Dallas capped off an inconsistent preseason with a defensive performance that would make the starters proud. The Cowboys once again sat their stars and starters as they suited up against the Seattle Seahawks for their one and only exhibition contest in front of their own fans at AT&T Stadium.
Forcing five turnovers led to just enough offense for the Cowboys to squeak out a win and since Friday was the last chance for bubble players to show why they deserve roster spots, there was a lot on the line. Here’s who put up a good fight and who faltered in this week’s edition of studs and duds.
The performance was reminiscent of what was seen all of 2021. The coverage may not be water tight but as soon as the ball is in the air, everyone is ready to make a play. This eye for the ball led to four interceptions, two on tip drills and two fantastic breaks on throws.
Nahshon Wright, Markquese Bell, Israel Mukuamu and Juanyeh Thomas ended the game with interceptions a piece but were not alone in making an impact.
In addition to these four, DaRon Bland and Tyler Coyle played solid coverage and made some nice tackles as well. Considering none of the names mentioned are starters, it’s safe to say if the injury bug hits there is a line of guys ready to make some plays for a rejuvenated Dallas defense.
Duds: Run defense
Given what this unit has shown in the first two games, the standard was set high ahead of the Seahawks arrival. The Dan Quinn-led front was solid at times, but mostly inconsistent. Although the rotation was heavy, the backups struggled against the Seattle run game.
DeeJay Dallas led the way with 13 carries for 75 yards and a score, averaging 5.8 yards a touch while the rest of the offense had 18 touches for 46 yards. At only 2.5 yards a carry, this stat line encapsulated the team’s inconsistent performance well.
Looking on the brighter side, rookie DT John Ridgeway brought power, energy and tenacity to a rather bland interior line. LBs Devin Harper, Jabril Cox and Storey Jackson also showed good pursuit and tackling on the second level as well.
Stud: Sam Williams
Williams had potentially his best game of his brief, young career. He got his first sack on a very nice rush off the right side, continuously fighting through a block to bring Geno Smith down early in the game. Williams kept the pressure going as he could be seen in the backfield all night.
He has had some issues with roughing the passer penalties so far but this is a good sign of being able to generate pressure. Williams may have not lit up the stat sheet in his three-game debut but showed glimpses of what made him a highly sought after pick.
Duds: Offensive line
For the third week in a row the offensive line struggled. On top allowing three sacks, the run game had its worse performance thus far with the backs needing 28 carries to amass 98 yards (3.5 ypc). The Seahawks had 7 total QB hits and four tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
To add insult to injury, literally and figuratively, depth piece Isaac Alarcon go went down. Even if minor, the already limited depth Dallas has after losing Tyron Smith is worrisome. Given the current circumstances of this unit, don’t be surprised if one or more veterans come to Arlington in the coming weeks.
Studs: Young receivers
This final game was vital for receivers to show the front office why they deserve a roster spot. After CeeDee Lamb and the injured duo of Michael Gallup and James Washington, every receiver spot is up for grabs. Against Seattle the likes of Brandon Smith, Dontario Drummond, Dennis Houston and Simi Fehoko made their arguments.
Smith made a beautiful touchdown grab while Fehoko, Houston and Drummond all looked reliable. Peyton Hendershot and Jake Ferguson also made their mark as receiving threats from the tight end position giving this front office a lot to think about going forward.
Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire