Cowboys defense continues to shine in loss to Texans

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The Landry Hat 22 August, 2021 - 02:54pm 10 views

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Linebacker Micah Parsons #11 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Despite dropping to 0-3 in preseason play the Dallas Cowboys have shown much promise on the defensive side of the ball. With this being the “dress rehearsal” game for most of the starters, we saw the first team defense play the entire first half.

But, with quarterback Dak Prescott sitting out again we did not get as good of a look at the “ones” on offense. Many new faces stood out on both sides of the ball and there are a few key moments/players that should be highlighted.

The second to last preseason game is one where many players make or break their spot on the roster. As time ticks down on training camp, the Cowboys coaches and front office have some very tough decisions pending.

Without further ado, here are the three top takeaways from the preseason loss.

The Cowboys’ backup quarterbacks have been given plenty of opportunities this offseason due to the shoulder injury of Dak Prescott. Garrett Gilbert and Cooper Rush seemed to be the most likely options to win the backup job at the start of camp.

But, with the recent play, I believe the QB2 job should go to Cooper Rush. Rush stepped in against the Texans and immediately took control of the offense. Rush completed 10 of 12 passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 139.9.

Gilbert started the game but struggled to get in any rhythm with the rest of the first-team offense. Many believed he was the favorite in the clubhouse to be Dak’s backup but after these last two preseason games, I am not so sure.

The fourth and final preseason game will be the last test for both Gilbert and Rush to see who claims the backup QB job.

For the first time in a while, the Cowboys’ defense appears to be playing together. There were points last season where it seemed like the players did not know what they were supposed to be doing.

But now with new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn calling the shots, the defense looks refined. I realize this is preseason but the defense forced the Texans into going 0-10 on third downs in the game.

Obviously, the addition of players like Micah Parsons, Keanu Neal, and a full offseason of Randy Gregory will help the defense. But, the scheme change and aggressiveness on defense really stood out against Houston.

They say defense wins championships, and the Cowboys will need their defense to keep up the good play if they want to be contenders this season.

Heading into the 2021 draft is was evident the Cowboys needed to address the defense, and that is exactly what they did. Through three preseason games, the Cowboys look like they hit big on their 2021 draft class.

First-round pick Micah Parsons looks fantastic thus far. According to Pro Football Focus, Parsons has a grade of 91.0 in the preseason, ranking him third amongst all rookie defenders.

His speed and range are evident, also he is lining up in multiple spots to help give him the best chance to make an impact. There was even a play where he split a double team and chased down Texans QB Tyrod Taylor,

— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) August 22, 2021

Then there are third-round picks, Osa Odighizuwa and Nahshon Wright, who have stepped up and wowed some people in training camp and preseason. Osa has been great these past two games, having to play extra snaps due to the injury of Neville Gallimore.

Wright was a surprise pick on draft day but has played very well as a boundary corner for Dallas. He uses his 6-foot-4 frame to make it very difficult for quarterbacks to make throws on the sideline. Also, that unique length for a corner makes it harder on some wide receivers to create separation.

I believe Wright has outperformed second-round pick Kelvin Joseph thus far, but Joseph still has the potential to be a very good player. As long as these rookies can continue to develop they should be big factors in the Cowboys’ success this season.

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Four Cowboys players whose stock went up in the Texans game

Blogging The Boys 23 August, 2021 - 07:20am

These three Cowboys players certainly helped themselves in the dress rehearsal.

On that front, here are four players who helped their own cause against the Texans in the dress rehearsal.

Perhaps no player came out of the game with a bigger boost than backup quarterback Cooper Rush. There is a real competition going on at backup quarterback with Garrett Gilbert slipping and Rush ascending. Watching Gilbert stand there paralyzed trying to decide between running the ball into wide open space, or throwing to a clearing Cowboys receiver over the middle was agonizing. He eventually did neither and was strip-sacked, creating a short field for the Texans offense.

The Cowboys brought Cooper Rush in a little earlier than we’re used to seeing him; they probably wanted to give him a little runtime with the ones. Rush started to deliver right away. He pushed the ball downfield in an attempt to hit Amari Cooper and picked up a defensive pass interference penalty. He hit Blake Jarwin down the seam and got his first score on a screen pass to Tony Pollard.

Rush ended the game hitting 10 of 12 passes for 97 yards, two touchdowns and a 139.9 rating. Maybe most importantly he didn’t turn the ball over. The Cowboys may still go out and get competition for the backup QB job once some vets get cut in the next couple of weeks, but on this night Rush made the QB2 job a true competition.

When focusing on receivers for the Cowboys, we tend to go one through four and then kind of say that Noah Brown can block and play special teams. Maybe Brown has a little more to his game. Brown led the Cowboys receivers with three catches for 35 yards with a long of 19. One of those catches came with a hefty degree of difficulty. Two of the catches came on Cooper Rush’s long touchdown drive toward the end of the first half.

It’s not likely that Brown is going to get a lot of run as a receiver in the regular season. His value will still be in his blocking and his special teams ability. But if there was any question as to who was WR5 (and there shouldn’t have been), Brown cleared that up on a productive night.

If you look in the stats book you would say this guy didn’t do anything. He was only credited with one tackle on the night and really doesn’t stand out in the stats. But he was inserted into the lineup for a hurt Neville Gallimore and played much of the first half. In that time the Cowboys run defense was solid and Odighizuwa looked like he belonged. That was really what the Cowboys wanted to see out of their third-round draft pick. He looks like he’ll be a solid rotation piece for the Cowboys.

Things seem be finally lining up for Anae. After last year’s wasted season where he basically saw no playing time, he is starting to crack the rotation a bit in 2021. With DeMarcus Lawrence and Tarell Basham sitting this game out, Anae saw a lot of time with the top defense in the first half. He didn’t waste it and put up three tackles including a tackle for loss. What was impressive was the play he made in the run game. Primarily known for his pass rush ability, Anae set the edge on a run play, took on the block, then shed it to grab the runner for a loss. It’s exactly the type of play that will help the defensive coaches trust him to play in the rotation.

He is still in a fight for a roster spot, but he certainly helped his own cause on Saturday night.

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