2018-2019 NFL: Week 14

Thu
Jaguars-Titans

Sun
Panthers-Browns
Ravens-Chiefs
Colts-Texans
Patriots-Dolphins
Giants-Redskins
Saints-Buccaneers
Falcons-Packers
Jets-Bills
Bengals-Chargers
Broncos-49ers
Eagles-Cowboys
Steelers-Raiders
Lions-Cardinals
Rams-Bears

Mon
Vikings-Seahawks

41 thoughts on “2018-2019 NFL: Week 14

  1. Let’s do a quick power ranking. First, off the top of my head, I would say that there really isn’t any great team. I don’t just mean all-time great team, but teams that are just really, really good–that is, they’re not only solid, at least, in most areas, but they don’t have glaring weaknesses. Additionally, they’re consistent. The team that comes closest to this is…

    1st Tier
    Saints

    Yes, they lost to the Cowboys, but Michael Lombardi said something that I agree with–namely, this loss may help the Saints. This could be a good wake-up call and get them focused and motivated. I tend to lean in that direction (although I am concerned about the strength of their defense).

    Texans
    Rams
    Chiefs
    Patriots
    Chargers

    I’m uncertain about putting the Texans here because I haven’t carefully watched them, but my impression is that, next to the Saints, they might be the most balanced team (and their defense is probably better than the Saints, although their offense probably isn’t as good). They also seem to have been very consistent. Who you see on the field, which seems pretty solid, is who they are. You can’t say that about a lot of teams.

    The Rams and Chiefs are also consistent as well, but man their defenses seem vulnerable. If the games are close, a player like Aaron Donald can be a huge difference maker (and in this way, the MVP talk for him is actually not crazy in my view).

    The one thing I don’t like about these teams are their QBs, particularly in the playoffs. Are they going to protect the ball and also play well in pressure situations? I’m more confident that Watson can do this better than these two, but maybe I’m wrong about that.

    I’m putting the Patriots in hear because they’re the Patriots. However, I don’t think their defense is all that good, although they can look good against a one-dimensional offense. Also, Brady and Gronk don’t look as good to me.

    I’m going to put the Chargers in here. I think their defense looks shaky at times, which is one of the reasons I’m nervous. If they can get healthy though, I they might might shoot up to the top.

    2nd Tier

    Bears
    Cowboys
    Steelers

    I’m just not sure what I’m getting with these teams, but if you get their best, I think they could win it all. (I think I’ve said this before, but I think Steelers should run more and from under center. They’re wasting their OL.) With both the Cowboys and Bears, if their defense plays really well, I think they both have a shot to go far.

    Seahawks
    Vikings
    Ravens
    Colts

    I don’t think these teams are that far from the three teams above. They’re not only inconsistent, but they seem to have some huge deficiencies. With the Ravens, it’s their offense, and Seahawks, their defense, mainly. If the Ravens can have dominant run game, they could do damage. If the Seahawks can get turnovers and/or produce in special teams, they could go very far as well.

    I don’t get the Vikings, especially on defense. I keep thinking they should be better. Maybe they’re like the Seahawks of the past two or three seasons–they have a lot of good-to-very-good players, but some of them are declining, and they don’t really have any great player. This leads to a defense that can be good but not dominating. On offense, they don’t seem to be able to run the ball (and actually maybe that’s why their defense isn’t as good as it could be).

    I guess should mention the Eagles and Broncos as well.

  2. Re Saints:

    As I’ve stated, I thought the Saints’ front seven defensively looked good. They caused problems for Dallas front (which isn’t the front they once were for sure). But they did a better job than the last four Dallas opponents. They just play too much press coverage, and that’s probably what hurt them against Dallas.

    Bears vs Seahawks:

    If I had to rank teams to win, I think I would take my chance with Wilson and an average defense over Trubisky and a good defense. I guess they would virtually be in the same tier, but I wouldn’t have the Bears over the Seahawks.

    Overall I’m pretty much in agreement with your list, except I would probably have the Eagles over the Vikings and Colts at this point. Wentz has been great, and if the Eagles beat the Cowboys this week, they will be in great shape. I think Wentz on the Steelers and they would be above the Saints, just thinking off the top of my head.

    1. I’m not sure what you’re trying to say with regard to the Saints? Are you saying that their defense is good? I don’t know if their front seven stands out a lot to me, but their overall defense is a bit of a concern.

      If I had to rank teams to win, I think I would take my chance with Wilson and an average defense over Trubisky and a good defense.

      Maybe I put the Bears too high, but really, all the teams in the second tier are really close (and I tend to think the gap between the first and second tiers aren’t that far a part, either).

      But to be clear, the Bears being at the top of the second tier depends on having a defense that is approaching dominance. If they’re merely good, I would drop them down. Like Mahomes (and to some degree, Goff), Trubisky is going to have to make plays from the pocket, including times when the passes will be predictable (e.g., the Bears are down by a lot or two minute situations). I don’t have a lot of faith in Mahomes and Trubisky to deliver.

      Overall I’m pretty much in agreement with your list, except I would probably have the Eagles over the Vikings and Colts at this point

      A part of me feels like the Vikings defense is a bit of a sleeping giant, and that’s I’ve placed the Vikings higher than some teams….But you know what? Using the same principle I’ve used with the Seahawk defense, I’d say the Vikings are just a good defense, and sometimes a little more. At this point, the chances that they will dominate an offense is very low, I’d say. If this is the case, then they’re a lot closer to the Eagles and Colts. (On a side note, like Seattle, I think the offense’s ability to run the ball and control the clock will determine how good the defense can be and how well the team will perform overall.)

      I think Wentz on the Steelers and they would be above the Saints, just thinking off the top of my head.

