THE DALLAS COWBOYS GO TO THE SUPERBOWL! Well, with my apologies to Scooter Magruder for stealing their line, this is how a few fans are reacting to Week 2’s win over the Los Angeles Chargers. After taking the reigning champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers All the way Dallas is now sitting 1-1 and there are a lot of positive things that can just indicate that they are now a real contender in the NFC, as well as the class in their division. But it’s a very small sample size with a lot of football to come. There are two sides to the story, which draws our David Howman and Tom Ryle to the subject like iron to a magnet.
To M: Last year, injuries derailed the season before it even started. Already, the 2021 edition of the Cowboys faced a tough opponent from the Chargers with six of their scheduled preseason starters, and while it was an end, they prevailed. That alone inspires a ton of optimism in me. As long as Dak Prescott remains healthy, this team has a chance against anyone. And don’t minimize the severity of injuries and other absences so far. Although they luckily avoided the late season ones, they saw a similar group on the defensive line as they saw on the offensive line last year. Creative coaching and the presence of aspiring superstar Micah Parsons allowed them to get over things and get the dub they so badly needed. Now the schedule looks a lot easier beyond the week 7 bye. I think they’re about to rack up a bunch of wins that will help them easily qualify for the playoffs.
David: There’s a lot to love about the Cowboys so far, but nothing like this to suggest that this team is a real contender. Their loss to the Buccaneers was expected, as it’s Tom Brady, but any NFC team that wants to make it to the super bowl will probably have to go through them to get there. Or maybe Aaron Rodgers, if Monday Night Football is something wrong. We already know that Dallas is unable to beat Tampa Bay even though they have hung up with them.
And as for the Chargers, they’re a trendy playoff pick, but have yet to validate that optimism. They struggled to score against a Washington defense that just gave up 29 points to a Giants offense led by Jason Garrett and featuring Daniel Jones under center. Not to mention the Chargers fought more than the Cowboys won; Los Angeles had two different touchdowns recalled due to penalties – both of those discs scored three points in total at the end – and they missed a field goal just before half-time. It looked like Dallas had done what they always do: play at their opponent’s level. So now they face some not-so-good teams for the next few weeks. So what? It just tells me we’re about to see a few weeks of bad Cowboys football.
To M: Unable to beat Tampa Bay? You can make the same arguments about their reconciliation as for the Chargers who lack little. It’s a team that depends on a few rookies to start (great, I might add) in defense and already have to mix the two lines up. Now they’re going to have the offensive line steady for a week with Terence Steele’s surprisingly strong performance to work with.
And after showing how they can strike through the air in week 1, they kicked off a powerful running game by finally using both Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard in some great clips. Both in attack and defense, he talks to the coach. Kellen Moore has led a clinic on how to find weak points in both games so far, and Dan Quinn has his unit playing much better than last year. As rookies have an increasing curve, free agent additions need to settle in with their new squad, and that bodes well after what we’ve seen from the FA safety trio in Los Angeles.
I’m also debating the idea of ââdownplaying their competition, given the number of starters projected against the Chargers. It was a game where they took up the challenge. I am very optimistic that the trend will continue as Moore and Quinn find vulnerabilities and answers against the Philadelphia Eagles. The guns are there for Dallas, and they are well handled. The arrow points in the right direction for this team.
David: I grant you that this coaching staff is doing a hell of a job, but at the risk of sprouting red hair, these players have yet to perform. CeeDee Lamb had a bad case of falls in Week 1 and a variety of self-inflicted injuries kept the Cowboys offensive from scoring more touchdowns after losing 14 in the first quarter on Sunday. Defensively, take-out is the only thing stopping Dallas from being blown away in both games, and history tells us that take-out is extremely hit and miss. Even in special teams, Greg Zuerlein was unreliable against Tampa Bay and Azur Kamara ruined a great call from John Fassel in the Chargers game.
Did you know Dallas is currently the ninth most penalized team in the NFL? It is no coincidence that the two teams they have faced so far are ahead of them in terms of penalties. The Cowboys’ next opponent, the Eagles, leads the NFL in shots on goal. Dallas are a sloppy team that took advantage of their opponents’ sloppy play. The brilliant shenanigans of these coaches, and Dak Prescott being Dak Prescott, helped them go 1-1. But botched teams don’t get very far in the playoffs. So while this may be a playoff team due to their win in a fairly weak division, I haven’t seen any evidence of a team willing to do anything once there.
To M: OK, you intrigued me with this little note about penalties. Yes, the Bucs and Chargers are among the worst penalties in the league, but the Eagles being the most penalized team in the league, say the Cowboys have a good chance of winning. But other than that, I have to look at how the team conducted their business the first two games. In attack as in defense, they used very different approaches to adapt to the opponent. It’s something that can be enduring as it’s all about the tricks of the coaching staff, and so far Moore and Quinn have been somewhere between very good and brilliant. Add to that that there are so many players who will be returning right now, plus the talent they still have on the pitch in several positions, and I think we already have enough evidence to say that they are one of the first contenders. That may change, but if they get the win I expect on Monday night, my position will only get stronger.