Offensive Line Report / Enforcer: (2 + 5 – 1 = 6) / (S) C Cam Jurgens
Drive Killer: (B) S Jaquiski Tart (0 – 0 – 1 – 0 – 0)
Sack Leader: N/A
I hear you asking, “What about all the stuff that stats don’t reveal?” Well, that’s the reason for these Four Things articles. It’s to point out what we need to address BEFORE the game. Then AFTER the game, there’s a no-bullshit assessment of whether or not the Eagles did any of what they needed to do, to ensure the win.
So how much of what I mentioned in Four Things: BROWNS did the Eagles actually get around to doing? Well let’s see:
1) Don’t get gashed: I know I said that I’d set aside big runs to the outside, but contain was so bad, so often, that I’d be deliberately misleading you if I did that. So I’m throwing it in, as well.
Cleveland rushed for 174 yards on 32 carries (5.4 ypc). Our defensive line got almost nothing in the way of penetration all day, being repeatedly blown off the line throughout the game. (NOT DONE)
2) Cut the Engine: There were far too many upright tackle attempts in this game. Lack of penetration or contain against the run, just made for bad tackle angles in pursuit. As a result, Browns runners were bouncing off of Eagles defenders, like everyone had opposing magnetic charges. It was distressing to see. I was distressed. (NOT DONE)
3) Clean Interior Pocket: All day long, Eagles QB’s enjoyed clean pockets, and huge passing windows. Some of it had to do running so much RPO stuff early, but mostly it was just soundly executed football. Even QBReid Sinnett’s (4/9 – 44.4% – 69 – 1 – 0) 12 yard run for a first down, was facilitated by a massive alley right in front of him. (DONE)
4) Solid Team Culture: There were plenty of vocal and jovial players from guys who are guaranteed spots on the roster. There wasn’t nearly as much camaraderie amongst players fighting for jobs. This is of course, to be expected from the average person. It however, speaks to how each man handles pressure. It asks the question: Do I want this man on my team? The Eagles have a certain culture, and to perpetuate it, it helps to have people who intrinsically lean into it. I didn’t see many standard bearers today. (NOT DONE)
This week saw the Eagles accomplish 1 of 4on the Four Things list. Really it was more like three things, as the last one wasn’t strategy, but observation of reactionary behavior(s). In any case, we’ll take the ‘W’ and hope for better next week, against the Miami Dolphins.
On The Whole:
Lots of mixed feelings today. Tons. But we won, right?! It’s hard to be super-critical of back-ups, and players who won’t be players, in a week. So instead of criticism, how about some praise for a couple of these players.
If we keep six WR’s, Deon Cain has got to be one. I doubt he’d look quite as crisp against starter level players, but his hands, body control, and sideline awareness would all be what they are, against any level of competition. What I don’t want, is us releasing him, and seeing him show up in Dallas. (Given their receiver troubles.) Can’t we just trade Reagor to them, now?
Also WR Devon Allen’s route on that 55 yard bomb. His subtle jab step to the right, widened the alley between the CB and the S. So instead of Sinnett having to throw into a tight window, all he had to do was put the ball in the area code. That little step was delicious! I don’t know if Allen should be one of the six, but he’s certainly got my attention finally. Not for his speed, but that crafty bit of route running.
GOODBYE WR/TE J.J.Arcega-Whiteside. The Eagles cut short the WR to TE experiment, and traded him to the Seattle Seahawks, in exchange for a player they were going to cut anyway. Looking at the rest of the TE’s on the roster, I had hoped the experiment would pan out, and provide some depth. Maybe someone on the Eagles media staff, passed along my article about TEJack Stoll. Let’s hope!
When Arcega-Whiteside was over-drafted in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, everyone’s JJAW dropped. (C’mon, I’m never going to get to use that again.) The biggest knock against him, was being picked seven spots ahead of Seahawks WR D.K. Metcalf. In all fairness though, eight WR’s were picked ahead of Metcalf, including WR A.J. Brown.
While the fan base can’t blame JJAW for being drafted where he was, people can certainly held him responsible for never panning out as an offensive weapon. Where you get picked is someone else’s doing. Who you mold yourself into, is your own doing. To his credit, he did become a core Special Teamer, and was a heck of a blocker for the run game.
But this type of thing…
And let’s not even get into Umbrella-gate.
In a city like Philadelphia, that doesn’t take long to wear thin. But he’s getting a chance at a new start, in a city that is interested in him not as a TE, but as a WR/TE. Perhaps even pairing him and Metcalf in the red zone, as big targets who can also be relied upon as blockers.
As for the player that we got back in the trade, he’s NCB/S Ugo Amadi. He’s now one of either thirteen CB’s, or one of eight S’s, on this roster. If you want a look at his highlight tape, it includes being traded for JJAW. So don’t get too excited. But hey, the guy could flash in this system. Even if he doesn’t, injuries shape rosters too. Just like trades.
NORMALLY I would do a Four Thingsarticle here. Just to get in a little “Live” practice. Like the players will be doing. Or should be doing. Instead, since the starters will play less than a quarter, I’m going to focus more on players, than on tactics this week. Besides, no one is game-planning for this game anyway. Why should I outwork the coaches?
Yes. For the 7 downs that he plays, I will be looking for how fast the ball comes out of QB Jalen Hurts hand, after his dropback. Yes. I will have an eye on WR Jalen Reagor as the team showcases him as trade bait. Yes, I will watch the Jalens. That said, my real focus Friday night, will be elsewhere.
There are certain players that have piqued my interest over the offseason. Some players that I’m flat-out rooting for: FS Marcus Epps, WR Britain Covey, TE Jack Stoll, (all of whom I wrote articles about in THE 12 ), and CB Zech MacPhearson.
Then there are players with stories that have intrigued me: WR J.J.Arcega-Whiteside’s transition to TE; WR Quez Watkins usage in the Slot; LB Patrick Johnson in his second year; and the rejuvenation of CB James Bradberry, whom I erroneously referred to in May , as a “fading star”.
