NEW YORK, N.Y.- An all-too-familiar image flashed on the television Sunday afternoon as Jason Garrett was seen clapping his hands and shouting encouraging words towards his players coming off the field as yet another game slipped out of the grasp of the Dallas Cowboys. This image has become synonymous with the Cowboys, seeming almost as iconic as the star that brands their logo. The beleaguered head coach has earned a reputation of his teams underperforming on the big stage, and it’s time for the Cowboys to make a change if they are truly serious about finishing the season as the lone team standing.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” This is a powerful message from Albert Einstein that Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones needs to recognize, as he continues to expect championship results while employing the same head coach that has proven time and time again he is unequipped to tackle that task.
The NFL head coaching position is the most impactful of all four major sports. We’ve seen brilliant head coaches elevate bad teams and terrible head coach destroy great teams. The latter is what is happening to the Cowboys with Garrett at the helm. One of the best indicators of this is simply looking at the win-loss record coupled with the talent on the roster
The Cowboys have built one of the best rosters in football this season and have done so smartly, locking up young players on long-term deals earlier in their careers to save money in the future. Every position group is solid and Dallas is littered with top-five players at their respective position. Ezekiel Elliott. Leighton Vander Esch. Amari Cooper. Demarcus Lawrence. The list goes on and on. This roster is built for sustained success and on paper, should be one of the elite teams in the league.
The problem is “the clapper” hasn’t been able to take all of that skill and translate it to wins on the field. While the Cowboys are 6-5 and alone in first place in the NFC East, a large part of that “success” so far has been beating inferior teams coupled with the rest of the division struggling mightily. Their six wins have come against: Giants (twice), Redskins, Dolphins, Eagles and Lions. The combined record of those teams is 14-40-1. On the flip side, Dallas has yet to beat even an average team, losing to the Saints, Packers, Jets, Vikings and Patriots. With the talent in place to win these games against tougher opponents, the blame has to fall upon the coaching staff.
The good news if you are a Dallas fan is that it seems like the czar of the Cowboys is finally getting fed up with losing and coming after Garrett. After Sunday’s loss to the Patriots in which New England was severely outmanned yet still found a way to win, Jones called out the coaching staff, saying “I don’t think there’s a game where a coaching staff couldn’t do better.” Jones also went on to say he “shouldn’t be this frustrated” given the makeup of this roster, echoing the same sentiment that a majority of the fan base has been lamenting for years.
Hearing this first major criticism towards Garrett from Jerry should be an encouraging sign for fans because the Cowboys’ championship window is as wide open as it might ever be. With so many key pieces in place for the next few years, Dallas needs a head coach that can put them in positions to succeed and take this team to the next level. In the 10 years that the former Cowboy quarterback has been the head coach, has there ever been a game where Garrett was credited with outcoaching the opponent?
The best analogy to describe the 2019 Cowboys is to compare them to a sports car. Dallas has a souped-up engine in a great offensive line, powering the rest of the team to have success. Ezekiel Elliott is like the best set of tires, running steady to give the offense rhythm. Adding Amari Cooper to this offense is like taking the restrictor plate off the engine. And the defense is a reliable pair of brakes, providing a safety blanket. The only issue is the driver of this perfectly crafted vehicle is a man who’s unable to push this car to its potential.
Criticism of Jason Garrett’s conservative decision making isn’t new. Neither are the calls for him to be fired. But those calls do take on a different meaning with the way the team is currently constructed. Dallas has never been better equipped to win their first Super Bowl since 1996 than they are in the next two-to-three years. Jerry has to realize this and bring in a coach that can take this team to its peak, something Garrett has failed at for the past 10 years.
If Jerry truly wants to win another Lombardi Trophy, he needs to heed Einstein’s advice and try something new, or run the risk of falling into a never-ending cycle of insanity.
NEW YORK, N.Y.- Heraclitus,
a Greek philosopher, described the NFL best when he said, “Change is the only
constant in life.” Nothing speaks truer about the parity, turnover and landscape
of the NFL. Change is rampant, from players to coaches to philosophy.
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay has been at the
center of the latest philosophical change in the NFL, engineering a pass-happy,
wide-open offensive system that took the league by storm and helped guide the
Rams to the Super Bowl in just his second season at the helm. At the time of
the hire, McVay was the youngest head coach in NFL history, which has since
changed the way executives look at head coaching candidates.
