Skip to content

NFL morning after: The unappreciated Jay Cutler

Bears quarterback Cutler is pressured by Vikings defensive end Griffen during the first half of their NFL football game at Soldier Field in Chicago Reuters

If you don’t like Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, you’re not alone. A poll of fans conducted last season found that Cutler was one of the Top 5 most disliked players in the NFL.

And if you’re looking for reasons not to like Cutler, you saw one when the Bears beat the Vikings on Sunday: Cutler committed one of the dumber penalties of the day when he ran out of bounds and then threw the ball at Vikings cornerback A.J. Jefferson. Throwing the ball at an opponent is an automatic 15-yard penalty, as every NFL player should know. Yes, Cutler can be an idiot sometimes.

But if you don’t think Cutler is a good quarterback, well, you’re wrong. Cutler’s abilities were on display in Sunday’s 28-10 win over the Vikings, but they were even more on display in the way the Bears completely fell apart without him a week ago against the 49ers. And Cutler’s importance to the Bears is on display in every game he misses: In the last three years, in games Cutler both started and finished, the Bears are 26-9. In games Cutler either missed entirely or was knocked out because of an injury in the first half, the Bears are 1-8.

No, Cutler doesn’t put up the kinds of numbers that the NFL’s elite quarterbacks produce, but Cutler doesn’t have anywhere near the kind of offensive talent surrounding him that the NFL’s elite quarterbacks have. The Bears have had one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines for Cutler’s entire tenure in Chicago, and they only got a high-level wide receiver for the first time this year, when they traded for Brandon Marshall.

I believe it’s that Chicago offensive line and that Chicago receiving corps — as well as, yes, acting like a jerk at times by doing things like throwing a ball at an opponent — that has made Cutler one of the most underappreciated players in the NFL. This is a good quarterback, playing on a team that appears headed toward the playoffs, in the NFL’s second-biggest media market, and he should get more credit than he does.

Cutler has a great opportunity, however, to change the way he’s regarded over the next couple of months. With the Bears right in the thick of the NFC playoff race, Cutler has the chance to do what he didn’t do when a knee injury knocked him out of the NFC Championship Game a couple years ago, and play the best football of his career on the biggest stage. I think Cutler is going to open some eyes in December and January. And maybe by February, he won’t be unappreciated anymore.

Here are my other thoughts on Sunday’s games:

Robert Ayers was the toughest player in the league on Sunday. Ayers, a backup defensive end for the Broncos, found out late on Saturday night that his father had died suddenly. But instead of heading home right away, he decided to stay in Kansas City to be there for his team against the Chiefs. Ayers played and played well in a 17-9 win in which the Broncos’ defense shut down the Chiefs’ offense, then was awarded a game ball in the locker room afterward and headed home to tend to his family.

Jared Allen got away with a brutal cheap shot. While his teammate Antoine Winfield was returning an interception, Allen launched himself directly into the head of Bears offensive lineman Lance Louis, delivering a hit that knocked Louis out of the game. Allen said after the game that he thought the hit was legal, but he’s wrong. That’s a blatant penalty that the officials somehow missed, but the league office won’t. Allen is in for a big fine.

The Chiefs got too cute. Kansas City’s opening drive against Denver was running smoothly, with an emphasis on running: Out of the Chiefs’ first nine offensive plays, eight of them were runs, and those eight runs produced 48 yards. So what on earth were the Chiefs thinking with the play they called on third-and-3 in the red zone? Instead of running it again, the Chiefs called a bizarre trick play on which running back Peyton Hillis took the snap, ran to his right, then turned around and threw it to quarterback Brady Quinn. Hillis’s pass showed that there’s a reason he’s not a quarterback: He threw an ugly duck that didn’t even get close, falling to the ground a few feet in front of Quinn. That was a dumb play call that stopped a promising drive.