There won’t be any deep strategizing– (isn’t it weird when you have to add a word to Word’s dictionary?) –so instead of trying to separate gnat shit from pepper, I’ll have my eye on a few of these guys tomorrow night. Namely, Covey (during kick returns), Stoll (as a receiving option), JJAW (specifically his in-line blocking); and Johnson (getting snaps at DE vs true LB).
Preseason games have always been watered down events, but ever since this latest Collective Bargaining Agreement, coaches are more concerned with making sure their starters are available Week One, than making sure that the team is any good for Week One.
So, during this game, we’ll get one or two series of the players we paid to see, then an hour of back-ups, followed by Practice Squaders and guys who’ll be at your job, filling out applications in three weeks. (Wow. I almost said something waaaaay depressing here. Something about euthanizing a dream. Quick! Here’s a picture of a cute piglet.)
In the meantime, tomorrow we’ll get to see the sausage get made, and hear every chop and squeal. So I don’t think I really need to roll out a full-on, Four Things article for this game. I’m just going to keep an eye on FOUR GUYS, while I eat Five Guys. Then I’ll write about them, so we can start to build a working picture of how deep, multi-faceted, and resilient this team really is.
WHILE I really couldn’t care any less about the DeShaun Watson situation, I am infinitely curious about how this is going to shake out for the Cleveland Browns. With the NFL gearing up to place Watson on possibly a one year suspension, the Browns have an absolute shit-show on their hands.
(Full disclosure: I wrote this article on June 27th, but I kept balking at publishing it. If the Browns and QB Baker Mayfield had kissed and made-up (and there were stories saying that it could have happened), then this article would look pretty silly. Well now that Cleveland has been dumb enough to trade Mayfield, I can finally release this bad boy.)
Let me catch you up: Cleveland spent twenty-six years without a playoff win; get one with QB Baker Mayfield; do Mayfield dirty, by signing a pervert (Watson) to replace him; and now looks as if they’ll have to play this season without their pervert, or Mayfield. So ladies and gents, I present to you, third string QB Jacoby Brissett!
Big deal, right? All a third string QB does, is set Cleveland up for early draft picks, right? Nope. Cleveland has no first rounders until 2025. So the team has zero motivation to tank for draft position until then. It’s either win or humiliation. As for Brissett, he’s twenty-nine, and on a one year 4.6M$ deal. So an opportunity to start in 2022, is an audition for his 2023.
A closer look at him reveals a 14 – 23 record as a starter for a “less than good” Colts team. It also reveals a career mark of 36 touchdowns against 17 interceptions, with another 13 scores rushing. So he can play. The issue with him has been that his opportunities have always been with crap teams.
Before anyone forgets, the Browns have a pretty good roster. They went 8 – 9 last year, in a division that was won by the 10 – 7 Bengals. Honestly, with the Steelers now grooming a rookie QB, all it would take for the Browns to win the AFC North, would be an injury to Bengals QB Joe Burrow, and the Ravens continuing to be predictable.
Two years ago, Cleveland went to Kansas City and lost by just five points, in the Divisional round of the 2020 playoffs. This is largely still that roster. If the Browns made the playoffs this year, and suddenly got hot… Hey, weirder has happened.
My question is this: What if the Browns fuck up and succeed? What would the Browns do next year, if Brissett gets the Browns to The Show this year? What if they actually win it behind him? Where would that leave Watson? Remember, this team has no first rounder next year, so this year they have no reason not to go all in. Their QB needs this season, to possibly still have a career in a year. So a lot is at stake.
I don’t have any speculation for what the Browns might do. While the factors for a deep playoff run are all easily possible, it’s their aligning, all at the right time, that is highly unlikely. That said, a competent QB, plus a good roster, and a tight division, equals a chance.
Dear Browns fans, your team could very well stumble towards greatness in 2022. Just kidding! All it would take is a little errant luck, and your DeShaun Watson shit-show, could become a full-blown shit-nado. I hope you all brought a towel, because it’s almost time for you to…
This is going to sound weird to Browns fans, but did you know that most NFL fan bases look forward to football season? C’mon over. Let’s get you out of that abusive relationship. What’s happening to you, is not normal.
CLEVELAND Browns QB DeShaun Watson, seems to have a new accuser every 6 hours or so. It’s gotten so bad, that people are speculating about what it will take for the Browns to weasel out of the record, fully guaranteed, 230M$ contract that they signed Watson to, just a few months ago.
My guess however, is that as long as no criminal charges are filed, the Browns will stick with Watson. Come Hell or high water. Because they have to. They have almost no other option.
In order to pry Watson away from the Texans, the Browns parted with their:
2022 first round pick (CB Derek Stingley Jr.)
2023 first round pick
2024 first round pick
2022 fourth round pick (RB Dameon Pierce)
2023 third round pick
2024 fourth round pick
This was in exchange for Watson, and a lowly 2024 sixth round draft pick.
Understand, if the Browns cut Watson with him never playing a down for them, they will have effectively given the Texans three first round picks, a third round pick, and two fourth round picks, in exchange for just one sixth round pick. This would be six picks for one. With every pick the Texans get, being of much greater value than the one they gave up.
It would be the greatest hosing in sports history. The Texans could surpass the Great Trade Robbery, pulled off by the Dallas Cowboys in 1990. In that trade, the Cowboys sent RB Herschel Walker, two third rounders, a fifth rounder, and a tenth rounder to Minnesota; in exchange for three first rounders, three second rounders, one third rounder, one sixth rounder, and four players.
This is before Jimmy Johnson’s draft pick valuation chart changed the way the NFL executives viewed draft picks. So keep in mind, no one (not coaches, GMs, owners) looked at picks like we see them now. Imagine a caveman stubbing his toe on a brick of gold, before it ever had any value assigned to it. To him it was just a stupid rock. In 1990, a pick was more or less, just a pick.
