Cowboys: Part I.
By Tom Mahoney
3. Jones Does It Again- This season is a testament
to improvement. With a rookie QB, you have to improve each
week. Last week he improved again, and won the game. He did
some great things that he had never done before last week.
He is the most efficient rookie QB that I have ever seen.
He was phenomenal in the 1st quarter, hitting his first 7
passes for 122-yards. His accuracy, finding the open receiver
and efficiency is the best I’ve ever seen in a Rookie QB.
Brady wasn’t that good his first season as a starter.
“It was good to come down here and win. We haven't done that
in a couple years. I thought that it certainly wasn't perfect,
but we battled and played better situational football than
we have than some of the other games. That was a plus,” BB
said. “Got to give a lot of credit to Josh, offensive coaches,
offensive line. Those guys did a good job of hanging in there.
I thought they really went about the challenge this week of
replacing some good players in that group, and I thought they
played hard, and we got some runs there to balance off the
game a little bit.”
But what was new this week was a peek at Brady’s greatest
talent: coming from behind. He showed for the first time he
could come from behind. That is an elite trait for a rookie
QB. Rookie QBs just don’t do that. The Pats were down a touchdown
going into the 4th. Jones threw a beautiful pass to Hunter
henry to tie the game at 22. Then the Pats Defense stepped
up. And Mac then led them downfield 85-yards on 15-plays (again
efficiency) to win the game.
“He did a good job even last year just watching his like highlights
and stuff,” Mac said about Henry. “That's one of his good
routes that he has a good feel for, the corner, the flag.
He does a good job. Hunter is a tough guy and I think all
the skill players played with toughness today. I think that's
all you can ask from them is play with toughness and try to
do your job and they did a good job listening in the huddle
and we just tried to go out there and execute.”
So now we have to see some more steps up from Jones. Maybe
play with efficiency the whole game. As a rookie he still
hasn’t put a whole game together. That is the next step. Maybe
scoring a TD early in the game would be another. The good
news is that he has shown a way he has improved each week.
This is going to be a tough one for him. He will have to show
consistently and efficacy all game, which he hasn’t done yet,
“For a young quarterback you see the command. He's definitely
comfortable. It's an offense that's game plan specific. Each
week is different. So you look at their whole body of work
from the season,” Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy said. “You see
a lot of scheme and that is definitely a complement to him
as a young quarterback that he's handled that pretty seemlessly.
He knows where to go with the ball. They're more of a two
back offense in the early games that we've seen. That will
be something that we're focused on. I think he looks very
comfortable in their system.”
4. Pats Face Big Challenge- The Pats have a big challenge
this week. They are facing a true veteran QB, who knows how
to , I’m just not sure how much that includes on the road.
The Cowboys have won four straight. The Pats, though they
won last week, are 1 and 3 in the last four. So this is the
game ending win streak (sort of;) of one or the other. The
loss of Gilmore will stand out this week for the Pats Defense.
“New England is very fundamentally sound and aggressive with
their plan. They've always done a very good job schematically
challenging what you do best,” Mike McCarthy said. “This is
going to be a different week. This is always a different challenge
and a different type of game when you play New England."
But what we saw last week was that Davis Mills couldn’t close
the Game, like most 1st year QB starters. But what we also
saw was Mac Jones closing a game for the 1st time. Rookie
QBs, and 1st year starters always struggle to close games.
Mills faltered late in the game, like young QBs do. That will
not happen this week. Dak will win the game in the 4th Quarter
if the Pats give him a chance. That have to hit him, get a
led, and hold on for dear life.
“Seeing a lot of these Cowboys the last couple days. This
is a really impressive group. I was kind of going back through
some of my notes and just looking at this team over a period
of years. I would say one thing that really just jumps out,
overall, is just the job that they've done acquiring talent.
I think since 2006, they've had, by far, the most Pro Bowl
players, and it just seems like they always have, every time
we play them, seems like there's always a lot of good players
on the roster,” Belichick said. “Stephen Jones and the personnel
staff have obviously done a great job of selecting players
and acquiring players. Stephen's really done a good job putting
a strong roster together. Looking at their personnel staff,
there's a lot of experience down there. Those guys have been
there for a long, long time. I think, on their personnel staff,
they have over 500 years of NFL experience on that staff.
That's five centuries. It's amazing.
“This is not a young group. I say that respectfully because
of the job they've done, but they've been there a long time.
They know what they're looking for. They know what they're
doing. Stephen and the personnel staff and Lionel [Vital]
and all those guys have done a remarkable job of consistently
acquiring such top-level talent in all three areas. [On the]
offensive side of the ball, it's a really good line. They've
got some of the top players in the league, and that's after
losing [Travis] Frederick with his injury situation. Obviously,
the skill players are good. [Tony] Pollard leads the league
in yards per carry, and Zeke's [Ezekiel Elliott] Zeke. Dak's
[Prescott] Dak. You've got a couple of great receivers, but
all that being said, [Dalton] Schultz is really the receiving
leader, which is pretty remarkable considering the guys that
Prescott is throwing to. Defensively, the front's impressive.
A lot of speed at linebacker. They can cover. They can rush.
They can play the run. Between [Ceedee] Lamb and Pollard,
the return game is good.
