CLEVELAND – I composed FishTips as the Cowboys got ready for the Browns on Sunday. Now we’ve got a 35-10 win and a review of how prescient those five FishTips were:
FishTip 1) Why does it feel like Dallas has the vibe of a contender?
Well, the Cowboys are 6-1 for the 11th time in club history. All 10 of those previous teams went to the playoffs.
Furthermore… since 1990, when the playoffs were last re-formatted, teams that started 6-1 made the playoffs 51 of 60 times. So historically the path is cleared.
RESULT: The Cowboys at 7-1 are the best team in the NFC – though their eye is so on the prize that even the outspoken Dez Bryant is unwilling to say those words. “I’m not going to get in to all of that,” Dez said. “What I will say: I love what we have going on right now.”
FishTip 2) You are about to hear a lot about Dallas’ “Blue Jersey Jinx.” Ignore it.
The Cowboys are 64-66-1 all-time in the blue jerseys, which they wore yesterday. That’s not good… but that’s not “jinxy,” either.
RESULT: Dallas didn’t lose 66 games because of their shirts; they lost because they weren’t as capable of doing what this team in this time just did to these hapless 0-8 Browns. Dallas will wear blue one more time this year, at Washington. A chance for a jinx-slaying .500 record in blue.
FishTip 3) You should brace yourself for another chapter of “Ezekiel Elliott in trouble.” There might be more elements and incidents regarding Elliott’s Ohio State behavior than we the public know about. But I promise you the Cowboys and the NFL and Ohio State all had deep, deep knowledge of this glitch, that hiccup and even that police investigation.
“All old news,” one Cowboys higher-up tells me.
Having said that, Zeke — to me, along with Tom Brady the leading candidate for MVP — causes me to repeat what I’ve said about him since he came to Dallas in the first round of the draft: he needs to concern himself less with being an Alpha Pup/BMOC (Big Man On Clubbing) and more about the trouble that future investigations into future behaviors might cause.
RESULT: On the field, without any doubt, Zeke is a grown-ass man. He rushed for 92 yards and two TDs here, encouraged by an Ohio crowd that loved him more than they loved the Browns. Incredible,” Zeke told me, “to have Cowboys fans make a road game feel like a home game.”
FishTip 4) Cleveland is all murky and hanging low and 0-8. Trap game?
Or….what if the city of Cleveland remains emotionally wounded from this week’s World Series lost at the hands of the Cubs? Not just a drunken hangover, but a funk-and-hangover?
RESULT: Members of the Dallas defense told me they weren’t even aware of the specifics of the Browns’ record. What this defense has done, though, is now play all eight games without allowing more than 29 points — matching the work of the 1994 Super Bowl-level ‘Boys.
Oh, and the Cowboys are the only team in the NFL not to have allowed a 100-yard rusher or 100-yard receiver in a game. The only thing this defense is trapping is opposition stars.
FishTip 5) Dak Prescott’s mid-week comment on “whose team this is” requires full context. He didn’t say it’s not the rehabbing Tony’s Romo team; he simply meant that these Cowboys are everybody’s Cowboys, with a shared responsibility destined to overcome so-called “QB controversies.”
RESULT: So now the rookie Prescott (with a trio of wide-open TD passes, one to the agelessly effective Jason Witten) has helped engineer seven straight wins, the most in-season victories for Dallas since 1977 and one off the club record.
Last week, owner Jerry Jones announced that Romo would continue rehabbing while Dak would start in Cleveland. Here, Jerry declined to lock into such a pronouncement for next week’s Rust Belt Return in Pittsburgh. Jerry Jones won’t say if Romo will be active for next week at Pittsburgh: “Unlike last week,” Jerry said, “I wouldn’t speculate.”
One way for changes and controversies to come is with Dallas losses. But I was told before this game that Cowboys brass is putting stock in “The Hot Hand Theory.” And at this moment, it’s difficult to envision a whole bunch of coldness, a whole bunch of losses.