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FISH on FOOTBALL: A Top-10 X's And O's, Cowboys And Falcons Style

Getting you ready for Cowboys-Falcons ... with a FISH on FOOTBALL Top-10:

1. It's not always just about acquiring good players. Sometimes it's about how you acquire them.

It's too early for the Cowboys to give up on the acquisition of pass-catcher Roy Williams. He's been highly unproductive, but the UT product's pedigree is inarguable. No, the debate is whether the best way to acquire a big-bodied veteran pass-catcher is to spend a first-, a third- and a sixth-round pick for one.

That debate hits the field on Sunday and is embodied not only by the presence of Roy (who says it's time to "call 911'' ... the jersey numbers of Romo and Roy) but also by the presence of another big-bodied veteran pass-catcher.

To acquire Tony Gonzalez to play tight end for them, the Falcons sacrificed a second-round pick.

Roy Williams for a first, a third and a sixth.

Or ...

Tony Gonzalez for a second.

Good players. Both acquired. But the difference is the "how.''


2. Speaking of great tight ends: In Jason Witten's last 15 games, he has three TDs. The Cowboys need to find other blockers to protect against the blitz, tell other pass-catchers to shut their mouths and open their hands, and simplify some throws for Tony Romo.

Jason Witten should score three TDs over the course of a full-season's games almost by accident. Dallas might want to try getting him the ball in the red zone on purpose.

3. In one interview Jerry Jones says the game against Atlanta "is going to be an all-day sucker.''

In another interview Jerry is talking about the Roy trade and says maybe it wasn't "the greatest trade since ice cream.''

Methinks Jerry has a sweet tooth.

4. As the guys at ESPN wrote it, Patrick Crayton "just wishes somebody would have told him about his demotion.'' ... Crayton feels he was "in the dark about the change'' ... and Crayton "just feels that, as a six-year veteran, he deserves an explanation.''

Nope. No you don't. One thing about football: Nobody deserves anything. Your explanation, Patrick, came when you showed up to practice this week and took fewer reps. That's your explanation.

5. Atlanta is doing something wrong to open games: In five opening-game possessions, the Falcons have produced one short scoreless drive, a pair of three-and-outs and two FGs.

Meanwhile. ...

6. Dallas is doing something right to open games: In five first quarters, the Cowboys have given up just 10 total points.

This could be a case of a moveable object meeting an irresistible force.

7. Falcons-at-Cowboys brings Fox' A-minus team to Arlington. We get Troy Aikman, but the play-by-play guy will be Thom Brennaman because usual partner Joe Buck will be off doing baseball.

Joe Buck will not be missed.

8. Here we go again with the anointing oil.

Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and Roddy White are not Aikman, Emmitt and Irvin. They are not similar in playing styles and - while they have promise as the foundation of the Atlanta offense - they are not even on the same planet in terms of accomplishments. The Falcons are 4-1 and the Falcons have the potential to be better. But this offense, as near-glitzy as it is, doesn't consistently top 300 yards per game, is getting just 3.5 yards per carry from Turner and is about to get tested (theoretically) with four roadies in its next five, at Dallas, at New Orleans, home vs. Washington, at Carolina and at the Giants.

Gonzalez has been terrific and Atlanta's O-line hasn't allowed a sack since Week 1. Those two issues have been as instrumental in the Falcons' success as any of the "next-Triplet'' guys.

Maybe Ryan/Turner/White really is on that track. And maybe on Sunday the Cowboys get to play them before they reach that pinnacle.

9. Here's a weird one about the Atlanta defense: The Falcons aren't special in stopping the run. They rank 23rd. The Falcons aren't special in stopping the pass. They rank 21st.

Yet they only surrender 15 points per game. You win a lot of games if you give up 15 points per game.

So what gives? Atlanta has 12 takeaways in five games. Only two NFL teams have more. The Falcons have five interceptions (that's a middle-of-the-pack number) but they have seven fumble recoveries. Eight leads the league.

All of this is proof of how blemishes can be covered up with play-making. And all of this should be a lesson to the Dallas defense, which has the fewest takeaways (two picks, two fumble recoveries) in the NFL.

10. Yesterday I wrote that I cannot figure out Jerry's motivation in announcing him NOT executing a trade.

 "We had a significant offer for a key player that we turned down, and turned down in getting in more extended dialogue for," Jones said after Wednesday's NFL trade deadline. "So we did have that kind of activity ... but I shouldn't name the player or the team. It was a very firm, significant offer for one of our young players that we had a chance for a lot of consideration if we had wanted to take it, and we didn't."

Because Jerry was so willing to talk that much ... you just knew that he (or somebody) would talk a little more. And now we all assume it was Martellus Bennett.

And now maybe we have Jerry's motivation for hinting at all of this: He gets to go to Marty B and tell him, "See how much we love you? Cincy wanted you bad, but we love you even more!''

So maybe you get a more focused Marty B.

Or maybe you get a more cocky Marty B.

Said Bennett today at Valley Ranch: "I get more press than anybody I know who doesn't catch any balls.''