FRISCO, Texas – Proud to report, the sky out here in North Texas still is blue, and haven’t seen any pieces falling from above.
And there is no chaos around The Star or Ford Center or in the locker room.
Just need to get ready to play the sixth game of the season – already – the Cowboys 3-2, no less tied for first place in the NFC East with Philadelphia. Hey, no one likes to lose two in a row, and one of those two very well could come back to haunt them in the end, but their football world hasn’t come to an end. Still 11 games to go.
In the immortal words of Bill Parcells when asked about what kind of team he has, “Check with me after Thanksgiving.”
So time to tee up some shots.
- Rare Streak: This is just the third time in 32 games the Cowboys have lost consecutive games. Only happened once last season, losing Games 7 and 8 to Washington and Tennessee, and then a three-game skid in 2017, Games 9-11 to Atlanta, Philly and the Chargers the first three games of Zeke’s six-game suspension.
- Injury Projections: The Cowboys had three starters who did not participate in practice Wednesday: Left tackle Tyron Smith (ankle), right tackle La’el Collins (sprained knee) and weakside linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (illness). Of those guys, got the feeling Smith, who missed the Green Bay game, will be ready to go on Sunday. Not so much for Collins, injured midway the third quarter against the Packers. And as for Vander Esch, he should be good to go by the end of the week. The potential replacements at linebacker exceed those at the tackle position. The Cowboys can always turn to either Joe Thomas or Sean Lee to fortify the linebacker spot. Not as good choices at tackle, with either Cam Fleming, who struggled against the Packers, or raw, undrafted rookie Brandon Knight, who made his NFL debut against the Pack. That is, if the Cowboys don’t want to move a guard to tackle and insert Xavier Su’a-Filo in at guard.
- Oh Amari: Not sure the Cowboys in quite some time have gotten as much bang for their buck trading away a first-round pick than they have when acquiring wide receiver Amari Cooper from the Raiders last year. Start with just this Green Bay game. The guy caught 11 passes against the Packers for a career-high 226 yards, fourth most in franchise history, and two of the three ahead of him came in the 1960’s – Bob Hayes (246) in 1966 and Frank Clarke (241) in 1962. Miles Austin holds the record at 250 in 2009. Also, Cooper’s 512 receiving yards so far this season rank second in the NFL, as does his five touchdowns receptions among wide receivers. And, here is the big kicker: In the 14 games he’s played for the Cowboys, Coop’s numbers read 85 receptions for 1,237 yards, 11 touchdowns – just two games shy of a 16-game season total. Pretty stout.
- More Coop: Not sure the Cowboys in quite some time have had a top-three receiver group more modest than Coop, Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb. Think about it. Receivers just don’t come that way these days, and the Cowboys have three of them, and after five games – remember, Gallup missed two – that threesome has totaled 69 catches for 1,071 yards and seven of the team’s 11 touchdown receptions.
- Kicking It Around: Cowboys kicker Brett Maher after five games has made four of seven field-goal attempts, a .571 percentage. Currently, among the 35 kickers listed in the NFL stats, only two have a worse percentage, and one of those is Jets kicker Sam Ficken, making just one of two attempts so far. The other is Cairo Santos, the former Tennessee kicker at .444 (four for nine), and that after missing four field goals this past Sunday and getting cut. The Titans replaced him with Cody Parkey, released by the Bears in the offseason after his double-donk miss in the final seconds for the win in Chicago’s wildcard playoff to loss the Eagles last year. This is his fifth team. Gives you an idea of what’s out there. As Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he learned early in his ownership career, “Just go score touchdowns.” Oh, and the Jets already are on their second kicker. Also understand, two of Maher’s three misses are from 55 and 54 yards, the 55-yarder off the right upright. Still, the 33-yarder Sunday hurt.
- Needing Jet Fuel: The Jets’ offense has been anemic so far, scoring just 39 points in four games. But then they have already gone through three starting quarterbacks, thanks to original starter Sam Darnold missing the past three games with mono and his backup Trevor Siemian suffering a gruesome ankle injury in need of surgery six passes into his first start. That meant Luke Falk, a sixth-round pick of Tennessee in 2018 and on his third team already was forced to start the past two games. The Jets quarterbacks already have been sacked 23 times in four games, Falk suffering 16 of those.
- Chip Shots: Couple of Cowboys connections on the Jets, former Cowboys offensive line coach Frank Pollack now the Jets O-Line coach and former Cowboys 2018 fifth-round pick Mike White, the QB now on the Jets practice squad . . . When Cooper was asked again about if Dak Prescott’s pass that bounced off his hands into an interception on the Cowboys’ first possession of the Packers game was too far behind him, he said, “That’s a routine catch for me . . . easy catch.” . . . Only two teams in the league are ranked in the Top 10 in offense and defense: The Cowboys with the No. 1 offense and sixth-ranked defense, and the undefeated 49ers at fourth in offense and second in defense. … When Ezekiel Elliott was asked what the Cowboys need to do to get back on track during this two-game losing streak that has most out there in panic mode, he simply said, “We need to go out there and get our edge back . . . just playing more edgy, more physical.” Just right there is what’s needed to keep the sky up there where it belongs.