In a game where the Jacksonville Jaguars played starters into the second quarter, the Dallas Cowboys fell 34-14 in the preseason finale. While the Cowboys played only backups and were overmatched for the early part of the game, there were some positives. Below are our takeaways from this afternoon’s game.
With Dallas resting all starters, the backups had the task of going up against the Jags starters and went about as you expected. Rookie Trevor Lawrence led them to their first touchdowns of the preseason (for the starting offense) with little resistance. Defensively the Jags dominated an overmatched Cowboys offensive line getting to quarterback Cooper Rush on almost every pass attempt. The result was a lot of hits and just 16 passing yards in the quarter. While it was expected, it instills little confidence in the backups to fill in as an injury replacement.
Secondary Struggles in Finale
Rookie cornerbacks Kelvin Joseph and Nashon Wright struggled early, with Joesph allowing a touchdown before leaving with an injury. Wright then picked up where Joesph left off, allowing a 45-yard catch that led to a field goal. Rounding out the lackluster performance, fourth-year cornerback Deante Burton got beat for a touchdown and several more passes. The lone bright spot rookie safety Israel Mukuamu negated his interception with several penalties. With Joseph, who suffered a groin injury, and Wright expected to see snaps this season, improvement is needed heading into week one.
Quarterback Battle Still Unsettled
As noted, Rush struggled behind a makeshift offensive line mustering up just 16 yards. While the popular opinion is that he has the lead on the backup quarterback spot, Garrett Gilbert came in and led a nice 80-yard touchdown drive capped off by an 18-yard scoring strike. He also executed a two-minute drill before the end of the first half resulting in a missed field goal. Ben DiNucci got all the second-half reps trying to overcome his three-interception game last week against the Texans. He nearly picked up where he left off by throwing a near interception on his third pass attempt. He followed that up with an underthrow of wide-open receiver Reggie Davis who had a walk-in touchdown, and on the ensuing fourth down nearly threw another interception. He did rebound throwing a late touchdown pass but finishes the preseason with two touchdowns to four interceptions and it might be too little too late.
Despite the struggles, there were a few players who made the most of the final preseason game. Rookie linebacker Jabril Cox once again led the team in tackles flying all over the field. He finished as the team-leading tackler through the preseason. Fellow linebacker Luke Gifford made a case to make the roster for a third straight year filling gaps and making tackles. Second-year defensive end Ron’Dell Carter rounded out the defense by providing constant pressure from all angles and had a key role in Mukuamu’s interception. Finally, seventh-round pick Matt Farniok got the start at center and was the only linemen to hold his own against the Jags starters. At a position where there are question marks behind starter Tyler Biadasz, along with the ability to play guard, Farniok might have earned himself a roster spot.