Something has to be done about the officials, Part 1. Everyone saw the horrendous call on Thanksgiving in which the officials somehow ruled that Texans running back Justin Forsett had run 81 yards for a touchdown, even though he was obviously down after just eight yards. But on Sunday not as many people noticed that the opposite mistake was made in the 49ers-Saints game: San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree caught a pass, got hit, put his hand down to steady himself and kept running, about to break a big play — except that the officials whistled the play dead, wrongly thinking Crabtree had been down. If we can’t count on the officials to get it right on a call as fundamental as whether or not a player was down, what can we count on them to get right?

Something has to be done about the officials, Part 2. Remember during the lockout, how everyone complained that the replacement refs were dragging out the games by taking way too long to make their rulings? No delays from the replacement refs were as bad as the ridiculous delay late in Sunday’s Ravens-Chargers game. After Ray Rice made an amazing play to turn a short pass into a first down on fourth-and-29, the officials delayed the game by a whopping 10 minutes to watch a replay and re-measure the spot of the ball, only to discover that it had been correctly ruled a first down on the field all along. A 10-minute delay late in the fourth quarter of a close game takes all the energy out of the building. Make the call and move on, refs.

Anyone want to help Charlie Batch out? With Batch, the Steelers’ 38-year-old third-string quarterback, pressed into duty on Sunday, the Steelers needed to get big games from their running backs. Instead, Pittsburgh’s four running backs — Rashard Mendenhall, Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman and Chris Rainey — combined for just 49 yards on 20 carries, while fumbling six times. Mendenhall and Rainey had two fumbles apiece, while Dwyer and Redman each had one. The Steelers’ eight turnovers were the most for any NFL team in one game since 2001, and the Steelers were upset by the Browns.

Jim Harbaugh made the right decision. Colin Kaepernick is a better quarterback than Alex Smith, and if anyone doubted it before, no one should doubt it after Kaepernick led the 49ers to a big win at New Orleans on Sunday. Harbaugh was wise to bench Smith in favor of Kaepernick, who is now 2-0 as a starter with wins over the Bears (playing without Cutler) and Saints. With Kaepernick under center, the 49ers are going to be a tough team to beat in January. Although if they meet again in the playoffs, I like the Bears’ chances with a healthy Cutler.

Permalink 51 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Chicago Bears, Features, Rumor Mill, Top Stories
yo

Miserable first half for Luck, Colts

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 07:  quarterback Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts speaks with head coach Chuck Pagano prior to a preseason game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on August 7, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Andrew Luck; Chuck Pagano Getty Images

The Colts got shoved around in the first half of Saturday night’s preseason game by the Eagles, who took a 17-3 lead into halftime.

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck completed 13-of-18 passes for 134 yards but was sacked three times. The Colts were able to move the ball but couldn’t sustain drives and scored only in a short-field situation, settling for three points after a Darius Butler interception.

“We didn’t do the job we should have done protecting our quarterback,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said on the team’s preseason broadcast. “Guys have to man up and block their guys.”

The Colts ran the ball nine times for just 13 yards. The Eagles scored on a Josh Huff run and a Sam Bradford fade to Dorial Green-Beckham, who’s playing his first game for the Eagles after being acquired in a trade with the Titans.

The Colts also didn’t score a touchdown with Luck and the starters in last week’s preseason game vs. the Ravens.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Rams announce Tavon Austin extension

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 17: Tavon Austin #11 of the St. Louis Rams adjusts his helmet prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Edward Jones Dome on December 17, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images) Getty Images

With the Tavon Austin extension official, a debate already has begun regarding whether the Rams are paying the 2013 first-rounder too much.

“Tavon has been an integral part of our offense and special teams since we drafted him in 2013,” coach Jeff Fisher said in the press release announcing the deal. “It is important to our organization to retain players we’ve drafted and invested in, and Tavon is an example of that. We’re excited for him to continue his career with the Rams.

