So football got kind of intense over the weekend. Following a speech in Alabama during which President Trump dismissed as a “son of a bitch” and called for the firing of any player who protested during the playing of the national anthem, hundreds of players were inspired to make a show of unity by locking arms, holding hands, or taking a knee. Some owners, including some of Trump’s personal friends, stood with their players on the sideline and/or had their teams issue statements expressing support for players’ right to protest, people got angry, other people got angry, people got angrier…
Now the entire world will be focused on “America’s Team”, the Dallas Cowboys, as they pay visit to the Arizona Cardinals, and rumors are swirling that Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald had reached out to Dallas TE Jason Witten to “discuss a possible pre-game demonstration.” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has said “We have an approach that we believe in, and no real comment beyond that.” Meanwhile, Cardinals president Bill Bidwell released a statement saying “I am extremely proud of our players and the contributions they make that extend well beyond the playing field. There are countless examples of positive influence and extraordinary impact these players have on our community. Football is something that has always united us as Americans and, particularly in times like these, has the ability to inspire rather than divide. It’s a responsibility in which we have always taken great pride and will continue to embrace.”
Regardless of what shakes out during the anthem, there’s gonna be some football.
Ezekiel Elliott last week suffered through easily the worst game of his young career, rushing for 8 yards on 9 carries as the Dallas Cowboys got swallowed whole by the Denver Broncos, 42-17. Elliott is hardly the first player to be overwhelmed by a Bronco D, and the man can be forgiven for being a bit distracted, given his recent legal troubles. But there was no excuse for the way he walked in the opposite direction following a Denver interception – it was one of those plays where he had no hope of making a tackle, but pride, dignity and teammates demand that you at least make an effort, kinda like the way you reach for your wallet when your in-laws take you out for dinner. There’s no chance of you paying the bill, but you gotta make a show of it. Anyway, it was hard not to chuckle at Monday morning jokes like “Someone tell Zeke his suspension was appealed.”
With Elliott unable to get off the runway, the onus fell to Dak Prescott, who threw a career-high 50 passes, completing just 30, and throwing 2 TDs and 2 INTs. Adding injury to insult, Dallas head coach Jason Garrett revealed that Prescott had injured his ankle during the game, but is doing well and is expected to play Monday. Dallas’ secondary, which has been riddled with injuries and youth, made Trevor Siemian look like a Hall-of-Famer, as the second-year starter completed 22 of 32 for 231 yards, 4 touchdowns and a pick.
The Cardinals needed to score 10 unanswered points in the 4th quarter and then an interception in overtime to set up a game winning field goal in order to sneak past the Colts last week 16-13 and bring their record to 1-1. Like the Cowboys, they have some stuff to work out, though it’s pretty clear they don’t have nearly the talent on hand to right the ship. Carson Palmer enjoyed a career year just two seasons ago in leading Arizona to a 13-3 record and the NFC Championship game. Now he’s a 38-year-old QB leading the league in interceptions (4), and his completion percentage of 54.8 is in danger of getting pulled over for driving too slowly on the highway. Palmer’s going to need a lot more help from receiver Jaron Brown, who, despite a huge first down catch on 3rd-and-20 late in the 4th, had an off day, catching just 4 of 11 passes thrown his way, with two of them getting knocked out of his hands. Hopefully he and Palmer can get on the same page, and maybe he can call Lester Hayes for some advice.
The Cards have been ineffective on defense, allowing the 7th-most points, despite allowing the 13th most yards. The problem? They’ve only forced 2 turnovers, and have been killing themselves with penalties, having been flagged 18 times for 170 yards. They have, however, been solid against the running game, allowing just 2.8 yards per carry. They’ll need to be ready to face Elliott, who will no doubt be a man on a mission.
Dallas got a huge boost Friday, when it was announced that the stay of Elliott’s suspension would continue, with a hearing scheduled for October 2. Doesn’t really matter, however, as the Cowboys are gonna trash the Cards, who, frankly, aren’t that good, and haven’t been for a couple of years.
Watch the Dallas Cowboys vs Arizona Cardinals Monday night at 8:30pm on ESPN.