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Standouts from Cowboys Preseason Week 1 Matchup vs 49ers

John Williams



3 Stars from Cowboys Preseason Week 1 Matchup vs 49ers

The preseason isn't a time to be worried about the won-loss record or to be checking the standings. Sure, you want your team to perform well and score points, but the biggest priority in the preseason is to answer questions you've had about your roster. Last night against the San Francisco 49ers, the Dallas Cowboys began to get some of the answers they were looking for.

With several players looking to make statements or separate themselves in position battles, the Dallas Cowboys got some good performances from several players, even if the score didn't reflect it.

Blake Jarwin, Tight End

With Jason Witten sitting out of preseason action for week one, Blake Jarwin got the start and significant playing time this week. Jarwin picked up right where he left off in the 2018 season with four receptions on five targets for 51 yards. One of those receptions was a 33-yard catch and run that included 22 yards after the catch.

He continues to display really good hands and route-running ability. With only three tight ends on the roster not named Jason Witten, the Dallas Cowboys will continue to give Jarwin a lot of work in the preseason. For a developing player, every snap matters, but he continues to be a reliable target for the Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks.

Cooper Rush, Quarterback

Despite being the primary backup quarterback for the team each of the last two seasons, there was a significant training camp battle happening between Cooper Rush and Mike White. On the outside, many questioned whether it was wise to rely on either quarterback as the team's backup to Dak Prescott for 2019. On Saturday night against the San Francisco 49ers, Cooper Rush had a really solid response to the backup quarterback question.

On the night, Rush went 16/26 for 142, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. It wasn't great, by any stretch of the imagination and the team struggled a bit on third down, but Rush moved the team into field goal range three times and came away with six points.

He completed 61.5% of his passes and only had a 5.5 yards per attempt, which on the surface is a little underwhelming. However, two of his attempts were drops and three passes were deemed thrown away (per Pro Football Focus), which gives him a true completion percentage of 76% and a yards per attempt of 6.76. If you had to have your backup quarterback start a game for you, you'd be thrilled with those numbers if you were the coaching staff.

Mike White didn't have a great game, but his protection was significantly worse than what Cooper Rush received. Still, Rush was able to avoid sacks, avoid turnovers, and generally had more success moving the team down the field.

With his performance, Rush took a significant step forward in the quarterback competition. It's his to lose at this point.

Luke Gifford, Linebacker

Before Luke Gifford went down with an injury, he was having a really nice game playing with the reserves.

In the running game, he had a really nice run stop. On first down, he read the play well and snaked through the blocking as it was moving upfield and found the running back for a nice wrap-up tackle that immediately brought the runner to the ground. Gifford looked so natural and fluid in his movements to get to the ball carrier.

Later on that same drive, Gifford came away with a very nice interception when he got his hands just above shoulder height to come down with the pick.

Despite going down with an ankle injury, Gifford, who had been having a really strong training camp, made a significant impression in his short preseason stint. He sounds like a guy that the team will look to make room for on the roster when he returns.

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There were several other players who had good or solid games that deserve mentioning, including Cedrick Wilson (3 rec 36 yards), Devin Smith (3 rec 54 yards), Tony Pollard (4 carries for 16 yards), Chidobe Awuzie (Tackle for loss and pass break up), and it was really nice to see Travis Frederick back in the lineup.

The Cowboys had a solid start to the preseason and we'll get three more games before they start playing football for real.

Who were your standout players from week 1 of the preseason? 

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could. Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.


Player News

Cowboys K Brett Maher’s 63-Yard Field Goal Sets New NFL Record

Jess Haynie



Brett Maher

After hitting a 63-yard field goal last night in the Dallas Cowboys' win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Kicker Brett Maher now owns the NFL record for most field goal made at 60 yards or longer. It was the third 60-plus FG of his career and second so far this season.

Maher hit a 62-yarder last week in Dallas' loss to the New York Jets. That kick tied him with Sebastian Janikowski and Greg Zuerlein for having two career field goals of 60 or more.

Now Brett stands alone in that category. Last night's kick also was just one yard shy of Matt Prater's record for the NFL's longest field goal; Maher hit from 64 yards in 2013.

If Brett Maher ever gets a chance to kick in Denver, he may have a great shot at breaking Prater's record as well. According to NBC's data from last night, Maher's kick would have been good from 66 yards out.

It was a good night overall for the Cowboys kicker. Maher had two other makes from 26 and 29 yards.

Despite his heroics at times, Brett Maher has been one of the least accurate kickers in the NFL the last two years. Even after last night Brett is hitting just 71.4% of his field goals so far in 2019; that ties him for 25th in the league.

The most puzzling aspect of all with Maher is how much he struggles with shorter range kicks. You almost have more confidence in him kicking from 60 yards out than attempting an extra point.

Few kickers could survive that kind of performance and uncertainty, but few can do what Maher can with his long range ability. It's a risk/reward situation that the Cowboys are continuing to work with.