      Hmm, this suggests that the biggest problem with the Steelers is Roethlisberger. My sense is that the bigger problem is the type of offense and defense they play. Now, if the Steelers had a better QB–say, someone like Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson–the Steelers could be Super Bowl contenders, without changing their offense or defense. But I still think the bigger issue is style of offense and defense. I think they should bringing in new coaches.

      1. In terms of the Saints’ D, at least for me, I think they are much better than I originally thought. I thought them being number one against the run and almost last against the pass had more to do with the fact that teams were always trailing them early and had to resort to passing a lot. However, based on the game against the Cowboys I thought their front seven did well controlling the line of scrimmage both against the run and the pass. I’m hearing Sua-Filo had a ridiculously bad game. There is even talk that Connor Williams will/should start again. So was it bad o-line play by the Cowboys or the Saints’ defensive front being good, I’m not sure. And to put it into context, prior to the Cowboy game, I thought the Saints D was comparable to the Cowboys’ D in 2014, but the Saints look much more talented than that Cowboy D.

        I’ll also add that if it wasn’t for Eli Apple having a disastrous first half, and if Cooper wasn’t taking Lattimore to school for good parts of the game, Dallas would have struggled even more offensively. But part of that seem to do with the fact that the Saints were playing a lot of press coverage on the outside and their corners were losing battles consistently. Yes, that’s a problem, but if that’s the Saints only “big” concern on defense, I’m going to like their chances.

        The Bears offensively has been decent with Trubisky at times, especially in terms of stats and scoring. But by the eye test, that is not a good offense. Dallas’ offense isn’t great, but I would pick theirs over the Bears. And like you stated about the Steelers it has a lot to do with style of offense. I heard that Jordan Howard was a league leader in yards after first contact. But they never stick with the guy consistently. What is more absurd is when the Bears are leading games by good margins, they still don’t run the ball as much as I think they should. But their defense is much more physical than the Cowboy’s D, who rely more on getting sideline to sideline.

  3. And to put it into context, prior to the Cowboy game, I thought the Saints D was comparable to the Cowboys’ D in 2014,…

    At the start of the season, they looked as bad. But over the course of the season, they’ve improved dramatically. However, knowing how good they are is difficult to tell, as they could look better because of the quality of competition. For example, you asked if the Cowboys OL not playing well or Saints front seven playing well. It’s hard to say, but I would think it’s a little of both. My sense is that Cowboys OL is competent, but not great, and Saints front seven is about the same, maybe a little better.

    Overall, I’d guess that the Saints defense is better than the Rams and Chiefs, but none of them are great defenses. At the same time, I think all of them–especially the Rams–have a pass rusher that can make a handful of critical plays. For example, if the game is close, they have pass rushers that can come up with a huge sack or even turnover. So while their defenses aren’t great, their defenses could actually play a key role in helping them win.

    I’m hearing Sua-Filo had a ridiculously bad game. There is even talk that Connor Williams will/should start again. So was it bad o-line play by the Cowboys…

    Do you think the Cowboys OL is playing worse than they were earlier in the year? I think they’re playing way better, even though the OL isn’t great. (I continue to be surprised by those who think Conor Williams is good.)

    The Bears offensively has been decent with Trubisky at times, especially in terms of stats and scoring. But by the eye test, that is not a good offense.

    I tend to agree, although I don’t know if I could explain why I feel this way (besides the fact that I think Trubisky can’t be relied upon–to protect the football or pass a lot when they need him to).

  4. Hard to imagine the Broncos making a serious run in the playoffs or even getting into the playoffs now.

  5. Colts-Texans

    This was an evenly matched game early on, but I thought the Texans defense started breaking down (or the Colts offense started coming on), giving up some explosive passes, allowing the Colts to build a lead.

    Also, the Colts defense did a good job of containing the Texan offense.

    Texans had a chance at the end, but Clowney’s offsides on 3rd down gave Colts a first down and allowed them to run the clock out.

  6. Eagles-Cowboys

    I suspect Don not seeing this might have been a good thing, even though the Cowboys won. The Cowboys dominated on defense for the majority of the game, and controlled the clock–but they turned the ball over three times.

    They gotta protect the football better, though.

    Rams-Bears

    I was getting pretty upset at Trubisky. One interesting thing, though. The first turnover might have not been so bad, especially since the Bears held the Rams to 3 points. The Rams scored quickly, and the Bears held the ball for a decent amount of time. I believe in the first half the Rams offense stayed off the field. The Rams offense never really got into a groove the whole night. A lot of that goes to the Bears defense, but I think this slow start hurt.

    1. I watched parts of both games you mentioned above. The Cowboys dominated, and still almost found a way to lose. The turnovers, penalties, and defensive lapses really added up. Despite that the Eagles looked out-matched. I will give credit to the Eagles defensive front seven towards the end of the game. They still held up pretty well both against the run and with their pass rush despite the lopsided time of possession. It’s just the Eagles DBs are bad at this point mostly due to injuries.

      The Bears defense was great, but Trubisky cannot be trusted. I didn’t see his TD, but I saw other parts and he was not good. I don’t really give the Bears a good shot at winning it all and would put them behind the Cowboys, who are not that great themselves. But the Bears are an o-lineman or two from being really, really good.

      1. The fact that the Eagles defense held up, despite being on the field as long as they did, was pretty amazing. I think Aikman mentioned they were rotating the DL a lot. That would explain a lot.

        I don’t really give the Bears a good shot at winning it all and would put them behind the Cowboys, who are not that great themselves.

        I sort of agree with this. The exception is if the Bears defense plays like the 2015 Bronco defense, and the Bears ST can make a few plays. Then again, if Trubisky turns the ball over three times, that’s tough to over come.

        The Cowboys have to improve do a better job of taking care of the ball, too.

        But the Bears are an o-lineman or two from being really, really good.

