Jerry Jones doesn’t look at his Dallas Cowboys and see a 1-2 team or the league’s 31st-ranked scoring offense. No, Jones stares down from his owner’s box at AT&T Stadium and sees a team that has the potential to be the Rams when it comes to moving the ball.
“Well, I like our offensive line when it stacks up against the Rams,” Jones told 105.3 The Fan Friday. “I think it’s fair to say we’ve got good running backs.”
Ezekiel Elliott came into Week 4 as the league’s co-leading rusher, so no qualms there. But then there’s the claim about Cowboys’ offensive line. This was true when the franchise was turning DeMarco Murray into the league’s leading rusher. It was true in 2016 when it made a rookie Elliott the NFL’s top tailback. But now Doug Free has retired, Travis Frederick is out with Guillain Barre Syndrome, and then unit looks a few stages removed from those salad days.
But Jones wasn’t done there.
“I remember [Jared] Goff when he first came in, they moved him along at a little slower pace than Dak [Prescott] got to come in. But I know that we’ve been just as proud of Dak as those that are Rams fans that are proud of their quarterback.”
There’s no doubt he’s proud of Dak Prescott, who has been fine in 2018 despite a dearth of weapons alongside him.
But the rest of Jones’ comments are ... a little ambitious.
“So when I see them executing in a way that creates the offense they got,” continued Jones. “I look at our personnel — I don’t have to reach to basically see that.”
When host Mike Bacsik, who brought up the Rams in the first place, pointed out the flaws in Jones’ comparison, the longtime owner hit him with the septuagenarian equivalent of a sweet burn: “That’s why you’re doing radio and not the coaching,” joked Jones.
Let’s compare, starting with the blocking. Los Angeles has allowed Goff to be sacked five times in four games — a 3.6 percent sack rate. Prescott has been thrown to the turf 11 times in three — an 11 percent sack rate that would have been the league’s worst in 2017.
Then there’s the Prescott-Goff comparison. It doesn’t matter how they started: this is how they stack up now:
Jared Goff vs. Dak Prescott, 2018 Comparison
That’s ... not great for Dak. But it’s not damning, because Goff is surrounded by weapons. Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods are all on pace for more than 1,200 receiving yards through four games. Todd Gurley has a chance to crack 2,000 total yards from scrimmage. Those guys are very good!
Meanwhile, Prescott has Elliott running well in the backfield but only gaining 3.4 yards per catch. His leading receiver is Cole Beasley, who has 12 catches and 132 yards through three games. The rest of his target tree includes players like Deonte Thompson, Geoff Swaim, Tavon Austin, Michael Gallup, Terrance Williams, and Allen Hurns. It is, without question, extremely un-Rams like.
As a result, the Cowboys rank second to last in scoring offense this season and 30th in offensive yards. The Rams rank second and second. The Rams have a budding creative offensive mind calling their plays in Sean McVay. The Cowboys have Scott Linehan, whose strategy is so far stuck in the mid-00s it’s probably complaining about The Sopranos’ series finale somewhere on the internet.
Most importantly, Los Angeles is 4-0. Dallas has beaten the hapless Giants and no one else.
Look, we get it. Jones owns the Cowboys, and part of his job is pumping up and selling his Cowboys like an unethical chicken farmer. He’s not going to let little things like statistics or reality get in the way. And maybe this is just a slow start in Texas and by Week 8 the team will have reverted back to its 2016 form.
But it’s more likely 2018 will be another season where the play on the field fails to match the expectations surrounding the team. Jones isn’t going to tell you that, though. Because if he starts telling you his team is anything less than great, you might stop watching the Cowboys.