The Dallas Cowboys have started 0-2 in the preseason, but it's just preseason and nobody really cares about winning, right? More important is how individual players are performing and which of these players are presenting themselves as potential contributors for the 2021 season. Some players are playing well, others - not so much. Today, we'll examine four things we learned after rewatching the game film against the Arizona Cardinals.
The Cowboys may have found their backup QB
Garrett Gilbert only completed 7/16 passes and didn't throw a touchdown, but what he showed us on the field has to make us feel better about the team's backup quarterback situation. He did a good job going through his progressions, exhibited nice footwork, and made some strong throws. It didn't help that his teammates made it harder for him with some bad snaps and uncontested drops, but that never rattled Gilbert.
Good fundamentals by the edge rushers
The Cowboys' defense ends were almost non-existent in the first preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. On Friday night against the Cardinals, that was a different story. Multiple edge rushers got in on the fun as Dorance Armstrong, Ron'Dell Carter, and Bradlee Anae were constantly in the quarterback's face. It was nice to see this group play well, and it was especially nice to see them put together some nice pass-rushing moves to help them succeed.
The most impressive defensive end was fourth-year player Dorance Armstrong. The 24-year old from Kansas has been a rotational player in each of his first three seasons in the league and has played in all but two games. He hasn't seen much action as the Cowboys always have more seasoned veterans ahead of him on the depth chart. This year, he'll again be used in a reserve role as veterans DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory hold down the starting jobs; however, Armstrong is making a push to be the team's no. 3 edge rusher.
Dorance took full advantage of his long arms to keep his blocker from engaging, causing his opponent to play off balance most of the night. What really stood out about Armstrong's play was his awareness of what was going on. He reacted quickly and showed great hustle making a lot of noise on Friday night.
Another player who flashed some good play was last year's fifth-round pick Bradlee Anae. With no preseason and just six total regular season defensive snaps, we haven't had much of an opportunity to see him in action. Until Friday night.
Anae did get flagged for a roughing the passer penalty, but overall his tape looked good. The young defensive end showed a lot of hustle and kept coming after the quarterback.
Defensive tackle position is still shaky
The defense suffered a huge blow when starting 3-tech defensive tackle Neville Gallimore left the game with an elbow injury. While it's unclear just how bad it is, head coach Mike McCarthy has already stated that he'd put Gallimore's injury in the "significant" category. Well, that's not good.
The Cowboys' defensive tackle position group already brings about plenty of concerns. There are several young prospects, but nobody has stood out and the team continues to struggle to stop the run. The Cardinals put up 168 rushing yards against Dallas on Friday as Arizona was able to seal off the Cowboys' defenders for some nice runs.
If there was a bright spot, it was the play of the rookies. Osa Odighizuwa had a nice game as he led the team with a 21.9% pass-rushing win rate. And the team's biggest player came up big a few times as he looked good on tape.
The Wright place at the Wright time
Speaking of rookies that played well, third-round pick Nahshon Wright looked good in coverage. He was challenged on deep balls twice but would have none of it. The former Oregon State corner was able to move well and get his body in position to make a play on the ball. He didn't come up with any picks, but he had a better shot at catching the ball than the receiver he was covering, and that's always a good thing.
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