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.
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.
Al 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.”
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.
Let 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.
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!
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.