By Mac Engel
September 29, 2019
There should be a phone app to keep a running total to track how many plans, and lives, New Orleans and its Bourbon Street, Canal Street and the French Quarter have ruined.
Maybe the streets and clubs of New Orleans can explain what happened to the NFL’s highest paid running back on Sunday night.
During running back Ezekiel Elliott’s holdout in the preseason, Jerry Jones playfully asked, “Zeke Who?”
On Sunday night, the Saints merely answered “Who dat?”
This scenario was always possible, and the Cowboys’ path to their first 4-0 start since Year 1 of the Wade Phillips regime in 2007 is gone.
The Cowboys’ 12-10 loss against the Saints is why you don’t pay a running back. The Cowboys’ 12-10 loss against the Saints is why this team ain’t all that.
(Before another word one about the Cowboys’ game and the “best running back in the NFL” ... the officials and referees have been neutered and turned into terrified shells of themselves. They have an impossible job where a C grade may qualify for excellence. They were also awful Sunday night, when flags rained on the Superdome field like beads on Bourbon Street. At least they were bad both ways.)
For the first time this season the Dallas Cowboys ran into a good team. The good team punched the Cowboys in the face, and shoved a schooner of Humility right down their throat.
And ponder how this game would have looked had the Saints had quarterback Drew Brees rather than Teddy Bridgewater playing quarterback?
With Brees in there, he is not sacked with less than two minutes remaining in the game on a third down that led to a favorable punt to give the Cowboys a last-minute shot to win.
The Cowboys may end up being the best team in the NFC in January, but right now there are other teams ahead of them. Beating the Giants, Redskins and Dolphins is good for a warm cup of “Who Cares?”
The most troubling element to the Cowboys’ loss in New Orleans isn’t the defeat itself. It’s the way they lost.
The Saints used virtually the exact same plan to counter the Cowboys as the L.A. Rams did in the NFC Divisional playoffs back in January.
The Rams manhandled the Cowboys, and treated Zeke like a tackling dummy. Dak Prescott and the passing game could not keep up with the Rams.
On Sunday night, the Saints did the same thing. Other than a short touchdown run in the third quarter, Zeke was awful. So was the run blocking.
Sorry, but this should not happen to the best running back and the best offensive line in the NFL.
Zeke held out of training camp and exiled himself in the living hell that is known as Cabo because he felt like he should be the highest paid running back in the NFL. Of course Jerry Jones waited until the last possible second to sign him to a deal that did just that, and Sunday night happens.
Against the Saints, Zeke ran it 18 times for 35 yards. According to my advanced analytics chart, that’s horrible, not to mention a waste of money.
He also lost one first-half fumble, although replays show that is was a borderline call.
(If you are wondering how Zeke did in that playoff loss to the Rams, he ran it 20 times for 47 yards.)
And what about the new Einstein of football, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore?
In the first half, Moore paid homage to his former boss, Scott Linehan. He ran Zeke into a pile of bodies for a total of three first half points.
It didn’t help that on one long third down conversion in the second quarter, tight end Jason Witten fumbled. As in he fumbled. The football.
Jason Witten fumbling occurs with the frequency as an Olympic games. That was the ninth fumble of his career.
Out of the half, Moore decided to see if his quarterback could pass it down the field and ... for one magical drive it worked.
Dak was brilliant in the third quarter, which included a perfect 35-yard pass to tight end Blake Jarwin that set up Zeke’s touchdown run.
In the third quarter this season, Dak is 28-for-28 with 457 yards and three touchdowns.
But the fourth quarter came, and the Saints didn’t let the Cowboys do much of anything.
Speaking of football games, let’s not let the Cowboys defense walk out of the Superdome without a word or three of admonishment.
They forced a turnover and held the Saints to just 12 points. They also couldn’t get off the field enough in the fourth quarter when Saints running back Alvin Kamara looked like the best running back in the NFL.
On Sunday night, the Cowboys just had the highest paid running back in the NFL. A lot of good that did them.
As has happened to millions of men before him, New Orleans got the better of Zeke.