Are you ready for some football? After a false start for the Hall of Fame game we are finally back to football. For Los Angeles it’s more than just back to football, the city is back in the NFL.
After trading a king’s ransom to pick #1 and earning the scorn of St. Louis, LA got to see a live, home football game for the first time in over 20 years. Jared Goff, the highly vaunted #1 pick made his NFL debut and it wasn’t pretty. Worse yet, he was taken out of the game with a sore shoulder. The good news was that it was his non-throwing shoulder, but after watching him play some fans may have wished it was. At least that way there would have been an excuse.
I’m not a Rams fan, so that’s not what this is about. I am a fan of America’s Team. The most valuable sports franchise in the ENTIRE WORLD! THE Dallas Cowboys.
I’m a die hard Cubs fan as well, so each year is THE year. This year is no different. And what a year it has already been!
Our first pick in the draft was a running back. Not too odd, unless you consider Darren McFadden running for more than 1000 yards last year without Romo or Bryant and the addition of Pro-Bowl running back Alfred Morris. Then it becomes a bit of a head scratcher. Our second round pick was a linebacker who may be great, if he ever plays. We waited until the 4th round to pick up a QB of the future when Romo is in the twilight of his career.
It was an odd draft, but whatever. Then camp starts. McFadden hurts his elbow dropping his iPhone. Defensive Ends Lawrence and Gregory are suspended for four games, with Gregory’s perhaps being 10 and linebacker McClain is suspended for 10 games before the draft, but we don’t address it then or at the start of camp.
That’s when the injury bug hits again. Backup QB Kellen Moore broke his ankle and is probably out 3-4 months. Our 1st round pick, Ezekiel Elliott, is hurt and out for the first preseason game. There were 23 Cowboys on the injury report for that game. That includes Romo, who I am certain will be listed as injured every week for the rest of his career, just like Tom Brady.
Finally, it’s time for the game. For the first half it was an amazing game! Dak Prescott was unbelievable. I’ll be honest…when Dallas didn’t trade up to draft Paxton Lynch I was mad as hell. When they didn’t draft Connor Cook I was in shock.
Then Dak Prescott made his debut. The only two incomplete passes he threw were drops by a guy who probably isn’t going to make the team. He was 10 of 12 with 139 yards and 2 touchdowns. That’s pretty great for a 4th round pick, even if they had a 2nd or 3rd round grade on him.
The first play of the first NFL game in LA since 1994 was a 101 yard kick return by Dallas. That set the tone for the first half. Dallas came out fighting, proving that last year was a fluke. If they had a competent starter they could have done a lot better than 4-12.
By the half Dallas led 24-7. Touchdown catches by Terrence Williams and Dez Bryant, the opening kickoff TD and a 44 yard Dan Bailey field goal meant the game was clenched, right? Well, these are the Cowboys.
Even though the Rams gave Dallas two interceptions, Dallas just couldn’t hang on. They couldn’t actually score a single point in the second half. That was the Cowboys of last year. If Romo and Prescott go down Showers is going to produce Weedon/Cassell results. He had an athletic escape on what should have been a sack and he managed to pick up yards off of it, but he just couldn’t deliver.
The backup Dallas defense played horrible. JJ Wilcox was garbage. Giving up 21 points is bad enough. Being outscored 21-0 is just unbelievable. Really? This was how Dallas played last year and it give me serious reservations about this season.
The problem isn’t going to be the starting offense or defense. Even with no known commodities on the d-line or most of the defense actually, they aren’t what could doom the 2016 season. The lack of depth is what could kill this team.
If Prescott plays like this again and again, backup QB/QB of the future will be solid and hopeful. If not, it’s 2015 again. Keeping 4 or 5 halfbacks on the roster seems like a terrible idea, but with 3 of them currently injured you might need at least that. Chaz Green’s penalties could squash any hope he has of elevating his game enough to be a starter on this line.
Dallas is going to have to open up the wallet and find some help for the defense. You can’t have no pressure on the QB and be one injury away from having nothing in the secondary either. The linebacker corps is depleted as well. They may be able to put together a Moneyball defense, but they have to stay healthy for that to work. They proved in 2014 that it could, but they would be living on a razor’s edge.
After the preseason ends I’ll take an informed guess at their record. For now I’m basically throwing crap at a wall and seeing what sticks, but I will say 11-5 if healthy, 4-12 again if not. Anything 8-8 or worse should result in Jason Garrett being fired, but he’s manged to hang in there this long. I don’t think anything could cost him his job at this point.