The release points out that Austin and running back Todd Gurley each had 10 touchdowns last year, the first time two members of the Rams have landed in double digits since running back Steven Jackson and receiver Torry Holt in 2006. Austin has 19 touchdowns for his career: nine receiving, seven rushing, and three on punt returns.

The release doesn’t mention Austin’s other stats, possibly because it’s harder to justify a four-year, $42 million extension by pointing to them. He had 473 receiving yards in 2015, 242 in 2014, and 418 in 2013, along with rushing yards of 434 in 2015, 224 in 2014, and 151 in 2013.

That’s an average of 377 receiving yards per season and 269 rushing yards per season. Throwing in 313 average punt-return yards and 144 average kickoff-return yards, Austin has averaged 1,103 all-purpose yards per year in his career. Still, he has only 646 yards from scrimmage each year, on average.

Does that add up to a four-year, $42 million contact? Maybe not, based on the raw numbers. But considering that Austin hasn’t had much help — and that he definitely hasn’t had high-quality quarterback play — the Rams apparently think that the best days are coming for Austin, and that getting him for $10.5 million per year in new money is a lot cheaper than what it would have cost in 2018.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Another Colts cornerback suffers injury

Darius Butler, Greg Toler AP

Colts cornerback Darius Butler intercepted Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford on the first Eagles possession of Saturday night’s preseason game.

By the second drive, Butler was out with an ankle injury.

Two weeks from the season opener, it’s bad timing for Butler and worse for the Colts. They’re already without starting cornerback Vontae Davis until at least October, and fellow starter Patrick Robinson has been dealing with a groin injury. Butler was one of just four Colts cornerbacks who suited up for Saturday night’s preseason game.

The team announced that Butler is done for the game. There likely won’t be another update on his status until at least later tonight.

Earlier this week, Colts coach Chuck Pagano called his team’s cornerback situation “scary.” The Colts signed veteran cornerback Antonio Cromartie this week but he didn’t play vs. the Eagles.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ravens lose Ben Watson for season

Ben Watson AP

Veteran Ravens tight end Ben Watson suffered a torn Achilles tendon on the first play of the Ravens-Lions preseason game Saturday night and will miss the 2016 season.

The Ravens signed Watson in March. He played the last three seasons with the Saints and had a career-best 74 receptions last season.

The team announced the injury not long after Watson was taken to the locker room.

Watson, 35, is a veteran of 12 NFL seasons. He’s also played for the Browns and Patriots, who drafted him with the final pick of the first round in 2004.

The Ravens had hoped Watson would catch a bunch of passes once he developed chemistry with quarterback Joe Flacco, who made his preseason debut Saturday night. Flacco is recovering from a torn ACL.

Though Watson was the most experienced and durable tight end on the roster — Watson only missed one game the last four seasons — the Ravens are deep at the position with Crockett Gillmore, Dennis Pitta and Maxx Williams.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Kelly: Kaepernick’s choice to remain seated doesn’t affect football matters

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick passes warms up for the team's preseason NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey) AP

49ers coach Chip Kelly told reporters Saturday that quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision not to stand for the national anthem does not affect Kaepernick’s place on the depth chart or any other football matters.

Kelly said Kaepernick, who started Friday night’s preseason game, remains in competition with Blaine Gabbert for the team’s starting quarterback job.

Kelly knew questions about Kaepernick were coming when he talked with reporters Saturday. Earlier in the day, Kaepernick told NFL Network he is “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color.”

If Kaepernick wants to continue to not stand for the anthem, Kelly won’t try to change his mind.

It’s not my right to tell him not to do something,” Kelly said.

Kaepernick also didn’t stand for the anthem during prior preseason games, and Kelly said “he has the right to express his feelings.”

Permalink 66 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

NFL hands out $18,231 fines for roughing the passer in preseason

Houston Texans outside linebacker John Simon runs with the ball for a touchdown on a 41-yard fumble recovery during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) AP

The NFL starts handing out real fines before the players are receiving real paychecks.

