Note: This will be a non-Cowboys weekly post to talk about many other things around our favorite sports league, the NFL. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing it!
It's been a wild ride for Antonio Brown since the 2018 season. Having solidified himself as one of the best wide receivers in football, Browns' antics off the field have made his career take some widely unexpected turns. The first surprise arrived in his departure from Pittsburgh. Many within-the-walls things happened that led to Brown leaving the team that drafted him in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, including some sort of beef versus Ben Roethlisberger and skipping practice before an important week 17 matchup that the Steelers needed to win to have a shot at the playoffs.
Some even say JuJu Smith-Schuster winning the team's MVP award heavily contributed to AB's fallout with the team. It was simply an odd situation. Long before the 2019 season, Brown was sent to the Oakland Raiders in exchange of a third and a fifth round draft pick, less than what the New England Patriots had offered.
In Oakland, a new-beginning was supposed to take place for Brown. Little did we know, Brown would burn his feet in cryotherapy, throw a tantrum over the league not letting him play with his old helmet, skip practice and then complain about being fined for doing so. And it doesn't stop there. He reportedly almost got into a fight with General Manager Mike Mayock and punted the ball while yelling "fine me for that!"
No, that's not it yet. He posted a controversial video that included a recorded call with Head Coach Jon Gruden a night before asking the Raiders to release him on Instagram... which they did moments later.
Hours later, it was confirmed that the Patriots had agreed to terms with the controversial receiver. Definitely not a surprise considering what I mentioned above about Bill Belichick offering more than the Raiders had to the Steelers. Now everyone is wondering whether or not Brown will work out in such a locker room.
My guess? He will. Like them or hate them, there's no better culture in the NFL than the one they've got over in New England. The "Patriot Way" is really a thing and they won't deal with Brown's tantrums if he decides to throw one, which I doubt. It's another high-risk, high-reward investment for a Super Bowl ready team.
Will he buy in and be a program guy? I don't doubt it one bit. In fact, I personally believe this was pretty much planned by Brown and his agent. I don't think the Patriots had anything to do with it, but it seems like a fact that he didn't want to be in Oakland and was looking for a way out before it was too late. Well, he found it. And although I believe he'll be successful with the Patriots, I'm not a fan of how things turned out.
Brown did what he wanted to and got what he wanted. Quite a message for talented NFL players. What surprises me the most is that Brown didn't have these kind of issues when he started out his career. What happened along the way?
Three-And-Out: 3 Quick Thoughts
- The Cleveland Browns got off to an ugly start as they lost to the Tennessee Titans 43-13. Many will try to make you believe that "the Browns still stink" when really, they don't. Penalties were a huge problem for them in the season opener, but they're still a talented football team that has a chance of winning the AFC North. I do, however, wonder about their offensive line.
- Did we underestimate Deshaun Watson even when talking about how underrated he was? What a performance by the Houston Texans quarterback on Monday Night Football. They lost the game, but Watson was on fire, throwing for 268 yards and three touchdowns. The shocking thing, though, was how he managed to score a touchdown with a minute left on the clock in only two passes. A quick, lead-changing 75-yard drive. It's a shame the defense gave up the FG that gave the New Orleans Saints the win. What a game!
- The Jacksonville Jaguars definitely had a promising roster to be serious contenders. Their defense might be as talented as it was in 2017 and they were supposed to have a quarterback for the season. However, Nick Foles fractured his clavicle and has been placed on IR. You hate to see it. I really wanted to see how Foles did in Jacksonville. It could've been a career defining year for a QB we haven't figured out yet.
Player of The Week: WR Sammy Watkins, KC Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs are back in business. It didn't take long for them to prove it as they dropped 40 points on the Jaguars' blunted defense. Sammy Watkins stole the show by catching all three of Patrick Mahomes' touchdowns. He hauled in nine catches for 198 yards!
I believe Watkins will change how many perceive him this year. Overpaid? Perhaps, but he's still a very talented receiver.
Honorable mentions: RB Alvin Kamara, WR Marquise Brown
Underdog of the Week: Tennessee Titans
The Titans opened the season on the road against the most hyped-up team in the NFL: the Cleveland Browns. They were a 5-point underdog in Vegas and ended up winning by 30. I love what Head Coach Mike Vrabel has been able to do with the Titans when they are big underdogs. Last season he even managed to defeat the Patriots 34-10.