        I assume you would place the improvement of the QB over the improvement over the OL. Trubisky is not good. He’s like a younger Alex Smith. Opposing defenses just need to contain him and make him beat you from the pocket. Even if you give him all day, I would say this might actually help the defense get an INT.

        1. Re Dak:
          Yeah Dak has very little pocket awareness. Reminds me a lot of Mariota in his rookie year. I feel Mariota’s pocket awareness has improved, still far from great, but average. Dak even after three years, is still terrible. He’s way too comfortable in there. Braddah is almost nonchalant. But in terms of interceptions, Dak is great. So I’m less worried in terms of making bad decisions. He had that one throw which lead to Philly’s first TD that was awful. Dak looked like he was trying to zip it in there and he overthrew it. But again, I’m not worried about the Dak throwing a lot of interceptions. If anything, for me, I wish Dak took more chances throwing the football. He’s a little overcautious.

          Re Trubisky:
          Yes, it seems tough for Trubisky-led team to win it all. But I believe Howard is a good to great runner. If the Bears had a good running game and with that defense I think it’s possible that the Bears can win with Trubisky.

          Re Carr:
          What do the Raider fans here think of Carr? I had him top five or right outside, when the Raiders had that great year. Last year he was a top 15 guy for me, so just about an average starter. Maybe he’s still there, but I think at this point I would take Dak over Carr, and I don’t think I would have said that before now. Pundits are contemplating whether he is a legitimate starter or if the Raiders should use their top pick (and they have many) to pick a QB. Where do you guys stand on Carr and if the Raiders should stick with him?

          1. Yeah Dak has very little pocket awareness.

            I don’t know if it’s awareness, or just being more vigilant with protecting the football. Seahawk fans will criticize Wilson for holding on to the ball too long. Sometimes, I think he’s doing this because he’s mindful of not fumbling. That is, he’s making a concerted effort to protect the football, even it means forgoing a positive offensive play. Maybe Prescott needs to do more of that?

            But again, I’m not worried about the Dak throwing a lot of interceptions.

            I think I would agree with this. That is, if he stopped fumbling, I think this take care of the ball security issues.

            Another factor here is the run game and pass protection. If both struggle, I’d be a little more concerned about INTs.

            If the Bears had a good running game and with that defense I think it’s possible that the Bears can win with Trubisky.

            They can win if he doesn’t turn the ball over, but how confident are you that he won’t. The thing is, Nagy didn’t seem to be calling a real conservative game for Trubisky–and I think that’s what got them into trouble.

            Ironically, a part of me feels like if John Fox were coaching now, he might actually have a better shot of winning. The offense may not be as effective, but it might be better at protecting the football and running in a more conventional sense. Then again, maybe not.

            Where do you guys stand on Carr and if the Raiders should stick with him?

            I think Carr can be a good QB, and I think it’s too early to give up on him. What’s not good to me is the situation with Gruden. If Carr were on another team, with better coaching and a strong supporting cast, I think I’d be more optimistic. (By the way, even though I don’t like his offense, I would welcome Mike McCarthy as the new OC. I would also like if McCarthy became Mariota’s OC. One main reason is that the footwork and mechanics of QBs under him seems really, really good–reminding me of how QBs looked under Walsh.)

  7. Ravens-Chiefs

    My memory is a blur now, but here are general impressions. The Ravens defense played well, but the Chiefs–Mahomes and Kelce and Hill–just made some really good plays. The other takeaway is that the Ravens can’t or won’t win if they have Jackson has to pass a lot.

    Patriots-Dolphins

    I watched some of this, and fast forwarded to the point where Patrios where near the Dolphins goal line late in the 4th. I stopped watching. I wake up this morning to discover the Miami Miracle. Wow.

    1. Watched the Patriots-Dolphins game. Several observations:

      1. The Patriots used a lot of pro style offense, running the ball quite a bit and using play action. This isn’t the first game they’ve done this. I’m wondering if they’re shifting to a more run-first approach. The other evidence for this is that they used a first round pick on a running back.

      2. This game reinforced my impression that Belichick and the Patriots have the most difficulty defending run first offenses that utilize play action. It just seemed like every time the Dolphins did one or the other they got a lot of yards. But they would revert back to more of the shotgun spread plays, and the Patriots defended this a lot better.

      3. This reinforces another perception about Belichick and the Patriots. They are, and have been winning by smoke and mirrors. Specifically, they will morph into the right defense or scheme that will be a bad match for their opponent. The thing is, if the opponent plays in a different way, the defense is totally exposed. To use another metaphor, they turn into a pumpkin. (Another game like this was the Jaguars this year. Jaguars passed a lot from the shotgun, and easily beat the Patriots.)

      4. The Patriots look old, especially Brady and Gronk. The defense looks slow as heck, too. I want to say they’re one of the least athletic teams in the league. But it doesn’t matter as long as Belichick can find the right scheme, and the players can execute it properly or just good enough. (The strength of the team seems to be the OL and RBs.)

      1. The thing is, if the opponent plays in a different way, the defense is totally exposed.

        Lombardi claims that Belichick is the best at adapting mid-game. He said that most teams change at the half, but Belichick can change “on the fly”. Is what you saying above contradictory to Lombardi’s claim?

        1. No, I don’t think so. I would assume the mid-game adaptations would be tweaks, not wholesale changes. There are limits to the degree to which Belichick can change the schemes and how successful those changes will be. If Patriots geared up to stop run-heavy offense, but then the offense passes a lot via the spread, I think the ability to adapt to that would be limited. One thing this suggests: Maybe an opponent should think about doing something radically different when playing the Patriots. Of course, the team doing this likely won’t be that good at executing this as well.

          Also, as I mentioned, I think Belichick’s ability to adapt to a run-first offense that utilizes play action is very limited.