The league office has confirmed to PFT two players who have already received $18,231 fines for roughing the passer in the preseason: Kerry Hyder of the Lions and John Simon of the Texans.

Players are paid their base salaries in 17 installments during the regular season, so it’s not until Week One that the money will be taken out of their paychecks.

In the case of Hyder, whose salary this year is $450,000, the fine would represent almost 70 percent of his per-game salary. However, the NFL has an appeals process that allows players to cap any fine at 25 percent of weekly salary. So if Hyder makes the Lions’ roster, his actual fine will be $6,617, which is 25 percent of his weekly salary.

Simon’s base salary is $1.67 million, so he’ll be on the hook for the full fine.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Rams extend Tavon Austin’s contract by four years

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 20:  Tavon Austin #11 (C) of the Los Angeles Rams runs out of the tunnel before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on August 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Rams don’t have many offensive weapons. One of the few they have will be sticking around for a while.

PFT has confirmed that receiver Tavon Austin, the eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft, has agreed to terms on a four-year extension.

It’s a four-year extension, worth $42 million. Per a league source with knowledge of the situation, Austin’s true guarantee if he’s on the roster next March will be $25 million.

He was due to make $2.14 million this year and $12.2 million next year, under the fifth-year first-round option. In all, it’s a six-year deal worth more than $56 million.

The deal also includes an incentive package that will pay Austin significantly more, if/when he generates the kind of numbers over the course of a full season that he has generated in flashes through his first three seasons.

Can he generate big numbers over the course of a full season? If running back Todd Gurley continues to improve and quarterback Jared Goff is the real deal, it will be easier for the Rams to get more out of Austin. At times last year, the offense consisted primarily of pushing the ball forward with Gurley and finding ways to get the ball in Austin’s hands in space with a collection of average-at-best quarterbacks.

Permalink 12 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Connor Shaw suffers broken leg in preseason game

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 28:  Quarterback Connor Shaw #9 of the Cleveland Browns thows a pass in the third quarter of a game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on December 28, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bears backup quarterback Connor Shaw needs surgery after suffering a broken leg in Saturday’s preseason game vs. the Chiefs.

Bears Coach John Fox told reporters the team will know more about the extent of the injury after Shaw has surgery. He was injured when he was hit by Rakeem Nunez-Roches of the Chiefs while making a pass.

The Bears claimed Shaw via waivers earlier this summer — and had company in wanting to secure Shaw’s rights.

Shaw signed with the Browns as an undrafted rookie in 2014 and spent the season on the practice squad before being promoted to start the season finale. He spent last season on injured reserve.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Terrance Knighton doesn’t play on Friday night

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13:  Football player Terrance Knighton attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Maybe the Patriots will soon be leaking that they’ll be cutting Terrance Knighton, so that they can trade him.

The veteran defensive tackle didn’t play in Friday night’s preseason game against the Panthers. Knighton, who played last year in Washington, didn’t sound happy about the development.

I prepared myself to play,” Knighton said, via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. “I just didn’t play. I don’t know. You’ve got to ask the coaches. I’m 100 percent healthy. I prepared myself to play a lot of football tonight. It didn’t happen. It is what it is. I’m not asking why or anything. I’m just going to show up to work tomorrow and take it a day at a time.”

If Knighton’s name is included in the reduction of the roster from 90 to 75 (on Tuesday) and then to 53 (by next Saturday), he’ll leave with a $250,000 signing bonus and a workout bonus of more than $100,000. He also would be an unrestricted free agent, able to pick his next destination, if he’s cut.

A trade becomes possible because his salary is only $900,000, with a $300,000 incentive package.

“It’s disappointing because I’ve played a lot of ball in this league, seen a lot of things, but I’m not going to make too much of it,” Knighton said. “It is what it is. Whatever happens, happens. If I’m here, I’m here. If I’m not, I’m not. I’m just taking it a day at a time really.”

He’ll only need to take it another seven days or so before knowing his fate with the Patriots.

