For Second Straight Season, Cowboys Use Preseason To Create Stars
You’ve heard it all before…ya know, about how the NFL Preseason is a waste of time. How it’s endangering the welfare of players, and how potential starters shouldn’t risk injury for nothing. You’ll hear a lot of this, both from arm-chair quarterbacks and the fellas who get paid to have an opinion.
You may even hear rumblings about how the league should extend the regular season, trim the preseason to nothing, and make more money for all parties involved.
What they don’t tell you is that teams scrimmage against one another before the preseason games — at full contact. They don’t complain about those games, hits, and cuts, because after all, if the team isn’t wearing their full uniform it doesn’t really count — to them.
The whole thought process is a bit irrational. If Bill Belichick is as smart as everyone says he is, and these games are as meaningless as everyone says they are, then why does he trot out his starters for a few series each game like the rest of the league?
Let’s judge this on the Patriots’ curve, and relax with the anti-preseason chatter.
After all, the preseason is where stars are made. The first time you’re able to see your team’s №1 draft pick, and the only time you’ll be able to see most undrafted free agents.
Each year, hundreds of NFL hopefuls get a shot during these four ‘meaningless’ games. Most times, it will be the only chance for a guy to wear an NFL uniform — the Eric Crouch’s of the world. But sometimes, these tiny-school and too-small players explode, catapulting them to NFL contracts and Sunday glory.
Take Tony Romo for example: small college, undrafted, and undersized. He got an opportunity from Bill Parcells in the preseason and ran with it. Can you imagine life without Romo? The story of the NFL literally could not be told without him. Had the preseason been demolished, he would of been a golf pro instead of an All-Pro.
The same could be said for Dak Prescott in 2016…
This year, the Dallas Cowboys were at it again.
And while a lot of the credit needs to go to the franchise’s scouting department and front office, the ‘Boys continue to use the preseason as a springboard for creating stars.
Going into the 2017 season, lefty Kellen Moore was the proposed back-up to the aforementioned Dak Prescott. To all those who know Moore, underwhelming is an understatement. He’s not carrying the team if Dak gets hurt, definitely more filler than killer.
I’m pretty sure Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett knew this. So just as you’d expect, they gave a few other quarterbacks the opportunity to supplant the Boise State product.
Now, with four preseason games in the book, Lefty has been knocked off his perch; not by a third-round pick or longtime veteran, but by an undrafted free agent from Central Michigan.
Cooper Rush got his chance to shine in the preseason, and shine he did. He looked like ol’ №9 back there, slingin’ yang like a fifth-year pro. When all the dust settled, his numbers were off the charts, it was like Dak Prescott’s 2016 preseason all over again.
For starters, his six touchdown passes are impressive. However, the best part of the Cooper Rush Show was the fact that he didn’t throw any interceptions and took only one sack. Plus, he showed that he can move around when needed, highlighted by a few scrambles that went for first downs.
As it stands now, Jerry Jones plans on keeping three quarterbacks on the roster, something he’s not known to do. It’s not ironclad, yet, but Rush is getting the №2 snaps in practice and I believe he will be second on the depth chart come Week 1.
But wait, there’s more.
How about Rico Gathers?
He may start the season on IR with a concussion, but longterm, Gathers could be the guy to replace Jason Witten.
A former Baylor basketball player, Gathers was drafted in the 6th-round of the 2016 NFL Draft. However, because he hadn’t played football in years, he needed to round out his game before reaching the field. Last season, he spent most of the year on the practice squad and signed a reserve/future contract in January of 2017.
Then, just like Cooper Rush, Tony Romo, and Dak Prescott, Gathers used the preseason to announce his presence. In his first two games before going down with the concussion, he caught seven balls for 100-plus yards and two touchdowns — one from Cooper Rush.
I’m not sure how long Rico Gathers will be out of action…but know this, when he returns, he’s going to play…and he can thank the preseason for that.