FRISCO, Texas – Let's go.
Seven games into the season the Cowboys were ranked 29th in total offense. In the past five weeks, with Dak Prescott back in the commander's chair, the Cowboys have moved up to 11th.
Seven games into the season the Cowboys were ranked 22nd in scoring offense, averaging 19.1 points a game. In the past five weeks, the Cowboys have moved up to third in the NFL, averaging 39.8 during that span and now 27.75 for the season.
Seven games into the season the Cowboys never scored more than 25 points in a game. In the past five games, they have never scored less than 28 points in a game (twice) and have hit more than 50 once and at least 40 twice.
"Everything is starting to click at the right time," is Ezekiel Elliott's assessment of this offense. "Good time to start clicking in December."
Boy, you can say that again.
And that is a huge reason Odell left the building late afternoon on Tuesday, the Cowboys certainly not pushing the panic button to get the wide receiver signed under any circumstances. Because there are circumstances.
First, seems as though Odell Beckham Jr. is not close to being ready to play. As Micah Parsons learned after his night out at the Mavericks game Monday, "He told me five weeks." Well, do the math. If this week is out, then five more weeks takes us through the first week of the playoffs. Beckham's rehab from the torn ACL is way behind.
And basically, that's what I've been told about how soon he might be able to play. Not close to being ready. And let's remember, since he is a free agent and not with a team following his second ACL repair in two years (same knee), he is rehabbing on his own.
And no matter who he might be doing his rehab with, he is not rehabilitating with a Britt Brown, the Cowboys director of rehabilitation. Not the same. Might tell that independent guy, nah, not today, feel a little tired. There is no "not today" with Britt.
Plus, why won't he work out for any of these teams? Gives you pause, doesn't it?
Second circumstance is financial: What Odell wants and what the Cowboys can afford under the salary cap, and not just this year, but for sure next year and even after that are entirely two different things. Only so many No. 1 receiver contracts a team can afford (See Amari Cooper) and the Cowboys sure would be hard-pressed to sign a guy to a long-term deal with mucho signing bonus without having first seen him work out, especially now that Odell is 30 with a suspect knee.
As owner Jerry Jones said the other day, "It has to improve us now. You know, that's a pretty tall order. And it has to improve us in a way that makes sense for us as we look not only at this year but as it impacts the years to come, relative to the financial aspect of it."
That would have been a luxury had the Cowboys signed Odell before he left the building, but not a necessity. Health willing, they are not in dire straits at wide receiver and with James Washington ready to go.
"Just understanding the talent we have here, whether we add or not, we've been going great with or without OBJ," Parsons says, "and this is just another piece that could make this team way more explosive.
"You know, we came in here, we all worked hard together. This is a team that has been together since April, all through to now. And that's where our focus needs to be, in this locker room."
Meaning, the Cowboys sure don't need to take a _shot_ in the dark at this point on this guy. Good call.
- Future Cap: Here is why the Cowboys must judge future cap headaches when addressing a potential big contract for an Odell. First, they have these starters slated to become unrestricted free agents in 2023: Dalton Schultz, Connor McGovern, Noah Brown, Leighton Vander Esch, Anthony Barr, Anthony Brown, Donovan Wilson, and then however you want to list essentials Tony Pollard, Cooper Rush, Neville Gallimore, Johnathan Hankins, Carlos Watkins, Jason Peters and five top special teams players in Brett Maher, Jake McQuaide, Matt Overton, Luke Gifford and C.J. Goodwin. And to think I heard someone say when prompting Jerry to sign Odell, "It's time for Jerry to open up his checkbook." Yeah, better the Cowboys cap checkbook for that guy than his.
- Jacked Up Corner: Bad enough the Cowboys have lost starting left cornerback Anthony Brown for the season with the torn Achilles in Sunday's game, and already had lost starting nickel corner Jourdan Lewis for the season, but now Brown's expected replacement, Kelvin Joseph, missed practice on Wednesday with an "illness." Nahshon Wright, buckle your chinstrap. And maybe even Israel Mukuamu, since McCarthy said early in the week they had safeties capable of playing some cornerback, probably meaning Mukuamu since he played corner at South Carolina. No wonder the Cowboys signed sixth-year veteran corner Mackenzie Alexander, who had played for Cowboys senior defensive assistant George Edwards in Minnesota.
- Quit Nitpicking: There seems to be some making too much of Prescott being intercepted of late. He's been picked off seven times in seven games, with some suggesting the Cowboys should become a "running offense." Please. They need to do both. And think about this: Do your realize Hall of Famer Roger Staubach was picked off 109 times in 11 seasons, nine of those just 14-gamers? And just this year, Aaron Rodgers has been picked off nine times, Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes each eight and Josh Allen, the early candidate to become the season's MVP, already 11. This is a league of big plays, and Dak needs to continue being aggressive.
- Early Stuffers: The Cowboys are giving up 17.2 points a game while the 1-10-1 Texans are scoring 15.7 a game, maybe one of the reasons Vegas likes the Cowboys by 17 … The sacks keep on coming, the Cowboys now at 48, matching a franchise 12-game high set in 1985 when that team set the single-season record of 62 … With five games to go, Pollard has five 30-yard runs, the absolute most runs of at least 30 yards in the franchise's single-season history … And then there is this: Cornerback Trevon Diggs has 17 interceptions with still five games to go in his first three seasons, third most in NFL history too, of course, behind Everson Walls' 22 from 1981-83 and the 18 of Dwight Hicks (1979-81). And among the top six with most interceptions in their first three seasons, Diggs currently has the highest total since 1983.
And this Micah Parsons is just amazing with his analogies, and since he laid this one on us when asked his thoughts on Cowboys safety Donovan Wilson, who has four sacks so far, one behind the Chargers' Derwin James among defensive backs this year and one short of the Cowboys single-season record owned by Bill Bates (5), the "Lionbacker" gets the last word, and what a word it is.
See, when Parsons was asked about Wilson, he started off by saying, "'Jaguar,' I mean, 'Dono,' he asked me for an animal name and I told him he's a jaguar because he can fly around, he can jump. He does everything. He goes for sacks, he goes for picks. He's not afraid to go in that deep water and get himself an alligator, you know what I'm saying? Dono is just a dog and I respect him so much because he's one of the quietest people, but he works so hard at what he does. … He's not afraid to come and meet a 250-pound running back or a 300-pound lineman."
And when asked more about the qualities of a jaguar, if they really fly around, Parsons responds with, "Yeah, they do. If you watch some of the videos, it's some crazy (stuff). A jaguar will jump into a river and grab an 18-foot gator. Got one of the strongest bites in the world. He'll pull it out. It's serious, it's some serious (stuff), I'll tell you. Jaguars might be my second-favorite animal."
So better than the lions?
"Lions, we're all land," Micah says. "He's got the water. He's got the land covered. The Jags is serious, a serious predator."
And there you have it, Wild Kingdom according to Micah.