Jason Garrett and the Cowboys have one more dress rehearsal. Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
Sunday night’s game in Dallas was supposed to be a regular season run-through between the Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals. I am sure most fans were excited to sit back and get a good look at how the Cowboys offense is going to look this upcoming season. The issue with that was Head Coach Jason Garrett decided to take caution and sit his stars.
With all of the offensive line injuries, only two of the projected five starters (La’el Collins and rookie Connor Williams) took the field. Pro Bowlers Zach Martin (Injured knee), Travis Frederick (Gullian-Barre Syndrome), and Tyron Smith (Rest) did not play. This is the reason offensive stars quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott stayed on the bench. This left the door open for backup QB Cooper Rush to show his talent, and it did not go well. He threw 11 of 17 passes for 93 yards and two interceptions. The most noteworthy was a high floater towards the sideline on an out pattern to Tavon Austin that got picked off by Patrick Peterson who took it all the way back for a 30-yard touchdown.
When it was all over the Cowboys had committed eight turnovers (three INTS, three fumbles lost, and two lost muffed punts). It is extremely hard to win games in the NFL when only turning the ball over twice, and it gets exponentially harder with every one after that.
The lone bright spot for the Cowboys was the defense. Second year defensive end Randy Gregory was explosive and looked unblockable against the Cardinals starting offensive line. On the third play he used a swim move and sacked starting QB Sam Bradford for a 5-yard loss. As a whole, the defense only gave up 105 yards in the first half despite all the turnovers and two defense/special teams touchdowns.
One thing is for sure, Garrett and his team better hope that Prescott doesn’t get hurt because they might be demoted down to a four-win team or less if they have to play Rush or Mike White as their starting QBs.
3 Players to Watch
Mike White, Cowboys thirdrd string quarterback: This 6’5” rookie out of Western Kentucky is likely to play the majority of the next game and I think his game visually looks better. If he can catch up with the speed of the game, he could become QB 2 season’s end.
Justin March-Lillard (5’11” 228 lbs.): Is a linebacker in his 4th season out of Akron who is fighting for a spot on the team. Even without being the prototypical size for the position, he is always in the right position and has the ability to bring some pop.
Jourdan Lewis (5’10” 2017 third-round draft pick): Another defensive secondary player fighting for a spot. He had 4 tackles Sunday night and showed great recognition along with his good athletic ability in coverage.
Thursday night is the preseason finale. The Cowboys (0-3) will be on the road taking on the Houston Texans (2-1) at NRG Stadium, which they will do again in the regular season Oct. 7. Not much will be expected out of this game. Both teams will be playing a lot of players who won’t be on the final 53-man rosters as they give their starters an extra week of rest before the real games begin.
For you gamblers out there, if you have to take a side, I would take the Texans -4 after having seen what the Cowboys look like without Dak and Zeke. I will be staying away from this one.
As the Astros prepare to play their first game of spring training against the Nationals this Saturday, we're starting to see reports about how the players approached the offseason, and what tweaks they made to improve in the 2024 season.
Cristian Javier is a player Astros fans are hoping bounces back this year, as his ERA jumped from 2.54 in 2022 to 4.56 in 2023. Workload was thought to be one of the main factors causing his regression, he dealt with a dead arm last season and threw more innings than ever before (162).
Another explanation could be the pitch clock. This was another new element all pitchers had to deal with last year, and that also likely played a role in his struggles.
But according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome, Javier believes he was carrying some extra weight last season. Add that to some mechanical issues he was experiencing, and his struggles in 2023 make a lot more sense. And to be fair, he wouldn't be the first person to get a little fat and happy after winning a World Series.
Cristian Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. He acknowledged that some of his struggles last year could be attributed to some extra weight he was carrying around in addition to the already-documented mechanical flaws he had.
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) February 22, 2024
In an effort to get back on track in 2024, Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. With the pitch clock not going anywhere, pitchers need to be in better cardiac shape than ever before.
Hopefully this modification helps Javier return to form and put up jaw-dropping numbers like he did in 2022. This rotation needs Javier to be the dominate pitcher we all know he's capable of being. With Justin Verlander behind schedule and Framber Valdez trying to bounce back from his own down year, Houston will depend on Javier like never before.
The Astros are certainly counting on it after giving him a 5-year, $64 million contract last season. Javier will definitely be a player to watch this spring.