One player and three picks, for four players and eight picks. As lopsided as the GTR was, Minnesota still had Walker (the focal point of that entire trade) play for them, and they won the third round exchange, (two for one). With the Browns, if Watson doesn’t play, everything, literally every single thing, that the Browns gave up, is more than the one thing they got.
If the Browns cut Watson, the NFL will not rescind the trade. Some of those picks have already been cashed in. So that part of it is DONE. Complete. Finito. So the Browns have to stick with Watson, come Hell or high water. If they don’t, it only makes their foolishness look even worse.
Even worse for the Browns would be if they cut him, and Watson ends up back in the NFL. Someplace like New York or Pittsburgh, on a 4 year, 175M$ deal, 100M guaranteed, and laden with reachable incentives. At that point this trade would get a nickname (maybe the Cleveland Crappy Ending™), that would for ever define the city of Cleveland.
As for Herschel Walker, he spent three seasons going 21 – 22 overall as a Viking, and one playoff win. The only team he would ever have a career winning mark with, would be the Philadelphia Eagles (26 – 22), and one playoff win. With Dallas (34 – 56) and the New York giants (5 – 11), Walker (86 – 111) would never win a playoff game.
If the Browns are dumb enough to cut Watson now, then the Texans will surpass the mark left by the Cowboys. I never thought I’d see the day when a franchise out-dumbed the GTR, but my dear reader, get your Gallagher poncho out of storage. We may be about to witness some messy history.
NOTE: Every day of the Draft I will add to this article, tracking the hits (H), questionables (Q), and misses (M).
EAGLES fans, get excited about 2022! Two days ago, I said“Properly armed, the Eagles can win the NFC East.” I then went on to explain what and who I meant by, “properly armed”. I said on Tuesday that we should trade up from #15 to #13 to draft DT [Jordan Davis], and then we should add big, physical WR [Treylon Burks] at #18. That in itself would have been great.
And then on Thursday night, General ManagerHowie Roseman, pulled off not one, but two master strokes, mere minutes apart. Let’s get at it!
Round 1 (13th overall): DT Jordan Davis(H)
Davis is not a pass rusher. What he is, is a pocket collapser, and a run stuffer. He’s a guy who demands a double-team, and he’s virtually unblockable one-on-one when he finds his way into an ‘A’ gap. By the way, we will be pairing/rotating this kid with DT’s Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave.
With the three man triangle of Davis, Cox, and MLB T.J. Edwards, seeing the Eagles finish once again in the NFL’s Top 10 vs the run (9th in 2021), almost seems like a given. Surely it’s the basis that the Eagles pass rush will be built upon, now that the DE’s will see a ton of one-on-one match-ups. And this was all done by adding ONE GUY. If you don’t love this pick, you don’t understand football.
I said on Tuesday, that to avoid Baltimore grabbing Davis at #14, we should package our #15 and #101 picks to Houston for the 13th pick. What happened instead, was Howie packaged our #15 with two 4th rounders and 5th, to move up to 13. Dumping late rounders in a shallow Draft, when we have a ton of guys on futures contracts already? Absolute master stroke, Howie.
Round 1 (18th overall): TRADE for WR A.J. Brown. (H)
I wanted WR Treylon Burks with this pick, but Brown is so much better. Everything I said about why I wanted Burks, is true about Brown, and then some. With Brown it’s all been proven at the NFL level, and he’s more physical. In addition to which, he keeps his nose clean off the field. So we already know that we’re getting a real professional.
The knock on him is that in three seasons, he’s already had seven missed games due to injury. The worry is that now that the Eagles have given him a 4 year, 100M$ (57M$ guaranteed) contract, he might not ball out anymore. Really? Did I mention that he spent the offseason working out with QB Jalen Hurts? Before he was traded here. Does that sound like someone who doesn’t want to get at it? Or does it sound like a guy with a point he wants to make?
Aren’t you excited to see just what Hurts and Brown worked on this Spring? Shiiiiid, I know I am! With this ONE MOVE, the Eagles Offense is suddenly stacked! This guy was totally worth the 18th and 101st pick. Hell, if I was the GM, we’d have already blown it on Davis. So score one more for Howie!
Round 2 (51st overall): C Cam “Beef” Jurgens(Q)
The Front Office sees traits of C Jason Kelce in him, but I’m still not really all that excited. Jurgens moves well enough for all the second level stuff in the run game. He’s also smart enough to recognize fronts, and make the blocking scheme calls. Which is great. That’s all good news.
What he doesn’t do, is generate a new line of scrimmage with his blocks. Watching the videos (one and two), he doesn’t drive defensive linemen backwards, without a combo block. He turns them out of the hole, or ushers them down the line when they chase the ball carrier. Get them going backwards though? No.
He’s lean and has a lack of lower body mass, which betrays a high center of gravity. Not possessing a natural anchor, it opens the door to him being ridden back into his QB, at the NFL level. If he’s Kelce 2.0, then great. If he’s not, this was a wasted pick.
Round 3 (83rd overall): LB Nakobe Dean (H)
He has first round talent, but his medical history saw him slide two rounds. No one is saying what his injury is specifiaclly, but my guess is that he tore his pectoral muscle off the shoulder bone. A quick glance at him shirtless would confirm that, but even after scouring the Internet for a couple hours, there doesn’t seem to be even one. (Which is side-eye inducing.)
Here’s why he’s a hit, and not questionable or a miss. So far he has opted not to have surgery to repair the tear. Doesn’t matter why. Don’t focus on that. Get him in here for mini-camp and OTA’s. Let him see the pros and realize that to stay one, he’ll need to be at his best to win a roster spot. He’ll decide on the surgery, which will basically sideline him for his rookie year.
