Mick Shots: Let The Non-Game Season Begin

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FRISCO, Texas – They call this the offseason.

But this is the NFL. There really is no off during this time of the year, even though we are three days past Super Bowl LIII. The players can come and go as they please, though around noon Wednesday, I do see about 20 or so cars in the players parking lot here at The Star. You know, rehab of injuries or from surgeries has no calendar.

So to me, the proper term for this time of year should be the non-game season. No such thing as off when it comes to the NFL.

That means, no lack of shots this time of year, too. You’ll see.

· Super Funny: When it comes down to Super Bowls, they can be instructive for the 30 teams sitting at home. So is Super Bowl LIII, with the New England Patriots beating the Los Angeles Rams, 13-3, in a game to me, unlike most claiming boring, was quite riveting since the score was so close. Every snap was edge-of-the-couch meaningful. Now I had to giggle when I thought of the Patriots scoring just 13 points against the Rams defense. Hey, the Cowboys ­– with most everyone piling on anyone who had anything to do with their offense – scored 22 points in losing, 30-22, to the Rams in the divisional round of the playoffs. Right? And in the NFC title game, with the benefit of overtime, the Saints scored just 23 points against Uncle Wade’s defense, just one more than the Cowboys. Go figure.

· Super Irony: You know how the lasting impression from the Cowboys’ 2018 season seems to be how “old-school” their offense is. Nothing exotic. Not enough motion or three- and four-receiver sets. Too much predictable reliance on the run. Well, pals, how about this? The champion Patriots, in three playoff games, totaled 485 yards rushing and 9 touchdowns – 155 and 4 vs. the Chargers, 176 and 4 vs. the Chiefs, 154 and the Super Bowl-winning 1 vs. the Rams. The Pats’ opponents rushing in the playoffs? Try 122 total yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. And did you see how the innovative Patriots scored the winning touchdown? Basically, lining up on first-and-goal from the 2 with three tight ends and a fullback, handing the ball off to running back Sony Michel off left tackle for the touchdown behind a clear-out block from fullback James Develin. Now there is some imaginative stuff right there.

· Last Super Stats: OK, after this I’ll let it go. The offensively-challenged Cowboys score three touchdowns in their playoff game against that Rams defense. The Saints scored just two and kicked three field goals for their 23 points. The Patriots? Well, they scored one touchdown. Once again emphasizing the defensive breakdown in the playoff loss to the Rams, the Cowboys getting run over for 273 yards, logically becoming the prime reason why they lost that game. OK, I lied, one last giggle. Here is Dak Prescott’s line in the playoff loss to the Rams: 20 of 32, 266 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 99.2 QB rating. Here is Drew Brees’ line in the loss to the Rams: 26 of 40, 249, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 88.4 QB rating. And in the Super victory, here is Tom Brady’s line vs. the Rams defense: 21 of 35, 262 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 71.4 QB rating. Just sayin.’ Sometimes perceptions can be dangerous.

· Super Spot: So did you realize the genesis of that Super Bowl commercial with Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn meeting the first-responders who tended to him after he was hit by a drunk driver going 50 mph while he was crossing a street? The one that brought him to tears during the taping when hugging the paramedic when she introduced herself to him? Well, that accident occurred the night of Aug. 20, 2005, in downtown Ventura, Calif., during Cowboys training camp in Oxnard when he was the running backs coach for Bill Parcells. The hit-and-run indeed flipped Lynn high into the air, his head cracking the windshield while coming down, causing facial lacerations and a broken nose that was immediately surgically repaired at Ventura County Medical Center. Remember driving to the hospital that night to check on his condition. The next day, after Parcells found out what happened, he said, “It’s sad, but he’s lucky to be alive.” That was real-life stuff there.

· Long Time Coming: Congrats to former Cowboys vice president of player personnel Gil Brandt for his well-deserved selection into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday in Atlanta as a league contributor. I’ll say he contributed, part of the Cowboys triumvirate of Tex Schramm-Tom Landry-Gil Brandt, the architects of those 20 consecutive winning seasons (1966-85), 13 first-place finishes, two NFL Championship appearances, 12 conference championship games, five Super Bowl appearances and two Super Bowl victories. With all Gil has done, and still is doing at 85 years of age with the NFL, not sure why the Hall of Fame selection committee needed 34 minutes to discuss his selection – longest of any of the final candidates.

· Need A Date: Here are some important dates to remember during the NFL’s non-game season: Teams can begin signing their own free agents on Feb. 12. Franchise tags can be issued between Feb. 19-March 5. The NFL Scouting Combine is Feb. 26-March 4. Free-agent negotiations can take place between March 11-13. League year, free agency and trade season begins at 3 p.m. on March 13. NFL meetings March 24-27. Offseason workouts for the Cowboys can begin April 15. The NFL Draft takes place in Nashville, Tenn., April 25-27. There, that ought to hold you for a while.

· Super Short Shots: Pat on the back goes to The Washington Post for its Super Bowl commercial praising true journalism, ending with “Knowing makes us free.” Then scripting Democracy Dies in Darkness … Wish we could be a fly on the wall when the NFL Competition Committee begins meeting Feb. 21, ahead of the combine … Maybe the Houston Texans took a page out of the Cowboys’ hiring book, promoting to offensive coordinator Tim Kelly, who had been the Texans’ tight ends coach for just two seasons, an assistant O-Line coach one year before two years as a quality control guy … And of course, Westgate in Las Vegas already has posted the Super Bowl LIV odds for the 2019 season. Tops is Kansas City at 6-1, with the Rams, Saints and Patriots next at 8-1. After that comes Chargers, Bears, Steelers at 14-1. Then Cowboys, Vikings and Packers tied for eighth at 16-1.

Batter up. Don’t sleep on the NFL. First 2019 preseason game, the Aug. 1 Hall of Fame Game, is just 175 days away.

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