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Two things just scream out to me about this game. One of them I’ve mentioned more than a few times this season. The other happened within this game, and kind of got lost in the aftermath.
The first thing, the repetitive thing, I want to discuss – it’s quite possible Eddie Lacy is the Most Valuable Player of the 2016 NFL season. If it was not for him getting hurt, a series of events would not have taken place which ended up forcing Mike McCarthy to ditch his failing run first offense and with his back against the wall pushed him to going all Aaron Rodgers all the time on offense. McCarthy had the world’s most advanced machine gun in his possession and yet took a butter knife to a gunfight for the past few seasons.
My allegation will never be discussed. In fact, not only will it not be discussed or given any credence — McCarthy will get praise…he’s a ‘made man’. Mike McCarthy’s philosophy was literally ruining this football team for the last 1-2+ seasons. Possessing the most gifted thrower maybe in the history of football, McCarthy’s game plan for the past few years has to run heavy with Eddie Lacy and friends. Head coaches are often ruining the potential of teams all over the NFL with antiquated philosophies just like this. It’s not about winning with their best weapons…it’s about their brilliant playbook and coaching philosophy learned at some coaching icon’s knee decades ago.
Aaron Rodgers was so mediocre the first half of the season and back into last season that there were whispers of a career decline or an attitude problem. I pushed people to toss in their Aaron Rodgers card in fantasy. To trade him while his name value was high and his production levels were that of a QB2. It wasn’t just a few game bad stretch it was 10-12+ games over parts of the last two seasons. There was no relief, seemingly, in sight. No one knew what the problem was, but anyone could look at the numbers and see there was a problem.
In the snap of a finger, Aaron Rodgers goes on one of the greatest runs of quarterback play in NFL history. What was the catalyst? The moment Green Bay lost both Eddie Lacy and James Starks…and literally had no running backs they could count on — to the point that a wide receiver was thrust into playing running back. Aaron Rodgers could’ve been doing this for years, but Mike McCarthy kept him in the holster for his ridiculous running game – a 3-5 record in the past five seasons in the playoffs. Never winning more than a game the past five playoff runs. How many Super Bowls could the Packers have won after that 2010 title had McCarthy ‘got it’? Instead, the past will be erased and we’ll be told McCarthy is one of the great coaches of our era…when he’s been anything but that. Do you want to talk about lucky? It’s Mike McCarthy. Don’t give me: “Where would Bill Belichick be without Tom Brady!” I think Belichick would be/will be just fine without Brady. McCarthy without Aaron Rodgers – he’d be an offensive line coach for the Chiefs or something equivalent today without Rodgers.
Former Patriots executive, turned my favorite football personality of 2016+, Michael Lombardi has a saying he shares with listeners about his times working in Oakland (and for other teams) – he would often say, “We’re only one injury away from being a great football team.” Meaning NFL coaches, from his vast experience, are very often playing the wrong person or emphasizing the wrong player in their scheme. No greater example of what he was talking about was the 2016–17 Green Bay Packers and their running back injuries…leading them to the Promised land.
The second thing to point out about this game, and we all saw it, but its impact kind of gets lost because of the overall Aaron Rodgers story and the way the game ended – but Dak Prescott was once again not over his head in a big spot and was terrific leading this comeback.
The Packers led this game 21-3 at one point, and it was getting out of hand…shockingly so for those who thought the Cowboys might be the best team in the NFL. No one would be shocked by the Cowboys losing to Green Bay, but we would be stunned if the Packers had blown them out. A blowout was about to happen, and then Dak Prescott rallied the troops and led his team to a comeback…eventually tying the game 31-31 before the Aaron Rodgers magic occurred with under a minute left.
Aaron Rodgers is awesome, right? Prescott spotted him a big lead and caught up to him/went toe-to-toe.
People are arguing about Prescott clock management late in the game – leaving too much time for Rodgers. That’s beside the point from a dynasty–fantasy analysis standpoint. The thing I noticed was that once again we have evidence that Prescott is a next level quarterback – not just a lucky rookie.
I have a feeling these two quarterbacks will be meeting again in the high-stakes games over the next few years…
— I want to further the point on Dak Prescott (24-38 for 302 yards, 3 TD/1 INT) — everyone knows he had a phenomenal rookie season, but not everyone is totally sold that he is a future fantasy stud. He’s definitely seen as a QB1 for 2017, but with some skepticism – a back-end/low-end QB1. People have a better (misguided) vibe on Jameis Winston it feels like.
One of the reasons I’ve been so high on Prescott for the last couple of months from a long term/dynasty perspective is that because Prescott is so good the Cowboys are now going to build everything around him. Remember, this is not Dak Prescott’steam. This 2016 team was built around Tony Romo. Cole Beasley as a #2 WR and advanced age Jason Witten are not the future.Terrence Williams is mostly a waste of time. However, they were all a comfortable shoe for Tony Romo…and Romo was a fantastic QB pre-injury. No reason for major offensive weapon changes going into 2016. Dak Prescott’s miraculous arrival is going to bring about radical offensive change.
You may have read my GM/Personnel Manager of the Year for the NFL in 2016 – Will McClay of Dallas. He’s a fantastic player assessment and valuation executive. Now he has a whole off-season to add pieces that fit with Dak Prescott. I think we will see several speed burner and inside route/tough wide receivers added to this arsenal – guys that fit with Prescott’s quick decision/quick release of the ball. Guys that can catch a simple 5-yard slant or tunnel screen and take it to the house. Bigger targets willing to take a hit and keep going over the middle. The Cowboys really don’t have anyone on the roster like that right now. In 1–2 seasons, the roster might be filled with them. If Prescott was a rookie star with this decent/solid/limited WR group, how good is he going to be when they build the team for him? And they will build the team for him, rest assured. This is going to quickly move from a Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott team to Dak Prescott and a whole new group of wide receivers – possibly with Dez Bryant being jettisoned at some point. I think despite all of our lip service about what a great rookie season Dak had – we still are not fully embracing the possibilities of what’s to come for dynasty-fantasy when the Cowboys completely build the franchise around him.
— Possibly the two most interesting Dynasty Rookie Draft prospects to come out of the 2017 NFL Draft are…
1: The new Dallas speedster/New Age wide receiver.
2: The new Green Bay running back.
I can’t imagine Green Bay is going to re-sign Eddie Lacy. There’s no reason to. It’s more cost-effective and better overall for them to draft fresh running backs who do not have weight issues. They’ve proven RB is not that critical for them – however, you can always count on head coaches never really getting it. There are decent odds that McCarthy is going to return to the thing that makes them comfortable. McCarthy could be basking in the glow of his own genius of this Green Bay winning streak. He’s going to be further emboldened to make the coaching moves he wants – which means he’ll go right back to what wasn’t working for him…a lean towards the run game.
Ty Montgomery is nice, but he’s not a legitimate workhorse. He worked in a pinch. Maybe he should be part of the rotation, but McCarthy has shown a desire for a workhorse like Eddie Lacy. I bet he goes and tries to find one…we need a run-pass balance don’t ya know! The new Green Bay running back coming out of the 2017 NFL Draft should see nice opportunities in 2017.