“Did you see how Chicago made the Seattle Seahawks look like they had no idea what to do on Monday night in week 2?” some prognosticators and fans asked.
“Marinelli’s Men – like Fangio’s Fellas’ – are plenty aggressive and oppressive! They, too, should make Seattle’s offense look downright regressive!” some prognosticators and fans proclaimed.
Only the most presbyopic prognosticators and fans so myopic would believe the Dallas Cowboys could waltz into the Seattle Seahawks’ deafening nest without their well-prepared, situational best. Large and confidence-building was their week two victory against the Giants, but it was not nearly a big enough reason to showcase any “We’re Back!” defiance.
From Deliverance To The Difference
When Seattle was on offense with 11:20 remaining in the first quarter and operating from their own 11-yard line on third and five, Tyrone Crawford broke loose to place Russell Wilson firmly on his caboose, but his penalized hit only brought disorder. While everyone was focused on Crawford flattening Wilson with the full weight of his body, the refs seemed to miss or dismiss Tyrone’s down helmet crown, which would still have made the wood he brought to Wilson just as naughty.
When Dallas was on offense with 6:11 remaining in the first quarter and operating from their own 22-yard line on second and three, Tavon Austin started in motion from left to right, Prescott handed off to him to charge up a running game that (at that point in the game) appeared pretty dim. A few defenders followed an empty-handed Zeke to the left, while Austin shot down the right side with an 18-yard heft. Seattle’s Mychal Kendricks (making the most of his insider trading respite) dragged Austin down out of bounds using a horse collar tackle with not a penalty in sight, dagnabbit.
Similar items as those mentioned above continued throughout the contest. There were a number of smart play designs, wise play decisions, and limited play mistakes that for a timely Seahawks defense reinforced the Cowboys’ current reputation as inconsistent fakes.
Excuses Are Nooses
"I had a poor performance today. Did well in the run game, but overall, I dropped the ball. That loss is on me. I had no idea (I had stepped out of bounds . . . twice). That's on me. I've got to have better awareness of the sideline." – Ezekiel Elliott
"You can say whatever, but at the end of the day, when you've got the ball in your hands, that's the team in your hands. Me being a leader on the team, me being a better player on this team, I got to do a better job of taking care of the ball. That cost us the game." – Ezekiel Elliott being humble regarding his fumble.
While Zeke owned his simultaneously wonderful and wounded performance, he was clearly covering for his quarterback so embattled . . . with tow-the-line conformance to help keep Prescott from becoming rattled.
“It’s just getting to the point, especially when we (have not) thrown for 200 yards yet, it’s kinda’ frustrating. We won the second game, fortunately, but to win in this league you have to pass for some yardage. It’s frustrating, plus I’d like to be implemented more, be more involved more.” – Allen Hurns
While the recently re-signed Brice Butler may be en route to making both Hurns and Terrance Williams scoot, the fact remains that no Cowboys receiver will feel complete until Dak feels comfortable enough in and beyond the pocket to regularly, reliably, and accurately shoot.
Dallas, over the last 11 games, is averaging about 15 points and just under 300 yards per contest. Prescott is averaging less than 200 yards per outing, leaving Cowboys Nation (increasingly) frustrated and shouting.
At the end of the day, however, excuses (outside the untimely impact of injury) eventually become self-tightening nooses. If Dak and Scott Linehan’s collaboration continues to create inconsistent history (trapped by play-call depravity and execution mystery), the Cowboys’ offense will suffer further game day abuses.
Short Shots And Hot Spots
“I don’t know if any team in the league necessarily needs a No. 1 receiver. It’s about getting the ball out, spreading the ball around, keeping the defense on its toes.” - Dak Prescott May 25, 2018, following the DOD (Departure Of Dez)
Sean Lee works so incredibly hard and deserves far better than his brittle body allows him. Without his Romo-like presence in the lineup, the fortunes of the Dallas defense (year after year) become pretty dim. While it appears Leighton Vander Esch will be starting in Lee’s place, few expect the promising rookie linebacker to suddenly become the defense’s new face. And yet, if his knowledge of all three linebacker positions is thorough and real, he might shock the football world, allowing Lee to sit back and heal.
Will They Or Won’t They?
Over the first two weeks of the season, new Detroit head coach Matt Patricia saw his Lions hunted and affronted. The outlook was so bad that few people would have been completely surprised had Patricia attempted to orchestrate a return to the “mothership” (slightly similar to Josh McDaniels) and punted.
Just when it appeared that an angry 0-2 Patriots team was coming to Ford Field to disassemble Motor City, Patricia pulled an Eric Mangini. The Lions played like a team benefiting from “Spygate,” and – from start to finish – the typically well-prepared Patriots would ironically deflate.
Will Patricia become a far sturdier version of the “Mangenius” . . . or will the suddenly Voltron-like Lions crash land just as quickly and get banned from the back of the bus?
The Lions last played the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in December 2016, playing the Cowboys to a high-scoring first half tie, before getting blown out 42-21 with results so lean. The Lions spent the final two quarters being unable to gain any traction and – before the game was over – even Chris “The Puntisher” Jones got in on the action.
Will the Cowboys be particularly adroit and not overlook a (temporarily?) revitalized Detroit?
Will Marinelli’s Men be able to keep Matthew Stafford in check while Linehan’s Clan tries to avoid another aerial wreck?
Will the Dallas offense lock in on their true identity and finally evolve . . . or remain plagued with challenges they are not physically or strategically equipped to solve? Will Dak and Co. continue to expose their defensive brothers to multiple short fields through too many three-and-out yields?
Will Dak remember to proactively run before his offensive line screams “WE’RE DONE!?” When faced with a down and distance he cannot reasonably allay, will Prescott return to throwing it away instead of creating yet another (sack-soaked or held-the-ball-too-long) minus play? Will he (conversely but not absurdly) be more determined to throw deep and give his receivers (from tall to small) a greater chance to leap?
Will Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett remain game plan resolute and continue to insist the Cowboys have exactly what it takes to better execute?
Will “America’s Team” transform into a better-functioning beast or will the Lions be encouraged to feast?
Will Dallas be the host with the most . . . or continue to resemble high-priced toast?
We shall see. We always do.