FRISCO, Texas – Stephen Jones continually reminds us that player acquisition is 365 days a year.
Well, sure includes the 257th and 258th days in the year 2020, as the Cowboys were busy, busy the second week of the season making moves, trying to plug holes while in the meantime starting preparation for the Atlanta Falcons.
Two desperate teams crossing paths at high noon Sunday at AT&T Stadium before potentially 25-percent capacity since nobody wants to start off a season 0-2. Short of a tie, one of these two will be, and each will be trying its best to make sure it's not them.
And as bad as everyone feels following the Cowboys' 20-17 season-opening loss to the L.A. Rams, along with the three injuries they sustained in the game, come Wednesday they must feel even worse.
Let's take a shot at capturing all of this.
- Breaking Bad: Yep, bad enough the Cowboys knew they had lost tight end Blake Jarwin for the season, tearing an ACL in the season opener, out for the season. And bad enough they knew linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was undergoing surgery to facilitate quicker healing of his fractured clavicle, also landing on injured reserve and out 6-8 weeks. Then we find out this: You know that sports hernia Sean Lee was nursing, landing him on IR-recall for at least three weeks? Well, we find out Wednesday there's been no more nursing. Lee went to the doc in Philadelphia last week to have the sports injury surgically repaired. Now out at least six weeks, meaning two of their perceived top three linebackers will miss at least half the season. Was a lonely sight out there watching linebacker drills with only five participating.
- Bad Enough II: Yep, same thing here at the offensive tackle position. Bad enough the Cowboys have started the season with starting right tackle La'el Collins on injured reserve, knowing he'd be out for at least the minimum three weeks and forcing the Cowboys to start raw, undrafted rookie free agent Terence Steele in the opener. And bad enough veteran swing tackle Cam Erving sprained his MCL on the second play of special teams in Sunday's game, thought to be out 2-4 weeks. But no, much worse. Head coach Mike McCarthy says Erving will be out four to six weeks and the Cowboys placed him, too, on injured reserve. Man, when it rains, it pours. That left the Cowboys signing third-year veteran Alex Light off the Cardinals practice squad, an undrafted guy who played 16 games over the past two seasons for Green Bay, including 151 snaps last year. And still shaking the bushes for more veteran help.
- RePeat: No one likes losing the opening game of the season, no matter the sport. But have noticed McCarthy lost his first game as head coach of the Green Bay Packers, too, a 26-0 loss to the hated Chicago Bears. And to make matters worse, lost the second game to not only the Saints, 34-27, but also to first-year head coach Sean Payton, the Cowboys' former offensive assistant under Bill Parcells who actually was a candidate for the Green Bay job. How do you think that all that went over in Green Bay? McCarthy managed to right the ship with a four-game winning streak to close out the season, finishing 8-8 after taking over a 4-12 team. The Packers took off from there, registering winning seasons in nine of the next 10 years, including advancing to four NFC title games, winning one and the ensuing Super Bowl.
- No Way: Are you kidding me? Aldon Smith had last played in an NFL game on Nov. 15, 2015. That's 59 months ago. And after the Cowboys signed him, conventional thinking had him as a DPR (designated pass rusher) and likely in the first game maybe playing like 20 to 30 snaps since he'd been out of the game so long through suspensions. Ha! Not only did No. 58 start the game, basically at right defensive end, not only did the sixth-year veteran end up playing 54 snaps (74 percent), but the guy finishes second on the team with 12 tackles, recording the only sack, one tackle for a loss but also a QB pressure that results in Chidobe Awuzie's interception. Welcome back, deserving an M-I-Z from a fellow Missouri alum.
- Chunk Plays. Beware the Falcon. In Atlanta's 38-25 loss to Seattle, quarterback Matt Ryan throws the ball 54 times for 450 yards. And "Matty-Ice" is no dinker or dunker. Ryan had 11 completions for at least 16 yards, seven of those at least 19 yards, and completions to lead receiver Julio Jones for 44, 29, 19 and 18. Jones finished with nine catches for 157 yards, one of three Falcons receivers with 100 yards receiving (Calvin Ridley 130 and Russell Gage 114). When asked today how the Cowboys might adjust their secondary to deal with the Falcons' ariel show, my response is, better get after Matty-Ice because if he has the time of day in the pocket, even five Pro Bowlers in the secondary won't be able to cover these guys.
- As You Were: Let's not start jumping out the windows over a 20-17 loss to the Rams, having to travel, a new head coach, new defensive coordinator, basically a new coaching staff, with four new starters on offense, seven new starters on defense, a new kicker, no preseason games, no offseason program for a new staff and end up losing by three, with one play and one miserable call creating the measly gap.
- Amazing Tests: So here are the numbers for COVID-19 testing during the first week of the NFL season (Sept. 6-12): There were 40,479 tests administered to a total of 7,437 players and team personnel, with 15,959 tests administered to 2,511 players and 24,520 tests administered to 4,926 personnel. And with all that, there were only two new confirmed positives tests among the players and five confirmed tests among other personnel. But now, can these guys continue this? Continue living at home with increased free time around family and friends? As I like to say during this year of 2020, we'll see.
- Notable Shots: Interesting stat: Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have hooked up for nine touchdowns, sixth most since the start of the 2016 season between quarterback and running back, just two short of fourth … And this one causes you to go, say what? The Rams totaled 275 gross yards passing Sunday, which included 200 yards after the catch, meaning rarely was Jared Goff throwing the ball like much more than 10 yards, if even that.
And finally, for those sitting with both feet off the ledge and trying to find someone to blame, which usually means the quarterback for the loss, please consider Dak's stat line of 25 for 39 (64.1%), 266 yards, a touchdown, no interceptions and robbed of a near 50-yard completion that final minute to Michael Gallup while under undo pressure most of the game, especially in the second half. Hey, keep it real. Look for the truth.
Don't miss the chance to see the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium when they take on the Atlanta Falcons in the first regular season home game of the 2020 season on Sunday, Sept. 20th. Click HERE to buy your tickets now!
Details on all of the health and safety procedures you can expect at AT&T Stadium this season can be viewed at www.DallasCowboys.com/safestadium.