Mick Shots: Maybe These Flags Would Help


FRISCO, Texas – Might as well take the biggest shot first.

This has to stop, or at least change, all these roughing the quarterback flags flying around the first three weeks of the season.

Can't do this to the quarterbacks. Can't do that to the quarterbacks.

Might as well put a red jersey on these guys. Hands off. Don't touch.

Or maybe do touch, as in play two-hand touch.

Or do what we did when we were little kids playing in the field: Count 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi, and then rush the quarterback.

That ought to keep them from getting hit, from getting injured, plus help inflate the scoring.

Look, I get it. Quarterbacks are your meal ticket in the NFL. You don't want to jeopardize your most marketable commodities. But this has gotten to the point of becoming ridiculous.

There has been 34 roughing the quarterback penalties the first three weeks of the season. In 2017 at this point, before the call became a point of emphasis this year, there were 16 after three weeks. The season before, 20.

It's like you can't tackle the quarterback in the box without incurring a 15-yard penalty. And if you tackle the quarterback, have mercy on the defender if he happens to fall on the untouchable.

Look, no one wants defenders to lift and pile drive the quarterback. No one wants to see the tackling defender give it that extra oomph as they land on the quarterbacks' chest or shoulder.

But you saw those calls on Clay Matthews. And your darn well saw the call this Sunday against Cowboys defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford, a mere football play taking down Russell Wilson just after he released the pass, incomplete because of Ty's pressure.

Yet, here came the flag, as if automatic, as if referee Carl Cheffers was scared to death to not throw a flag.

And these calls are greatly impacting games. Take that one on Crawford, and I know it was just Seattle's first series of the game. But this came on a third-and-5 play from the Seahawks' 12-yard line. The incompletion would have forced Seattle to punt, meaning Michael Dickson would have been standing on his own goal line, meaning the Cowboys probably would have begun their possession either just beyond or at midfield.

But no, those 15 yards gave the Seahawks a first down at their 27, and that series eventually ended with them punting from the Dallas 49. The Cowboys then began their next possession at their own 15, a good 30 to 40 yards beyond where they might have been with no call.

"It's hard to say I could do anything different," Crawford would say on Tuesday. "Russell is a hard guy to get to the ground.

"They should look over this rule and think about everybody."

Looks like the NFL Competition Committee will. And not soon enough.

Who knows, just to avoid contact with quarterbacks, maybe they will discuss the possibility of playing flag football in the pocket. Yank the flag as we did intramurals and the QB is down. No contact. No foul. Just a tackle … sorta.

OK there, that shot off my chest.

· Come On Indy: That's right, the 1-2 Indianapolis Colts have to play the 0-3 Texans in Game 4. You might be familiar with my theory that in the NFL, the more games a team loses consecutively, the closer it is to winning. As evidenced in Week 3, when six of the nine teams entering games 0-2 were winners, including, of course, Seattle, Detroit beating New England and Buffalo beating 1-0-1 Minnesota. Because up next for the Cowboys after Sunday's game against equally 1-2 Detroit is Houston. The Texans are currently one of the three teams still 0-3 (Cardinals and Raiders). So the last thing the Cowboys want is to play the 0-4 Texans next Sunday night in Houston. They are bound to win one sooner than later.

· Been A While: The last time the Cowboys began a season 1-2 was 2010, a foreboding start to what turned into a 1-7 record at the halfway point when it became obvious then head coach Wade Phillips had lost his team after that 45-7 thrashing by Green Bay for their fifth consecutive loss. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, really the head coach in waiting, took over as the interim head coach, and the Cowboys went 5-3 to the finish with backup quarterback Jon Kitna playing in place of the injured tony Romo. No surprise the Cowboys won the next week, beating the Giants 33-20. They were bound to win one sooner than later.

· Third Down & Out: Of all the frightening offensive statistics after three games for the Cowboys, ranked 30th in total offense, 31st in passing offense, 31st in points per game – OK, that's probably upsetting enough – this one is most telling of their offensive woes: 23.5 percent third-down conversion rate. Only Arizona is worse at 23.3. And to think they finished last season at 42.9 percent. Ouch.

· 100 Club: This to me is astounding. When Detroit running back Kerryon Johnson rushed for 101 yards this past Sunday in the Lions' win over New England, he became their first 100-yard rusher since Reggie Bush went for 113 on Thanksgiving of 2013, a span of 70 games over the past five years. During that same span, the Cowboys individual 100-yard rushing performances totaled 33 by four different players: DeMarco Murray (14), Darren McFadden (5), Alfred Morris (1) and the last 13 by Ezekiel Elliott.

Not a bad last shot, either.