For those wondering why the Dallas Cowboys played Darren McFadden and sat Alfred Morris on Sunday against the Tampa Bay, and there were many, the answer played out early in the game.
They had McFadden and rookie starter Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield at the same time. McFadden, a former top-10 pick, lined up at fullback.
On third-and-1 at the 5, McFadden gained 3 yards on a dive up the middle.
Elliott scored two plays later.
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That was just an example of what makes McFadden more valuable and more versatile than Morris. He does more on special teams. He is a better pass receiver and a better pass blocker.
“Darren is someone who can contribute in a lot of different ways for us,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Like I said, we put him at the fullback spot and handed him the ball, and he was involved in some protection stuff.”
In the Cowboys’ quest to recreate the formula of the dynasty teams of the 1990s, they might have finally found the cherry on top in the form of the cocky and carefree swag of rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Coach Jason Garrett has been painstakingly deliberate in remaking the foundation. He started with the offensive line. This team, like those of the 1990s, is built with strong bodies in the trenches in tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick and guard Zack Martin.
The Cowboys have remade the famed Triplets — namely, quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith and receiver Michael Irvin — in the form of rookie quarterback Dak Prescott, Elliott and receiver Dez Bryant.
Prescott is the leader like Aikman. Elliott is the engine on the ground that makes things go like Smith and Bryant brings the passion and intensity like Irvin.
But one thing that the 1990s team had that put them over the top was a cocky swag that gave them a feeling they couldn’t be beaten.
Irvin provided that, as well as flamboyant cornerback Deion Sanders. Elliott has it too.
To steal a line from owner Jerry Jones, swag is hard to define but “you know it when you see it.”
Jones has an incredible amount of self-awareness.
Even though he says a lot of incredulous stuff, he knows what he is saying.
It’s done with purpose and intent, often with shock and awe.
But just because you know the issue and accept the issue doesn’t make it right, especially when you have no interest in changing.
So here we are with Jones and his penchant for creating distractions on his own team, most recently with the mini-quarterback controversy with rookie Dak Prescott and Tony Romo.
In Jones’ mind, there is no such thing as off-field distractions hurting the team. At least that was Jones’ take on his radio show on 105.3 the Fan Tuesday morning.
Three words come to mind: Come on man!
Cornerback Brandon Carr might not ever live up to the five-year, $50.1 million contract he signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 2012.
He was a solid cornerback in Kansas City. He had no Pro Bowls or All-Pro selections on his resume.
But the Cowboys were desperate for a cornerback and overpaid in free agency.
Carr is reliable, consistent, accountable and has not missed a game since coming into the league in 2008.
Carr might have had his finest two-game stretch with the Cowboys, limiting New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Tampa Bay receiver Mike Evans to four catches each.
Beckham had a 61-yard touchdown that proved to be the difference in a 10-7 loss. But that was more the result of a missed tackle by Barry Church in the middle of the field than Carr giving up a slant.
Elliott’s jump in the Salvation Army Red Kettle bucket might be the video of the year in the NFL.
The end zone celebration has earned Elliott a spot on the team’s all-time list of celebrators.
It makes my top five all time.
▪ Former receiver Terrell Owens’ popcorn celebration following a touchdown pass against the Green Bay Packers in 2007 while playing with San Francisco.
▪ In 2000, Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith defiantly ran to midfield and slammed the ball down at the star in Texas Stadium following a touchdown to answer the 49ers’ Terrell Owens’ previous celebration at midfield. George Teague lit up Owens when he tried a repeat.
▪ Receiver Butch Johnson’s California Quake with the Texas Six-shooter in the 1970s was just behind Houston Oilers great Billy White Shoes Johnson’s funky chicken and a split.
▪ Cornerback Deion Sanders’ high step and end zone dance was a trendsetter that has stood the test of time.