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Week 5 Review

Prescott injury tough to watch

No doubt the story of the weekend was Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott breaking his right ankle in a gruesome injury that we will all be forced to watch for years. It was reminiscent of the Joe Theisman injury in 1985 and another example of the sad part of our great game. Injuries like this affect humans differently but one can’t avoid the emotion it sparks in all of us. My prayers go out to Prescott and his family.

I have read several takes on his contract plight and how this might affect him going forward. Frankly, I don’t see it changing much. Prescott still gets his full franchise-tag money in 2020 and he is still slated to be a free agent in February. However, the Cowboys still get to decide what their course of action is. It was always going to be tough to re-tag him at $37 million when the total cap of the team is going to be approximately $175 million. 

But if the Cowboys think they can get Prescott at a discount now, I think their logic is impaired. If they don’t tag him, and I think another franchise tag is their only way of keeping him, some other team will “pay him”. There is always going to be a team more desperate, who is looking to change the course of their franchise direction. Prescott is not going to take a team-friendly deal just because he’s hurt and just to stay in Dallas.

I experienced this first hand when I was the general manager of the Miami Dolphins. Drew Brees had two teams willing to pay him $10 million a year after the 2006 season and this was after he dislocated his throwing shoulder through the bottom of the joint (a 1-500 type injury). He also had suffered a 360-degree tear of the labrum and a 50% tear of the rotator cuff. 

As it turned out, one doctor’s failed physical is another’s franchise saver. It all depends how desperate your organization is. Our doctors in Miami failed Brees on the physical but, the New Orleans Saints were waiting to scoop him up and took the gamble on Brees. It has worked out better for them than anyone involved could have imagined.

It’s been proven that there are not enough top-flight QB’s to go around and Prescott confirmed he is one of those through his first five games this year. As long as the injury doesn’t take on a life of its own, similar to Alex Smith’s situation with the Washington Football Team, he will get his money, provided there are no unforeseen circumstances in his lengthy rehabilitation.

Garoppolo benched in SF

The rust was apparent early on in the San Francisco 49ers’ loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Benched at halftime after throwing a pair of interceptions, QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s future in San Francisco is somewhat in doubt, in my opinion. Head Coach Kyle Shanahan took the “high road” in his explanation for the decision. His quote was something to the effect of “Jimmy just wasn’t ready/right after coming off his ankle injury”. He was being kind. I actually believe this has been brewing inside Shanahan for the last six months. 

Does anyone remember the flirtation the 49ers had with Tom Brady this past off season? That would not have happened if the 49ers head coach had been settled on Garoppolo being their guy for the long term. 

Garoppolo has shown signs of being less than a franchise QB ever since the Monday Night Football game vs Seattle last year. Again, Jimmy gave us reasons to doubt him in the Super Bowl as well. It’s clear to me that pressure bothers him. He’s not confident and his accuracy is shaky when he does not have a clean pocket to operate from. I think this Sunday, once again showed everyone that the 49ers may not currently have the right guy on the roster as their franchise QB.

Vikings dominate the stat column but lose again

Nearly a 2-1 time of possession advantage and over 200 yards of rushing on offense was still not enough for the Minnesota Vikings to come home with a win against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night Football. There’s no doubt that Minnesota showed progress in almost every area that had failed them in the first four weeks of the 2020 season. It was still not enough as they gave up a late lead to the front runner in the NFC. Even though improvement was easy to find, they didn’t do the little things to win the game.  

Even with an exciting ending, the real difference between the Vikings winning or losing this game came down to a small mistake that ultimately cost them. Dalvin Cook’s replacement, Alexander Mattison, who had played a great game but he missed a cavernous hole on a key fourth down play that would have clinched the game late in the final quarter and kept the ball in Viking hands. Instead Seattle got the ball on downs and MVP front runner Russell Wilson took the stage and made them pay by leading another last second drive for the win.  

We take for granted that all running backs know where to run with the ball once they have it in their hands. Not true. Vision and natural run instincts/awareness are near the top of an evaluators’ criteria when assessing a RB’s ability.

I’ve experienced a RB get picked in the first round and consistently run into the back of their offensive guards for years. His vision never cleared up. You just can’t take it for granted. I have never seen a good NFL running back that can’t naturally find the correct run lane quickly. Some runners are slow to develop it but they eventually get it. 

Let’s hope Mattison finds it soon. It’s no wonder the Vikings opted to go ahead and pay Cook big money before the season started. He is their most natural and complete back and without him, as we found out Sunday night, they paid the price.

Other notes

The Carolina Panthers are a solid, well-coached team that seems to have a consistent plan and the discipline to execute it each week. You have got to like the direction first-year coach Matt Rhule is taking them. Its not fancy but its good fundamental football being played on both sides of the ball.

Las Vegas is finally getting the kind of play out of QB Derek Carr that many of us predicted when we saw him in college. In their win over Kansas City on Sunday, I saw, for the second straight week, a tougher, more competitive, leader in Carr. He finally showed he can avoid making the critical error that would cost his team a chance to win. In evaluating Carr now, I see grit and a player trying to shed an image of being soft. Granted there were no fans in the stands in Arrowhead and that made Carr’s job much easier, but on Sunday this team took a step forward as a playoff contender.  

Also, let it be known that fast WR’s force teams to defend the field differently, even if the offense doesn’t throw the ball often.  WR Henry Ruggs caught two passes for 118 yards and a TD.  His ability to stretch defenses will be a great thing for the Raiders running game as well. Opposing defenses will have trouble sneaking a safety in the box versus the kind of speed Ruggs has.

Wentz and Rivers are killing their teams

It pains me to say this because I think both these guys are way better than the first 5 weeks are showing. I lived with the Phillip Rivers ups and downs for years during my 10 years with the Chargers but I’m not seeing the same guy based on “one characteristic”. I have always seen a decisive QB that once he decides where to go with the ball, its gets from mind to release (off his finger tip) as efficient and quick as anyone I have studied. I’m not seeing that same decisiveness therefore balls are floating and being thrown without confidence and with a lack of commitment. Sure, some can be attributed to a new scheme-team-teammates but his ability to process made up for average arm strength. Now I’m seeing just average arm strength and on many throws even less than that. I think the Colts have a surrounding cast and are ready to win. Phillip may be holding them back currently.

With Wentz, its more about his lack of a surrounding cast. This roster has been set back with injury and poor personnel decisions. Its forced him into “trying to be superman” way too often. Things will not change for him until they can upgrade the quality at WR and on the O’line. With the NFC East being totally up in the air, Id be trying to make a deal or two if I were Eagles GM Howie Roseman. I could sleep at night unless I found a way to give his QB a chance.

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