We don’t need him this year. We have MLB T.J. Edwards, who is coming off a good year. We have OLB Kyzir White on a one year deal. Get Dean the surgery, let him take his time to heal, and then get him out here, better than he’s been in years. We got a steal. To watch it pay off, all it will cost us, is some patience.
Round 6 (181st overall): OLB Kyron Johnson (M)
He’s a 3-4 OLB used mostly as a pass rusher in college. His draft dimensions are listed at 6’0” 235, which would be undersized for that role in the NFL. However, he has college listing that put him at 223 pounds as a senior. Which would make him a liability in the NFL, in the role to which he is accustomed. In coverage, he has 5 passes defensed in a 51 game career.
The have been some rumblings about the Eagles wanting to use a 3-4 front, from time to time, so Johnson may have been selected with an eye towards that. Or, he may have been selected to light a larger fire under 2021 draft pick, OLB/DE Patrick Johnson in competition for that role. If he’s motivation, this is a good pick. If the Eagles are looking to rely on him on Sundays… Meh.
Round 6 (198th overall): TE Grant Calcaterra (M)
In 2019, after waking up from a hit suffered in practice, at the age 20, Calcaterra made the decision to retire from college football. It wasn’t because of one hit that he retired. It was because after multiple concussions, he realized that they were coming closer and closer together.
He took a year off and made a comeback in 2021, posting decent numbers as a receiver, but offering little in the way of physicality as a blocker. Knowing what we know, it’s hard to blame him for being less physical. Unfortunately, his position demands it. If retirement was his reality at 20, then someone was trying to tell him something. He just wasn’t wise enough to listen.
You want to root for this kid? Root for him to live. Root for him not to make the final cuts, or the Practice Squad. Root for him to be 50, and still recognize his wife and his kids. Having suffered multiple concussions means that CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) is already part of his future’s landscape. Root for it not to be made worse by wearing midnight green.
I said on Tuesday that because it’s a shallow draft, we should load up in the first three rounds, and treat the remaining picks like lottery scratch-offs. Apparently Howie reads my articles, because that’s exactly what we did. He was aggressive in the first round, took what fell to him in the next two, and then practically bailed on the rest of it. Which was genius actually.
The top of this Draft was excellent. As a fan, I can only put it behind the 2002 Draft (Lito Sheppard, Mike Lewis, Sheldon Brown, and Brian Westbrook, in that order), in regards to how excited it got the fan base. Jordan Davis and A.J. Brown will make an impact in 2022.
The middle was saw us do some important pantry stocking. Nothing we have a pressing need for, but good to have in the house already. Neither Beef Jurgens (I do love the nickname), nor Nakobe Dean has to start in 2022. The game can be shown to them at a pace that allows them to be great when we do need them.
The bottom of this Draft is a head scratcher. Neither guy even seems like a Special Teams contributor. Maybe they’re here to push players already on the roster? Hell, I’m just disappointed that WR(?) Jalen Reagor is still on the roster.
PROPERLY armed, the Eagles can win the NFC East. We’ll need to do some remodeling, but not full-on rebuilding. With the current combination of the Eagles being really good at some things, and our rivals being bad at some things, the door is open. More than just a little. We just need to add the right pieces to shore up our own weaknesses, before we attempt to stroll/walk/dip through it.
We have what seems like 700 picks in this Draft, but today I’m just going to focus on these five:
Round 1: No. 15 (from MIA)
Round 1: No. 18 (from NO)
Round 2: No. 51
Round 3: No. 83
Round 3: No. 101 (from NO)
Here are the players I want to see become Eagles this week:
Round 1: No. 15 – DT Jordan Davis: Some might consider this a few picks early, others will say it’s an outright reach. There’s a good chance that he won’t even be there at 15, so I wouldn’t gamble on that. Just to be sure, I’d offer this pick (#15) and #101 to Houston, for the #13 pick, to avoid losing Davis to Baltimore at #14.
What I see is five years (rookie contract) of a space eating, run-stuffer who absorbs double-teams, and helps to keep our LB’s clean, in a division that still runs the ball. Adding this guy would upgrade the entire defense on that alone. When DT Fletcher Cox is gone next year, Davis gives us someone to build around. He’d also help keep DT Javon Hargrave effective, and let DT Milton Williams play more DE.
Round 1: No. 18 – WR Treylon Burks: The Eagles made overture after overture to free agent WR’s this offseason, all of whom turned us down. Eventually the Eagles settled for WR Zach Pascal. Yes, settled. If you think our Front Office is done trying to upgrade our WR position, then you my friend have lost the plot.
The Eagles have fast guys at WR (Watkins, Hightower). We got guys you never heard of (Allen, Cain). Guys who can’t catch (Reagor). We have clever guys (Ward), TE guys (Arcega-Whiteside), shrug-worthy guys (Pascal). What we don’t have, is a big, fast, and physical guy. And that’s where Burks comes in.
Burks is so different from WR Devonta Smith, but WOW, what a potential combo! Smith is a precise route runner who creates separation and gives the QB, friendly places to put the ball. Burks can win contested catches and shed tackle attempts. So for each of them, Safety help is needed to prevent a routine catch from turning into six points. Which would make it very hard for a defensive coordinator to write a coverage concept, that wouldn’t get shredded on a weekly basis.
Round 2: No. 51 – S Daxton Hill: Though he plays a lot of Nickel CB, he can play anywhere in the secondary. Let me reiterate: Anywhere in the secondary. He’s a DB with 4.3 speed, and it shows up on film. Many athletes leave their impressive 40 times at the Combine. This kid had his on display before he got there. Better still, he attacks the football and causes interceptions for other players off of deflections.
The F.O. chased CB Stephon Gilmore in free agency, but they didn’t chase a bunch of CB’s. Pretty much just Gilmore, because… Well because he’s him. Otherwise we have Slay, Maddox, and 7 young CB’s to evaluate. Spending a high pick on another one, only makes that evaluation more complicated.
What we need, is a FS with Jaws-like closing speed, who is nearly impossible to outrun. This could be that guy.
