Wow. Sometimes, my job is fun. Sometimes, I get to watch great teams playing great football – almost like watching a symphony or witnessing a great performance on stage. Sometimes, you lay eyes on something and go 'wow, that was beautiful'.
Wow, this game was beautiful.
These two teams are the best in the NFC…for the future, and probably for now too. Minnesota and Washington might have something to say about that for 2017, but the Rams and Cowboys are impressive and are destined 'to do this' for a few years.
The best-coached football team in the NFL (the Rams), yes, better than the Patriots. And the best personnel evaluation team in the NFL (the Cowboys), yes, better than the Patriots.
The Rams are as meticulous and disciplined a team as there is in the NFL. They are the anti-Seahawks. They are fresh and current. They didn't wilt in a big game on the road with arguably the best team in the NFL – they went toe-to-toe and vanquished them. Dallas had several bad bounces/things go against them, and easily could've won, but the Rams never blinked under any of the pressure – they were down 17-6 at one point and methodically clawed their way back to the lead and then counterpunched with Dallas the rest of the way and were the better team. I could not be any more impressed with a football team than what the Rams are doing this year.
Does coaching matter? I don’t know…you saw the Amazon and HBO series following the Rams and how pathetic Jeff Fisher was as a coach and as a talking-human? A 30-year old comes in and takes one of the worst teams in football and fixes everything in a few months and makes them, arguably, one of the 5-10 best teams in the NFL today. They didn’t sign any major free agent names, per se (Whitworth was brilliant), or have a high draft pick splash…they traded away all their picks for Goff. This is Sean McVay coming in and inheriting a bunch of lemons and making Dom Perignon.
I always ask aloud-- is Bill Belichick a genius because he is the smartest guy in a room full of total idiots? Sean McVay's instant success may be part of the answer.
Dallas led 17-6 at home and seemed to have things well at hand. Then Ryan Switzer muffed a punt and that led to a Rams score and them getting right back into it…and ultimately winning. I'm not sure the Rams wouldn’t have mounted the comeback regardless of the muffed punt. Even after the Rams scored to close it to 17-13…Dallas came right back and scored to make it 24-13. Dallas was the aggressor and 'best thing' in the first half…in a battle of two great things. The Rams fired back with a late before-the-half drive for an FG to make 24-16 Dallas at the half. It was all Rams from there.
'All Rams' as in – they never wavered. They answered every bell. Dallas played great too…they just got beat by a really good team. The Rams up 32-30 with 7 minutes left…it would have been the time for the Rams to buckle AT Dallas. Instead, Goff led another meticulous drive for 5+ minutes and got a field goal. Dallas had a golden chance with 1:55 left down by five. The Rams bowed up and shut them off. Dallas played great. The Rams played great. Two great teams being great. Maybe the best game I've watched, as a food critic, all year.
I may seriously take the Rams as my survivor pick this week versus Seattle after watching them in this game. A tough loss on a bad play late to a very good Redskins team in Week 2 is all the Rams are from being 4-0 right now.
The Rams are better than the Cowboys right now. I think the Cowboys might be better by Week 10-17+, but the Rams are better now. It's a race between Dallas's depth of young defensive talent maturing versus possibly having their legs chopped out by Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant locker room/team cancers…versus the Rams not as deep but so exponentially well-coached. The best thing that could happen to Dallas right now is Elliott getting suspended and them finding out how to win without him.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Jared Goff (21-36 for 255 yards, 2 TD/0 INT) and Dak Prescott (20-36 for 252 yards, 3 TD/1 INT) are both next era superstars…and that era is here now.
After Jared Goff threw that pick to lose the Redskins game Week 2, I thought Goff just wasn't ready for stardom yet…as a live reaction to that event. I re-watched that game later and realized it was the seminal moment marking Goff's turn toward greatness in his career…just a bad play at the end. Week 3 was another step forward for Goff. This Week 4 game moved him from 'we know he's good, but not sure he's a star' to 'he's a borderline star now'.
