FRISCO, Texas – Forget Halloween, you know what’s really scary? Trying to come up with topics for a Cowboys-centric column when the Cowboys haven’t played football in two weeks.
That’s where I’m at on this spooky occasion. Everybody’s putting on masks, and I’m just impatiently waiting for the Cowboys to do the opposite. Take off those costumes and show us who y’all really are. Is this the team that loses to the winless New York Jets, or the team that absolutely German suplexes the Philadelphia Eagles?
Or, perhaps the most maddening possibility of all, will they continue to be the team that does both?
In the spirit of the occasion, here’s a handful of things that creep me out heading into this Monday Night matchup:
1. This is recency bias on my part, but I’m creeped out by the thought of Golden Tate being part of this matchup.
From his crack back block on Sean Lee in 2012 to his 132-yard, two-touchdown day last season, it seems like Tate has always found a way to hurt the Cowboys.
That’s not completely true, though. I crunched the numbers and found that Golden Tate has played Dallas eight times in his career, and most of those have been fairly forgettable. Across eight meetings with three different teams, Tate has caught 21 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns. Literally half of that production came in last year’s Cowboys-Lions game, when he absolutely went off.
Tate actually played the Cowboys twice more last season after joining Philadelphia, and the results were … not great. In two games – both Cowboys wins – he caught three total passes for 26 yards. Not exactly the type of production that makes you want to give up a third-round pick.
Regardless, it’s still creepy. Tate is a very good receiver, and he’s capable of hurting a secondary – especially when you consider that Daniel Jones is targeting him nine times per game since he returned from suspension.
2. I’m very scared about the fact that it was 32 degrees in Dallas on Oct. 31.
Now before you overreact, hear me out. I understand that you might be reading this in a place where cold temperatures are the norm, and I’m not trying to complain on my behalf.
The reason it freaks me out is because of what it could mean for the rest of the season. Temperatures will probably be in the 40s at kickoff on Monday night in New Jersey, and that’s just the beginning for the back half of the schedule.
The Cowboys dodged cold weather last season, but I doubt they’re going to be so lucky in 2019. After this Giants trip, they’re heading to New England the week of Thanksgiving, then they’re going to Chicago and Philadelphia in December. The potential for miserable conditions seems pretty high in some of the most important games of the year.
Obviously, it’s the Cowboys’ job to tell you that stuff doesn’t matter. But I’ve seen this team play a game in 0 degree temperatures, and it definitely does matter. So here’s hoping we see some unseasonable temperatures across the country in the coming weeks. The alternative is kind of scary.
3. It feels like old news at this point, but the Cowboys’ pass rush has the potential to be pretty scary with Michael Bennett joining the mix.
We’ve covered the cost of the trade and Bennett’s move from New England, but it’s hard to get a read on his time with the Patriots. Instead, I went back and looked at the role he played for Philadelphia in 2018.
Bennett started 10 games for the Eagles in their 4-3 scheme last year, and he played an impressive 69% of their defensive snaps. It was a really nice effort on his part, as he put up 34 tackles and nine sacks.
I have a hard time imagining he’ll carve out such a large role here, given the presence of DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn. The Cowboys’ starters are both playing roughly 64% of the defensive snaps, and they’re making the most of them. Quinn has an absurd six games in five games, while Lawrence has 3.5 sacks and has two of this team’s nine takeaways.
There’s bound to be a way for Bennett to carve out a role. Kerry Hyder has been great rotating in with Lawrence this season, but we haven’t seen anyone else step up on the opposite side.
Between that and Bennett’s ability to move inside to defensive tackle, I’m hopeful this coaching staff can find a 35% snap count, give or take. If they can do that, I think the production will come.
4. I’m scared to talk about The Trade That Wasn’t.
If I’ve learned anything in the past few days, it’s that people are mad about it.
A quick recap: there’s a mountain of evidence that suggests the Cowboys were interested in acquiring Jamal Adams. There’s a mountain of evidence that suggests the Jets were interested in dealing him – Adams said as much when he talked to New York media earlier this week.
It’s hard to say for sure exactly what the price was, but it’s more than the Cowboys wanted to pay – and it’s hard for me to decide how to feel about that.
As an LSU alum and a person who wants the Cowboys to upgrade their safety talent, it feels like a no-brainer. Adams has 2.5 years remaining on his rookie contract, so you’d be acquiring a cheap Pro Bowler for the foreseeable future.
At the same time, if the Jets are asking you to part ways with two or three big-time draft picks, I totally understand the hesitation. This is a team with a lot of hefty contracts on the books and a lot of impending free agents on the horizon.
They can afford to pay Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, DeMarcus Lawrence and a slew of offensive linemen – but there’s not a ton of money behind that. To fill out the rest of the roster, the Cowboys need to draft (and draft well). It’s hard to do that when you’re missing first and second-round picks from your stockpile.
This is the part where you’ll make fun of me, because Trysten Hill isn’t making an impact as a rookie. The fact of the matter is that this team has drafted incredibly well in recent years.
Of the Cowboys’ 22 regular starters, 16 are guys they drafted. Of those 16 guys, 13 of them were drafted in the first three rounds of the draft. They’re pretty good at it, and I don’t blame them if they’re reluctant to let those picks go.
Man, it would’ve been really fun to watch Jamal Adams in silver and blue, though.
5. While we’re at it, let’s be totally honest.
If the Earl Thomas Saga taught me anything, it’s that this conversation isn’t over. The Cowboys expressed interest in Adams. For his part, Adams said he wanted to stay in New York – but he also allowed that is hometown of Dallas is a destination he’d prefer if were to be traded.
The Cowboys have a massive fanbase, they draw a ton of eyeballs and they need a safety. Regardless how much validity there is to the subject, this topic will be raised again in the offseason. We talked about Thomas for almost two years before he finally signed in Baltimore, killing the conversation. My guess is we haven’t talked about Jamal Adams for the last time.
6. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about this, but it always pops up at Halloween and other holidays, when people are eating candy and such.
I’m weirded out by the fact that so many people dislike coconut. I am genuinely at a loss.
It’s the perfect amount of sweet – just a hint, but not overpowering. The texture is fun. It pairs perfectly with dark chocolate. So it goes without saying that Mounds is my favorite candy bar.
That obviously has nothing to do with football or the Cowboys, but I just wanted you to know where I stand. Coconut forever, Skittles are gross, candy corn should be a crime and 100 Grand is our most underrated chocolate bar. Thank you for your time and have a great week.