Round 3: No. 83 – DE Joshua Paschal: He didn’t rack up a ton of sacks in college, and he’s not a pass rush demon. What he is, is a big, assignment solid DE. He sets the edge vs the run, and gains consistent penetration, proving disruptive both as a DE, and DT. He even flashes the ability to play as a 3-4 DE.
The best thing about him, is that he doesn’t just make plays when he isn’t blocked, or when he’s poorly blocked. This guy makes plays even after beating squared up offensive linemen. He plays a man’s game already. The idea of sitting him next to Jordan Davis for the next three of four years (or longer) is a happy thought.
This is how I’d like to see the first three rounds go.
Some NFL Drafts have good fourth rounds. When we look back in 5 years, I doubt this will be one of them. This is a shallow draft, in terms of finding many difference makers at RB, TE, QB, G, and DT. That being the case, we should grab what we need, and everything from the fourth round and on, view as a lottery scratch-off.
LAST year Dallas went 12 – 5 and won the NFC East. They earned a home playoff game. Then they proceeded to shit the bed 17 – 23, against a 6th seed 49ers team. People will want to critique how the last play of that game went down, but the fact is, the game shouldn’t have even been a contest. This has long been the story of the Cowboys. The larger, deeper issues are frequently ignored, in favor of shiny distractions. That said, is this the year they change the story?
With the NFL Draft being 13 days away, this is what the Cowboys roster currently looks like:
QB: Dak Prescott (11 – 5, 68.8%, 37/10) won his division, and posted career highs in completion percentage and touchdown passes. This included 13 TD’s and 0 interceptions over the final four games. He also had five games with 300+ yards passing, and five games with a completion percentage over 75.
Those stats point to him being back from the ankle injury that stole his 2020 season. Well, mostly back. One of the things that has helped Prescott in the past, has been being big and mobile, not just a big target. In an average year with 16 starts, Prescott averaged 60 rushes, 305 yards, 5.0 pyc, and 5 scores. Last season his numbers were (48 – 146 – 3.2 – 1). Keep an eye out.
Preseason Hall of Famer Cooper Rush (1 – 0, 63.8% – 3/1) added to his legend when he went undefeated in 2021. Filling in for Prescott during Week Eight, Rush put 325 yards on the Vikings, in a 20 – 16 Cowboys win. Seems that this position is worth every penny being spent on it. Ben “Bring It On” DiNucci is also still cashing his paychecks. (+)
RB: For the fifth year in a row, Ezekiel Elliott (1002/4.2/10) saw his rushing yards per game decline. He was held to fewer than 50 rushing yards in eight games last year. He only cracked the century mark twice. He did manage to rush for 1,000 yards though. That has to count for something. I guess.
Tony Pollard (719/5.5/2) is an average player. Fortunately for him, he seems to know it, so he hits holes as quickly as he can. He’s not a threat to break a 60 yard run, so he makes up for it by producing smaller chunk runs, more consistently. As long as his 205 pound frame is playing the “RB 1B” role, fans will wonder why he doesn’t get more than 8 carries per game.
Dallas also has three FB’s on the roster, most recently signing free agent Ryan Nall. They won’t keep three, so this is clearly an “iron sharpens iron” type of move. In any case, look for the team to flashback to the 1990’s, to re-emphasize lead blocking. Just the fact that they’ll be the only team doing it, will make them very hard to prepare for. Especially for a generation of defenders who wouldn’t be familiar with FB as a routine weapon. (+)
WR: I said last year that three was a crowd here, and I was right. However instead of ditching Michael Gallup (35/445/12.7/2), they traded Amari Cooper(68/865/12.7/8) to Cleveland. This means that CeeDee Lamb (79/1102/13.9/6) has graduated from Robin to Batman.
Over his first couple of years, even in a lesser role, Lamb has been plagued by drops and lapses in focus. Now that he’s going to have more intense attention focused on him, there have to be serious questions about if he’s mentally ready for the role.
Gallup lost nearly half of last year being on I.R with a calf injury. He then played in eight games before tearing his ACL, and going on I.R. again. His return goal is Week One. Which would mean no training camp. Steelers free agent James Washington (24/285/11.9/2), was signed to a one year deal. Essentially swapping out Cooper for Washington. That is clearly a step down.
There can be no arguing that this group is several steps back from what they were a year ago. That said, if Gallup can stay healthy in 2022, this trio could still be dangerous. (+)
TE: Boom! Dallas hit Dalton Schultz (78/808/10.4/8) with the franchise tag, before anyone else could take a shot at luring him away with a long-term deal. Schultz proved to be a sure-handed security blanket in 2021. While not an explosive athlete, his presence in the red zone will help provide the run game with more room to operate.
After cutting Blake Jarwin, there are bodies, but there really is no reserve talent here. Given the amount of traffic that will come Schultz’s way, this position will produce. However, if Schultz can’t stay healthy this season, this position is screwed. They are literally one player deep here. Just one. Uno. Single-ito! (-)
OT: At the moment LT Tyron Smith and swingman Terence Steele are the only real game in town. Smith hasn’t played a full season since 2015. Last year he played just 11 o f 17, and this year he’ll be 32. Not a good look! Steele has been more of a fill-in than a regular starter. Some weeks he played on the right, and when Smith was out, Steele played left.
While the talent is decent here, there is absolutely no consistency or reliability here. Making matters worse, there is no real depth. They have Isaac Alarcon, Josh Ball, and Aviante Collins. None of whom played a single down of football in 2021. (-)
G: All-Pro Zack Martin gives this line a rally point at RG, but he’s likely going to spend a good portion of 2022, helping the guy who will be working on his right-hand side. Babysitting doesn’t allow a player to operate at maximum ferocity. So expect the right-side of the line to suffer. At least early in the year.