NFL offenses have changed dramatically, now geared towards establishing the pass, spreading defenses out with four and five wide receiver sets, and emphasizing speed. Enter the Baltimore Ravens, whose offensive game plans have been the latest change agent in the NFL, deviating from the throwing craze and instead opting for an old-school approach that has been unstoppable up to this point.
The Ravens, led by Lamar Jackson, have not only set the
league on fire with their dominant run style, they have changed the way the
quarterback position is defined. In an era that is predicated on and dominated
by throwing the ball, the quarterback position has become the most important in
all of sports. With that comes a certain pigeonholed set of standards that a
quarterback must check off in order to succeed in today’s NFL. This was
especially the case for the Louisville great during the draft process, as teams
continued to quibble over whether they could fit the square peg that was
Jackson’s skillset into the round hole of what NFL offenses should be.
What many of us failed to see coming was the latest change
in philosophy: the Ravens scrapped the idea of the traditional quarterback and
catered their entire offense to fit the style of their first round pick.
After the rookie had his ups and downs in an offense built for Joe Flacco, head coach John Harbaugh decided to go all-in on the style that helped guide Jackson to win the Heisman Trophy and promoted Greg Roman to offensive coordinator. This decision has helped to reinvigorate the Baltimore franchise and flip the narrative that more passing equals more winning.
This idea of the Ravens zigging when the rest of the league is zagging has paid immediate dividends. The Ravens are currently second in the NFL in total offense, averaging 428 yards per game, while leading the league in rushing yards per game with 203. What makes Baltimore so dynamic is that they aren’t just running the ball with their running backs; they are using Jackson at the point man for the entire operation. The second year starter is the leading rusher on his team and 10th in the entire league in rushing, amassing 781 yards.
With defenses focused on containing the pass game and
getting after the quarterback, the Ravens have feasted on a scheme that’s
extremely difficult to game plan for and defend on a weekly basis. They’ve swung
the pendulum so far in the other direction that while they are the only offense
averaging over 30 points per game, the Ravens have actually attempted to throw
the ball the least amount of any team in the NFL.
Baltimore has blended the perfect combination of smash mouth
football with current speed concepts that has resulted in highlight-worthy runs
and spin moves that leave defenders bewildered. While Jackson has been
extremely successful with his legs, the 22-year old has actually been more
dangerous with his arm.
Lamar is completing 66% of his passes, a percentage that is
higher than Chiefs superstar Patrick Mahomes. He’s thrown 19 touchdown passes, which
are more than Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson while his five interceptions are
the same amount as Tom Brady. His quarterback rating is 106.3, which is good
enough for fourth in the NFL. So while the passing attempts may be limited,
Jackson is making the most of his opportunities and flat out torching defenses.
Baltimore isn’t just having success against bottom of the
barrel teams. Jackson and the Ravens already own wins over the Seahawks in
Seattle, the Patriots and most recently the Texans. The big question for the
rest of the league is how long will this last? The litmus test for this run
heavy, throwback system continues the next few weeks as the Ravens travel to face
the Rams, host the 49ers and visit the Bills in consecutive weeks.
There’s no doubt Lamar Jackson with this new offense have
changed the fortunes of the Ravens. Sitting in second place in the AFC winners
of six in a row, including handing the Patriots their lone defeat of the season,
has hopes bright in Baltimore. Not to mention the last pick in the first round
of the 2018 draft has catapulted all the way the MVP rankings, currently owning
the best odds to take home the award.
Louise Penny once said, “Life is change. If you aren’t
growing and evolving, you’re standing still, and the rest of the world is
surging ahead.” It’s safe to say the Ravens have changed, and right now, they
are surging ahead of everyone else in the NFL.
Albert Einstein once described insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Although the New York Jets franchise was not in existence when he uttered those words, I believe he was predicting the future of the team.
On Monday Night Football in front of a Prime Time audience, the Jets once again showed that they are not a real football team. This game was not the result of the Jets having an off game. This game was not the result of just poor execution by the home team. This game was not the result of the Patriots defense setting records for holding offenses through their first seven games. Those not familiar with the New York Jets franchise could believe those were crucial factors in the New England Patriots 33-0 victory. They were not.
The Johnson Brothers (Johnson & Johnson) purchased the team back in 2000 after longtime owner Leon Hess passed away in May of 1999. They Johnson Brothers deserve the vitriol of a fan base that is forced to hide in humiliation. Week after week, season after season, year after year, decade after decade, a quarter-century after quarter-century and a half-century after a half-century, Jets fans take verbal abuse.