  8. Vikings-Seahawks

    In a way, this game reminded me a little of the Cowboys-Eagles games. The Seahawks defense dominated the Vikings defense for most of the game, and the Seahawks offense, while not effective, controlled the ball by running the game.

    One strong impression I had after the game–the Seahawks really need Doug Baldwin or they need another WR.

  9. If you were the Jags, would you go for Carr? I would lean no. But other than Carr, the pool is pretty small, with Eli and Flacco (if they don’t retire). I’m guessing not Foles either, after this year. Actually I think the Jags are not in a good cap situation so Carr may not even be possible.

    1. If you were the Jags, would you go for Carr?

      As you alluded to, the question may be moot due to the Jaguars’ cap situation and the cost of Carr. But if that wasn’t an issue, I think they should get someone like him.

      Ideally, I think they should have tried to get someone like Keenum or Bridgewater. At worst, they could be placeholders, but also QBs that could lead the team to a Super Bowl, assuming the Jaguars could run the ball well and play great defense. Flacco would be another one, but I don’t know if he would have been too expensive.

      The Jaguars have been such a disappointment. Putting aside the Bortles debacle, they were plagued by injuries–to their OL and Fournette.

  10. Man, I was at the Lanai last night while the game was on. The bar was showing a game, and I guess some local chapter of Seahawks fans agreed to meet there to watch it, or else they all just flocked there spontaneously. In any case, they were so loud in their cheering that they were obnoxious. I mean, their behavior wasn’t anything outside of normal (rabid) fandom, but they weren’t in a self-contained bar. They were in a food court. And let me tell you, they were ruining everyone else’s dining experience, insofar as a dining experience can be ruined in a food court.

    I was ordering at Da Spot, and had to ask the woman serving me to repeat herself. Twice. She apologized, as if she were the one screaming so loudly. I said, “I HATE SEAHAWKS FANS!” She said, “I HATE SEAHAWKS FANS SO MUCH! THEY’VE BEEN DOING THIS FOR THE WHOLE GAME!”

    It was 5 minutes into the fourth quarter.

    Out of curiosity, I checked the score on my phone. 6-0. All this freaking noise for a 6-0 game?

    Anyway I was happy for them they got the win. Can you imagine how good this team would be if they had some offensive weapons for their QB?

    1. All this freaking noise for a 6-0 game?

      You don’t like a good defensive battle? Some of my favorite games in the last ten years have been between the Seahawks and Niners or Seahawks and Panthers. I’m thinking especially of the low-scoring games characterized by physical defense and running.

      Last night’s game didn’t really fit into that mold, but if you were a Seahawks fan and you like good defense and running, you’d be happy.

      Can you imagine how good this team would be if they had some offensive weapons for their QB?

      Doug Baldwin didn’t play due to injury, and I think that was a big factor.

      As far as your question, a part of me would love to see him in an Chief’s offense or give him a supporting cast like the Steelers. I’d love to see him with an OL that could give him all day to throw.

  11. Carr is quietly having a very good season. Like, statistically a top-5 QB season. It’s making me re-think what the Raiders should (and are likely) to do with him. He’s young enough that if he’s as good as he is this year, the Raiders have time to build a young team around him.

    I’ve been reading that ever since the loss to the Niners, they’ve been playing harder and enjoying the game more, and that the team is coming around on Gruden. I’m going to remain optimistic about Gruden and Carr for now. But if the Jags made a push to get Carr, it would make sense on a football basis, but he’s so pricey, and their window has closed. Picking up that contract would probably make it difficult to build around him unless they (like the Raiders at the start of this season) have high-value assets to trade for draft picks.

    By the way, is it too early to declare the Cowboys the winners of the 2019 draft? They got Amari Cooper.

    1. But if the Jags made a push to get Carr, it would make sense on a football basis, but he’s so pricey, and their window has closed.

      I don’t know if what they’re cap situation is like–specifically if they have to release a lot of players–but assuming they can keep a lot of them, if the OL and Fournette can get healthy, I don’t think their window has closed. The key is fixing their QB situation. Is Keenum on a one-year deal? If the Broncos don’t re-sign him, the Jaguars should consider signing him, or maybe trying to get Flacco, if the Ravens move on from him.

      By the way, is it too early to declare the Cowboys the winners of the 2019 draft? They got Amari Cooper.

      The Cowboys would probably have been picking later in the first. I think you can make a strong case that Cooper’s value is late first rounder, and maybe higher. What I wonder is, how much are the Cowboys going to have to pay him? I’m not sure about the market for WRs, but I wouldn’t want to pay him like an elite #1.

      1. Based on what you guys have stated, I assume you guys are higher on Carr than I am at this point. Would you guys have him over Tannehill and Dak?

        Re Cooper:
        Despite his impact I’m not 100% on the side that he is better than a first round pick, just based on cap hit. Dallas without Cooper was probably going to get a high draft choice, so in that case an expensive rookie player. It’s a really close call, because rookie pay scales are significantly lower than what Cooper is currently being paid. That being said, I disagree with Reid and say that Cooper has shown that he is an elite WR, at least for Dallas. Over his entire career, yes nowhere near elite. But I cannot imagine any WR in the league having a greater impact on the Cowboys. For example, if Dallas got Ant Brown, Julio, or Odell, how much more of an impact would they have than Cooper. Greater maybe, but I cannot imagine it being that much greater. Look at what any one Cowboy receiver has done this year prior to Cooper against Cooper’s production with the Cowboys and it’s not even close. Even if you took away Cooper’s three long touchdown receptions it wouldn’t be close.

        1. Would you guys have him over Tannehill and Dak?

          I think I’m less pessimistic about Carr than you are, but answering this question is difficult. My sense is that Carr has a good chance for being the type of QB that if you surround him with a good supporting cast, he will perform well. I would be more surprised if he is not this type of QB. But there are two unknowns for me: 1) Can he make the handful of key plays during big moments, and 2) can he protect the football well enough to win in the playoffs?

