The Cowboys left fans feeling hopeful after getting a 32-18 win over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2 of the preseason.
Week 1’s 17-7 loss to the Denver Broncos didn’t leave many positive takeaways. Dallas was penalized 17 times for 129 yards, the offense never got into a rhythm, and the kickers didn’t get the opportunity to battle it out and showcase who could be leading the competition.
So this matchup against the Chargers was a site for sore eyes, and we learned a lot about the team. Here are the three biggest things to note from the Week 2 victory:
The KaVontae Turpin show
The reigning USFL MVP had a monster game, returning a kickoff and punt for touchdowns. Turpin did all his work in the first half because after the second quarter, Turpin had his pads off and watched the action from the sideline.
This is likely a sign that Turpin secured a spot on the 53-man roster because the coaching staff didn’t want him to risk injury in the second half.
Turpin’s combination of vision, elusiveness and speed make him a skilled return man. Next Gen Stats clocked Turpin at 20.95 MPH on his kickoff return and 20.86 MPH on his punt return.
Time will tell if Turpin is strictly used as a special teamer or if he’s going to get snaps as a wide receiver.
QB2 battle narrowed down to Cooper Rush Vs. Will Grier
The QB play was much improved from what we saw in Week 1.
Cooper Rush went 3/6 passing for 32 yards and nearly had a touchdown, but rookie receiver Jalen Tolbert failed to get both feet down in the endzone.
Will Grier, who missed Week 1 due to a groin injury, shined in his first bit of game action with the Cowboys. Grier went 6/10 passing for 98 yards.
The two have very different styles of play. Rush is far more conservative and avoids making risky passes, while Grier is willing to make more dangerous throws with high upside.
Overall, Grier certainly outplayed Rush on Saturday night. His mobility makes him a more capable playmaker, and we saw protection breakdown a few times, but Grier kept his composure and made a few plays with his legs.
Swing tackle is an issue
Dallas’ top option at swing tackle is Josh Ball, a fourth round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Ball struggled in Week 1 against Denver, and things didn’t look better against Los Angeles.
Swing tackle is an especially vital position for the Cowboys because Tyron Smith is entering his 12th season and has proven unable to stay healthy in recent years. In the last two seasons, Smith has played a total of 13 games. He’s currently healthy, but it’s likely a competent backup will be needed to fill in if he inevitably misses games this year.
Dallas’ original plan was to have Ball compete for the spot with Matt Waletzko, but the rookie injured his shoulder in training camp, and it’s unclear if he’ll play in 2022. The Dallas Morning News reported that rest and rehab have gone well for Waletzko and he may avoid season-ending surgery.
Even if Waletzko can play at some point this season, his growth will be stunted after missing action in training camp and the preseason.
Now, there’s speculation that Dallas may look to trade for a more competent swing tackle before the regular season kicks off on Sept. 11th. Ultimately, this issue reflects poorly on Jerry Jones and the front office for not having more proven players to take on the swing tackle duties.
Ball didn’t make any regular season appearances in 2021, and Waletzko is a rookie with a history of shoulder problems dating back to college. Now, both are being thrusted into a competition for an important role on the Cowboys 2022 roster.
Cowboys cap off the preseason vs. the Seattle Seahawks
Dallas will host the Seahawks in the final week of the recently-shortened preseason. Kickoff is 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 26th.
We haven’t seen many starters take the field in the first two weeks, but that could change against Seattle. Mike McCarthy previously mentioned having the offensive starters open the game and treat it like a walkthrough to make sure they’re ready for regular season Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.