The latest clown in the circus that is the New York Jets is Adam Gase. Just like his predecessors, Todd Bowles, Rex Ryan, Eric Mangini, and Herman Edwards, Gase cowers in fear of the mighty Patriots.
I don’t enjoy being vicious with my words of choice when describing a professional sports franchise. However, the Jets effort on Monday was not the effort of a real franchise. It was not the effort of a functioning organization. The Jets were an embarrassment and a black mark on the National Football League on Monday.
PATRIOTS CONTINUE TO OWN THE JETS
Monday Night’s 33-0 victory was the Patriots’ eighth straight victory over the hapless Jets, setting a franchise record for most consecutive wins against them. Since the Jets supposed landmark victory over New England in the 2010 AFC Divisional Round, the Patriots are winners of 16 of 18. In eight of those victories, Tom Brady and company scored 30 or most points. Six of those wins saw Foxboro’s heroes triumph by 20 or more points.
Jets vs Patriots
Last 8 Prime Time Games
Tom Brady TD-INT
Jets QB TD-INT
>>Patriots 32 Jets 14
More disturbing than those dominant figures are the consistent beatings Brady’s teammates have laid upon Gang Green in prime time.
The Patriots have won the last eight meetings against the Jets by an average of 18 PPG (32-14). Tom Brady’s passing numbers are almost perfect, throwing 19 TD to 1 INT.
On the flip side, the Jets quarterbacks suffered many nights as Darnold did on Monday. Darnold is the sixth different quarterback to start for the Jets during this stretch. All of the Jets quarterbacks combined to throw 5 TD to 19 INT.
In closing, I would like to make a simple request to the NFL. PLEASE do not schedule Jets-Patriots prime time games anymore. Airing such destructing programming could permanently scar young children.
New York, N.Y.- Monday night provided yet another platform
for the biggest stars of the NFL season to help determine the outcome of a game,
and I’m not referring to any players on the Packers or Lions. The officials
stole the show yet again, injecting themselves into a game that eventually saw
the Packers win the game on a Mason Crosby game-winning field goal as time
The referees were front and center yet again due to a couple
of brutal gaffs in the fourth quarter that helped keep the Packers hopes alive.
Lions defensive lineman Trey Flowers was flagged for two “hands to the face”
penalties in the fourth quarter that after a quick replay showed both plays
were legal and the flag should have stayed off the field. Troy Vincent, the
NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, admitted Tuesday that the
second penalty on Flowers should not have been called, a too little too late
consolation prize for Lions fans.
Penalty flags have been flying at an alarming rate this season.
As Paul Hembekides pointed out on twitter,
there has been an extreme spike in flags per game this season. From 2016-2018,
there were on average 15.8 penalties per game. In 2019, there have been 18.3, a
jump of 2.5 extra flags per game. In Sunday’s Jets-Cowboys game, there was a
penalty flag thrown on six consecutive plays. Six. Consecutive. Plays.
This is a trend the NFL can’t have. With the rules in place
to protect players and world-class athletes training all year, the game has
never seen a more talented group of players on the field. It should be these
players whose jerseys we wear and social media handles we follow that determine
the outcomes of games on the field.
Herein lies the true problem: a solution is easier said than
done. One common fix tossed around is the addition of a “sky judge” to each
game’s officiating crew, which would place an official in the booth to buzz
down to the on-field refs to help correct any egregious calls made in real time.
Two issues I see with this are: 1) We’ve seen with the new
pass interference challenge system that officials are rarely changing the call
on the field. If referees are still deferring to the call made on the field,
even if it’s obvious during the review that the wrong call was made, I don’t
have much confidence that having an official in the booth buzzing down to
correct any missed call would work all that differently 2) As the Washington
Post points out, the NFL is leery that they could even find 17 qualified
officials to fill these new jobs.
The only plausible solution I’ve come up with so far has
been to re-train officials and insert a mindset that the less flags thrown per
game the better. Part of the problem I believe is that it’s easier than ever to
know if the call is right or wrong because television broadcasts can provide
every angle of a questionable call. This has made trying to officiate a game
harder than ever, as us fans on the couch sometimes have better angles than the
referees do on the field.
I’d like to think I’m with the majority when I say I’d
rather see a probable penalty not called than a phantom flag thrown to give an
undeserving team a second chance. If refs are trained to stay out of the way
and only throws flags for obvious penalties, the game will profit in the long
The setback with any solution is that it can’t fix the
here-and-now problems of the 2019 season. Officiating is a fickle profession
that relies on humans to make snap judgments without the benefit of replay like
we have at home. The NFL knows this is a problem. It’s up to them to make sure the
biggest headlines after the game are about the players on the field.
