2016 NFL Preseason: Who’s Hot & Who’s Not?

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Following the drudgery of a long, mundane off-season, the 2016 NFL preseason is finally under way. Some folks say it doesn’t count, but for these young kids, week two gave them another opportunity to prove they belong.

2016 NFL preseason: shaneil jenkins

Week one of the 2016 NFL preseason presented hundreds of kids from all walks of life with the opportunity to live out their life-long dreams. The opportunity to play on the biggest stage in the world.

Week two gave some players a chance to continue impressing, and others a chance to redeem themselves following a rocky start. Last week the Cowboys got off to a very rocky start in the 2016 NFL preseason, but we are proud to announce several made our list this week.

Many of these kids have to prove they deserve a spot on an NFL roster. The rest are in a melee to at least find a spot on the practice squad.

The sad reality of it is, a lot of these kids will never set foot on the grid iron again. To the folks who say preseason football doesn’t count: look at it through their eyes. The 2016 NFL preseason gives these kids four weeks to prove they belong among the best in the world. It matters. A lot.

Who’s Hot?

2016 nfl preseason: alfred morrisAl Beam: Alfred Morris has been outstanding through the first two weeks of the 2016 NFL preseason. To the folks who said  he was a bad signing: I hope you like the taste of crow.

The national media spoke loud and often about his decline in production while in Washington.  Before inserting their foot in their respective mouths, they should have taken the time to research why.

Jay Gruden runs a different style of offense. His approach is geared more toward the passing attack. He uses a two back system as well.

This is indicative to the fact Kurt Cousins is among the Redskins single season passing leaders. Morris’ carries decreased from 335 in 2012 to 202 in 2015. Of course there would be a decline in production. As I stated in my previous article, Alfred Morris Adds Juice to Cowboys Offense:

“Saying the Cowboys should name an unproven rookie as the starter before he ever suits up in the NFL, and the veteran a backup, is one of the most ridiculous things I ever heard.”

Conclusion:

Despite getting only three carries week one of the 2016 NFL preseason, Morris is among the top 10 running backs in the NFL thus far. He amassed 85 yards on 13 carries (6.5 YPC), 1 reception for 15 yards and a TD week 2. It should have been 2 TDs, but one was called back on a penalty. If you figure in all of the yards he obtained that were negated by foolish penalties, he would be among the top 3.

Meanwhile, Ezekiel Elliott has been unable to practice due to a hamstring issue and has spent most of his time rehabbing on the sidelines. He is missing valuable reps in practice and in these preseason games. Morris has carried most of the load and is the definition of durability. He has never missed a start since he entered the league in 2012. If the Cowboys staff starts Elliott over Morris, you will see one pissed off Cowboys fan.

Morris has exhibited outstanding vision, cuts, and burst to hit the hole. He runs with power and his most impressive trait is his ability to finish. Despite not being considered a three down back, he has shown he can be effective as a blocker and a receiver out of the backfield. Therefore, he is my top choice for who’s hot week two.

Mike Hull: Hull was a member of the YDCFF 2015 “The Guys No One Is Talking About” series. The former Penn State standout has been impressive thus far in the 2016 NFL preseason. He is currently tied for second in the NFL with 13 tackles and a forced fumble. He has shown good instincts, physicality and excellent tackling ability. The Dolphins got a bargain in the 6th round. Keep an eye on this kid. I would be hard-pressed to believe he wont earn a roster spot in 2016.

Cas:

2016 nfl preseason: dak prescottLet me start off by saying I have been pretty critical of Dak Prescott. Big Harb told me I can be loyal to Kellen Moore without hating Dak. Let me make one thing clear to anyone who may have the same misconception. I do not hate Dak Prescott. What I do hate is media hype.

Following week two of the 2016 NFL preseason, Prescott is currently second behind the Patriots Jimmy Garoppolo in passing yards and is tied with Teddy Bridgewater for the highest passer rating (158.3).  But, he has had more reps with starters than any of the other backups. I have seen improvement in his footwork and pocket awareness. I don’t have a problem with his accuracy either. He has been impressive making plays with his legs.

What I do have a problem with is the fact many of the passes have been designed plays and he went off the first read. He has had plenty of time in the pocket to allow these plays to develop. This is “Preseason”. With Moore being injured, he was thrust in to the #2 role and Jameill Showers hasn’t been given a fair chance to compete. I refuse to anoint Dak when Showers hasn’t been given the same opportunity to showcase his abilities with the ones.