Permalink 6 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Redskins announce roster cuts

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 25: The helmet of a Washington Redskins player rests on the field during warm ups against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Raymond James Stadium on November 25, 2007 in Tampa, Florida.  The Bucs won 19-13. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Redskins made 10 roster cuts Saturday as they prepare for two mandatory roster cutdowns this week.

Waived by the team were offensive tackles Al Bond and Cody Booth; linebackers Shiro Davis and Ejiro Ederaine; cornerback Jeremy Harris; linebacker Willie Jefferson; running back Kelsey Young and wide receivers Valdez Showers, Dez Stewart and Jarvis Turner.

All were college free agents who had signed with the Redskins over the last two years.

All teams must trim their rosters to 75 by Aug. 30 and to the regular season size of 53 by next weekend.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Saturday one-liners

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 18:  Cameron Wake #91 of the Miami Dolphins celebrates after sacking the quarterback during a game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on October 18, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  The Dolphins defeated the Titans 38-10.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dolphins DE Cameron Wake accepts his current role as a non-starting pass-rush specialist.

Bills TE Chris Gragg suffered a torn ACL on Friday night against Washington.

Patriots WR Julian Edelman was rusty in his preseason debut.

Jets WR Brandon Marshall says that rookie WR Robbie Anderson “has that wow factor.”

Ravens QB Joe Flacco will play on Saturday for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2015; “I think the big thing about preseason is always getting back out there and getting oiled up and part of that is playing well,” Flacco said. “I think a big part of going into the first game of the season is confidence in what we have and how we’ve done in live games.”

Bengals WR Brandon Tate and WR Alex Erickson may be battling for the same roster spot.

Browns coach Hue Jackson let P Andy Lee hear it for giving a half-hearted effort to make a tackle on a punt return; “We’re out there to play,” Jackson said after the game. “If there’s another guy that has the ball, your job is to go get it.”

Steelers S Shamarko Thomas still talks to Troy Polamalu several times per week; “He is a bigger brother to me,” Thomas said. “A father figure. It is him guiding me and mentoring me. Any question I have he is there for me.”

Texans DL Christian Covington quit Pokemon Go cold turkey when training camp opened.

The decision to work out Stevan Ridley shows that the Colts aren’t thrilled with Robert Turbin, Jordan Todman, and Josh Ferguson as the current backups to Frank Gore.

Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue is expected to get first-team reps on Sunday night, possibly splitting plays evenly with Dante Fowler.

The competition remains wide open for the No. 3 tailback spot behind DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry.

Rookie fifth-rounder Connor McGovern may start Week One at right guard for the Broncos.

The Chiefs continue to discuss the possibility of selling the naming rights to Arrowhead Stadium.

The Raiders are anxious to see what undrafted rookie RB Jalen Richard can do in a preseason game.

Good news? Support for the Chargers stadium bill has increased nine points. Bad news? They’re still 27 points short of the mark.

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is drawing comparisons to Donovan McNabb. (I guess that would make him Gak Prescott.)

Giants WR Victor Cruz broke out his old No. 3 practice jersey.

The Eagles have developed a package of plays to take advantage of WR Dorial Green-Beckham’s size and ability to jump.

Washington LB Ryan Kerrigan will have an MRI on his injured groin; he has never missed a regular-season game in his career.

The injury to Bears G Kyle Long’s shoulder forced more shuffling of the team’s offensive line.

Packers WR Davante Adams dropped what would have been a long gain on Friday night.

Vikings LB Chad Greenway likes the playing surface at the team’s new stadium.

Falcons CB Desmond Trufant is the brightest spot on the team’s defense, and he keeps pushing to get better.

The Panthers have a fairly long list of banged-up players.

Saints TE Michael Hoomanawanui suffered a lower leg injury against Pittsburgh on Friday.

