GREEN BAY - Going into Sunday’s Cowboys at Packers game, I constructed 12 FishTips that would be necessary themes and trends for Dallas to come out a winner … which it did, by a score of 30-16.
So did FishTips call it, or what?
No, not 30-16, exactly. But we did have a feel for what the Cowboys wanted to do, and planned to do, and needed to do that would allow them to strut toward the team bus outside of Lambeau Field after the game, some offensive players led by Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant climbing into the back of the bus to hum along to hop-hip songs, some defensive coaches perched outside the bus smoking victory cigars, both groups pondering the gameplan stuff that went oh-so right.
And here, I do the same. ... with what we wrote before the game ... and then the unfolded results.
FISHTIPS 1) Dak Prescott tells me he still competes with Jason Garrett in that pass-accuracy contest after Cowboys practice, a tradition that started in Oxnard.
"Just like at camp, every day," Dak says.
Good habits have paid off on the way to 4-1.
RESULT: Prescott wasn’t perfect; he finally tossed an interception (but only after breaking Tom Brady’s record of 163 passes without a pick and extending it to 174) and he fumbled twice. But Dak was a model of resilience here, throwing for a trio of TD passes while not only dealing with the ghost of Brady but also the looming presence of incumbent Tony Romo and ol' Mississippi gunslinger Brett Favre.
FISHTIPS 2) The Cowboys privately think Tank Lawrence can have big day. Tank has the same vision - though when I talk to him about it, he's not as "private.’’
"I want to be a beast every Sunday,' he tells me. ... starting today, and maybe by moving around along the D-line as Dallas tries to both harass and contain Aaron Rodgers.
Cool number: Rodgers is 29-31 when he gets sacked three or more times compared to 60-15 when he is not.
RESULT: I think it's fair to say Dallas' defense made Rodgers uncomfortable. The main guy to do so? David Irving, who took great advantage of what Barry Church later told me was an issue the Cowboys believe Rodgers has with "ball security.'' The Dallas pass-rushers spent the week focusing not only on sacks but on strips. Irving helped them get their payoff as Dallas recorded four takeaways.
Tank? He played a limited number of snaps because he injured a shoulder that merited a Monday morning MRI. The Cowboys think he'll be OK. I'll keep you posted.
FISHTIPS 3) No Lance Dunbar (knee) for the Cowboys today, and I think that can lead to expanded Ezekiel Elliott duties. How many third-down running backs are there in the NFL who are better at it than Zeke, who needs to be careful with both Green Bay’s terrific run D and Lambeau Field’s traditionally slick turf?
RESULT: Zeke is off to the second-best career start for a runner in NFL history, with only 1983's Eric Dickerson ahead of him. And yeah, just as I predicted, Elliott was the do-everything guy: He got 30 touches. Alfred Morris got three.
FISHTIPS 4) Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith will play. But if his back becomes a problem? Contrary to many reports, I believe newcomer Emmett Cleary replaces him, as opposed to all the stories about a Doug Free/Zack Martin position shuffle.
RESULT: You didn’t have to find out. Good time. But I’m quite sure I’m right here. And man, is this O-line mauling defenses now, almost no matter what they do with their fronts.
FISHTIPS 5) Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey tells me his "back is still angry." (Sounds like a "Seinfeld" bit.) But he's a go for today ... and then it's R-&-R during the bye week.
RESULT: Bailey battled through this thing … kicked well, knocked a few into the end zone for touchbacks, and now needs to go lay down.
FISHTIPS 6) The Cowboys D is elite in points allowed. The Packers D allows just two yards per rush. Reputations say "shootout" today but those numbers sure don't.
RESULT: Well, Green Bay's offense didn't hold up its end. And it's defense didn't, either.
What did work here? Dallas came in giving up 18 points per game, a pretty special number ... and lowered it.
FISHTIPS 7) Believe what you want. But trust me: Tony Romo is THRILLED by Dak's work in his stead - while also, obviously, wanting the keys to the car back in his hands, say, by Week 9.
He’ll be even more THRILLED by that, admittedly ...
RESULT: You knew the national media would make "VERSUS'' a Sunday morning argument point. I still want you to trust me: Going into Green Bay, there was no “separation’’ in the locker room, no “factions.’’
I don’t think that changes; but that doesn't mean the "plan'' can't be altered. Prescott has done his part to be in this argument — and the coaches and team leaders now must do their part to make sure this continues to be a “good problem’’ and not a damaging and divisive one.
So yes, we need to take "the Dallas plan'' out of cement here. Jason Garrett's position now, in private and in public, is, I think, "Hey, everybody, just do your job today and the rest takes care of itself.''
When will the Cowboys have made the wrong decision at QB? When, starting with the Cleveland game, when both guys are healthy, and Dallas "picks the wrong QB'' and loses a game.
For now? I love Jerry's answer to my question about "whatcha gonna do at QB?''
"'What we're gonna do is wait till the next card's played,'' said the owner, continuing, "This is not hard times."
FISHTIPS 8) Dez Bryant (knee) put in the work and put on a show during open-media practice this week. But he didn't actually, ya know, "practice.’’
My view? Let's give him the bye week to get right.
RESULT: Knew it.
Now, he did have a scan on Friday and it went well. And there were players watching him work on Friday and Saturday and maybe even Sunday morning who wondered, "Coach, you sure he can't play?!'' And Dez himself told me he could've ... and that it was close.
But no risks here. Dez is best when he practices and is best-in-the-NFL when he practices and is fully healthy. That's coming against the Eagles, Dez telling me that himself.
FISHTIPS 9) The Cowboys D talked a lot this week about "gang-tacking" and "11 helmets" and "sprint to ball." Why? They've experienced what it's like when you don't get to burly Eddie Lacy before he gets too downhill. Lacy, by the way, is the only healthy runner on the entire Packers roster. A heavy load for a guy who is himself a load.
RESULT: Eddie Lacy hurdled Cowboys tacklers on numerous occasions. And I think the Pack would've preferred to make their whole O be a grinder. But Dallas D was too good for that.
FISHTIPS 10) The Cowboys record when they're on the Sports Illustrated cover? 26—12. No jinx!
(Except they've lost on the last four occasions.)
RESULT: Magazine jinx busted! Make is 27-12 and a new 1-0 streak!
FISHTIPS 11) The Cowboys record when Brad Allen refs? 0-2. Meanwhile, the Packers are 3-0 with today's zebra.
RESULT: Zebra jinx busted!
FISHTIPS 12) The Cowboys' all-time road record vs. the Packers is 4-11. … and 1-9 at Lambeau Field. (With a 3-2 record at Milwaukee County Stadium.)
I asked Sean Lee about this and he swears he loves playing here, loves the history of Lambeau ... But unquestionably there's not a darn thing to love about 1-9.
RESULT: Lambeau jinx busted ... as evidenced by the postgame cigars and hip-hop.null