“Obviously, Coach [John] Fassel, "Bones", is one
of the top special teams coaches in the league, so it's always
a dangerous situation between him and the players. You know
[Greg] Zuerlein's field goal range. It feels like he can kick
them, as soon as they cross midfield, they're in field goal
range. He's a big weapon, too. Good mix of young players and
guys kind of in their prime and some veteran players and some
guys they've acquired and added to their team. Guys like [Damontae]
Kazee and guys like that, and then there's other guys that,
obviously, are big draft choices and some of their core players.
Just overall, very impressive level of talent. Offensively,
Coach [Mike] McCarthy and Dan Quinn, I mentioned Fassel, they're
very, very well coached.
“They do a really good job offensively with their scheme and
put a lot of pressure on the defense. Defensively, they, as
I said, pretty much do everything well. They're ranked at
the top of the league in almost every category on offense
and defense, and they're good at the kicking game, so not
really a lot of weaknesses on this team. They're averaging
40 points a game the last three weeks and won pretty decisively.
They beat the [Los Angeles] Chargers. They're, obviously,
a good team there. A pretty talented team. We know we're going
to have to play our best game, and that's what we're getting
ready to do.”
5. Defense- The Pats have a big challenge this week. They
are facing a true veteran QB, who knows how to win on the
road. The Cowboys have won four straight games. Dak has entered
the stage where he’s a veteran QB, and has started winning
on the Road. He has taken all the steps that Mac is trying
to ascend. There are no more excuses. Dak has to win, or he
will be seen as a failing QB. Veteran QB win or die slowly.
“He looks pretty good. He's right at the top of the league
in passing,” Belichick said. “I mean, they're at the top of
the league in everything, so whatever stat you want to talk
about, they're at the top of the league in it. He's the trigger
guy. So he's making it all go,” Belichick said. “He's, obviously,
a very talented player. Big. Fast. He's along the lines of
[Leighton] Vander Esch and other guys like that they've drafted.
Penn State had a lot of good football players last year. He
was one of them.”
The Pats defense, yes it sounds like I’ve been giving all
the credit to Mac, has to step up again this Week and win
this game. They were really the reason the Pats won last week.
But they have to do better this week. They won’t be facing
a first year starting QB. They will be facing a six-year veteran,
who has seen it all. I don’t think Dak has put it all together
yet, but he is a 100-steps ahead of Mac.
“Again, that's a team play. You start by blocking it, which
they're pretty good at. They've got a lot of good receivers,
and they've got a good quarterback, and they can get open,
and they can run after the catch, and they can pick it up.
Again, you can't stop the blitz with one guy. Good schemes.
Kellen [Moore] does a good job on that. Obviously, they're
well prepared for it.”
They are going to have to face Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb.
They are two excellent WRs, who could soon be the best pair
of WRs in the NFL. This is when they are really going to miss
Stephon Gilmore. They have JC Jackson and a wing and prayer.
Dak is going to be throwing to the opposite side all day.
It’s tough for me to see how the Pats win this game if those
two go off like I expect.
6. Best Stat Of The Day- The best stat of this Game is that
the Pats haven’t won at Home yet this Season, four straight
losses. However, the Cowboys have lost seven straight games
against the Pats and they are on the Road. This is the game
of who will break their losing streak. Most have picked the
Cowboys and that is the right answer. However, the Pats have
been improving every week, and they have a veteran Defense
that can beat up on some Offenses.
“There are other teams we haven't played,” Belichick said.
“Obviously, we haven't played the NFC South either. We played
all the other teams in their division. So there's crossover
games. We watched Washington, Philly and the Giants in preseason,
and we saw plenty of the Cowboys. I mean, you can't help but
see them in crossover games.”
The Cowboys have to travel a long way. And they have not been
the best team on the Road since Dak joined the team. They
don’t fare well in Foxboro. Prescott is 33.7 points lower
in his Passing Rate on the Road than at Home. He is just not
as good on the Road. Like Mac, it is a step-by-step process
for young QBs. Dak has not quite learned how to win on the
Road yet, but he still has five or six years on Mac. He’s
getting better, and he’s facing a rookie QB today, but he’s
not there yet.
7. Best Stat Of The Day II- Dak is not all that, yet. Before
this season he was 1 and 6 against Playoff Teams. So, when
he’s playing against the best teams, he doesn’t win. The Pats
are not one of the best teams. Against Non-Play Off teams?
He was 7 and 2. Now like I have been saying about Mac Jones
all season is that it is a progression for QB, more than any
other position, because so much of what they do is mental.
First you start winning against Non-Play Off teams, like Mac.
Then you have to start beating the Play Off Teams.
“Yeah. He's good at it,” BB said. “I wouldn't compare him
to anyone else, but yeah. He's good at it. He knows where
to go with the ball. You want to make every quarterback do
that. You don't want to just tell them what you're in and
see what they can do about it. Make them figure it out. Make
them work for it. Change it up on them a little bit.”
This is what Mac is going through now. Only Dak is in his
sixth season. Mac has progressed so much faster this Season.
But, he still can’t compare to what Dak has done in his career.
So you just have to go with the veteran QB, even if he isn’t
as good on the Road.
“It's just the balance of what you have to defend. It's not
just runs and passes,” BB said. “It's passes that complement
other passes. It's runs that complement other runs. Runs that
complement passes. It's everything. It's not just one thing.”
This is the Homer Part: This game is the battle of the losing
streaks. Who can overcome their latest loses? Tough to say
a Rookie QB can beat a Veteran QB in that situation. But…
Pats win if Cowboys can’t overcome their Road woes. Pats are
actually the furthest team from Dallas that they will play
this season. Pats Win in ugly one.
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