While the third Sunday of the
season in the NFL is not significant to many opponents, it is for the Patriots
and Jets. For New England, it forever changed their history, nevermind
reshaping the entire sport’s image of Boston. While for the Jets, it leaves the
question “what if?”
The United States was still in mourning when the Jets
traveled to Foxboro Stadium on September 23, 2001. Trailing 10-3 with 5:11 left
in the 4th quarter, the Patriots faced a third down and ten from their 19-yard
After losing in Week 1, Drew Bledsoe knew to start 0-2
with losses to the downtrodden Bengals and Jets, might start the clock ticking
towards changes. The same worries faced second-year Head Coach Bill Belichick,
who was now about to fall to 5-13 since resigning on a napkin as HC of the NYJ.
As Bledsoe took off from the pocket and tried to run for the first down, little
did he know he was about to change team history forever.
THE BRADY ERA
What began for the New England Patriots that day
(internal injuries to Bledsoe were more severe than initially thought) is still
The New York Jets and Mo Lewis had no idea that the
player that took over the Patriots franchise quarterback was the true franchise
Since that day, the world of professional football has
witnessed the greatest player ever to take the field. The Patriots have won
just under 80 percent of all their regular-season games since Brady took over
for Bledsoe on September 23, 2001.
New England currently has streaks of eight consecutive
AFC Championship Game appearances, ten AFC East division titles, and 16 seasons
with ten or more wins. The Jets division title in 2002 was the only blemish in
Brady’s resume, as the Patriots have won the AFC East in 16 of his 17 full
seasons. Brady missed all but the first half of the season opener in 2008, and
despite winning 11 games, the Patriots did not qualify for the postseason.
NUMBERS vs. BRADY
Since the numbers with Brady at the helm are so
dominant, it is not fair for me to compare the Jets over the same period. To
show just how dominant Brady has been, I gave the Jets a fair shot by going
back to the start of the 1988 season. In essence, I am comparing the last 31
New York Jets regular seasons to Tom Brady’s career, which spans 17 seasons. I
did include postseason numbers for both parties.
Since making his first NFL start on September 30, 2001,
Brady has started 309 games, postseason included. During that time, he has won
239 games and thrown for 595 total touchdowns.
Since the start of the 1988 season, the NY Jets have
played in 513 games (postseason included). Over that time, they have won 225
games and thrown 601 touchdown passes.
Despite playing 204 fewer games, Brady has won 14 more
games and thrown just five fewer TD passes than the entire Jets franchise since
The Jets will be entering New England a wounded animal,
having lost the first two games of 2019 and without starting QB Sam Darnold.
Meanwhile, the Patriots look to keep rolling with 42-year old Brady at the
helm. The Patriots have outscored their first two opponents, the Steelers, and
Dolphins, by a combined score of 76-3. The Patriots +73 point differential in
the first two games of the season third-best in NFL history. Only the 1970
Detroit Lions (+75) and 1975 Washington Redskins (+74), have outscored their
opponents by a wider margin in the seasons first two games.
Sunday will be Brady’s 36th career start against the
Jets (postseason included). He is 28-7 (.800) overall, including a 15-3 record
at Gillette Stadium. Overall Brady has thrown for 58 career TD against the Jets
(30 at home) compared to just 15 interceptions (5 at home). Brady has averaged
245 yards per game passing overall (244 at home) and completed just under 62
percent of his passes.
The Jets have lost eight straight games, including 11
consecutive in the regular season against New England at home. Brady and the
Pats have been exceptionally cruel to their divisional rivals in their last
three matchups, outscoring them 105-12.
The last time the Jets left victorious at Gillette
Stadium was the 2010 AFC Divisional Playoffs, when they stunned Brady and
Belichick, 28-21. The last time Gang Green won at New England during the
regular season was in 2006.
The excellent news for Gang Green is that a bye week
lay in waiting during Week 4. The gives the Jets a chance to lick their wounds
before they head to Philadelphia – a franchise they are 0-10 against – when
Okay, I did my first official mock draft a little over a
month ago. In that time, teams have franchise tagged players, cut players, and
traded players. The NFL combine also happened and I wanted to do this mock
draft before the free agency started. There will be a third when the free
agency starts, don’t worry.