Gridiron Digest: Cowboys Hopes Ride on Their Overworked, Underpaid Hero

Mike Tanier@@miketanierNFL National Lead WriterNovember 18, 2019

Gridiron Digest: Cowboys Hopes Ride on Their Overworked, Underpaid Hero

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    Everything is up for grabs as NFL Week 11 draws to a close. The Patriots and 49ers may both be 9-1, but following their first losses of the season with narrow victories over the Eagles and Cardinals, respectively, proved their vulnerability. And while Lamar Jackson and the Ravens are clearly the Patriots' top challengers, the NFC field is crowded with contenders, including America's Team.

    Can the unpredictable, thrilling, frustrating Cowboys finally position themselves for a deep playoff run? If so, it will be because they stopped trying to feed $90 million running back Ezekiel Elliott and finally put the ball and their faith in the hands of Dak Prescott, the most underpaid and underappreciated superstar in the league.

    Gridiron Digest kicks off this week by explaining how Prescott can save the Cowboys from themselves. But we don't stop there. Also:

    • The Ravens stake their claim to being the NFL's best team

    Nick Foles returns, and the Jaguars soundtrack downshifts from acid rock to easy listening

    • A new front-runner emerges in the race to the bottom of the standings and the top of next year's draft order

    • Our Point-Counterpoint debate team searches for clarity in the Colin Kaepernick workout saga

    ...and much, much more! 

         

Cowboys Must Allow Dak Prescott to Be Their Working-Class Hero

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    Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

    Gridiron Digest is not here to proclaim that Dak Prescott should win the MVP award.

    Prescott threw for 444 yards and three touchdowns in Sunday's harder-than-it-should-have-been 35-27 Cowboys victory over the Lions. It was a great performance. But c'mon: Lamar Jackson is the MVP front-runner. Or maybe it's Russell Wilson. Also, MVP awards don't really matter anyway.

    Gridiron Digest is also not here to scream "PAY THE MAN" and itemize just how many zeros Jerry Jones will be forced to write when filling out Prescott's next contract.

    Prescott is overdue to get paid, of course. But who wants to read a Quarterback Sermon on the Amount? Especially since we all know that the only thing more fun than ripping teams for not paying their quarterbacks enough money is ripping the quarterbacks once they start making too much money.

    No, instead of all that, Gridiron Digest is here today only to ask you to appreciate what Prescott is doing and what he represents.

    Prescott is the NFL's working-class hero. He's overworked, underpaid and underappreciated. He's the person at the office who does all the work and then watches the boss and the breakroom show-off take all the credit.

    The "boss" in this case is Jason Garrett. Garrett wasted a 397-yard, three-touchdown effort against the Vikings last Sunday night because he decided to establish the run while trailing in the fourth quarter and couldn't explain to his punt returner how a fair catch works. Garrett's Cowboys faced a Lions team with a backup quarterback and temp-agency running backs, yet they came perilously close to another Jets-level disaster. The television announcers even suggested that Garrett must "learn to be more aggressive" at one point in the game. This is Garrett's 10th season as an NFL coach, folks; he's not supposed to still be learning the basics.

    The "show-off" is Ezekiel Elliott, who rushed 16 times for 45 yards and scored two touchdowns but also coughed up a fumble that gave the Lions an early lead. Elliott signed a six-year, $90 million contract with over $24 million in bonuses in early September. Garrett feeds Elliott the ball to prove how valuable he is—and because Garrett likes watching handoffs. Then when the Cowboys fall behind or the game is too close for comfort, Prescott takes to the skies to save the Cowboys from themselves, if he can.

    Prescott has thrown for 3,221 yards and 21 touchdowns through 10 games. He will earn $2,120,848 for his services, per OverTheCap.com, the most by far he has ever earned. Maybe that's not "working class" money to us, but it's no-name-offensive-lineman, obscure-middle-infielder, backup-small-forward money, not "Cowboys starting quarterback for four seasons" money. He's as blue collar as an NFL quarterback can be, quietly doing the same job folks making more than 10 times his salary do—and doing it better than most of them. 

    Prescott's salary will go through the roof next year, while Elliott will still be paid Rolls Royce money for Lexus production at a lawnmower position and Garrett will remain the smartest Connect Four champion at the chess tournament. The Cowboys can't quite climb into the top tier of contenders this season because they keep mixing convincing victories with dopey losses. If they can't stop getting in their own way, things will get much harder when Prescott starts eating up wide swaths of cap space.  

    Prescott is having a special season. Once Garrett appreciates that and really starts cutting him loose, the Cowboys will be able to position themselves for a Super Bowl run in the wide-open NFC. 

    But if Garrett can't take advantage of what Prescott can do, it will cost the Cowboys dearly, in more ways than one.

Patriots, 49ers Survive Upset Scares: What Does It Mean?

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    Corey Perrine/Getty Images

    What happened

    The Patriots faced an Eagles team missing most of its skill-position starters, yet they trailed 10-9 at halftime and needed a smothering performance by their defense to escape Philadelphia with a 17-10 win.

    The 49ers came out of the tunnel flat on both sides of the ball and allowed the Cardinals to jump out to a 16-0 lead. They battled back, only to find themselves in a sloppy seesaw battle, taking the lead for good with 37 seconds to play and adding a fumble-recovery touchdown in the final seconds for a 36-26 victory.

    Both the Patriots and 49ers remain 10-1 and on the inside track for top playoff seedings. But Sunday's results showed just how vulnerable both conference front-runners are right now.

