NFL Preseason Blitz: Jared Goff upstaged by ... Dak Prescott?

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Frank Schwab
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

What a rookie quarterback debut at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Oh yeah, No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff played too in the Los Angeles Rams’ 28-24 win.

Preseason isn’t a great gauge for anything, and that’s especially true for the first game of the preseason. But raise your hand if you expected Dallas Cowboys fourth-round pick Dak Prescott to outduel Goff on Saturday night. (If you’ve been paying attention to criticism that Goff has a long way to go coming from a spread offense in college, put down your hand and quit being a smart aleck.)

Prescott was sharp in his first NFL action. He hit his targets in rhythm and seemed to know where to go with the ball. He looked like a veteran. And on his first drive, he understood to throw to Dez Bryant and good things will happen. Bryant made two fantastic catches, including a circus catch in the end zone for a touchdown.

Nobody is proclaiming Prescott a Pro Bowler after one preseason game, but the Cowboys probably feel a little less anxious about their tenuous backup situation behind Tony Romo, especially over the long term. Prescott was a good dual-threat quarterback at Mississippi State, and he threw the ball very well against the Rams. He completed 10 of 12 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns. There was a lot to build on from Prescott’s performance.

[Join a Yahoo Fantasy Football league for free and make 2016 your season]

Goff didn’t start for the Rams. That’s still Case Keenum’s job. Goff relieved him in the second quarter and had a rough start. His first pass was late over the middle and batted away. On his second dropback, he got blasted by the blitz and the ball popped up in the air and was intercepted.

He completed his first NFL pass, over the middle to fellow rookie, tight end Tyler Higbee. Then he hit Higbee on a strong throw for a first down on third-and-3. Goff had rookie receiver Pharoh Cooper over the middle for a nice gain late in the first half, but Cooper dropped it when he was hit.

Then Goff was done for the night. He played most of the second quarter and didn’t play the second half. ESPN said it was told Goff would play about half the game, including the third quarter, but apparently the Rams changed their mind. Perhaps they were thinking about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz taking a pounding behind a bunch of backups on the offensive line and suffering a hairline fracture in his ribs.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher said after the game that Goff’s left non-throwing shoulder was sore from taking a hit and it stiffened up at halftime so they held him out. Goff’s final totals were 4-for-9, 38 yards and one interception.

One night doesn’t matter in the big picture, and there wasn’t much to take from Goff’s performance. But Prescott opened some eyes in Dallas. Maybe by the end of the preseason the Cowboys will feel good about having a rookie as Romo’s main backup.

Dak Prescott (AP)
Dak Prescott (AP)

It’s almost impossible to be thinner at backup quarterback than the Seattle Seahawks.

Their No. 2 quarterback, Trevone Boykin, is an undrafted rookie. Their No. 3 quarterback, Jake Heaps, was undrafted in 2015, cut after one preseason incompletion last year with the New York Jets. He spent the rest of his fall playing in a semi-pro league.

By any measure, you can’t have less experience or less draft pedigree at backup quarterback. Well, I guess there’s Heaps’ one preseason incompletion last year, so it’s technically possible to have less experience.

Boykin came in after Russell Wilson’s one drive on Saturday and mostly wasn’t impressive throwing the ball. In the second and third quarters almost all of his passes were at the line or barely past it, and he was way off when he tried to go deep. Boykin completed 10 of 18 passes for 66 yards, for a low 6.6 yards per completion before giving way to Heaps. The Seahawks put Boykin back in late in the fourth quarter and he played better. He had a nice 25-yard completion on third-and-10. He completed a couple more passes and a Hail Mary in a two-minute drill at the end, which made his final numbers (16-of-26, 188 yards) look a lot better. The Seahawks beat the Kansas City Chiefs 17-16 by running in the two-point conversation with no time on the clock.

If Boykin ends up being the backup and has to play in the regular season, the Seahawks would likely run a ton of read option. They showed a lot of that on Saturday when Boykin was in. Boykin was a fine quarterback at TCU, but there were 253 picks in this year’s draft and the NFL entirely passed on him. And at the moment he’s one Wilson injury from being the starter for the Seahawks.

Heaps played for the Brooklyn Bolts of the Fall Experimental Football League last year. College football recruiting nuts might remember him because he was a the top-rated pro-style quarterback in his class (No. 44 on that list: Blake Bortles), but he spent time at three colleges and never did much on that level. Heaps completed 3 of 10 passes for 33 yards on Saturday.