This off-season would have been Moore’s first chance to receive a sufficient amount of reps in camp to develop some chemistry with the Cowboys receivers. He was robbed of fair competition by injury.

My point is, until I see this translate in to real games when teams are game planning for him, it is nothing more than pitch and catch sessions against vanilla protections in preseason. He has a long way to go in terms of understanding NFL protections, blitz packages and getting through all five reads in two seconds or less.

There were two situations vs Miami when the first read wasn’t there and he made a bad decision under pressure. One was an interception that was nullified by a roughing call, the other was a pick dropped by the defender.That padded his perfect passer rating.

In real games there will be a lot more situations where the designed play is taken away and there are disguised blitzes and protections he never saw before. Until I see him perform under those conditions, I am not going to jump on the bandwagon. He has a long way to go before he has Kellen Moore’s understanding of the game and read react skills. All of that being said, he is still my top choice for who’s hot week 2.

Who’s Not?

Cas:

Zach Mettenberger: Mettenberger was one of many quarterbacks members of the media and fans alike wanted to bring in to replace Kellen Moore. First he was cut by the Titans in favor of Alex Tanney following a dreadful 2015 campaign when he started in place of the injured Marcus Mariota. Mettenberger saw action in 7 games in 2015, starting 4 of them. He completed 101 passes for 935 yards, 4 TDs, 7 interceptions and fumbled the rock 4 times: resulting in a passer rating of 66.7.

His debut in San Diego was so poor, he never saw the field week 2 of the 2016 NFL preseason. He completed 2 of 8 passes (25%), for 22 yards, zero TDs, 1 interception and 1 fumble: resulting in a passer rating of ZERO!

Al Beam:

Brock Osweiler: Osweiler received a four-year, $72 million contract that will pay him $37 million in the first two years. That contract is fully guaranteed for practical purposes.

According to contract details obtained by USA TODAY Sports, Osweiler will make $21 million in 2016 in the form of a $12 million signing bonus, a $5 million roster bonus  and a $4 million guaranteed base salary. His $16 million base salary in 2017 is also fully guaranteed. That is a whole lot of cash for a quarterback with only 7 NFL starts. It was a pure act of desperation by the Houston Texans.

John Elway knew what he had in Osweiler and opted to let him walk. The Broncos traded up to draft Paxton Lynch in the 2nd round. Thus far, Osweiler has completed 16 of 26 passes (61.5%) for 151 yards (5.8 YPR) for 1 TD, 1 interception and 1 fumble: resulting in a passer rating of 74.4. Hardly what you would expect from a QB earning $21 million in 2016. If he doesn’t improve significantly in the regular season, someones job should be on the line.

Following week two of the 2016 NFL preseason, he is not only being out performed by Paxton Lynch, but 6 other rookies.

Who’s Hot Honorable Mentions:

Alex Tanney, QB-Titans: Tanney has completed 16 of 27 passes (66.7%) for 170 yards, 1 TD and zero interceptions for a passer rating of 96.2 throwing to twos and threes.

Matt Judon, DE- Ravens: Judon has amassed 9 tackles, 2 sacks and forced 1 fumble.

Shaneil Jenkins, DE/DT- Cowboys: Jenkins has amassed 6 tackles, 2 sacks and forced 1 fumble. This guy may prove to be the Cowboys dark horse along the defensive line.

Malcolm Brown, RB- Rams: Brown leads the NFL with 134 rushing yards and 1 TD. Brown has averaged 5.7 yards on 20 carries, He also has 3 receptions for 20 yards..

Robby Anderson, WR- Jets: Anderson leads the NFL with 7 receptions for 138 yards and 1 TD. He had 2 receptions over 20 yards and 2 for over 40 yards.

Following week two of the 2016 NFL preseason, we are proud to report that three Cowboys made our list this week. Last week there were none. Things are looking up.

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  • Gabriel Carrasco

    If I could find the article again, I would like to show how many passes and plays are from the shotgun from the last 5 or so years. Granted every QB still needs to learn how to play from under center, that’s for certain. But the numbers kind of disprove the conception of QB’s under center. Since 2012 the numbers are about 58% of QB’s snaps being from the shotgun and in 2014 that number went up to 68%. If I can find that article again, I will post it for you to read. Very interesting stuff.

