FRISCO - We make the “FishTips’’ calls before Cowboys kickoffs — game-planning and gossiping — and then we review, as we do now after Sunday’s 31-17 Dallas home win over the Bears, whether we had any idea what we were talking about.
A five-point FishTips review:
FISHTIP 1: Orlando Scandrick, even with his two hamstring problems, was a frisky pup in the Cowboys locker room at The Star on Friday. But ... If Scandrick can't go, the deactivation paves the way for defensive end Ryan Davis to get a uniform and for rookie DB Anthony Brown to get a role. The Dallas defense isn’t blessed with great talent, but this can be an example of how the backups are almost as good as the first-teams — so we can argue the Dallas defense has, at least, depth.
RESULT: Brown fit nicely into a secondary that was again quite good, with cornerback Morris Claiborne leading the way. Chicago got nothing cooking in the passing game, even with Alshon Jeffery active, and now, three games in, the Dallas defense has given up 21, 23 and 17 points.
'I haven't had fun playing football in a long time,'' Claiborne said. "I've gotten back to that - the love for the game.''
And when Scandrick gets right? More fun.
FISHTIP 2: Dallas is likely to start, or at least give a lot of snaps to, a four-defensive-tackle-like D-line. Tyrone and Jack Crawford at the ends, rookie Maliek Collins with Terrell McClain inside. That should stop the Bears run; we will see what else It can do. How did McClain describe the idea to me?
RESULT: That's exactly what defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli unveiled against Chicago, and that alignment might be here to stay for another week -- with a large boost coming in Week 5.
Tyrone Crawford, I believe, played all his snaps at LDE. Maliek is a major find as a mid-round rookie. McClain again played well inside and I still can't figure out why David Irving hasn't been credited with a sack in that game. But this group bullied the Bears offensive line, with the Terrance Williams fumble providing the only offensive leverage Chicago earned all night.
And next week comes the return of Tank Lawrence. I believe Marinelli will continue to use these two tackles, with Irving and Thornton behind them, and keep Tyrone at left end while plugging Tank in at right end. Jack Crawford, like Irving, serves as a utility guy. And Benson Mayowa and Ryan Davis -- neither of whom have shown up much -- spot in as edge-rushers, and maybe this group, like the secondary, gets a major boost.
FISHTIP 3: Despite reports to the contrary, the Cowboys do not expect to see Chicago QB Jay Cutler and do expect to see Jeffrey. This will be a run-first Bears offense and a Checkdown Charlie effort at QB from Brian Hoyer. And on Jeffrey … watch out for those nifty double moves!
RESULT: The Bears looked amateurish on offense. Dallas gets credit for recognizing what they would try to do, and for taking it away ... but Chicago appeared to be playing a fifth preseason game -- that's how lackadaisical it all seemed.
FISHTIP 4: There is work to be done on the maturity of Ezekiel Elliott. No, not on the field, where last week’s fumbles will be forgotten. It’s off the field where the rooking running back wants to act like the BMOC when in fact he’s an “Alpha Pup.’’ Maybe he can learn from Dez Bryant, who has learned to channel his emotions in such a way that he told me the big locker-room controversy of the week was whether buddy Terrance Williams — who is still very much part of the plan this week despite two weeks of struggles — was going to get Dez some of his favorite candy, Gummy Bears.
RESULT: Zeke rumbled for 140 yards on 30 carries. Again, there is no on-the-field issue here. Williams' fumble was unfortunate, but earned him a postgame locker-room hug from Jerry Jones; he'll rebound (but not to the point where he gets big money to re-up here, I don't think). Dez? We'll get to Dez in a sec.
FISHTIP 5: Why do the Cowboys have an eight-game longest-in-the-league losing streak at home? There's no magic formula here; you play a bunch of games without Romo and a bunch of games without Dez and you lose a bunch of games. Time, though, for a win … in a parking lot or on the moon, as Garrett would say, but mostly, here in Arlington.
RESULT: They still didn’t have Romo. And after his first catch, a play on which he hurt his knee, Dez wasn’t very statistically productive (though he scored a late TD but now is being evaluated for what is hoped is "only'' a sprained knee. And yeah, it's Wednesday now, and the "evaluation'' continues. There is practice today, and an official progress report of some sort is forthcoming). Oh, and Dallas also didn’t have Tyron Smith, along with Scandrick. And La'el Collins exited the game in the second quarter and now faces eight weeks of toe-related issues rehab or more.
But what Dallas did have, as much as anything, is an heir. A hope. Next time you rip the Cowboys coaching staff, at least give them this: Dak Prescott is their baby. Not the scouting department’s. …. QB coach Wade Wilson and that bunch were all over Dak before the draft, and get credit for his rapid development since that time. Credit is due. They've struck gold. Prescott put up big numbers here, but more than that, there is both a calming influence that he brings and an injection of emotional jet fuel that he brings.
"You should expect, when you make this commitment to a stadium, to have some kinda home-field advantage,'' Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after the game, laughing, kinda.
Yes, the stadium is glorious. But that's not how teams win.
The Cowboys, as an organization, are as excited about Dak as Cowboys Nation is. That doesn't make this a "QB controversy'' involving "Romo vs. Dak''; it just means Dallas has hope at the position for the future, and an heir at the position post-Romo, and that's how you win football games, at home, in the parking lot or on the moon: With talent at QB.null