And there’s no other quarterback on the roster. Stay healthy, Russell.

Perhaps Tarvaris Jackson, Seattle’s most recent backup, will resurface. Charges won’t be filed over an incident in which Jackson was alleged to pull a gun on a woman who was said to be his wife, the Seattle Times said. The NFL might still talk to him anyway, if he wants to sign with Seattle. Jackson is a free agent.

If Jackson isn’t signed back, this is a situation worth keeping in mind. A Super Bowl contender could be totally derailed with one injury.

Maybe it was Chip Kelly’s scheme.

DeMarco Murray looked good in his Tennessee Titans debut. His first carry, he went wide left for 15 yards. Later, he got through the line, put a move on one San Diego Charger and outran another for a 71-yard score. He looked sluggish and struggled last season with the Philadelphia Eagles. It looked like the nearly 500 touches he got with the 2014 Dallas Cowboys had taken their toll. But Murray looked reborn on Saturday night.

Murray complained about Kelly’s scheme last season, and he looked a lot better in a new one in his Titans debut. Murray finished with 93 yards on six carries in Tennessee’s 27-10 win over the Chargers.

Derrick Henry, Tennessee’s second-round pick and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, had a fine game too. In the third quarter he cut hard inside and muscled into the end zone for a 6-yard score. Henry had 74 yards on 10 carries.

Indianapolis Colts 19, Buffalo Bills 18: The Bills will likely still have EJ Manuel as their backup quarterback, mostly because it’s hard to upgrade at quarterback in the NFL. Manuel looked OK at times on Saturday. He threw a very nice touch pass for a 19-yard score to Chris Gragg. He also threw a bad deep ball that should have been intercepted, but the safety stepped out of bounds.

Manuel finished 10-of-18 for 91 yards and a touchdown. The Bills drafted Cardale Jones to presumably be Tyrod Taylor’s backup in a year or two (Jones had a good debut Saturday, hitting 11 of 21 passes for 162 yards and a late touchdown), but unless Jones has a great preseason they’ll likely stick with Manuel in that spot another season.

• For the first time since anyone can remember, the Kansas City Chiefs had an afternoon preseason game. It might not be the last.

The NFL generally plays preseason games at night, partially because many games happen on Thursday and Friday, and also because it’s summer and hot afternoon games aren’t always enjoyable for fans or players. But the Chiefs kicked off at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. The team figured that’s a more family-friendly model.

“I think we’ll get a bigger crowd,’’ team president Mark Donovan told ESPN.com. “I think we’ll get more families for a Saturday afternoon game than we would have for a Thursday or Friday night game.’’

The Chiefs’ other preseason home game, on Aug. 27, will start at noon. The early starts, when no other game is being played, don’t hurt exposure, either. Both of the Chiefs’ home games this preseason were scheduled to air on NFL Network.

• San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon’s 44-yard touchdown catch was good to see. He took a short pass and showed off some burst to get in the end zone. He still had only 12 yards on three carries, but that’s not enough of a sample size to matter. Gordon is coming off a poor rookie season, and he’s hoping to turn things around this season. Saturday was a positive step.

• Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters had a fantastic interception in the end zone off Russell Wilson, in Wilson’s only drive. Peters was last year’s defensive rookie of the year, and reporters at Chiefs camp have raved about him making plays almost every day in practice. Peters is a future star — or maybe he’s a star already.

• Colts rookie Josh Ferguson got a chance to start with Frank Gore sitting out. Ferguson is one of the contenders to be Gore’s backup this season. But Ferguson didn’t do much, getting just 3 yards on eight carries. The Colts don’t have many obvious answers if Gore goes down.

• Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael has turned into Mr. August, with every single positive bit of news being blown up on social media as part of a prediction that THIS is Michael’s breakout year. Michael hasn’t fulfilled everyone’s expectations in the regular season, but he had another nice preseason game against the Chiefs. He had 44 yards on seven carries. Depending on Thomas Rawls’ recovery from his ankle injury, Michael could get a lot of work early in the regular season.

• ICYMI earlier on Shutdown Corner: The Rams had a bad start in their new home and want to extend the contracts of coach Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead (for some reason).

– – – – – – –

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!