And down goes my Super Bowl champions' prediction for this season. Dallas loses this game and thus are out of the playoff race for good, as Seattle stays alive with the win.
This Dallas collapse at the finish is either Jason Garrett's fault…or the fault of Jerry Jones.
Dallas never really changed or adapted in the midst of the crisis. The most glaring example was -- Dez Bryant was killing this team time and time again but was their only real WR weapon. No matter how poorly they performed it was Dez-Beasley-Williams rolled out every week, and it was the worst WR trio in the NFL. For some reason, Darren McFadden was rostered all season until Week 16. These all seem like Jerry Jones 'things'.
No great, savvy adjustment for Left Tackle when Tyron Smith went down. They kept pushing the same replacement no matter how much it failed. Maybe Zach Martin kicks over to Left Tackle if it's so critical and go with a different guard? Something? Anything? This seems like a coaching issue…the team was lost minus Sean Lee (coach on the field) and Tyron Smith, and to a lesser degree without Ezekiel Elliott. The 'Plan Bs' were all utter disasters…to me, that's on Jason Garrett not prepared, not innovative in crisis.
There are waves of talent at RB and WR in the NFL. Practice squads were filled with opportunity-to-grab early in the season. Dallas saw that it had an issue looming with Elliott and a developing WR nightmare…and they never made a move to improve it. Not via trade or free agent signing. That's on Jerry Jones, ultimately, as head of personnel…and, maybe, VP of Personnel Will McClay – but I know how good he is…so, I have to assume he was recommending moves that got rejected.
Dallas has a Super Bowl roster when healthy…but two things: (1) When they got banged up, the schedule turned nasty adding fuel to the fire. (2) The emerging rookie defenders were just hitting their stride at the end but it was too late. Even a healthy squad might have needed another half a season to realize their young talent. It might have been just a hair early of a call to promote Dallas as a Super Bowl team no matter the injuries for this season.
My early favorite for next season's Super Bowl – Dallas.
Credit to the Seahawks. They got outplayed for most of this game, but capitalized in critical times and just hung around and wound up winning. This is a bad Seattle team that's an 'any given Sunday' with Russell Wilson…but not enough to make a big run in the loaded NFC.
Next season Seattle will be this team again…scrapping to the wire to try to make the playoffs – a team that can’t hang with the Rams or 49ers, and maybe lower than Arizona if the right coach winds up there.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- People will remember the Jekyll and Hyde season of Dak Prescott (21-34 for 182 yards, 0 TD/2 INTs) as 'with and without Ezekiel Elliott (24-97-0)', but it was really -- with and without Tyron Smith. When the crisis hit, Smith was down/out. When the Cowboys stopped the bleeding halfway through Ezekiel's suspension -- it coincided with Smith returning/getting healthier. Smith was lost early in this game and thus the kryptonite was applied.
Other QBs overcome these things, but Dak did not. There may be other issues at play, but all we can judge is that Dak is a 'B' QB talent who produces like an 'A' with Tyron Smith and friends in place…and is a 'C' or worse when a link is broken in the chain. Which makes Dak a QB1 for fantasy 2018+, but you have to have a QB2 who has QB1 upside behind him because you're in danger of 'bad' Dak showing up.
Dak is not with Aaron Rodgers or younger Tom Brady, Drew Brees in NFL terms…but he with them for fantasy production – he's proven that so far.
Dak can be a Hall of Fame type QB…a 'winner', quality leader type of QB, but no one will ever compare him to Montana-Brady-Rodgers, at least not after what we've seen this season. However, we all might sing a different tune when Dak has better WRs/TEs to work with in the future…IF he gets them.
The same can be said comparing Dak to Russell Wilson…
-- Dak is not with Russell Wilson (14-21 for 93 yards, 2 TD/0 INT, 9-29-0) in NFL terms but he can hang with him for fantasy purposes. Wilson is just faster afoot and a better QB talent. Where Dak closes the gap on Wilson in fantasy terms – Seattle holds back Wilson from stardom with their coaching, especially the O-C's game plan. Whereas Dak will be trusted to run the offense more freely than Wilson has been.
