigued by his skill set as a WILL. The movement ability and closing speed was not an issue for Wacha, who handled clutter in front of him well to consistently find the football. Wacha, like John Lotulelei, will also get plenty of opportunities to stick to this roster with special teams contributions.
Just throw it up to the basketball player... Let him take care of the rest. Kellen Moore. Rico Gathers. GOT 'EM! #AZvsDAL https://t.co/DgF5RGZ1td
- On the offensive side of the ball, the highlight of the night was undoubtedly Rico Gathers' 26 yard touchdown reception from Kellen Moore. The play was impressive for a lot of reasons for Gathers, who made the most of being out there as a starter. Having to patiently navigate through the second and third levels of a Cardinals' zone defense, Gathers ran his crossing route with excellent awareness and timing to get the depth needed. Once he had the angle on an out-of-position safety, Gathers squared his body to "box out" at the goal line and snag the ball above his head for a signature moment in the end zone. The Cowboys' commitment for two seasons now to get Rico Gathers the football has been clear, as he's flashed with these preseason reps on plays coming across the formation and turning up field.
- Jonathan Cooper looked like the player he did in Cleveland a year ago, with the strengths and weaknesses we'll all have to live with should he start at LG on display here. One thing you absolutely needed to see from Cooper was the fluidity in movement that Dallas will ask of him in the run game, but Cooper struggled to finish with any power both on the move or in his pass sets at the point of attack. Rod Smith and Alfred Morris stole the show at running back, but I truly felt a few of Darren McFadden's negative runs were a result of Cooper getting beat across the face and forcing McFadden to quickly change directions - something he'll struggle with at this point in his career.
- Andy Jones should be ahead of Noah Brown thanks to his experience from last season during the preseason and on the practice squad, and while that proved to be the case in this game I thought both players did things to help themselves. Jones played with better overall awareness and sharpness in his routes, leading to three receptions for 39 yards. Noah Brown's struggle is always going to be creating separation at this level, but on his end zone target he was able to compensate for a lack of speed by using his length to put his defender on his heels before he recovered. Depending on where else the Cowboys feel the need to keep more numbers on the roster, Brown and Jones could both be competing for a spot at WR that simply does not exist, but for now both young players are worth watching more through the rest of a preseason that will certainly present them with tons of snaps.
- It is strange not having a fresh face at RB for everyone to get excited about this preseason, as is tradition with the Cowboys, but the results can be much better with Rod Smith and Alfred Morris getting these meaningful reps. Morris was given the first chance to prove himself once again, and did just that as a straight-line runner. However, this is obviously something we already knew Morris could do - although it was nice to see him play with some burst and get skinny through the hole. Rod Smith, who's been ahead of Morris in training camp, did all of this and much more as the most comfortable zone runner Dallas had on the field last night. Exploding around the corner, putting his head down in tight spaces, and catching the ball all looked natural for Rod Smith. His preseason buzz is only going to grow.
The Cowboys will remain in Canton, Ohio through Saturday as Jerry Jones will be officially inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame then. After that, it is back to Oxnard to build on an overall positive performance and win in the Hall of Fame game - particularly with some young guys on the defensive side of the ball.
Cowboys en Español: La Afortunada Llegada de Randall Cobb
Tras la partida del veterano Cole Beasley, los Dallas Cowboys tenían un hueco preocupante en la posición de receptor abierto. Incluso después de obtener a Amari Cooper la temporada pasada y el tener a un jugador joven y talentoso en Michael Gallup, el equipo tenía que hacer algo para reemplazar a Beasley como el receptor de slot en la ofensiva. Beasley fue increíble en su trabajo durante su carrera en Dallas, pero la administración nunca estuvo cerca de igualar las ofertas que recibió de los Buffalo Bills. Afortunadamente, ya encontraron el hombre para el trabajo.
A pesar de estar muy callados en la primera semana de agencia libre, los Cowboys empiezan a verse involucrados con varios jugadores disponibles. Su contratación más importante hasta el momento es sin duda la del ex WR de los Green Bay Packers, Randall Cobb.
Hace unos años, Cobb atrapó el balón que terminó el partido de playoffs entre los Packers y los Cowboys minutos después de que la recepción de Dez Bryant fuera revocada. En 2019, vestirá la estrella.
Si bien es difícil argumentar que en este momento Cobb es mejor jugador que Cole Beasley, el contrato que la administración le dio al nuevo integrante del equipo es muy razonable. El ex-Packer jugará bajo un contrato por un año y cinco millones de dólares. Lo que preocupa a muchos sobre Cobb es su salud, ya que en 2018 sólo jugó nueve partidos. Sin embargo, su carrera no ha estado plagada de lesiones como muchos lo asumen.
