NFL Insider Notes: Snakebitten Cowboys and Dak Prescott’s Next Steps, The Fiery Fake Lions, More From Week 1

Dak Prescott will be missing for at least the next month and most likely longer as he recovers from thumb surgery which is due to take place on Monday. The Dallas Cowboys will be without the most essential part of their offense for several weeks, and it’s the biggest hit this snake-bitten team has ever faced this season.

Prescott’s thumb injury occurred near the end of a game where the Cowboys’ offensive woes had been exposed by Todd Bowles’ defense. A lack of talent at receiver, an offensive line not yet ready and an overall unit that continues to shoot itself in the foot have all been overshadowed by Prescott’s injury.

The Cowboys are now deprived of Prescott’s physical talents but also of his leadership at the start of the season. The Cowboys were already without an offensive line leader Tyron Smith, which may not return until winter, if at all. Now they’re in Prescott in a leadership department desperately looking for someone to take over.

“Yeah, that’s obviously not what you want to hear. It’s not the worst thing that’s happened to me,” Prescott said after the game. “It’s just another bump in the road and I will keep pushing forward. I will do everything I can, what I can control, to pick myself up, to improve, to help this team and to do my best in this role.”

There’s an aura about Prescott that’s hard to describe to those who haven’t known him. I could feel it instantly on the field in Oxnard, Calif., at the start of Cowboys camp this summer. As camp turned to preseason and preseason turned into a number of significant worries about this team heading into Week 1, Prescott’s presence created a sense of calm.

Now you have a Cowboys offense that doesn’t have a reliable wide receiver outside of Lamb CeeDeewho hit just two of his 11 targets on Sunday night. Michael Gallup continues to recover from an ACL injury sustained late last year, and third-round rookie Jalen Tolbert was beaten for a jersey on game day by an undrafted free agent Dennis Houston.

Tyler Smith may very well be the left tackle of the future for Dallas, but it’s the present today and Jason Peters can’t ramp up fast enough.

The Cowboys were the most penalized team in the league last year with 127; the league average is just over 100. Their 10 penalties on Sunday are currently tied for third in the league as Week 1 draws to a close. The eight offensive penalties are the most to date.

So far, Saving Grace is the defense and perennial candidate for Defensive Player of the Year Micah Parsons. The Buccaneers entered the Dallas 30 six times and came away with just 19 points. Going into the game, the Tom Brady-era Buccaneers were 1-8 in games in which they scored no more than 24 points.

So Dallas can win, and he can win with Cooper Rush, like the Cowboys did last season in Minnesota. But a leader needs to emerge so the Cowboys can get them through the next few weeks.

lion by the tail

The the Lions lost another close game in the Dan Campbell era. But… was it really close? The Lions have become the kings of covert and backdoor play, and it happened again Sunday in a 38-35 loss to Philadelphia. Even though the Lions finished three points behind, they trailed 17 points at one point in the fourth and never had possession in the final quarter where they could tie or take the lead.

Detroit is now 3-14-1 under Campbell and with the quarterback Jared Goff taking the majority of these shots. Last season they went 2-6-1 in games decided by eight points or less, and those nine games were one more than the league average.

But in reality, the 2021-present Lions have never won when trailing by more than one score in the second half. These Lions are 0-12 in games where they trail by at least nine points in the second half.

The Lions were one of the worst teams in the league in the second quarter of 2021. Their point differential was minus-47, and only the Jets and giants were worse. Well, these misfortunes continued against the Eagleswhen they were outscored 24-7 in the second quarter.

Blitz at your own risk

Patrick Mahomes could very well be the AFC Offensive Player of the Week after his performance for 360 yards and five touchdowns against the Cardinals. The Kansas City Chiefs the quarterback looked easy, and part of the reason was that Arizona chose to blitz Mahomes on 54% of his backs, the highest percentage he had ever seen in his career.

It’s generally a bad idea to blitz Mahomes, as it is with so many elite quarterbacks. But Arizona defensive coordinator Vance Joseph didn’t really have a choice.

With the new acquisition Trayvon Mullen (toe) inactive, Antonio Hamilton on the non-football injury list and Byron Murphy Coming back from illness, the Cardinals had little depth and had to understand that Mahomes would expose their corners if he sat in the pocket with time to throw.

Last season, the Cardinals played with five DBs on the field for 58.7% of their defensive snaps, just off the league average of 61%. Sunday against the Chiefs, they played with five DBs on nine of 66 snaps, less than 14% of all snaps.

Note in watts

The TJWatt the pectoral injury is obviously a concern for the Steelers. The fear is that it will be torn, as the reigning Defensive Player of the Year seemed to say shortly after it happened, according to all amateur readers watching the game. He’ll get an MRI on Monday, and he’ll likely miss the season if he’s indeed completely torn. The Steelers will have to turn immediately to Malik Roseauacquired through trade from the Broncos late August, to fill the void while scouring the free agent landscape for more help.

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