          I tend to think his floor is Dalton and Tannehill, and I tend to think both of them won’t get significantly better from what we’ve seen. Based on this logic, I would give the nod to Carr.

          With Prescott, I have similar uncertainties with regard to the questions I asked above. Here’s another way to think of the comparison. Would you rather have Carr or Dak on the 2016 Cowboys? I tend to think Carr, on that team, would have done better than Prescott. The degree to which Carr is better and the confidence that I have in may not be really significant, but if I go by this logic, I guess I would lean towards Carr.

          The one caveat to this is Carr’s health. I’m not sure how healthy he is, and how much that has factored into his performance.

          But I cannot imagine any WR in the league having a greater impact on the Cowboys. For example, if Dallas got Ant Brown, Julio, or Odell, how much more of an impact would they have than Cooper.

          Who are the defenses they’ve played though? The impact of a Julio Jones might be seen the most if the Cowboys go against a really good defense, especially with a good secondary.

          Additionally, another way to look at this is by imagining the way a very good #2 or a solid #1 (but not elite) would impact the Cowboys offense. Suppose the Cowboys got a healthy Marvin Jones. Would he have a significant less impact on the Cowboys offense? I’m not sure.

          By the way, how much do you think the Cowboys should pay for Cooper? I assume you don’t think he deserves the same money as Julio and OBJ, or do you?

          1. Just so we are clear on my opinions on Carr, I would have him with guys like Dak, Tannehill, Keenum and the such. This is below guys like Ryan, Mahommes, and Cousins (although Cousins has been awful as of late). I think if I was starting a team today, I would have Darnold and Mayfield over Carr. Not saying they are better than him now, but probably have a higher upside. Edit: Mitchell’s last stat about interceptions is pretty impressive. Not that alone would make me move Carr up, but it does make me think more that I’m underestimating Carr.

            Would you rather have Carr or Dak on the 2016 Cowboys?

            Dak did an amazing job of protecting the ball in 2016, so I’m going to guess he would have out-performed Carr on that Cowboy team. But as I’ve stated before I never could have had Dak above Carr before, but with hindsight, I’m not confident Carr would have done better than Dak. Part of what may be skewing my opinion of Carr now, may be stemming from how effective Cooper has been with the Cowboys. It could be more due to what Dallas is asking Cooper to do versus what Oakland was asking him to do, but it seems night and day. I would also point out that Cooper hasn’t had many (if any) drops as a Cowboy.

            Who are the defenses they’ve played though? The impact of a Julio Jones might be seen the most if the Cowboys go against a really good defense,

            So your theory is Julio may not have done significantly better than the Amari has thus far, but if and when the Cowboys play tougher defenses the difference could show then? That’s possible. But Amari based on the highlights was schooling Lattimore with the Saints. He didn’t seem to be doing as well against Josh Norman (He did well, but not as well as he looked against Lattimore.), but he did put up huge numbers overall against the Redskins. All the short routes that Dak and the Cowboys like to use, Cooper eats that stuff up. He seems to be an amazing route runner and guys cannot play him one-on-one. He looks like how Beasley looked in 2016 but much more so. I’m pretty confident that Amari is better than Marvin Jones, who seems to be a true definition of a number two.

            By the way, how much do you think the Cowboys should pay for Cooper?

            I don’t think teams should pay Julio and OBJ what they are getting paid so I would guess the answer to whether the Cowboys should pay that kind of money to Cooper is “no”. But based on what he has done for the team, especially Dak, and what kind of production he has thus far (small sample size, though), I guess he “deserves” to get something in their neighborhood. He has to show he can do it for another year and with defenses trying to adjust to him. In other words, we have a long way to go.

        2. Still thinking about the question, but something in the ESPN power rankings worth quoting:

          Carr has not thrown an interception since the third quarter of the Raiders’ fifth game, a stretch of 261 attempts and 33 quarters in eight-plus games, and is on pace for career highs in passing yards (4,227) and completion percentage (69.2).

  12. Don,

    Just so we are clear on my opinions on Carr, I would have him with guys like Dak, Tannehill, Keenum and the such.

    That’s pretty similar to where I am, although I think I would have Carr and Prescott over Tannehill and Keenum. I feel like I’m a little more certain about what I’m getting with Tannehill and Keenum, while Carr and Prescott still have the potential to be better. I can see why you would like Darnold or Mayfield over Carr for similar reasons. (I really like Mayfield’s ability to throw the ball, particularly his accuracy and placement.)

    Dak did an amazing job of protecting the ball in 2016, so I’m going to guess he would have out-performed Carr on that Cowboy team.

    You’re thinking Carr wouldn’t protect the ball as well? I would assume that Carr’s performance would be better than his performance with the Raiders, because the 2016 Cowboys would have provided an ideal situation and supporting cast for a QB. Similarly, I wouldn’t assume that Prescott’s ball security and performance overall would be the same if he had played on any of Carr’s Raiders. Prescott’s performance would likely decrease. But I could say this about any of the decent QBs.

    The question, for me, is, would Carr perform better than Prescott if he played in an ideal situation. I tend to think he would because I tend to think he’s a better passer. Another way of saying is this is that the difference between Carr and Prescott may be the supporting cast and teams they’ve played on versus their individual abilities.

    So your theory is Julio may not have done significantly better than the Amari has thus far, but if and when the Cowboys play tougher defenses the difference could show then?

    Yeah. By the way, I tried to check who the Cowboys have played since Amari got there–Eagles, Falcons, Redskins, Saints, and Eagles. Not only is the sample size small, but those teams don’t have great defenses.

    I’m pretty confident that Amari is better than Marvin Jones, who seems to be a true definition of a number two.