The pattern is always the same the past 4+ seasons…Seattle tries to build the Doug Marrone offense and when they do, Wilson gives QB2-3 output. When all the RBs crap out and the O-Line is destroyed…Wilson takes over and is a top 3 fantasy QB. This season, Wilson started out dull, the run game quickly died with the Eddie Lacy push and several OL injuries…and then Wilson just 'took over', and should be a top 3 NFL MVP candidate.
We all love Wilson again for 2018…but if Darrell Bevell is back at O-C, he'll push the Doug Marrone offense…and if it has any success they'll stick with it, and then Wilson will be a fantasy disappointment. Run game and defense is what Seattle wants to do in this regime.
You have Wilson at QB in fantasy 2018…you have to have an upside QB2 in case Wilson is put in a box.
You can go 'all in' with Aaron Rodgers…but you have to have 'just in case' plans with Dak and Russell for fantasy, as they showed everyone this season with their highs and lows.
-- Mike Davis (15-25-0, 4-18-0/3) is making me look like a fool. You see the output lines and you compare that with me all excited going into each week – and you are either mad or forgiving, but either way 'it's disappointing'.
I'm not wrong here.
I know Davis hasn't had a 'wow' moment besides some runs where you know I'm right about his talent, but there's not any fantasy scoring to back that up. Give the guy a break! He has worked his main carry games against Philly, Jacksonville, the Rams, and here with Dallas. I would argue that's four of the 5-6 best teams in the NFL. Some of the top 5 defenses in the NFL. The Rams had the worst run defense he faced…but then the Rams got up by a hundred points in the first 10-15 minutes and Seattle abandoned the run.
I don’t think this is a Davis problem. The opponents + Seattle's game circumstances and strength of opponent have played a large part.
Davis keeps playing the majority of snaps and taking the biggest workload. Thomas Rawls (5-20-0) popped in and had nice run or two…but they stuck with Davis – because Seattle knows in order for them to win/have a running game, Davis is their only hope.
So, what does Davis get this week? Probably the hottest overall defense in the NFL – the Arizona Cardinals.
He may get stuffed again, but Davis is going to get 15+ touches again…or at least that will be the plan. It's hard to find guys you know this workload level about this week. He's still a hope and pray option. You know he has the talent…he has the intent from the team/coaches. There's hope for the RB desperate here. For those about to sell out for Malcolm Brown or Stevan Ridley…
-- Another week, another down performance for the Seattle WRs but consider that all I said about Mike Davis and the defenses he's faced – it's been as big an issue for the passing game too. And the same issue this week – Arizona's defense is smoking hot and they hate Seattle. The Cardinals will play this like the Super Bowl.
Doug Baldwin (4-35-1/6) 6 targets and Paul Richardson (2-21-0/4) 4 targets…the pattern has been true for weeks – low targets for the top WRs and low output…but also facing great teams/defenses. It's to be expected…this low output. It won’t be much different versus Arizona this week…that's why Seattle will need to run the ball some, or try, in order to help the passing game.
-- You just don’t think of Dallas in terms 'great pass defenses' or 'great defenses' but you better start assuming it. This was yet another game that Dallas held their opponent under 20 points WHEN Sean Lee was back in the middle.
With Sean Lee playing – Dallas is a top 5 defense in the NFL. They are the junior Jacksonville Jaguars for 2018. I've been on this since midway through the season and laying the foundation for it back in May 2017.
Why did MVP candidate and top fantasy QB in 2017 Russell Wilson have 93 yards passing and Seattle couldn’t run the ball – Dallas's defense.
Chidobe Awuzie (2 tackles, 3 PDs) and Jourdan Lewis (2 tackles) are becoming one of the leagues top CB duos…both rookies. Taco Charlton (5 tackles) is going to be a great D-End and showed flashes of it here. If Dallas keeps Demarcus Lawrence and Sean Lee holds up – this is a top DST prospect for 2018…and for Week 17 if Nate Sudfeld starts for the Eagles.
-- Seattle DE Dion Jordan (3 tackles, 1.0 sacks) will not stop catching my attention. Every week he's making plays, getting into the backfield. He'll be on the IDP stash update this week. See more on him there.
Snap Counts of Interest…
03 = Tyron Smith
43 = Mike Davis
02 = McKissic
10 = Rawls
33 = Dion Jordan
13 on special teams = DeShawn Shead