2021-2022

7-Things for

Cowboys.

PatsDraft.Com

Patriots Game

Preview.

7-Things For 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, to win.
“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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