Judgments II: Dak’s All, folks! Cowboys find their “identity” in Landmark Win
So that’s what happens when Dallas runs the ball.
A week after Cowboys quarterback Zak Prescott threw 58 times for over 400 yards, Dallas decided to put the ball back into the hands of their backers… and guess what? They played a starring role in a last-second LA Chargers upheaval that is set to rock NFC East.
And maybe the NFL.
I know we’re only two weeks away from a 17-game schedule, so that’s waaaaaay too early to make predictions, right? Wrong. It’s Overreaction Monday, Take II, so let’s take a walk: Dallas wins NFC East this year. Everyone is playing for the second.
Why? A few reasons: 1) They took reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay to the mat a week ago, and 2) they just hit the road to beat the LA Chargers, 20-17, the Bolts in the last six games and AFC West’s only loss this season.
How? ‘Or’ What? By playing a full game in I don’t know how long.
Dak was decent. The defense was solid. And the running backs were… well, trustworthy. And, yes, that’s a big deal. Where the Cowboys called Zeke Elliott and Tony Pollard for 14 runs in Game 1 of the season, they turned to them for 29 on Sunday. Result: They were responsible for 180 of the team’s 198 rushing yards and only scored two Cowboys touchdowns.
Equally important: none of these yards were produced by Prescott.
Normally he’s called upon to do pretty much anything for the Cowboys – run, pass, score, whatever you want. In fact, he had thrown for 400 yards or more in four of his previous five games, three of which the Cowboys lost. But not this Sunday. He didn’t have to run. He threw 37 more yards than the team had on the ground. And he did not produce a TD Pass.
Still, Dallas still won because the Cowboys got smart.
“When they kick off that running game,” Hall of Fame coach said and CNB analyst Tony Dungy, “It’s their identity. That’s what makes them sink. Dallas plays good football.
FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED
1. Bill Belichick is still the kryptonite for rookie QBs. He’s 22-6 against the rookie quarterbacks, with the Jets’ Zach Wilson the latest casualty. Nothing strange there. The loss was foreseeable. It was the 11 of the Jetse directly to New England. But so was Wilson’s collapse, reminiscent of then-rookie Sam Darnold in a 38-3 loss to the Patriots in 2018. One difference: Darnold didn’t throw a single pick.
2. The Bills’ defense is back. In two games this season, the opponents have an offensive touchdown. Better yet, the Buffalo D have just won their biggest shutout victory since November 6, 1966 against Miami. If there was a hole in the Bills CV a year ago, it was an injury crippled defense that – according to my favorite Bills fan, Rich Quodomine – forced Josh Allen to become Brett Favre. Not now.
3. Zach Wilson’s honeymoon is over. It took Jets fans exactly 45:48 of the home opener to boo their new quarterback. “They should boo,” Wilson admitted. Meet the new boss, the same as the old boss.
4. Jameis Winston is who we thought he was. A week ago he looked like Drew Brees. A week later he looked more like Drew Carey. Someone reports the sound of Denny Green.
5. Derrick Henry didn’t slow down. Fantasy-football owners were nervous a week ago when he ran for just 58 yards against Arizona. Then he hit for 182 (including 126 in the second half) and three overtime touchdowns against Seattle, and those same owners expired. But the concern in Tennessee is not Derrick Henry. It never has been. It’s a porous defense that hemorrhaged 11 plays from 20 yards or more in the first two weeks, including three of 50 or more on Sunday.
THIRD AND 15
1. Maybe Derek Carr of the Raiders is better than you think. He beat Baltimore in the season opener. He beat Pittsburgh a short week after a cross country trip. He threw for 817 yards in those games, the most in two games by any quarterback in Raiders history. Ahead of this season, Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said he was “excited to see where (Carr) can take this thing.” I’m starting to see why.
2. Trouble in Seattle: The Legion of Boom has become the Legion of Doom. Blow up a 24-9 halftime lead … at home, nothing less? Once upon a time, the Seahawks were on Defense and Russell Wilson. Now they’re talking about Russell Wilson, and he’ll need help if they are to survive the toughest division in the NFL.
3. Tell me again why Falcons coach Arthur Smith was an improvement over Raheem Morris.
4. Kyler Murray. My idiot. What… a… talent.
5. Say this about the Jets: at least they’re consistent. They are 0-2 this season. They started 0-13 last year and 1-7 in 2019. They were 4-12 in 2018 and 5-11 in 2017. Bad teams find ways to lose. The Jets are a bad team.
6. Looks like Rob Gronkowski was right: the NFL won’t decide if Tom Brady can play until 560 years old. Brady’s wife will.
7. At 2-0, Sam Darnold has as many wins in two weeks in Carolina as he did last season with the Jets. I’m just saying.
8. Coming soon to a bookstore near you: “Great Expectorations” by Trai Turner.
9. Jimmy Garoppolo’s enemies, sit down. He’s 2-0, with both away wins…, just produced two goals from over 90 yards… and, most importantly, was uninjured. He’s not going anywhere, people, unless he’s hurt.
ten. Difficult day for the Eagles. They lost more than a game. They may have lost Brandon Graham.
11. Chicago rookie Justin Fields didn’t do much special on Sunday, but that doesn’t matter. He won’t sit down. The Bears won. It’s not Andy Dalton. And coach Matt Nagy said “he’s further along than we thought at this point.” Translation: The future is now.
12. Most impressive number for Patriots quarterback Mac Jones: Zero. No, he’s not the next Tom Brady. But he’s not the next Jameis Winston either. In two games, he hasn’t made a fumble or an interception… that’s exactly what the Pats like.
13. Matt Ryan is approaching the finish line. You got to see it last year. You can see it now. Eyes don’t lie.
14. For those who score, that’s 17 straight losses for Jacksonville, with 11 of 10 or more points, including the last six. Urban renewal is on hold for an indefinite period.
15. One of those years, the Vikings will find a kicker capable of scoring winning goals. I just don’t know when.
STAT WHICH CAN ONLY INTEREST ME
Zach Wilson had more interceptions on Sunday (4) than he did all last season at BYU (3).
ONE THAT MAY INTEREST YOU
This is the first time in the Super Bowl era that the Raiders opened 2-0 with the two playoff wins (Pittsburgh and Baltimore) from the previous season.
AND ONE WHO MAY INTEREST US BOTH
Nick Chubb of Cleveland has 35 career games with 50 or more rushing yards. Only one Browns player has had more in his first four seasons: Jim Brown with 41.
GOLD JACKET QUOTES
“To feel like after a win like a hat knowing that we could play better is a good problem to have. “- Buffalo QB Josh Allen on Miami’s 35-0 defeat.
“More ghosts?” “- New England LB Kyle Van Noy tweet after Zach Wilson collapse.
“Offensively it’s as bad as we’ve been here for a long time. And it starts with me. – New Orleans coach Sean Payton after the Saints were held to six first downs in a 26-7 loss to Carolina.
BENEFICIARY OF THE GOLDEN JACKET
TOM BRADY, QB, Tampa Bay. Maybe you’ve heard of him. He is 44 years old and outperforms the competition. He had four touchdown passes in Game 1 of the season, followed by five more against Atlanta. That puts him in new condition for the season, ahead of Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, Josh Allen, Aaron Rodgers… I think you get the idea. Ahead of the field. But that’s not all: His nine touchdown passes in the first two games of a season are just behind Patrick Mahomes’ record of 10. In addition, he has at least four touchdown passes in four straight games dating back to last season. Yeah. For years people have told us it is almost at its tipping point. They just didn’t tell us what decade.