For today, at least, Maher and his team are basking in the glory of a great game. Let's hope both can keep up the positive momentum.

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Game Notes

Cowboys Defense Dominates in Crucial Win vs Eagles

Matthew Lenix



Cowboys Defense Dominates in Crucial Win vs Eagles

Coming into yesterday's battle for NFC East supremacy against the Philadelphia Eagles the Dallas Cowboys defense was looking to regain some swagger. The Green Bay Packers were led by Aaron Jones who had a career day with 182 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns two weeks ago in a 34-24 beatdown of the Cowboys. Last week at Metlife Stadium, the New York Jets got a career day themselves from their former third overall pick in Sam Darnold who threw for 338 yards and two touchdowns in his return from Mononucleosis that kept him out since Week one. The Cowboys were handed their third consecutive loss 24-22 and their season was headed down the drain.

It would be paramount for the Cowboys defensive unit to set a tone and they didn't waste any time doing so. The Eagle's first possession would only last five plays as Jaylon Smith forced a fumble by Tight End Dallas Goedert that was recovered by Maliek Collins. Just two plays into their second drive, Carson Wentz was strip-sacked by All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence inside the Eagles own 15 which was recovered by Antwaun Woods. Both turnovers led to scores for the Cowboys as they took an early 14-0 lead in the games first six minutes.

After the Eagles scored on a seven-play 87-yard drive with a little over four minutes to go in the first quarter they would only run 12 plays the rest of the first half, and the Cowboys went into the locker room with a commanding 27-7 lead.

The second half would be a continuation of the first 30 minutes of play. After an exchange of field goals in the third quarter, the Eagles were simply out of their misery early in the fourth. Wentz was intercepted by Safety Xavier Woods and he committed his second fumble of the game on the very next drive. In the end, the Cowboys whipped the Eagles from start to finish 37-10 and claimed outright first place in the NFC East.

There were several encouraging signs defensively for the Cowboys vs the Eagles. Maliek Collins matched his season total with five tackles and also recovered a fumble. Both starting defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn each had a sack showing exactly why the Cowboys put this combo together, to terrorize quarterbacks. Cornerback Jourdan Lewis had four tackles and a sack, a great follow up to his four tackle performance with an interception a week earlier, further making his case to be the top guy at nickel corner in this defense. The old veteran Sean Lee didn't go unnoticed either as his seven tackles were tied for of the team lead. He got more snaps due to Leighton Vander Esch's early exit with a neck injury.

You expect an offense like the Eagles to make plays and score points eventually, but the Cowboys defense wasn't having any of it in this contest. In addition to giving up under 300 yards of total offense, they only allowed the Eagles to convert three third downs, go 0 for 2 in the red zone and forced four turnovers. That's a recipe for victory any Sunday.

Now, the Cowboys go into the bye week sitting on top the NFC East throne. This is the perfect time to get guys fully healthy with a clash against the New York Giants on the road awaiting them in two weeks. The Cowboys defense played with their backs to the wall and pulled out a big-time performance when they needed it the most. Consistency is what has kept them from looking like the top seven unit they were in 2018. Was this game the turning point? We shall see, but nonetheless, this showing by them was exactly what the doctor ordered.

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Player News

Cowboys Get Good News on Vander Esch, Quinn Injuries After Eagles Game

Jess Haynie



Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch off to a Fast Start 1

The Dallas Cowboys got a big win last night over the Philadelphia Eagles, but there was concern that they also suffered some big injuries. But good news; despite their leaving the game and not returning, both LB Leighton Vander Esch and DE Robert Quinn appear to have avoided any significant issues.

Vander Esch suffered a neck stinger in the second quarter and did not come back. It appears he was held out as a precautionary measure, and the Cowboys' 21-7 lead at that point may have contributed to the decision.

Jane Slater on Twitter

Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch just told me he's good. First neck stinger. Disputes "history" of neck issues reports. Told me he would have continued playing but "wasn't up to me

Quinn's rib injury also occurred before halftime and ended his night. The veteran picked up his obligatory sack before going out, and it sounds like he should be fine for Dallas' next game.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

From @GMFB: The #Cowboys got a few injury scares, but LB Leighton Vander Esch (neck) and LB Robert Quinn (rib) are expected to be OK.

These defensive standouts join a host of Cowboys starters who are going to benefit greatly from the team's bye week.

Dallas went into the game with injury concerns to WRs Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb, OTs Tyron Smith and La'el Collins, and CBs Byron Jones and Anthony Brown. Of those, Brown was the only one who did not play last night.

Still, all of these players need a week to rest and be ready for the long haul of the regular season.

The Cowboys will get back to work in Week 9 with a road trip to New York, facing the Giants on Monday Night Football.

Thankfully, it looks like Leighton Vander Esch and Robert Quinn will both be ready to play in two weeks.

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