    I think Amari is better than Jones, too, but my point is that if you were to add a in very good WR, who may not be as good as Cooper, it’s possible you could see a significant improvement.

    The other thing that is important in this discussion is the OL’s performance in this. Cooper’s (or any WR’s) impact will be very limited if the OL’s performance dips significantly. Also, Amari’s impact might seem great (and all the WRs might start looking better), if the OL provides really good pass protection. Finally, it’s also important to remember that the performance of the WRs and OL depend on the quality of the opponent. That is, the WRs and OL could look better because of weaker competition. These observations are obvious, but it’s worth keeping in mind in my opinion.

    He has to show he can do it for another year and with defenses trying to adjust to him. In other words, we have a long way to go.

    When is his contract up? The thing is, I would rather pay my QB and linemen, and I’m a little uncertain about giving Prescott a huge contract.

    1. Carr does seem like a better passer than Dak. I never thought of him as a guy that protects the ball though. Mitchell stats seems to go against that, so maybe I’m wrong. I’ll say this about Dak, whom would be in a tier below the guys I mentioned in the previous post if it wasn’t for the thing that I think makes him great. He can make plays with his feet and as I stated before reminds me a lot of Donovan McNabb. In hindsight, Reid (Andy, not the dope on this board.) may have made McNabb look better than he really was, throwing the ball. I was never a believer that NcNabb was a great passer. But he was poised and he was able to make just enough plays with his feet to make himself successful. Dak is very much in that mold sans the sacks and now fumbles.

      I do not think Dallas pass-pro looks better now than earlier in the season. Stats wise they are probably worse in terms of sacks, but that could just be Dallas is throwing the ball a little more. Running the ball, the o-line looks better for sure, but how much of that should be attributed to the o-line and how much to Amari and the passing game, is hard to decipher.

      Reid, I thought prior to Amari coming over to the Cowboys, you thought at best he was a good number 2 guy, which is what Marvin Jones is. To be honest, Amari used as a stretch the field outside guy, probably is a number two guy, but Dallas, based on usage, just needs him to get open off the line of scrimmage and that seems to be where he excels. Who would have thought?

      Amari has one more year on his contract and so Dak, Amari, and Zeke will have they contract come up all at the same time. I think the success of the team this year and next will determine how much each guy gets, is my guess. The three all-star linemen are locked up for some time. I think the next guy up is D-law who deserves a big contract. We shall see if Dallas can pay him. I’m guessing if they somehow get rid of Sean Lee’s contract that D-law may be much more affordable. I think Dez and Romo’s dead money will come off the books after this year as well. The Cowboys are not in great shape in terms of the cap based on who’s contract is up, but it seems manageable especially if the cap continues to rise. But that’s another big reason why the Amari trade isn’t as good as it looks, despite his success thus far.

      1. Carr does seem like a better passer than Dak. I never thought of him as a guy that protects the ball though. Mitchell stats seems to go against that, so maybe I’m wrong.

        For a rookie, his ball security was really good, and that was one of the reasons I was high on him. But over the subsequent years, I fell less enthusiastic and less certain. I don’t think he’s totally reckless, but I wouldn’t put him at the top, either. I think his ball security could get worse or better depending on coaching, system, and Carr himself.

        I’ll say this about Dak, whom would be in a tier below the guys I mentioned in the previous post…

        Wait, you mean Tannehill, Keenum (who else?)?

        … if it wasn’t for the thing that I think makes him great. He can make plays with his feet and as I stated before reminds me a lot of Donovan McNabb.

        I think I’d have him above Tannehill and Keenum even without his running ability, seeing this statement as I write it, gives me second thoughts. I think uncertainty about how good Prescott really is, and the degree to which his current performance is based on himself or the supporting cast explains my position. With Tannehill and Keenum, I have a better sense of who they are.

        I am having more doubts about how good Prescott is, though.

        By the way, the McNabb comparison makes sense, but maybe a better one might be Steve McNair. I think McNabb might be a better runner than Prescott, but, right now, I want to say Prescott is better at decision-making and throwing. For a top QB, McNabb would make too many inexplicitly bad decisions and throws. In a way, he was sort of like Favre. For some games, he’d play like the greatest QB, and then other games he’d be bad. Also, I’m not sure he was really poised. I think his Super Bowl performance really influences this impression.

        I do not think Dallas pass-pro looks better now than earlier in the season.

        This makes me want to go back and review the games, but based on what I remember, I really disagree with this. I feel like the Cowboys were facing more long-yardage situations, due to penalties, sacks, and negative plays. That’s decreased significantly in my view, and I think most of this is due to the improvement in the OL. There are times when the OL looked overwhelmed, against the Panthers and even the Seahawks (and I do not think the Seahawks have a great pass rush).

        Reid, I thought prior to Amari coming over to the Cowboys, you thought at best he was a good number 2 guy, which is what Marvin Jones is.

        Yeah–a really good #2 or an OK #1. Marvin Jones is in a similar class, but I think Cooper is better, if that makes sense.

        Amari has one more year on his contract and so Dak, Amari, and Zeke will have they contract come up all at the same time.

        This is not good. I forgot about Zeke.

        1. Re Carr:
          I felt like Fahey’s criticism of Carr was that he was lackadaisical or lazy at times with his footwork (throwing off his back foot for no reason) and the Ringer guys insinuate that Carr plays scared which is why he gets rid of the ball so quickly. Those things probably bias my opinion on Carr and add to that the fact I thought he was close to elite at one point. I haven’t seen him play a whole lot this year, but his play reminds me of Eli for some reason. They can just make some quizzically bad throws at times.

          Re McNabb:
          Man this discussion is going off on a tangent, but I have nowhere else to go so… I can see how you think he sort of Favre-like and I agree. But from my vague memory of him especially against the Cowboys, he could be clutch at times, running and throwing for big first downs. Yes, but that is Favre-like.

