There have been so many surprises, both positive and negative, from our first half of the NFL season, that it has forced me to pause and reflect. Some other situations merit the moniker- SOS and make me roll my eyes. Here is a look at both from an insider’s angle.
Let’s start with the positive. Cincy’s Joe Burrow and LA’s Justin Herbert are off to the kind of starts that tell us, the league is in good hands at its most radiant position. If the Dolphins Tua Tagovailoa does what most think he will, over the next 9 weeks, it will even solidify the position further. Adding three franchise QB’s to a league, in the same year, where offensive numbers are at an all-time high has to be celebrated on Park Avenue. “Holding calls be damned”. But to reach those new marketing dollars at the team and league level, those teams must win. Two of the three play for organizations that have basically been irrelevant over the last 10 years. Ownership with the Bengals and Chargers have too, and I stress HAVE TOO, allow in their budgetary process some flexibility to build around the two J’s. History and philosophy does not support this as being a given. The Dolphins have always shown a willingness to spend and be aggressive, if team decision makers chose to. To that end, I feel the Dolphins are best positioned for success.
In my opinion, team builders at the Bengals and Chargers have to be aggressive in surrounding their quarterbacks with weapons and a solid foundation of players. Neither has enough players/talent at the present time. They need to take advantage of this window and be credited for having acquired Burrow and Hebert. Avoiding what happened with Carson Palmer or Phillip Rivers when it felt like they both could sue for “lack of support”. This means taking some risks, identify some ascending players (which there are in each and every free agent class) and build some depth so one injury here or there does not derail the whole process. Make a trade or two for players that fit your coaches’ schemes. Sign players in the free agent window that then allows you to draft the best available players on your boards come draft time, instead of filling out your depth chart with drafting for need. Go ahead, create some excitement and expectations, turn up the volume in players acquired and fan interest. Right now, in my opinion, the Dolphins are furthest down this roadmap to success. I have fingers crossed that “Welcome to the jungle and SD Super-Chargers” both become remakes at the top of the hit charts again, very soon.
The Cowboys have reached a new low
Let me say first that there is plenty of blame to go around with what used to be Americas team. I’m not out to place blame but just to point out facts. A misrepresented roster, an injury to your team leader and best player, the hiring of a Super Bowl coach without giving him proper authority have all played a part in creating what is nothing short of a toxic environment in BIG-D. Until Sunday they still had fight and competitive spirit, even if it wasn’t correctly directed. That even went by the wayside yesterday when backup QB Andy Dalton was cheap shotted (if that’s even a word) out of the game by a hit that should result in a suspension for one WFT LB, Jon Bostic. This should have caused a reaction and pushback of epic proportion in what once was, one of the great rivalries in sports (Dallas vs Washington). Nope, this version of Americas team, tucked its tail and continued being ok with taking a beat down. Failing to defend your QB is a new low for the franchise. They proved to me that they are struggling with the concept of TEAM.
Not to use this as an excuse but I do think that the art of becoming that TEAM is much harder in Covid-times. Chances to bond over zoom are not the same as in person. Building relationships with teammates are part of this process and that’s obviously missing. The other thing is- this offensive line, as its currently constructed, is learning their own trade, on the job, and each play is an adventure for them to line up and execute. So, sticking up for teammates is not first and foremost on their minds. I just felt like they should have discarded all that mind clutter and went to the defense of their quarterback. The human element didn’t kick in and it was sad to see. The Cowboys showed zero heart or fight and this could have been a bit of a rallying cry.
The Cowboys finally hit rock bottom by reacting like a group independent contractors who have yet to even begin coming together as a team. This is what they have been allowed to become when leadership is in question. In order to change the course of what history has shown us over the first 7 weeks, it’s going to take a reset of grand proportions that starts with honesty and leadership looking in the mirror. This structure and system is not working and its insane to think it’s going to change in its present state.