Connor McGovern is still on the roster and started six games in 2021. However, it’s hard to pin down just how the Cowboys organization views him. At the moment he’s the clear LG, but a single flap of butterfly wings in China, might change that. Matt Farniok played a total of 23 offensive snaps, late in three games in 2021. The average score of those games: 50 – 14.
Right now it seems like there’s a weakened right, and the left is largely a question mark. Maybe the Draft is where an answer will come from, but as of this moment. This position is weak. (-)
C: Tyler Biadasz was the only lineman to start every game, so hooray for durability. He also had 9 penalties in 2021, which was second only to a guy who’s no longer a Cowboy. At this point no one seems entirely sold on Biadasz. That’s largely because he’s still being unfairly compared to Travis Frederick. A guy named Braylon Jones is the back-up. Iffy starter and no depth? (-)
In A Nutshell: The Cowboys have weapons, but right now, they lack reliable players on the offensive line. Employing a throwback wrinkle like routine lead blocking, might help the run game, but it’s going to hurt the passing game. There is no way to put a FB on the field, without taking some speed off the field. Should be interesting to watch. (-)
DE: DeMarcus Lawrence is no longer a premier pass rusher, but he can still get pressures. He also sets a pretty good edge vs the run, making things easier for those playing behind him. Free agent Donte Fowler looks to inherit the starting role vacated by Randy Gregory (DEN). Fowler had a couple of good years in 2017and 2019. The Cowboys are hoping to re-ignite that.
Dorance Armstrong will give a good effort, but is by no means a special player. Which is why Fowler was added. Tarell Basham is just a back-up. He plays from a two point stance, and at 6’4” that leaves his chest exposed at the snap. He also spends far too much time watching football, while he’s on the field. They also have some guy named Chauncey Golston. (-)
DT: Osa Odighizuwa got the fan base excited with how disruptive he can be, but his 280 pound frame seemed to wear down over just 14 weeks. No shame in that for a rookie, but this year he won’t be a rookie. Keep an eye on him. Carlos Watkins won’t cost any coaching staff a single wink of sleep. Yet Dallas re-signed him.
Neville Gallimore missed most of 2021, but once healthy, he took over for Odighizuwa, and was sort of “Meh”. Quinton Bohanna is a 360 pound gap plugger, who changes direction as well as an Applebee’s. This position is a cry for help. (-)
OLB: Defensive Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons is the total package. He pass rushes. He covers. He slices, he dices, is non-stick, and stain resistant! Parsons has been hyped as the next Lawrence Taylor, likely stemming from Parson’s 13 sacks as a rookie. That said, despite playing 904 snaps on defense, he only produced 84 tackles, and just two games with 10 or more tackles.
On the other side is Leighton Vander Neck. Sorry. Vander Esch. Injuries have rendered him half the player that he was as a rookie, which is why the Cowboys signed him to a one year “prove it” deal. Vander Esch hasn’t recorded 50 solo tackles since 2018, and playing outside in this system, will almost ensure that he doesn’t again in 2022. There is no depth here. (+)
MLB: I said last year, moving 211 pound FS Keanu Neal, to LB was stupid, and it turns out that I was right. AGAIN! Neal is now in Tampa, and now it seems that the middle will be manned by (drum roll) Luke Gifford?
Gifford played 32 defensive snaps in 2021. He only played 1 defensive snap in 2020. Maybe he won the coaching staff’s trust with those additional 31 snaps? It would not surprise me to see Vander Esch take over this spot. However until the subject comes up, I can only “speculate.” (-)
S: Jayron Kearse came into 2021 having played 73 games with just 12 starts. In 2021 he was given 15 starts, and had a pretty “meh” year. Just 2 interceptions, but he did lead the team in tackles (101). It was enough to convert last year’s prove it contract, into a two year pact.
Malik Hooker and Donovan Wilson are former starters who are under 27 years old. Both will likely compete for the other starting spot. Unless a player is drafted high here. (-)
CB: Trevon Diggs led the NFL with 11 interceptions. Cowboys fans would like for that to be the whole story, but it isn’t. He had 11 interceptions, because teams didn’t shy away from targeting him 103 times. Why not target a guy giving up 907 passing yards and 16.8 yards per catch? (For contrast the Eagles Darius Slay was targeted just 85 times, gave up 10.7 yards per catch, and just 535 yards.)
Anthony Brown’s first year under the new defensive system yielded 16 starts, 71 tackles, 3 picks and 17 passes defensed. All were career highs. Surely he’s looking forward to 2022. Jourdan Lewis started 13 games as the Nickle and also saw career highs in interceptions (3), tackles (61), and passes defensed (11). Kelvin Joseph rounds out the top four. How trash do you have to be to have played in 80 games with just 1 start, in your rookie year? Ask C.J. Goodwin. He knows. (+)
In A Nutshell: It’s the Cowboys. So whether they over or underachieve, you always expect to see a ton of talent on this team. So when looking at this unit, it’s amazing to see how hollow it is, right down the middle. Three positions: DT, MLB, and S, seem to be waiting to find salvation in the draft. Not wise. (-)
K: Chris Naggar is what people in sportscasting call, “a landmine”. Just one slip of the tongue… Dear Cowboys fans: You’ll be comforted to know that Naggar is experienced, and has never missed an NFL field goal attempt. He hit the 37 yarder that he kicked last year. He however, was just 1/2 (50%) on extra points. I have Brett Maher’s phone number if you want it… Hell, right now Bill Maher might be a better option than what you have. (-)
P: Bryan Anger was re-signed after averaging a career best 48.4 yards per punt, with 0 blocked, and opponents averaging just 6.5 yard per return (+)
In A Nutshell: I spent 4 years as a comedy writer, and even my twisted imagination couldn’t come up with something like the Cowboys Kicker situation. It’s pure comedy. For rival fans, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. (-)
The Cowboys are in trouble. They have spent so much money (QB, RB) and draft capital (WR’s, CB’s, LB’s) on peripheral players, that they haven’t made sure that they can win in the trenches. On either side of the ball. Unless something huge happens, Dallas is going to spend 2022 getting out-physicalled, and never really get a chance to find their footing in many games. The lack of quality depth (OT, TE, G, DE, DT LB, and S) means that when injuries start to hit, the drop-offs will be dramatic. This team feels 8 – 9, but we’ll call it 9 – 8 because New York is still in the division.