Rookie A.J. Brown had 100 yards in only three receptions. Marcus Mariota threw three touchdown passes to begin what will be his most important season yet.
College Football Corner: Michigan Is Better Than That
Finally, a thought on College Football. I'm shocked by Michigan's struggles. They opened their season with a 40-21 win over Middle Tennessee in week 1 and followed it up with an upset alert escape versus Army in week 2. West Point took Michigan to two overtime periods in the Big House as they lost 24-21. The Wolverines remain undefeated, though. They're a strong team that could finally beat Ohio State for the Big Ten, but early struggles haven't lived up to the expectations. Their offense hasn't been as up-tempo as advertised in the offseason. I wish they change that soon. This could be a special team.
Ezekiel Elliott Quietly Having Best Start of His Career
The Dallas Cowboys and All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott were the talk of the summer when negotiations for a long term extension came to an impasse. Slick maneuvering through the media on both ends left everyone on pins and needles. Ultimately, the two parties reached an agreement just days before the season opener on a six-year 90 million dollar extension with 50 million in guarantees. With his financial security now taken care of, it was time for Elliott to get a few practices under his belt before the season kicked off against the New York Giants. Now, after two weeks of action, it's clear Elliott has knocked off the rust and is ready to have another All-Pro season.
Elliott is traditionally a slow starter and this season was no different. The Cowboys dominated the Giants 35-17 mostly due to Dak Prescott's 405 yard 4 touchdown performance that also included a perfect 158.3 passer rating. With him slinging the ball around and producing points at will it was easy for the Cowboys to stick to their plan of limiting Elliott's touches. He finished with 53 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown as he knocked the dust off the tires so to speak.
Week two saw the Cowboys hit the road in another NFC East matchup with the Washington Redskins. Elliott came into the game having rushed for more yards (484) and more touchdowns (6) against the Redskins than any other team he's faced, including two 100 yard performances. This game was a steady dose of Elliott as he methodically racked up yardage. At halftime, he had 48 yards on 11 carries as the Cowboys held a 14-7 lead.
With the score 24-14 late in the fourth quarter, Elliott capped off a 10 play 54-yard drive with a score from two yards out with just over five minutes left. After a Redskins touchdown made it 31-21 the Cowboys got the ball back with just over two minutes left. Elliott broke a 27-yard run that iced the game and put his total at 111 yards on 23 carries as the Cowboys improved to 2-0. Just the kind of performance you want to see from your star runner after a quiet first game.
In 2016, Elliott had 134 yards and 2 touchdowns in his two games. He had 112 yards and no touchdowns the first two weeks of 2017 and 147 yards and 2 touchdowns last season in the first two games. This season he has 164 yards and 2 touchdowns in two games. With all the talk about the historic start of Dak Prescott, and rightfully so, what has gotten lost is that Elliott is currently off to the best start of his career through two games.
After carefully monitoring his snaps the first two games Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore is ready to put a full workload on Elliott going forward.
"This is our third game," Moore told the Dallas Morning News. "I think he's at that point where we're pretty much playing this thing out at this point. It was good those first two weeks just to be aware of it and then also trust Zeke's response and how he feels and all those things and just balancing that stuff out."
With all the restrictions gone Elliott can get back to his normal amount of reps. This Sunday the Cowboys host the Miami Dolphins and a defense that has allowed 102 points and 391 rushing yards in two games. Another opportunity for a big performance for the All-Pro and to continue reminding the world that he's the best at his position.
Cowboys en Español: Mitos y Verdades en Dallas, Adiós Taco Charlton
El ala defensiva producto de la universidad de Michigan, Taco Charlton, fue seleccionado en la primera ronda del NFL Draft 2017 por los Dallas Cowboys para la sorpresa de muchos. Con jugadores como T.J. Watt y Kevin King en la tabla, muchos esperaban que Stephen Jones y compañía tomaran una ruta diferente. Sin embargo, Rod Marinelli logró influir la selección del equipo y Charlton recibió la llamada. Desde ese momento, se convirtió en un jugador altamente debatido entre los aficionados y analistas de Dallas.