          Re Dak:
          Dak is an incredible runner. I would say much better than McNabb, but Dak just doesn’t do it all that often. In fact, I would put Dak in Wilson category of running (just not scrambling). I didn’t think McNair was that great of a runner, and I thought he was a better than average thrower. Better than Dak and McNabb from what I remember.

          Re Tannehill:
          If I was to make a tape of highlights of Tannehill, it would probably look a lot like Aaron Rodgers’ highlights. He can make throws on the run and he can throw accurate passes. He doesn’t have Rodgers’ arm strength for sure. But in terms of making all the throws, I feel Tannehill can do that, like the out patterns, which some QBs may struggle with. Tannehill is also a guy that doesn’t throw a lot of INTs. The problem with Tannehill may just be he doesn’t have a fire, or he doesn’t have “it”. He may also lean in the direction of Alex Smith in terms of not willing to take enough chances. I don’t know what it is, but something is just missing when you watch him (and the Dolphins) play. But overall his decision making and physical skills as a QB is definitely higher than Dak’s sans running, imo.

          1. I felt like Fahey’s criticism of Carr was that he was lackadaisical or lazy at times with his footwork (throwing off his back foot for no reason)…

            I think his footwork has been a problem for a long time. One of positive about hiring Gruden was that I was hoping that, as a West Coast QB guy, Carr’s footwork would improve. I haven’t really seen this, though.

            …and the Ringer guys insinuate that Carr plays scared…

            If I shared this impression, I would never have been optimistic about him.

            I agree that Carr can make bad throws. I feel like footwork would help with this, and I also feel like some or a lot of this has to do with the entire offense, the supporting cast and coaching.

            Re: Dak, McNabb, and McNair

            From what I remember, McNabb actually had some moves. Does Dak have a lot of moves? My sense is that Dak, McNair, and even Daunte Culpepper were effective runners, but more for their speed and power (although they may not have been super fast) and not their elusiveness.

            I have almost no recollection of McNair in his prime, so I don’t know really know how good he was. The thing about Dak is that if he has good pass protection his throwing seems pretty good, including on deep balls. With less than great protection, the quality of his throws declines, and I guess you could say that it declines a little too much and/or too often.

            If I was to make a tape of highlights of Tannehill, it would probably look a lot like Aaron Rodgers’ highlights. He can make throws on the run and he can throw accurate passes.

            I believe this is something Fahey has said to, but for whatever reason, this hasn’t really stood out for me. There are times when he looks like a good QB, but then he’ll do something boneheaded, and I think it happens too often. Or maybe he’ll fail in a key moment. I think inconsistency might be a good way to describe him.

          2. Re Carr:
            I’m a little hazy on the Carr article by Fahey. But if my memory is correct, I left with the impression that he thought Carr’s footwork was okay, but there are times he would get “lazy”. I think there was a GIF in which he showed Carr throwing off his back foot and his comments was he didn’t need to do that. It’s not like the rush was closing in. But from what I remember, yes the pass rush wasn’t really close to Carr, but they were definitely coming.

            Re McNabb, Dak:
            Do you think Mariota has moves when running? I feel like Dak has more than Mariota, but Dak is not as fast or quick. I don’t really recall McNabb making moves. I thought he knew just when to run and he had decent foot speed. I could be mistaken.

            Re Tannehill:
            I don’t recall Fahey talking about Tannehill, but I didn’t read many of his articles. But when you say Tannehill will do something “boneheaded”, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t throw a whole of INTs. I would say he leans conservative in terms of when to throw the ball.

      1. Yeah at this point Dallas just needs to win one of their last three to take their division so Garrett and the Cowboys in the playoffs will make it harder to him to get fired.

        1. You still want Garrett fired? Since you believe Cooper made a big difference, doesn’t this suggest the problem with the Cowboys is more of a personnel thing, than a coaching issue?

          In terms of evaluating a coach (and a team or individuals players) my current approach (which is relatively new) is to start with the quality of players. If there is a significant deficiency (including due to injuries), then I tend to not blame the coach. There are some exceptions–e.g., if one can point to specific evidence showing that coaching is a bigger factor than the quality of the personnel. I also tend not to blame the coach if the coach has had success when the players have been good. (Now, sometimes a coach may not be so good, but still have success because of great talent, so assuming that a coach is good based on this formula doesn’t always work.)

          Garrett had success since 2014, when the team shifted towards a more run-first approach, and I always thought this was his preferred style–and the pass heavy approach was something favored by Jerry Jones. Now, if the addition of Cooper has actually made as big an impact as Don believes, this would suggest the personnel was more of the issue. (I actually think the problems on the OL are the biggest issue. If Frederick, Martin, and Smith were 100% healthy, I suspect the Cowboys would have been one of the best teams from the start.)

          1. My main two points with Garrett are he had his chances, being with the Cowboys for over 8 years now. There are only 5-6 coaches with a longer tenure than that. And two his ability to adjust to injuries or loss of talent to retirement or free agency has a lot to be desired. You could be right and Dallas could get a worse coach, but at this point I’m not sure why the Cowboys wouldn’t take that chance. I’m guessing you think Tomlin should still be the Steeler coach as well? I think they should move on from him too.

            In terms of a healthy o-line, Dallas started last season with a healthy o-line, and they weren’t any good on offense. This was with Dez and Witten, who were probably both not very good, but still many say better than the current weapons prior to Amari.

  13. Don,

    I left with the impression that he thought Carr’s footwork was okay, but there are times he would get “lazy”

    Well, in my view, his footwork isn’t very good. My standard is QBs under Walsh–not only do they have good footwork, but they seem smooth and graceful. It’s like their whole body is in a groove. (Brady has good footwork, but he’s not as graceful.) I think QBs under Mike McCarthy have carried on this tradition of good footwork.