LAST year the Washington (insert name here), went 7 – 10 and finished third in the NFC East. The only thing more disgusting than the sewage that the stadium spewed on it’s fans, was the football that the team played on the field. Turns out that owner Dan Snyder was apparently not only cheating the fans, but the NFL shared revenue pool as well. Surely the Redsk- sorry, the newly named Commanders, have a lot to shake off.
In any case, this is what their roster looks like just 14 days before the Draft:
QB: The same Colts front office that thought they could do better than Peyton Manning (HOF), and then ran Andrew Luck out of football, has traded Carson Wentz (9 – 8, 62.4%, 27/7) to this team, after just one year with their team. Pundits are siding with the Colts (for now), but we’ll see how long that holds up.
Many question Wentz’s decision making (akaplaying “hero ball”) at times, but no one questions his talent. Posting the numbers that he did last year, given his weapons in Indy, (see above link) speaks to that. Oh, remember Wentz’s “injury prone” label? He hasn’t missed a game due to injury in 3 years now. For those keeping score, that’s 85 games played, with 8 missed to injury. Now he gets a shot to shake his “broken QB” label. Stay tuned.
Taylor Heinicke (7 – 9, 64.9%, 20/15) is an average athlete, with above average moxie. Despite having an average arm, he’s more of a gunslinger than a game manager. Translation: He’ll gamble with the football. That, more than any other reason, is why Washington felt the need to trade for Wentz. Still, there’s a ton of fight at this position. Both players have a “never say die” attitude, which could become contagious. That’s impossible to overlook. (+)
RB: Antonio Gibson (1037/4.0/7) led all NFC East RB’s in rushing yards. Unlike is rookie year, he didn’t miss a single game, and even saw incremental improvement as a receiver. He also led all NFC East RB’s in fumbles (6).
His hands and explosiveness are nowhere close to what you’d expect from a guy who played WR in college. In 16 games, he’s produced no runs longer than 27 yards. His game also seems to lack much physicality. Which might be why he continues to struggle with pass protection, and ball security.
Jaret Patterson (266/3.9/5) and J.D. MiKissic (212/4.4/2) give Washington two more backs who can catch. However, physicality, explosiveness, and creativity as runners, seem to be lacking thoughout this position. (-)
WR: Terry McLaurin (77/1053/13.7/5) is alone out there. Even with all the attention that he attracts from defenses, the next most productive players at this position, were Adam Humphries (41/383/9.3/0) gone.DeAndre Carter (24/296/12.3/3) gone. And thenCam Sims (15/211/14.1/2). You are looking at this team’s 2021 TOP four players at this position. (This is very similar to what Wentz just had in Indy.)
The Curtis Samuel (6/27/4.5/0) experiment from last season, was derailed by a groin injury. Washington has to hope that Samuel will bounce back, and 2022’s 3rd round pick Dyami Brown (12/165/13.8/0), can become a difference maker in 2022. Oh they also brought back Kelvin Harmon who spent 2019 with them, then was out of football until now. Ugh. (-)
TE: Logan Thomas (18/196/10.9/3) and John Bates (20/249/12.5/1) aren’t glamorous, but they’re stable building blocks. Thomas had his 2021 shortened by an ACL tear, but is expected back by the start of training camp. He’s not a scary receiver, but he’s reliable. He’s also a vicious blocker.
Bates saw a lot of action later in his rookie year, partly due to injuries to other players. Still, it’s valuable experience, and it gives Washington a solid knowledge base to improve the position from. Sammis Reyes is the team’s two year, lackluster experiment at TE. (+)
OT: In 2021 Washington added free agent LT Charles Leno, and he started all 17 games. On the one hand, their 2021 offensive production improved both in the run game (1,611 yards, 4.0ypc to 2,061, 4.3) and in pass protection (50 sacks to 43), from the prior season. On the other hand, letting stuff like this keep happening
shows that LT may still need some work.
Rookie Samuel Cosmi, outright won the RT job, during training camp. He however, was in and out of the line-up, due to hip and ankle injuries. Rookie Saahdiq Charles filled in during Week 8, and is all of their depth here. (-)
G: RG Brandon Scherff escaped via free agency. LG Ereck Flowers had the best year of his career, and he was still released. Jacksonville’s Andrew Norwell will fill his place, which is a laugh riot. Washington has fucked up here.
Wes Schweitzer filled in for Brandon Scherff during Weeks 3, 4, and 5. Saahdiq Charles got two starts in Scherff’s place during weeks 15 and 16. There are also a handful of young guys, but no one that the team is pushing to play. (-)
C: With Chase Roullier in the line-up, Washington averaged 230.5 passing yards per game. When he went down for the season, they averaged 177.4 passing yards per game, never once throwing for 230 during his absence.
Once Roullier was lost for the season, Tyler Larsen took over for a couple of games before being injured for two weeks during Week 11. At this point Wes Schweitzer took over. Aaand was hurt and put on I.R. in Week 12. Keith Ismael took over in Week 13. Then BEHOLD! Larsen is back to start Week 14, before being injured during that game, and lost for the year. Ismael would go on to finish the last four games as a starter. At least there’s depth. (+)
In a Nutshell: There is a ‘no quit’ vibe coming from the entire QB position. Washington had that last year, but they seriously upgraded their talent there. The interior of their line has been utterly decimated, and the edges aren’t very good. Making matters worse, most of their weapons don’t scare anyone. (-)
DE: Chase Young played just nine games before going on I.R. with a torn ACL. Up to that point however, he really wasn’t all that effective. With just 1.5 sacks, and 4 QB hits, he was on pace to achieve half of his rookie numbers. Worse still, with him in the line-up, Washington allowed 29 or more points, five times. With him on I.R. that only happened just once. Washington went 3 – 6 with him, 4 – 4 without him. Montez Sweat started off on a tear, but he ended up missing seven games, during which the team went 5 – 2. With him in the line up they were 2 – 8.
