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Spagnola: Talk About Being Crazy Good


ARLINGTON, Texas – And at the six-game mark of this 2018 season, the Dallas Cowboys are 3-3.

        Some might say, well, meh.

        But do you realize there are only two teams in the NFC with more than three wins? The 6-0 LA Rams and the 4-1 New Orleans Saints.

        Do you realize no team in the NFC East has more than the Cowboys' three wins? That their 3-3 record has them tied for second in the division with the Philadelphia Eagles, both just a half-game behind the 3-2 Washington Redskins, and the Cowboys will have a chance to do something about that next Sunday, 3:25 p.m., at FedEx Field?

        Amazing, huh?

        Especially since so many were ready to throw in the towel on this 2018 season after the Cowboys were beaten 19-16 in overtime by the Houston Texans (3-3) this past Sunday night.

        So many were asking for a pound of flesh from the owner to the head coach to the quarterback to the offensive coordinator.

        I mean, there were those actually verbalizing their hopes the Cowboys would just go 5-11, that way the whole mess of them would be run out of town.

        And if we heard it once this past week, we heard it 100 times from a bunch of know-it-alls: How in the world is a Cowboys offense struggling to even averaging a mere 16.6 points a game, and just 12.3 in their three losses, ever going to score even 10 points against those big, bad Jacksonville Jaguars, the No. 1 defense in the NFL and No. 1 pass defense?

Ha! Guess they didn't watch what the Chiefs did to the Jaguars the previous Sunday.

So maybe the question should have been: How in the world will the erstwhile 3-2 Jaguars ever score more than 10 points against the Cowboys defense?

Never have tables been turned more dramatically than this:

Cowboys 40, Jaguars 7.

That's right, 40, no misprint. That's right, 7, the only touchdown this defense has now given up in the past six quarters, plus overtime, and even that touchdown was scored just two minutes into the second quarter by the Texans.

Why, the Cowboys were so dominant here Sunday afternoon before 90,767 and a near national television audience being entertained by their former quarterback Tony Romo, the Jaguars left town practically talking to themselves.

Said Jags QB Blake Bortles: "I mean, pretty much a waste of a day and a trip."

Said Jags mouth that roars Jalen Ramsey: Uh, basically nothing.

Said Jags DE Calais Campbell: "We run out here, and we played like somebody else. Like imposters."

There are probably some of those promoting theories of a splintered Cowboys locker room, that they were coming apart at the seams, without even considering they lost the season opener by one possession and Game 5 by three points in overtime. Now thinking the same about the home team after watching the Cowboys score 40 points for the first time since beating San Francisco, 40-10, that 16 games ago, and at least 40 points for just the third time in the last 54 games, thinking likewise:

Who were those guys with Blue Stars on their helmets Sunday? Imposters?

So crazy good.

In the same game Ezekiel Elliott ran for 106 yards and a touchdown, Dak Prescott ran for 82 and a touchdown. In the same game Dak threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns, with a 107.5 QB rating. Cole Beasley matched his career high with nine catches for 101 and two touchdowns, numbers resembling a No. 1 receiver.

And the defense, goodness gracious, it held Jacksonville to 204 total yards of offense, to just 139 net passing, sacked Bortles three times and for the second straight game had two takeaways: a Jeff Heath interception and a Jourdan Lewis fumble recovery. They had some guy in the middle of the defense dressed up as some Ed "Too Tall" Jones in No. 95. Jags, meet David Irving, and you're excused if you had no idea who this guy was since he was playing in his first game of the season and first in 10 consecutive games dating back to last year. And maybe they had not yet met Maliek Collins, he being No. 96, playing in just his first game in four weeks.

And those guys out there they might have thought were Sean Lee? Come on, man, he's 50. That's 55 out there, my man LVE, Leighton Vander Esch, and he's but a rookie, so you're excused for not coming up with a better game plan for a guy who tackled you guys 10 times. And that No. 54 out there, the guy with nine tackles, that's Jaylon Smith proving he's is not the same guy he was last year. And 94, probably forgot all about him since he was suspended all last season, but that's Randy Gregory, who in just 17 snaps had three tackles (two for losses), one sack and three QB hits.

Oh, and let's not forget that guy kicking the ball. Meet Brett Maher. He's the one who made four field goals, the last one a career-long 55 yards in his first year in the NFL, his 15th consecutive made three-pointer.

Now this was the first thing Jason Garrett said after the game, but really, he needn't have said more than that, "It was a good win. It was a good win against a good team. It was a team win. Every phase contributed."

If there are those out there bent on being frustrated with these Cowboys, today is the day you should be most frustrated. You got a thorough taste of just maybe what this team can be, but certainly hasn't been consistently to this point.

You know, after the game, Garrett was exclaiming what his now 29th-ranked offense did against Jacksonville, saying, "If you look at that defense, I mean, I don't know how many first-round picks they have, how many second-round picks they have, how many high-priced free agents they have on all three levels of their defense. They're all over the place …

"But our guys did a good job blocking them up front."

That the Cowboys front did, which allowed Dak to throw the ball "on time, in rhythm. Conviction on his throws."

And just maybe it's time to start getting to know the names on that defense, too, since the Cowboys were playing fulltime without three of their top defenders, no Lee, no Chidobe Awuzie and sack leader DeMarcus Lawrence only a part-time participant (24 of 48 snaps) while nursing a shoulder dislocated last week, resulting in a slight labrum tear, too.

"We the Hot Boyz," Collins reminded, and further pointed out Irving's impact by saying, "You see what he do? That's crazy.

"We aim to be the top defense in the league."

As of Sunday, the Cowboys are fifth after six games, with the Jags falling to No. 2.

Just six games, meaning room to grow.

So at least for a week, the dire-straits narrative will be relaxed a bit. No one's job will be in jeopardy for at least six days. Should be few complaints in this week-to-week world that is the NFL.

And now that the Cowboys gave everyone a taste of what could be, they need to hit the road next Sunday and play with a measure of consistency. And best thing is, they know that.

"Now the big challenge is to do it on the road," said Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin, one of the top realists on this team.

Zeke, too.

"Obviously, we can do it, but it's something we need to do," Zeke said. "I mean, if we keep not winning on the road, we're not going to make the playoffs. … We've got to carry it to next week."


And when Beasley was asked just who are these 3-3 Cowboys, he said, "Who you are is what you did in your last game.

"We just have to do it week in and week out."

Otherwise, this roller-coaster of a season is going to continue driving everyone just a little bit crazy.