    Do you think Mariota has moves when running?

    Not really. In a way, he’s like Kaepernick or Steve Young, although maybe Young could make some cuts better than some would think. They all have straight line speed. Kaep and Mariota–once they get a head of steam, they seem pretty fast, especially Kaep.

    I don’t really recall McNabb making moves.

    I could be influenced by this clip below, which I just recently watched:

    But when you say Tannehill will do something “boneheaded”, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t throw a whole of INTs.

    I don’t know if he’s gotten better, but I would include INTs in this.

  14. Don,

    My main two points with Garrett are he had his chances, being with the Cowboys for over 8 years now.

    But here’s the key question: Is the performance commensurate with the talent? Now, if you strongly believe you can get a coach that can do well with lesser talent, then I would support moving on and getting that coach. But if not, my general rule is to stick with that coach.

    And two his ability to adjust to injuries or loss of talent to retirement or free agency has a lot to be desired.

    But how do you know when coaching can and would make a difference? There are limits to what a coach can do. How do you know when it’s reasonable to blame (or credit) the coach or blame injuries or the personnel? I thought I saw an article criticizing the Bronco coaching in the Bronco-49er game. But the Broncos didn’t have Emmanuel Sanders and Chris Harris. Sure the Broncos might have made bad coaching decisions and the 49ers may have made good ones, but how do we know that was more decisive than the absence of those two players. Maybe if those two players played, the coaching, on both sides, wouldn’t have made a big difference.

    I’m guessing you think Tomlin should still be the Steeler coach as well? I think they should move on from him too.

    Actually, no, I think the Steelers should move on. I think the Steelers’ performance doesn’t correspond with their talent–they’re playing below their talent in my view; and I think this has been true for the several years now. I also don’t think they’ve had enough injuries to explain this. Finally, in my opinion, the defense has struggled to stop good spread offenses. They moved on from LeBeau, and that was a good think, but Keith Butler hasn’t been a significant improvement. In the AFC, to get to the Super Bowl, a team will mostly likely have to beat the Patriots. If your defense struggles to defend a spread offense, your team has almost no chance of going to the Super Bowl. They have not fixed this problem for a long time. At the very least, they should find another DC, but I think there are problems on offense as well.

    But let’s take some other long tenured coaches.

    Mike McCarthy. Their team has been plagued with injuries, year in and year out, and based on this, I wouldn’t fire him. However, he might have lost the team, and if that’s the case, I think firing him is justified.

    Marvin Jones. I’ve heard some criticism of him, but the team’s performance seems to match the talent/injury situation. If he had a better QB earlier, they might have gotten to the Super Bowl.

    On a slightly related note, I think the firing of Jim Caldwell was premature. I think he really turned the franchise around, in that they are no longer an NFC equivalent of the Browns; and I thought they played to their talent. In 2018, a good #3 WR emerged and a RB, in Gollyday and Kerryeon Johnson, respectively. I would have liked to see what Caldwell could have done. Now, if they didn’t significantly improve at that time, you’d have more reason to move on.

    (By the way, given what Caldwell did in Detroit, I think he might be a decent pick for the Browns. I think he really helped Stafford, and I suspect he’d be good for Mayfield.)

    In terms of a healthy o-line, Dallas started last season with a healthy o-line, and they weren’t any good on offense. This was with Dez and Witten, who were probably both not very good, but still many say better than the current weapons prior to Amari.

    But Zeke missed a bunch of games. Also, this was Prescott’s second year, where defenses had time to adjust to him. And Witten and Bryant were declining. You don’t think that’s a sufficient explanation?

    1. At least with Tomlin he has accomplishments (ie: Super Bowl wins). I mean you know Tomlin can “win” a Super Bowl. Maybe the game has passed him by or whatever, but that is still more than we can say of Garrett.

      When I said “started last season” in my original posts about Dallas’ o-line, I actually meant the first few games of the season prior to Tyron Smith getting hurt and Zeke was playing. I sort of pointed to the fact that pundits were saying last year’s receiving corp, which included Bryce Butler with Witten and Dez, was better than this year’s prior to Amari, So it would be hard for me to say with a healthy o-line Dallas would have been better this year based on what I saw the start of last season. Dak being better this year? I guess that hasn’t shown until Amari came on board as well. I will also point out that the last few games, Tyron wasn’t playing or was playing hurt and Sua-Filo according to Dallas insiders wasn’t playing as well. And Dallas still looked better than they did earlier this year offensively. It could be the o-line coaching change just made that much of a difference that we can throw just about anybody in there and be better than we did earlier on. That’s possible.

      1. At least with Tomlin he has accomplishments (ie: Super Bowl wins).

        I think that’s fair, but I don’t think judging a coach based on whether they’ve won a Super Bowl or not is the best way to determine if they’re a good coach or not. I go back to examining the way a team performs based on talent and injuries. Also, if we can point to specifics, showing that coaching really played a significant role in hurting the team, then that would also be a basis for moving on. The other factor here is that Jerry Jones seems to have a heavy hand. Didn’t he intervene with regard to who Garrett hired as assistants and who would call plays? Holding a coach accountable is a lot more difficult in these circumstances.

        In any event, in case it sounds like I think Garrett is the greatest coach, I want to be clear that I don’t think that. My position is that he’s not the biggest problem. I would say Jones or talent and injuries are much bigger issues.

        So it would be hard for me to say with a healthy o-line Dallas would have been better this year based on what I saw the start of last season.

        Actually, the Cowboys offense may not be significantly better if the OL was a lot better–but it’s the way I’d bet. Also, I am fairly confident that their problems now this year have stemmed from a shaky OL. If the Cowboys don’t do well, I would guess a shaky performance by the OL might be the biggest reason for this. Or, I would look to Prescott. (But these two things are closely related.)

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