Behind Young and Sweat, Washington has Casey Toohill and James Smith-Williams. Laugh if you want, but when they both started in 2021, Washington was 4 – 0 and never allowed more than 21 points in a game. Might have something to do with Toohill and Smith-Williams playing the End position fully, and not just “pass rusher”.
In any case, Young and Sweat will be the starters for 2022. So the pass rushers will replace the Ends, and this defense will be less than it should be, leaving their fans scratching their heads over why it’s happening. Again. (-)
DT: While Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne “only” accumulated 13.5 sacks as interior linemen, they are responsible for 45 QB hits in 2021. Forty-five. As interior linemen! This is a two man wrecking crew. Provided they don’t wreck each other first.
That said, with the losses of Tim Settle and Matt Iaonnidis, Washington has gone from having top shelf starters and rock solid depth, to great starters and no depth. Seriously, the jersey numbers for the other two players are 64R and 68R. Camp bodies. The starters are All-Pro, but with no depth, they’ll wear down early in the year. (-)
OLB: Cole Holcomb played 1,021 snaps and had 142 tackles, with 2 picks last year. He’s not spectacular, but he’s a very solid player, who never comes off the field. Due to playing Landon Collins in a hybrid role, no other player saw much many snaps at this position. With Collins now gone, there is zero depth here. They are one Holcomb injury away from a complete disaster. (-)
ILB: Due to injury in 2021, Jamin Davis started 8 games, eventually fell out of favor and ended up behind David Mayo, who contributed 28 tackles. This position is doesn’t have players, it has staff members. (-)
S: Landon Collins was released because he wouldn’t take a pay cut, so that the team could afford Carson Wentz. In 2021,Kamren Curl saw 14 starts at SS, and allowed 59% of passes thrown his way to be completed, vs 73% in his rookie year.
The FS spot was manned by free agent addition Bobby McCain. McCain picked off 4 passes, defensing 9, and notched 63 tackles. All of which were career-highs. If Washington liked him enough to sign him in 2021, they will likely re-sign him for 2022. The starters (Curl and McCain) are decent and may even get better with time. (+)
CB: Kendall Fuller is the top player at this position, and he was essentially a scratching post for the first half of last season. He surrendered 60 yards or more in four of the first eight games, and allowed over 100 yards, in two of them. Things got better down the stretch, as he only allowed 60+ yards in two of the last nine.
On the other side, William Jackson gave up a touchdown pass in five straight games. He only played in 12 games. In reserve, Washington has a guy named Corn Elder, which is an absolutely terrifying name. It sounds like rape in an outhouse. (-)
In A Nutshell: Last year (during the preseason), everyone expected the defense to carry this team to the top of the NFC East. What happened instead, was that it completely collapsed. Like this.
The line has talent, but everywhere else is just loaded with depth issues, or starters who shouldn’t be. This however, is what Washington has to work with. At least for now. (-)
K: This should be Joey Slye’s job. He went 12/12 on field goals with a long of 55, and was 9/10 on extra points. Brian Johnson is also on the roster, but c’mon. Even Washington can’t cock this up. (+)
P: Tress Way averaged 48.5 yards, with no blocks in 60 boots, surrendering 9.0 yards per punt return. Not stellar, but far from bad. (+)
In A Nutshell: It’s not glamorous, but it should do. Slye gives them what looks like accuracy and range. The only question is can he do it over a longer sample period. (+)
As things stand right now, this offense is in trouble. As their QB gets to know his team, six times a year they get to go against teams that already know him. Two of those times, he goes against the team that built him. So there’s rough sledding ahead.
Defensively the coaching staff is basically the same, and we’ve already seen every trick that Washington knows. We saw it in 2020 to the tune of a 7 – 9 record. We saw it again it in 2021, to the tune of 7 – 10. In 2022, expect opposing receivers to be 7 – 11, and Washington to be 8 – 9.
TOLD you so! In my QB of the Future article, I said, regardless of whether QB Jalen Hurtsis healthy, the Eagles will find a reason to get QB Gardner Minshewon the field, around Week 8. Well the Lions game was Week 8, wasn’t it? Did Minshew play? Yes indeedy he did! I saw this one coming from a mile out.
I figured the Eagles would jinn up some reason, but the blowout was good enough. In fact, it was the best-case scenario. Notice how the words “QB controversy” aren’t on anybody’s lips, right now? Minshew threw 2 passes, completing both for just 11 yards. Otherwise, he played hand-off machine, and didn’t even attempt anything interesting.
This isn’t me trying to create a story. Let me say this outright. Right now there isn’t a story. No one is trying to spook, or unsettle you. No one is trying trick you into click-bait, ladies.
What I’m doing, is what I told you I’d do. Over the last couple of years, I think people (me included), have forgotten just how kick-ass I am at this. So I’ve decided to make a point of reminding you of who I am, and why you should come here. So, I’m not leaving a prediction open to interpretation. When I nail it, I’m going to point it out directly.
I had plenty more to say in the ‘QB of the Future’ article, and the one that came before it Killing Off All Starting QB’s. Some of it will take seasons to unfold. Which is fine by me. Time after time, I’ve mentioned on here that I’m a patient man. I cannot be tired by waiting, because I don’t just attach myself to an idea. I invest in it. I evolve with it, if need be.
Rest assured, I don’t just seem different. I am different.
As for Gardner Minshew? Keep your eyes open. We’ll talk.
Well… I’ll talk. And if you have an opinion, you can talk back.