El 2019 es la tercera temporada de Charlton en la NFL y tras estar inactivo en las primeras dos semanas, los Cowboys lo dejaron ir. El motivo por el que Taco estuvo inactivo no era su salud, sino el hecho de que los coaches no lo vieron como uno de los mejores linieros defensivos. Se ha especulado por mucho tiempo sobre la relación entre Marinelli y Charlton, después de que algunos comentarios del coach y algunos directivos nos hicieron dudar sobre su ética de trabajo y su compromiso al equipo.
Según reportes de Jane Slater, Charlton solicitó al equipo un trade hace unos meses, cosa que los Cowboys no consiguieron con ningún equipo y por tanto resultó cortando al defensivo antes de la semana 3 de la temporada. Las cosas se "calentaron" después de que Charlton publicó en redes sociales "Free me." Gran parte por su corte es el regreso del defensivo Robert Quinn, quien estuvo suspendido las primeras dos semanas.
El domingo, Charlton enfrentará a su ex-equipo vistiendo los colores de los Miami Dolphins, mientras que Quinn hace lo mismo pero vistiendo el uniforme de los Dallas Cowboys. En Cowboys en Español, le deseamos éxito a Taco Charlton en su nuevo equipo.
Mitos y Verdades
Con dos semanas de acción de los Dallas Cowboys, hemos visto y escuchado todo tipo de conclusiones. Algunas parecen ser una exageración, mientras otras tienen todo el sentido del mundo. Por eso es que hoy nos aventuramos a unas cuantas declaraciones comunes sobre el equipo y determinamos cuales son mitos y cuales son verdades...
- Ezekiel Elliott no ha tenido un impacto importante
Debido a la alta producción del juego aéreo en la ofensiva de Kellen Moore, muchos han pasado por alto el trabajo del corredor Ezekiel Elliott. Anteriormente, hemos visto un equipo de los Cowboys que se enfocaba principalmente en el juego terrestre y ahora no parece ser el caso.
Sin embargo, Elliott ha tenido un impacto importante. De hecho, después de dos juegos cuenta con el mejor inicio de su carrera. Hasta el momento ha acumulado 164 yardas en 36 acarreos. Su mejor marca en los primeros dos juegos de toda su carrera.
- Michael Gallup es cosa seria
Las expectativas eran altas para el receptor de segundo año, Michael Gallup. Se esperaba que su rol incrementara drásticamente después de un 2018 que cerró con una participación importante. En training camp fue dominante y por fin lo pudo demostrar en el emparrillado.
A pesar de que tendrá que recuperarse de lesión, Gallup ha demostrado que la emoción que lo rodea es completamente real.
- El interior de la línea defensiva podría ser un problema
Hasta el momento, una de las mayores decepciones ha sido la selección de segunda ronda de los Cowboys, Trysten Hill. El tackle defensivo de Central Florida ha estado en la lista de inactivos durante las primeras dos semanas.
Antwaun Woods sufrió una lesión contra los Washington Redskins que no parece muy seria. Sin embargo, no hemos visto mucha calidad por parte de los tackles defensivos. Hasta el momento, no hemos visto una dupla de titulares que nos hagan sentir mejor respecto la posición.
- Somos un equipo pasador
Tras dos semanas, parece que este es el caso. Habiendo dicho eso, no estaré convencido de que la ofensiva mantendrá un nivel tan agresivo en el juego aéreo hasta que vea el mismo plan de juego coontra rivales más fuertes. Kellen Moore ha hecho todo bien por ahora, pero tengo muchas ganas de verlo en un escenario con más presión.
¿Volverá en un punto a depender del juego terrestre o seguirán apostando por Dak Prescott y el juego aéreo? Ya veremos.
Veredicto: VERDAD por ahora, por definir...
NFC East Weekly: Giants Change QBs, Eagles Take First Loss
While we always have plenty to talk about when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys, it's never a bad idea to look around our division and see what's happening with the rivals. This is the first is a new weekly feature on Inside The Star where we'll talk about the major happenings in the NFC East, and especially what they mean for the good guys.