    • BigDIndiana

      Don’t remember where I found it but Romo was 76% (2014 for him). Sheagles and San Diego were over 90%. And I think there was only 1 team out of the top 20 that was under 60%. That’s just pass plays.

      • Gabriel Carrasco

        Exactly that’s why I found that article fascinating since the mantra is a QB has to learn to play under center as it’s too important. Granted it’s still important but is overvalued when we look at the last 5 seasons for shotgun snaps.

        • Al

          It is imperative to be able to play under center when you have a good running game. It sets up the play action and helps keep defenses guessing. Many teams use the shotgun a lot to allow for weak OL play. It gives the QB a little extra time and a better view of the field. Another reason so many teams use the shotgun a lot is because so many colleges run a spread offense. It is hard to find QBs who can play well under center.

          • Gabriel Carrasco

            College ball is ruining pro ball. Just don’t like the air it out approach. Granted seems the team who still run the ball dominate the league. Unless you’re the Pats, but their a whole different kind of offensive juggernaut. They used dinky passes for their run game, which is basically a run game.

    • Al

      I can look it up.

  • Gabriel Carrasco

    If I could find the article again, I would like to show how many passes and plays are from the shotgun from the last 5 or so years. Granted every QB still needs to learn how to play from under center, that’s for certain. But the numbers kind of disprove the conception of QB’s under center. Since 2012 the numbers are about 58% of QB’s snaps being from the shotgun and in 2014 that number went up to 68%. If I can find that article again, I will post it for you to read. Very interesting stuff.

  • Gabriel Carrasco

    I called it on Morris. I begged Cowboys fans to see why he was a good addition. Jay Gruden is no Jon Gruden. He like you said runs more of a pass first offense, and uses multiple backs to run the football. And really to be a staple in his offense the RB also has to be able to catch passes which Morris isn’t at the level you would like. Not to mention he switched from more of a zone blocking scheme to a power one in which Morris had his best years behind the zone blocking scheme. Glad to see him doing well. If it were me I give Morris his reps with the starters in week 3 and force Zeke to earn his reps by working with the second unit. You don’t punish Morris and Jackson when they were the only true RB taking snaps in practice and in preseason and pass them over for a rookie who you envision to be the starter. But it’s Dallas and it’s Garrett so I am pretty sure they will gift wrap the starter reps to Zeke. Time to cut ties with McFadden and Dunbar. McFadden had a solid year last year, but can’t seem to stay healthy, and Dunbar while I like what he brings to the offense again can’t stay healthy.

    • BigDIndiana

      They may start Zeke just to get a look behind the 1s. It is just a glorified practice after all. I would start Morris week 1….he has earned it. Unless Zeke runs for 5 TDs LOL Going to be an interesting call if they are all healthy. If they keep 4 I would lean towards letting McFadden go too as he turns 29 this month. Jackson seems to catch OK and has been covering kicks and doing some returns. Haven’t noticed his protection but his running seems OK considering he is trying to run behind the same guys that aren’t blocking for Showers. Heck I would like to see him run behind the 1s with his 4.3ish speed.

      • Al

        It would be interesting to see him behind the starting OL.

    • Al

      All are very valid points. I have been a Morris supporter since he came out of college. I drafted him in fantasy his rookie year. Everyone acted like I was nuts until he rushed for 1,600 yards as a rookie. The Cowboys haven’t had a back who can get the tough yards in a long time. Murray was a great back “WHEN HEALTHY” but Morris plays with more power.

  • Gabriel Carrasco

    I called it on Morris. I begged Cowboys fans to see why he was a good addition. Jay Gruden is no Jon Gruden. He like you said runs more of a pass first offense, and uses multiple backs to run the football. And really to be a staple in his offense the RB also has to be able to catch passes which Morris isn’t at the level you would like. Not to mention he switched from more of a zone blocking scheme to a power one in which Morris had his best years behind the zone blocking scheme. Glad to see him doing well. If it were me I give Morris his reps with the starters in week 3 and force Zeke to earn his reps by working with the second unit. You don’t punish Morris and Jackson when they were the only true RB taking snaps in practice and in preseason and pass them over for a rookie who you envision to be the starter. But it’s Dallas and it’s Garrett so I am pretty sure they will gift wrap the starter reps to Zeke. Time to cut ties with McFadden and Dunbar. McFadden had a solid year last year, but can’t seem to stay healthy, and Dunbar while I like what he brings to the offense again can’t stay healthy.

