Cue It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. The new NFL season is upon us, and so much hope and intrigue filled the games in week one. The NFL schedule makers started off the season with more grudges than a scored, thirsty ex. As Super Bowl LVII is set five months from now, we will spend the meantime seeing who rises to the challenge. Will there be another improbably Bengals-like run in the playoffs? Well, your team has to get there first for that to happen.
If you are like me, you were born into the understanding that the Dallas Cowboys were, are, and will forever be “America’s Team.” This assumptive moniker, once a blessing, has turned into a sour curse for Jerry Jones’s Crew. Whether you’re a Cowboys fan or simply an NFL taxpayer, we can all agree that Mike McCarthy won’t see 2023 in Dallas. No matter what happens between now and week eighteen, Sean Payton will have McCarthy’s job in six months. As it turned out, the NFL gods ripped the Band-Aid off of that wound in week one. The NFL schedule makers lined the Cowboys up against Tom Brady… I mean, they played the Buccaneers. Well, let’s be honest; given that Tom Brady is 6-0 against the Cowboys, calling them the Tompa Bay Buccanneers really works this time around. The Dallas faithful in AT&T Stadium witnessed a death by a thousand cuts, as the Bucs downed the Cowboys 19-3.
I am sorry for your loss, Dallas, but your season is over!
One could argue that I’m shoveling dirt on the Cowboys’ grave too early, and that playing in the NFC East allows you to lose at least seven games, and still win the division and go to the playoffs. However, on this fateful Sunday, the Buccaneers pounded the Cowboys with such soft punches that you could barely believe that the Cowboys hobbled away from this game. I’ve not seen such a pathetic beatdown since my own sixth-grade scuffle.
The Buccaneers most certainly had some high points to build off of, but the game was mostly a case of Dallas losing the game more than Tompa Bay imposing their will. Tom Brady threw for over 200 yards, Leonard Fournette ran for 127 yards, and Julio Jones walked off the field on his own accord (gasp!). Look, the Tampa Bay faithful will still use this to think that they have a Save the Date for Arizona in February (spoiler alert, nope!) but this was more about the lack of competition on the other side than the Bucs crushing it.
In the fourth quarter, consecutive aggressive and non-consensual high fives from Tampa Bay defenders as Dak threw led to him leaving the game (and the Cowboys stupidly, and stubbornly refusing to put him on IR to recover from his broken hand). We had nearly a full game to see the 2022 Cowboys offensive scheme, and a scheme is an apt name for it because they tried to hoodwink us into thinking it was the same team we saw last season. Dallas played like someone desperately meandering at bar time for a hookup, and we can all say that we’ve seen better. I’m not quite sure what the opposite of a silver lining is, maybe a copper lining? A copper lining for Dallas is that their best player is a sophomore linebacker. Yikes.
The Cowboys’ offense was flat all game, as they entered halftime trailing 12-3. They were mathematically in it, but realistically, not so much. WR1 CeeDee Lamb had two targets?! Is Matt Nagy calling their plays now? There was zero deep threat with the biggest pass hitting 22 yards. Amari Cooper is probably laughing somewhere…wait, no, no he isn’t.
The NFL preseason brings us the biggest hype train this side of a Marvel announcing who will play Florp the Executor in the newest Avengers movie. We heard, “Zeke is back!”, “Zeke is his old self!” and “Zeke is his old self!” To quote a great American scholar and philosopher, Mr. Mackey, “drugs are bad, m’kay?” Speaking of drugs, if Elliott is back, and averaged five yards per carry, why did Mike McCarthy only call his name ten times?
I get it 100% why high school football is life in Texas. It’s because the grown adults in the state who play haven’t delivered a winner for a third of a century. Dallas clearly started with winning the division inside their sights, but they’re better off calibrating to “don’t lose to the Giants.”
See y’all in 2023.