If Jeff Fisher had another year in L.A. or the Rams hired Anthony Lynn…we're not having this conversation. Goff had this skill all along…it took Sean McVay to build around it and nurture it. It's paying dividends fast. Every week Goff seems to gain a year's worth of confidence. I said he was next-Tom Brady pre-draft 2016. I watched him with Jeff Fisher and walked that back. I watch him now and know – it's on. The confidence level Goff is playing with compared to 2016 is surreal to witness. He has time in the pocket and when he has time he almost always makes the right throws…down field not a bunch of clever dump passes. Good for him.
Dak Prescott is a different kind of great. Dak is more a playmaker, not a system or red the defense guy. He's a quick hitter and dices you apart with short, smart throws and extending plays with his pocket awareness and mobility. Goff is Brady. Prescott is hard to compare…a little Aaron Rodgers-Brady and Derek Carr/Marcus Mariota. More a tall Russell Wilson.
Goff is the driving force of the Rams offense, not Gurley…which means Goff is a QB1 for fantasy for the rest of the year, depending on matchup. McVay isn’t from the old school where he is going to run every play to show his machismo. His desire is 'success' not 'smashmouth' fake tough guy stuff, and you get to success by passing in 2017+.
Prescott will have to carry Dallas as well, especially if Elliott is suspended. Dak is not only a QB1 but a potential top 5 guy the rest of the season as we projected in our draft guide. The schedule turns in his favor now and Prescott adds points with his feet.
Last two weeks for Goff: 273.5 yards and 2.5 TDs/0 INT in wins on the road.
A big test coming for Goff the next two weeks: Seattle and at Jacksonville. He shines through that and he's a star now, not later.
Last two weeks for Dak: 217.5 yards and 2.5 TDs/0.5 INTs and 20.5 yards rushing and 0.5 TDs.
One thing to note, and it may be a sign of the Dallas O-Line degeneration…Dak is completing just 60.8% of his passes this season. Part of that is schedule. Part of that is the O-Line. Part of that is Dez Bryant is a waste of space.
-- The Dallas O-Line degrading, if true, is exposing Ezekiel Elliott (21-85-1, 4-54-1/5) for what I said he was all along – good-not-great…plus, an off-field nightmare.
Elliott had his best game rushing versus NYG opening week, a defense we now know can't stop the run. Elliott was squashed by Denver Week 2. In the past two weeks, 3.8 yards per carry…and his third less than 90 yards rushing game in a row.
Easier schedule ahead. Will he be there to take advantage of it? Who knows.
-- Cooper Kupp (5-60-1/7) had the best game among the Rams WRs…while Sammy Watkins (1-17-0/2) was rumored to have played in this game, but I can't confirm it. That's why I thought Watkins was a 'sell high' last week.
I'm not sure who Goff prefers among his receivers, but it looks like Kupp over the field -- but not consistently. Goff came out on the first drive and his first five passes when to five different receivers. That's smart. That's by design somewhat. The Rams lean on what's open not who's throwing Gatorade barrels around having a fit on the sidelines.
Kupp looks like the guy for Goff but he's more a WR3 right now for 2017. Too erratic a pattern of targets.
-- Just when you thought Jason Witten (1-9-0/2) was emerging as a useful TE1…he has exactly one catch in each of his last two games. It might be because of the O-Line having issues and Witten staying in a bit more…or Witten is just super slow to get open.
-- I will say this for Dez Bryant (5-98-0/13)…he has faced a killer schedule of shutdown corners. Trumaine Johnson was built to stop a guy like Dez. The schedule is great ahead – GB-BYE-SF before trouble looms with WAS-KC-ATL.
I wouldn't rush to 'buy low'…plus, he sucks because he doesn’t really try as hard anymore.
-- After having one tackle in Week 1, IDP Mark Barron (8 tackles) has 10-7-8 for tackles (8.3 per game) the past three games.
-- The Rams defense has allowed 30 and 41 points the past two games. You can't even think about them until you see evidence of a turn. I think the more time with Wade Phillips the more this defense will come on in the second half.
If you wanted to gamble ahead on it – the Rams are going to face mostly a cornucopia of the worst O-Lines in football for the rest of the season starting Week 5 with Seattle.
Snap Counts of Interest…
31 = Beasley
08 = Switzer
07 = Noah Brown
60 = Watkins (2 targets)
59 = Woods
49 = Kupp
47 = Higbee
21 = Everett
71 = Witten
30 = Hanna (his snap counts are picking up – a development to watch)