Sullivan: Dak A Top-Five QB? Jaylon Smith's Best Performance & More

Some of the thoughts that run through an oversized, bald head:

  • On a day when seven NFL teams didn't score an offensive touchdown and five others scored just one, the Cowboys found the end zone six times. Yes, Dallas scored more offensive touchdowns on Sunday than 12 other teams did combined. I don't want to hear about who the opponent was either, as San Francisco was allowing 24 points per game coming in. That's really staggering, have to think that's a record, a single team scoring more offensive TDs than 12 others on the same day.
  • The offensive line looked like it did in 2014 and last season. If Rod Smith, Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden, really any NFL running back had 20 carries, they would have run for 100 yards. As impressive as Ezekiel Elliott was, and has been for most of the season, the rest of the Cowboys have rushed for 7.7 yards per carry. That's really an amazing number – 345 yards on 45 carries.
  • Still wish Dak Prescott would slide a second earlier on the majority of his runs, but really like what they've added to the playbook with his read options. He's on pace to rush for 405 yards and eight touchdowns. The Cowboys rushing record for a QB is 343 yards by Roger Staubach in 1971. The only quarterbacks in NFL history to rush for more than 10 touchdowns in their first two seasons are Cam Newton, Steve Grogan and Tim Tebow. Dak already has nine.
  • Seems like everyone just kind of expects this kind of play from Dak, which is ridiculous. What he's doing, how much he has improved from a season ago, by the end of the season he could be a legit top-five QB. A fourth-round pick in his second season. Honestly, right here and now, who would you take over Dak? Tom Brady for sure. With Aaron Rodgers injured, I'm not sure who else. Maybe Drew Brees, but right now, I'd take Dak. Maybe Derek Carr, maybe Kirk Cousins or Russell Wilson.
  • Through 22 NFL regular-season games, Dak has 46 total touchdowns and just eight picks. Through his first 22 games, Brady had 32 TD passes and 21 interceptions.
  • Cooper Rush joined Chad Hutchinson and Clint Stoerner as undrafted free agents to play quarterback for the Cowboys as a rookie. Amazing story, really. Think he's going to have a long run in the league, too. Backup QB can be a sweet gig. Look at Chase Daniel. He's made $24.3 million the last nine years; has thrown 78 passes and been sacked seven times in his career.
  • That was, by a whole bunch, the best performance of the season for Jaylon Smith. This is also how the team intended to use him as a rookie before the injuries to Anthony Hitchens and Sean Lee. Smith played 32 snaps, and beat perennial Pro Bowl tackle Joe Staley multiple times. Still needs a lot of work in pass coverage, but he seemingly always tackles with authority. It's absurd how much fans and even some in the media have criticized his play. He's a rookie and he didn't play football for 20 months. He's way ahead of where anyone with the Cowboys thought he'd be right now, physically and as a linebacker.
  • I think it's time to do away with kick returns. Lot of wasted running down field, potential for injuries, and on the rare occasions when they are returned, a much higher risk of injury. It used to be an exciting play, but it's just not worth it. Only two have been returned for touchdowns this year. Can also speed up the game, which is always a good thing. Just have teams start at their own 20-yard line.
  • Division leaders as we approach the midway point of the season include Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Minnesota, New Orleans and the Rams. Biggest shocker for me, though, is the AFC East trio of Buffalo, Miami and the Jets at a combined 11-8. Didn't think the three of them would win 11 games all season between them.
  • The Cowboys pass rush is the real deal, like the best since the second half of 2012 with DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. In eight games, DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving have 12.5 sacks. Even missing the first month, Irving might just be a Pro Bowl pick by December. Still can't fathom how the Cowboys were able to take him off the Chiefs' practice squad. Had him with five QB pressures and a batted pass in just 36 snaps.
  • Dallas now leads the NFL with 12 forced fumbles and is averaging 3.5 sacks per game, which is second in the league. Been saying since July, this defense was going to need a couple of months to mesh and it's happening. Jourdan Lewis should be in the discussion for Defensive Rookie of the Year, too.
  • The last two receptions they will show on Jason Witten's Hall of Fame video are the helmet catch and the one from Sunday. He's also on pace for 755 receiving yards, which would be his most since 2013, and eight touchdowns, one off his career high. And he's still blocking at a high level. Entering this season, I was thinking it could be his last, but now, at least one more.
  • I don't get why players can't squeeze their own water bottles. Is it so they don't get water on their hands or gloves? This has bothered me for years and I've never asked anyone.
  • Also, no one can convince me that fewer people are watching the NFL. The ratings are just for those watching television in the traditional way. I know four guys who watch the RedZone channel on their Amazon Fire stick. No one is tracking that. I don't know anyone who has stopped watching from previous years. They might not watch as much as they once did, that's the only difference from what I can tell.
  • Think the Cowboys get on a nice roll here, no matter what happens with Zeke's case. Think 5-2 the next seven, maybe even 6-1.

Follow Jeff Sullivan on Twitter, @SullyBaldHead, or email him at jsullivan@dallascowboys.net.

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