THE COWBOYS REPORT

Cowboys look to clean up turnovers as preseason comes to an end

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

Coming up

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.




 

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RAVENS 33, TEXANS 16

5 observations from the Ravens win over the Texans

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Let's be honest; the Texans were not going to beat the Ravens. Baltimore has better players, a better quarterback and a better coaching staff. (And oh, a better kicker). All of that was on display in the Ravens' 33-16 win.

The Ravens move to 2-0, while the Texans dropped to 0-2 after facing the AFC's two best teams.

The Texans will still likely contend for a playoff spot, but nothing the last two weeks indicates they are anywhere near contending in the AFC. A look at five things from the Ravens win:

1) Oh, Brien...It did not take long for Bill O'Brien's goofy coaching to rear its ugly head. Down 3-0 at their own 34 as the first quarter was running out, O'Brien chose to go for it on fourth and one. The play was predictably blown up, the Ravens quickly scored to make it 10-0, and the Texans were instantly in a hole against a superior opponent. You can't give points away against the Ravens. They might have scored anyway with a punt, but there was no stopping them with a short field.

2) Some positives on defense. Despite the score, The Texans looked much better on that side of the ball against an explosive offense. J.J. Watt had two sacks, the team had four total, and they kept Lamar Jackson from destroying them. Seven of the points were scored by the Ravens defense, and O'Brien's gaffe led to seven more. The Ravens wore them down in the fourth quarter, but they played well enough until then to keep the team in the game had the offense been better. They did not force any turnovers, however, and that was one of the differences in the game. They were also blown off the ball on a fourth and one in the fourth quarter that led to the Ravens' 30th points and could not stop the run at all in the fourth quarter. But that's what the Ravens do with a lead, and the Texans offense gave them no breaks by being unable to stay on the field.

3) The difference between real contenders...The Ravens were just so much more skilled on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they focused on taking away the run. David Johnson averaged 3.1 yards per carry. Will Fuller had as many catches as you did. The Ravens forced two turnovers on just really good football plays. The Texans don't make plays like that. They might against lesser teams, but if your goal is to compete with the best, it's just not good enough.

4) Deshaun Watson needs to be better. His numbers looked so so on the surface (25 of 36, 275 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception). He was sacked four times and added 17 rushing yards on five carries. He did not make plays late when they needed one here or there to maybe get back in the game. With his big contract, it's time for Watson to stop being close to elite and take the next step. His interception was more of being fooled by Marcus Peters than throwing a bad ball, but the Texans were just 3 of 9 on third downs. Throw in the ill-advised fourth down play, and they were just 3 of 10 extending drives. Give the Ravens a lot of credit, but again, to compete with the best, you have to be better than that.

5) Now what? The Texans travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, who have not been impressive in their two wins. Still, it's hard to see Houston as anything but serious underdogs. They are last in the AFC South, and have a lot of work to do. The defense showed some promise at times, but will have to continue to improve. The offense has a long way to go. They match up better with the Steelers than they do the Ravens and Chiefs, but that does not mean they can win. If you were hoping they would give you some indication they can be more than just also-rans, they failed to do that on any level against either the Chiefs or Ravens.

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