Thanksgiving Day started with a 75-yard touchdown pass from David Blough, watched the 622 sideline views of Jason Garrett looking progressively more nervous and ended with the Falcons not only recovering the ultra-rare onside kick but doing it twice in a row.
Dallas Cowboys head coach – They haven’t beaten a winning team this year and they were embarrassed at home in from of a national audience yesterday. As was mentioned during the telecast, the Cowboys are the only team with the same coach they had in 2011 and they have not been to a Super Bowl. They lost 26-15 in a game that they were favored by seven points. And naturally, the calls for HC Jason Garrett to be fired are no longer a low roar. In jumps Las Vegas with the odds of a new coach.
Urban Meyer already lobbied for the job. Josh McDaniels seems like a lock to step in and run the Patriots whenever Bill Belichick steps down. Lincoln Riley would be in the vein of hiring a successful college coach and that worked out pretty well with Jimmy Johnson. I doubt they change anything during the season and they are still atop the NFC East. But as Jerry Jones said, the Cowboys have too much talent to be a 6-6 team.
David Blough – The undrafted 24-year-old rookie was a four-year player at Purdue who was originally signed by the Browns but was traded to the Lions. He became the first quarterback since Matt Ryan (2008) to throw a touchdown on his first NFL pass. Blough was called to start when Jeff Driskel’s hamstring had not healed enough. The rookie threw for 280 yards and two scores with one interception on his final pass. But that was 205 yards and one touchdown after his first pass. He found Kenny Golladay for 158 yards on four catches with the opening-play touchdown. No other receivers did much.
Tight Ends to watch – Most tight ends do very little as a rookie but the better ones tend to break out in their second season. Here’s a quick list of the rookies drafted this year that are more likely to see a notable increase in 2020:
T.J. Hockenson (1.08 DET – Current stat line: 32-367-2)
Noah Fant (1.20 DEN – Current stat line: 30-374-2)
Irv Smith Jr. (2.18 MIN – Current stat line: 27-261-1)
Dawson Knox (3.32 BUF – Current stat line: 25-307-2)
Their production is all close. All but Knox are playing in the first year of their offensive coordinator and that should help them grow with their offense. Each leads their team’s tight ends except for Smith and Kyle Rudolph.
Christian Blake – The undrafted second-year player from Northern Illinois was signed to the practice squad, released, re-signed and so on until October 23 when he was brought up to the active roster. He was only catching one or two passes per game after Mohamed Sany left. Justin Hardy and Russell Gage also saw more work. Yesterday, Blake ended with six catches for 57 yards in the loss to the Saints – more than either Hardy or Gage though he scored once on his five catches for 52 yards. The Falcons are trying out other players and that’ll make the unit harder to predict unless one of them steps up more. With Julio Jones gone, both Gare and Blake saw nine targets, only one less than Calvin Ridley.
Mo Ali-Cox – Eric Ebron landed on injured reserve and that leaves Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox as the starters. Ebron totals 31 catches for 375 yards and three scores this year after posting 13 touchdowns in 2018. He was catching four or five passes for the last three games so his absence will be felt. Alie-Cox is an undrafted third-year player who was a basketball player in college (6-5, 267 pounds). Chances are that Doyle will see an increase in work more than Alie-Cox becomes a common target. Watch this week when they play the Titans because, in Week 14, they face the Buccaneers No.31 defense versus tight ends.
Those Team Defenses – We all say defenses are too hard to call so why draft them early? Some of us don’t, some of us just cannot resist taking that first or second defense far earlier than everyone else. Last year – the Bears were the defense-I-have-to-have. Here’s where that stands between the top ten drafted defenses and where they currently rank.
The Bears are barely average and in a 12 team league haven’t been worth starting most of the time. The Rams did well though it never feels like it. Six of the top ten ended up below average.
And here is what we should have done.
Yeah, I’ll try to hold off on the Patriots next year. Bet someone else won’t.