Lost in the redemption of this year’s second-round pick of the Buccaneers is the fact that last year’s first-round pick keeps getting better and better.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians likes having the team’s training camp at its stadium.

Rams QB Case Keenum has yet to notice any fans at training camp wearing his jersey number.

Anthony Davis played guard for the 49ers on Friday night.

Rookie Tanner McEvoy keeps doing good things for the Seahawks.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

49ers trade cornerback Acker to Chiefs

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 13: Cornerback Kenneth Acker #20 of the San Francisco 49ers ties to tackle running back Duke Johnson #29 of the Cleveland Browns during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns defeated the 49ers 24-10. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The 49ers have traded cornerback Kenneth Acker to the Chiefs in exchange for a future draft pick.

The 49ers’ release on the trade noted that Acker must pass a physical before the trade is finalized. ESPN reported that the pick sent to Kansas City was a seventh-round pick in 2018.

Acker was a sixth-round pick of the 49ers in 2014 and started 13 games last season. He spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve.

Acker played in 15 games last season and had three interceptions.

Permalink 5 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Dolphins cut 11

Minnesota Vikings v Houston Texans Getty Images

The Dolphins have cut 11 players as they move toward the 75-man roster limit.

The biggest name of the bunch is cornerback Brandon Harris, a 2011 second-round pick of the Texans who has had a disappointing NFL career and still has never started a regular-season game.

Players placed on waivers were linebacker Akil Blount, center/guard Ruben Carter, wide receiver A.J. Cruz, long snapper Ryan DiSalvo, wide receiver Matt Hazel, tight end Gabe Hughes, kicker Marshall Koehn, cornerback Al Louis-Jean, guard Vinston Painter and wide receiver Brandon Shippen.

All 32 teams have until Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET to trim their rosters to 75 players.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Bears’ offense continues a disappointing preseason

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) is sacked by Kansas City Chiefs inside linebacker Derrick Johnson (56) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn) AP

If Week Three of the preseason is the week that most resembles the regular season, the Bears’ offense is not in good shape. Then again, the Bears’ offense didn’t look good in the first two weeks of the preseason either.

In today’s game against the Chiefs, Bears starting quarterback Jay Cutler completed just six of his 15 passes, for 45 yards, and was sacked twice for a loss of 20 yards. The Bears didn’t score a point until third-string quarterback Conor Shaw threw a touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter.

Today isn’t the first disappointing preseason performance for the Bears’ offense, which was shut out in a 22-0 loss to the Broncos in the first week of the preseason. The Bears looked a little better in the second preseason game, a 23-22 loss to the Patriots.

Cutler and the starters won’t play next week, so their preseason is over. They’ll have to look a lot better in the regular season or else the Bears are headed for a third consecutive last-place finish.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Cowboys will quickly find out what Dak Prescott can do

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) looks to pass as Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett (72) blocks Cowboys guard Zack Martin during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) AP

Through three preseason games, Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott has passed the eyeball test. The real test comes when opposing defenses have enough evidence to eyeball him.

If starting quarterback Tony Romo will indeed miss 6-10 weeks with a broken bone in his back, Prescott will play enough preseason games to result in the generation of sufficient film to properly break down his game. What does he do well? What does he not do well? What are his tendencies, his tells?

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has mastered the most obvious principle of defensive football: Take away what the other team does well. When opposing defenses figure out what Prescott does well, will he be able to still do those things when the defense is trying to stop him? Will he be able to do things well that he doesn’t like to do?

Usually, it takes 4-6 weeks of games that count to generate enough film to permit astute defensive coordinators to crack the code. The challenge for the Cowboys will be to work diligently to crack the code on their own, anticipating how defenses will adapt to Dak and taking advantage of any ensuing holes in the defense.

Regardless, the injury gives the Cowboys a chance to find out whether Prescott can be the week-in, week-out answer after Romo leaves. If Prescott does well enough, Romo may be leaving before he wants to.

Permalink 45 Comments Feed for comments Back to top