We take a look at three Dallas Cowboys observations looking back at this past preseason and three more looking forward into 2016.
3 Observations looking back
The Obvious: Preseason or not, high school ball, touch football at the family barbecue it really wouldn’t matter; the throws that Dak Prescott is making are quite impressive. He has been able to throw on the move, to the sideline, across the middle, underneath and now deep. Really deep. How may rookie quarterbacks can make that 58 yard throw to Brice Butler? Not many. How many veterans in the NFL can make that 58 yard throw to Brice Butler? Not many.
Look, let’s not anoint the kid just yet but to this point he has looked every bit like the Romo predecessor fans have been asking for the last few seasons. Jerry Jones couldn’t have dreamed of a better two preseason games for his rookie quarterback.
The surprising: A young guy that really stood out during the game was cornerback Josh Thomas. It seemed like he was in on a lot of tackles, breaking up a lot of passes, and even came as a blitzer of the edge with some success. All of these cornerbacks have been playing well all camp and the starters certainly looked good during their action but Thomas was definitely making his case for a roster spot.
The former University of Buffalo prospect is a guy you can root for after being drafted by Dallas, cut by the team, and now back and playing very well.
The Cowboys are going to have a lot of tough cuts when the time comes and it will be interesting how the defensive back group shakes out. Until then keep your eye on Thomas as he figures to get a lot of playing time as the preseason dwindles down.
The undeniable: Darius Jackson needs to make this team. The task is going to be increasingly difficult with the numbers at the running back position but this rookie out of Eastern Michigan can play. During these two preseason games he has shown quick feet in the hole, explosive speed, and the ability to finish runs by lowering his shoulder. The team knew what they were doing when they were drafting him into a crowded backfield and to this point they look like they made a smart move.
All the physical traits are undeniable and now his game is starting to show up on the field. Like Josh Thomas he should have ample opportunities in these final preseason games and he has shown the ability to make plays.
What has been most impressive about him thus far has been his ability to create running room with the second and third offensive line. Multiple times he has had defenders on him behind the line of scrimmage yet he has been able to turn those plays into positive gains. There has been a very small sample size so far; but like with Dak, he is showing you things that are undeniable positives to work with going forward.
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3 Observations looking forward
The uncertainty: These defensive ends haven’t shown much promise to this point. That’s not to say that they are going to be terrible and we still haven’t gotten a glimpse at Benson Mayowa in preseason action but it could be another down year from the edge guys.
Where this defensive line may surprise people is rushing from the middle. These defensive tackles have a little bit of everything from power to speed to rush moves. As long as everyone can stay healthy on the interior they are going to have a talented and stacked group of depth to play with.
Hopefully the depth and talent at defensive tackle will allow these edge rusher more opportunities on the outside but it would be nice to see a guy come out and make a statement in one of these preseason games. Maybe that guy is Mayowa? Right now it looks like a lot of uncertainty from the defensive ends and it would be nice if someone can make a claim on one of these starting spots in the final two preseason games.
The Top Pick: If all things go according to plan Cowboys fans should get their first look at top pick Ezekiel Elliott in game action next week. And not a minute two soon. Alfred Morris has looked every bit like a starting tail back who can carry the load so far not only in these games but in camp as well. It will be important for Elliott to come in and make a positive impact on the game and on his teammates and coaches the way that Morris has.
Elliott will obviously be the featured guy for years to come but Alfred is starting to steal a little bit of his shine at the position so it will be good to see Elliott on the field and hopeful seeing him produce in the big way everyone thinks he can.
Speaking of tough cuts, how about this running back group? Geesh.
The Offense: This offensive group really has the chance to duplicate what they were able to do in 2014 and they may have better talent to work with. Everyone knows about Ezekiel Elliott and what he brings to the table but what about some of these other skill position guys. A faster Dwayne Harris with Lucky Whitehead, a big talented deep threat in Brice Butler, an offensive line that is a year more mature, and a Tony Romo with something to prove?
I’ll take that group against yours any day of the week.
Credit to the front office for putting this group of guys together because they have the potential to be really, really good.
And let’s not forget how good Dez Bryant has looked in his limited action. Both of his touchdown catches have been classic Dez-like things of beauty. He looks more than ready to go for the season opener.
Fans may want to brush up on their game tape from 2014 because they could be in for a lot of the same… only perhaps better.