Cobb será un titular en esta ofensiva que utilizará su habilidad para ganar en rutas rápidas. Sus manos son muy confiables y le dará a Dak Prescott otra arma en el juego aéreo. Simple y sencillamente una muy buena contratación de los Dallas Cowboys.
¿Robert Quinn, Por Favor?
Esta semana se reportó que el defensive end Robert Quinn estaba de visita en The Star, las instalaciones de los Dallas Cowboys. El DE no es un agente libre, siendo que aún está bajo contrato con los Miami Dolphins. Sin embargo, ambos equipos están en discusiones para llevar a cabo un trade por el caza cabezas de 28 años.
Después de que Randy Gregory volviera a recibir una suspensión, DE apareció entra las necesidades más urgentes del equipo y si no logran atender dicha necesidad previo al NFL Draft, tendrán que utilizar uno de sus primeros picks para conseguir un jugador que juegue opuesto a DeMarcus Lawrence.
Quinn, quien había jugado la mayoría de su carrera con los Rams, aún es joven y productivo. En las últimas dos temporadas ha logrado conseguir 15 sacks. De conseguirlo, los Cowboys tendrían que trabajar en una extensión para él.
Con un año en su contrato actual, no debe de ser muy caro conseguir un trade por él. Me atrevería a decir que la compensación que los Dolphins buscan por Quinn debe de estar en el rango de una selección cuarta y quinta ronda.
Parece un movimiento probable, pero no es difícil imaginar a otro equipo estando interesado en el jugador. Por lo pronto, sabemos que Quinn disfrutó su tiempo con Rod Marinelli y con el equipo de los Cowboys esta semana. Habrá que esperar para saber su destino.
DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line
The Cowboys got off to a busy start to week two of free agency on Monday, and capped it off by signing defensive lineman Kerry Hyder to a one year deal.
The former Detroit Lion could be classified as a "one year wonder" of sorts, but when you look closer at his career arc, you see that Hyder can provide upside at multiple positions across the Cowboys' defensive front.
After having 8 sacks and 19 quarterback hits as a defensive end in 2016, Hyder missed all of 2017 with an achilles injury. Last season, under new head coach Matt Patricia, Hyder was moved out of position and forced to play as a nose tackle and 5-technique more often.
So, the last time Hyder was healthy and playing in the role in he will likely fill in Dallas, he was productive. Yes that was a couple of seasons ago but it makes Hyder worth the one year deal he received from the Cowboys.
What exactly is that role, though?
I see Hyder primarily as a rotational 3-technique for the Cowboys. At just 270 pounds Hyder isn't going to play over the center often, and won't be very useful as a 1-technique against the run. He's at his best when lining on the outside shade of an offensive lineman, where he can use his get-off and quickness to create pressure.
Kerry Hyder can also fill in at defensive end if needed, especially when the Cowboys go into a nickel package. Hyder is similar to Tyrone Crawford in his ability to move inside and out, but is a bit better of a pass rusher than Crawford when at his best.
Hyder is a high energy, motor, and character defensive lineman who will fit right in with a Rod Marinelli unit. If it all clicks for Hyder and he regains his 2016 form, the Cowboys will have stolen an impressive pass rushing defensive lineman who can win from multiple positions.
If Hyder is actually a "one year wonder" who is more of his 2018-self with the Cowboys despite being put in a better role to succeed, Dallas can move on rather quickly because he is only on a one year deal.
This is a smart signing by the Cowboys front office as they look to re-tool their defensive line, and avoid being pigeon-holed into over-drafting at a certain position this Spring.
New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF
On Tuesday this week it became official the Cowboys would sign former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb to a one year deal worth an estimated $5 million. After his visit Monday morning, speculation around whether and when he would sign was swirling.
Cobb confirmed his intentions to join the Cowboys himself, and did so with some A+ GIF usage on Twitter.
In case you don't know, the GIF Cobb tweeted is Woody from Toy Story, emerging confidently and tipping his cap.
This was Cobb signaling that he his a Cowboy, and he appears excited to be joining America's Team. Cobb also received some social media love from his now former teammates in Green Bay, including wide receiver Davante Adams and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Aaron Rodgers had some parting words for new Cowboys WR Randall Cobb
Clearly Randall Cobb made an impact in Green Bay, both on and off the field. Let's hope he can replicate some of that in Dallas now that he has joined the Cowboys.
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