  • Gabriel Carrasco

    Showers isn’t getting a fair shake it looks like the receivers huddle up before the snap and make it their personal mission to drop every pass thrown. Hope Dallas sees that Showers poor numbers are a result of the guys he’s working with rather than his abilities.

    • BigDIndiana

      I don’t see any of our fans dogging him, I sure don’t, so I’m sure the coaches know what he can do. Him and Dak have shown me enough that they aren’t just runners, but running gives them an extra dimension. This would be good to come in for a game if Tony sprained an ankle or something. As cowgirl mentions they may not be ready for playing a 6 game stretch being game planned but I’m glad to have both. I don’t think they would do it but I would like them to give the whole last game to Showers.

      • Gabriel Carrasco

        If Showers gets the last game then you can throw PS out the window, you would have to carry him. And it’s going to be hard since Dallas has virtually nothing at DE.

        • BigDIndiana

          I was assuming they were carrying 3 but that was earlier before Moore broke his leg. Might be the one upside of a bad situation only carrying 2 because they will need the roster spot for sure. If he played too well JG could always tell him to toss a few interceptions at the end LOL

        • BigDIndiana

          I was assuming they were carrying 3 but that was earlier before Moore broke his leg. Might be the one upside of a bad situation only carrying 2 because they will need the roster spot for sure. If he played too well JG could always tell him to toss a few interceptions at the end LOL

          • Al

            lol

        • Al

          Good point

        • Al

          I like what I have seen from Jenkins so far. He may prove to be a good signing.

      • Al

        I agree. He deserves a chance to show what he can do with the starters.

    • Al

      You’ve got that right.

  • Gabriel Carrasco

    Showers isn’t getting a fair shake it looks like the receivers huddle up before the snap and make it their personal mission to drop every pass thrown. Hope Dallas sees that Showers poor numbers are a result of the guys he’s working with rather than his abilities.

  • Big Harb

    Look at you Cas! Proving me wrong & giving the kid some love. I agree that he is still a long way off from a finished product. I am ecstatic that he is making the need to spend significant future capital to get a 2nd sting bum that isn’t good enough to start for a terrible team. One place I disagree is with the argument that the calls have helped him. Holding that against him just doesn’t make sense to me. Isn’t that what the coaches are SUPPOSED to do! I was very disappointed last year that they didn’t tailor anything to their backup QBs until they had no choice but to give Moore a chance. Big surprise then that Moore was able to allow his strengths to shine through and have some success because the coaches finally learned that “schemes keep you in games but players win them”. The last two games of 2015 is the 1st time I’ve seen a Garrett led offensive staff actually adjust their scheme to benefit their available players. This biggest story of this preseason to me isn’t Dak’s numbers, but the continued growth of this offensive coaching staff as evidence by their adaptability.

    • Al

      Scott Linehan handling the play calling is the answer to the problem. Garrett has never shown the ability to scheme to the strengths of the players. He always tried to force players to fit the scheme. My biggest beef is handing Dak the #2 spot. Garrett always talks about competition, but in reality that is a myth. Jerry’s draft picks always get the nod.

      I have seen too much progress stopping in Dallas and then those players shine on other teams. Showers had seniority and should have been given the same opportunity to get some reps with the starters. Cole Beasley is the perfect example. If you watch the tape, he is not only the best route runner on the team among the WRs, he is open the most, but they continue to use him as a role player. He would be a top 10 wr in NE.

      How many TEs have come and gone since Bennett left? They still don’t have a fully complete TE. Watch him thrive in NE. They could have easily schemed to get both Witten and Bennett the ball like NE did with Gronk and Hernandez, but used Bennett primarily as a blocker. He is another high draft pick that was developed in Dallas and had success somewhere else. Bobby Rainey is another example of a guy who never got a chance in Dallas. They did the same thing to Alex Tanney they are doing to Showers. If not for Mariota’s draft status, Tanney would be the starter in Tennessee.

      • Johnathan Nguyen

        Showers is getting the Kellen Moore treatment in Detroit lol. To add to Harb”s comment, when Moore came in, Linehan for the first time all season, did not have to alter the play book.