Before we get into the headlines, though, here's a quick glace at the current standings for the division after Week 2 of the 2019 season:
- Dallas Cowboys 2-0 (2-0 vs division)
- Philadelphia Eagles 1-1 (1-0 vs division)
- New York Giants 0-2 (0-1 vs division)
- Washington Redskins 0-2 (0-2 vs division)
The Cowboys have started off the season in grand fashion, picking up two division wins against the Giants and Redskins. It's an incredible foundation from which to continue through 2019, and one that they will hopefully build on this week against the tanking Miami Dolphins.
Those division wins could be crucial this year if the Eagles live up to expectations. Despite the loss last week in Atlanta, Philly should still be right there in the end and the NFC East crown may come down that tie-breaking record against division opponents.
If these two weeks have shown us anything, it's that all projections of 2019 being a two-horse race between Dallas and Philadelphia were spot on. New York is as bad as most thought they'd be, and any thoughts of Washington being a plucky underdog are about gone now.
In fact, it only took two weeks for the Giants to throw in the towel and name rookie Daniel Jones their starting quarterback.
End of the Eli Era
Remember this offseason when Giants' General Manager Dave Gettleman said that Eli Manning "had plenty left" going into 2019? Apparently it ran out fast, and it only took two losses for New York to promote Daniel Jones and effectively end Manning's run with the Giants. He had been the full-time starter since 2005.
Assuming that an injury or a total management meltdown don't lead to Eli being renamed as the starter, Jones will get six games under his belt before the rematch with the Cowboys in Week 9. The rookie gets a few soft opponents in Tampa Bay and Washington to start his career, but then it toughens up quickly with Minnesota and New England in Weeks 5 and 6.
Taking my Cowboys glasses off for a second, I actually am rooting for this kid. Daniel Jones was one the most maligned draft picks I've ever seen, basically declared a bust before he even had time to hug the commissioner on stage. On a purely human level, I'd like to see him prove people wrong.
We'll have plenty of time to look at Jones in the weeks and years to come. But before we change topics, I wanted to quickly reflect on the end of the Eli Era.
It was hard as a Dallas fan to watch Manning's success with two Super Bowl wins. Other than physical durability, there was nothing about Eli's game that made you think he was better than our own Tony Romo.
But happenstance is what makes the NFL work so well. It's why Week 1 in the NFL means more than the middle rounds of the NBA Playoffs; unpredictable outcomes make for greatest excitement and intrigue. The best teams and players don't always win, because single-elimination games and even single plays within can change history.
The bottom line is that "ifs" don't make legacies or Hall of Fame resumes. Like Batman said to Rachel Dawes, "it's what I do that defines me." Eli Manning won two championships against the greatest coach & QB combo of the last two decades. He kept his team relevant in the most competitive division in football more years than not.
If he doesn't make it into Canton then I won't think it's a tragedy. But if it does, it's absolutely deserved.
Eagles Lose 1st of 2019
Philadelphia fell behind a little in the race with Dallas by dropping their first game of the season, losing on the road against the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday. A late touchdown by Julio Jones on 4th-down stole the game away from the Eagles.
All losses hurt in the NFL but this one wasn't too damaging. The record against NFC opponents is more relevant to Wild Card races than divisions crowns.
But for two weeks at least, the Cowboys have looked like the better team. They beat the Redskins by a wider margin on Sunday than the Eagles did, and that was even with the game being in Washington.
This week could allow the divide to increase. The Eagles will host the Detroit Lions, who have yet to lose a game this year (they finished Week 1 with a tie) while Dallas gets the league's worst team in Miami.
Also concerning coming out of the loss in Atlanta was that Carson Wentz had to leave the game, albeit briefly, after the NFL's medical spotter called for him to be examined for a concussion. Wentz has since stated that he was fine and the exam was unnecessary.
Even if the concussion exam was overzealous, the fact remains that Wentz was taking some big hits throughout that game. Given his history, one has to wonder if he can make it through the season without some better protection or more efforts to avoid contact.
Until he proves otherwise, Carson is going to be seen as injury prone. It's a fear that Eagles fans keep deep down, in places they don't like to talk about at parties or on Twitter, but it's there.
But if Philly slips up again this week against the Lions, especially with Dallas likely improving to 3-0, then a much more present and potent fear could start to take hold.
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