FRISCO, Texas – Two games into the NFL season, no one – not Skip Bayless, not even Rob Riggle – can separate the good teams from the poor ones yet.
We did learn last Sunday night that the Dallas Cowboys are indeed capable of playing cleaner, more efficient, and yes, more dynamic offensive football than they did in the season opener.
On to this week's "3 & Out" – three things I know, I think, and I have no idea about regarding the Cowboys and their upcoming trip to the Pacific Northwest:
Jaylon Smith looks like a completely different human being on the football field than last season.
Smith's video-game thump on Eli Manning made SportsCenter. To me, his most impressive play was – if you followed our coverage in Oxnard, this will sound familiar – his ability to drop and cover.
Several times in training camp we saw Smith carry a tight end 40 yards down the field, a clear improvement in his change-of-direction mobility coming off the 2016 knee injury.
Odell Beckham Jr. is not a tight end. He's not your average receiver. Watching Smith take a good angle and close on Beckham in an all-out sprint for about 20 yards – from the 10 to the back of the end zone, where he and Jeff Heath broke up Manning's pass to OBJ. That was impressive stuff.
Rico Gathers would've broken the World Wide Web if Dak Prescott had put a little less on that throw to him in the end zone.
Should've been a touchdown. Should've been a party on the Randol Mill Road outside AT&T Stadium for Rico's legion of supporters.
Gathers only got five snaps against the Giants, and he's still got a ways to go to become a reliable, rounded-out player: blocking, special teams, the nuances of the tight end position, all that. But I want to see more.
If he can do enough other things to be the fourth tight end on game day, his 6-8, 285-pound frame can help this offense in certain red zone situations. It almost happened against the Giants.
"We call that the 'no-cover zone,' especially when I'm in the game, just being able to use my size as a mismatch," he said after the game. "It really puts pressure on defenses."
Gathers acknowledged he was "really scared" about his chances of making the roster on Sept. 1 after getting arrested the night before for misdemeanor marijuana possession. The Cowboys didn't think the incident was enough to warrant cutting him. They've seen him play faster, and when he made mistakes in preseason, he made them full-speed, not overthinking his assignment on a particular play.
I also want to see how fourth-round pick Dalton Schultz develops this year, so maybe it's a tough call for the coaching staff in deciding which tight end dresses game to game, and maybe it will depend on matchups.
I Have No Idea…
if the Cowboys can get six sacks from six different players again, but the Seattle Seahawks will have to do something to clean up their pass protection this Sunday against Dallas.
Russell Wilson has been sacked six times in both of Seattle's losses (Denver, Chicago). On Monday Night Football, Jason Witten diagrammed a play where the Bears' defense perfectly contained Wilson in the pocket with disciplined rushes, giving him nowhere to go.
"Storming the castle," the GOAT called it. Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli calls it "keeping him in the well."
Seattle was competitive in both those games, but Monday's game reminded me of the Cowboys' trip to Carolina: the Seahawks' offense often gave themselves no chance due to sacks and penalties. The Cowboys' defense needs to contain Wilson as much as possible and help out its offense, which will have to deal with some serious crowd noise.