             

    What it means

    The Ravens are currently the best team in the NFL. They beat the Patriots and are dominating playoff-caliber competition. We'll get to their Sunday victory over the Texans in the next segment.

    The 49ers are the second-best team in the NFL. Jimmy Garoppolo was erratic both on Sunday and on Monday night against the Seahawks. He has a disturbing habit of throwing both interceptions and near-interceptions when the 49ers running game isn't steamrolling opponents to make life easy for him. The 49ers will soon get George Kittle and other offensive starters back, though, which should help them shake off the relative doldrums of the past six days. They'll need all the help they can get to survive the next three weeks.

    The Patriots are the third-best team in the NFL. Their offense looks like the 2015 Broncos when facing decent opponents (that was thinly disguised Tom Brady criticism; let's hope it slips past the New England censors). Their defense made Carson Wentz look silly at times Sunday, but the Eagles were still one Nelson Agholor almost-catch in the end zone from tying the game. 

    It doesn't matter who is fourth. Both conferences are up for grabs right now. And both the top seeds face some tough tests that are about to make the final stretch of the season very interesting.

            

    What's next

    The Patriots host the Cowboys, then visit the Texans and then host the Chiefs. If they play the way they did against the Ravens and Eagles, they will be in danger of losing at least two of those games.

    The 49ers host the Packers and then visit the Ravens and Saints. Uh-oh, uh-oh and uh-oh.

Game Spotlight: Ravens 41, Texans 7

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    What happened

    Lamar Jackson proved once again what he has been proving once again all season, throwing for four touchdown passes and rushing for 86 yards in a game that started close (the first quarter ended in a 0-0 tie) but became a laugher by the end of the third quarter.

    Deshaun Watson suffered an early-game ankle injury that appeared to bother him throughout the afternoon. He also dealt with a few bad breaks, including a first-quarter no-call on blatant pass interference in the end zone (Bill O'Brien tried to challenge it, but LOL, the challenge system is a sham).

    But Watson also threw an interception into the middle of the Ravens defense after a scramble that looked a little like a bad Jackson impersonation. 

    By the end of the game, the contrast between Jackson smoothly running a custom-tailored offense and Watson trying to survive O'Brien's thrown-together mishmash of old Patriots concepts could not have been clearer.

           

    What it means

    Jackson is this year's Patrick Mahomes.

    Instead of trying to win straw-man arguments about his pocket passing (he was an absolute sniper from the pocket Sunday) or fretting about whether his rushing load is "sustainable" (he only ran nine times Sunday, usually on his terms), take a moment to enjoy a thrilling and unique young superstar who is doing things no one has ever done before while positioning his team for one of the top two seeds in the AFC. No opponent is going to "figure him out" anytime soon, and life's too short to "yeah, but" away a season like the one Jackson is having.

    The Texans remain a poorly coached and horribly managed team that's utterly reliant on its four superstars, one of whom is out for the year (J.J. Watt), one of whom now plays for the Seahawks (Jadeveon Clowney) and one of whom may be starting to feel the effects of the weekly pounding caused by O'Brien's offensive line and game plans (Watson). DeAndre Hopkins can't do it all by himself, especially with a defender draped all over him in the end zone.

              

    What's next

    The two-game lead in the AFC home-field playoff chase the Ravens opened up with Sunday's win could make a big difference as schedules stiffen in the weeks to come. The Ravens face the Rams and 49ers over the next two weeks, while the Texans face the Colts and Patriots. 

Player Spotlight: The Not-so-Triumphant Return of Nick Foles

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    What happened

    Foles returned from a clavicle injury and took back the Jaguars' starting quarterback job after Gardner Minshew II's revelatory and meme-inspiring eight-game relief stint. But the results were anything but groovy.

    Foles threw a 34-yard touchdown to DJ Chark Jr. early in the game and a second score to Chark in garbage time. In between, he threw a dying quail of an interception and failed to move the Jaguars offense, which recorded just six first downs in the span of nine possessions between the two touchdowns.

    Foles finished 33-of-47 for 296 yards, but much of that production came on a meaningless 90-yard fourth-quarter drive. Also, the Jaguars defense allowed 264 rushing yards, committed costly penalties and had trouble defending screen passes on 3rd-and-19 in a 33-13 loss to the Colts. But maybe they would have played harder for Minshew than, you know, the guy who is famous for his big-game leadership.

                   

    What it means

    Here's some simple mathematics to explain the Jaguars' dilemma:

    • Foles >  Minshew, but...

    • #Jaguars, and...

    • Minshew + tiny salary >>> Foles + $88 million over four years

    The Jaguars are a mediocre team with the payroll of a Super Bowl contender and a staggering lack of logical long-range planning. They're not good enough to beat quality opponents with Foles in game-manager mode, just as they couldn't consistently beat non-Jets/Bengals-level teams with Minshew in Gangster of Love mode. 

    So it doesn't matter who their quarterback is this year. And while benching Foles so they can evaluate Minshew makes some sense, so does playing Foles so they can increase his trade potential to see if some team like the Broncos will nibble on the trade bait (and eat a little salary for them as they start to rebuild) in the offseason.

    This should be the last time Gridiron Digest focuses on the Jaguars' quarterback situation this season because, frankly, it's no longer interesting. But what a long, strange trip it has been.

               

    What's next

    Jaguars-Titans. We warned you it wasn't interesting.

Inside the Numbers: "Storyline Quarterback" Special Edition

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    Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

    You know who the "storyline quarterbacks" are: the guys we love to debate about, even when they don't do anything particularly interesting on any given Sunday. 

    Well, it turns out that some of them did do some particularly interesting things in Week 11, so let's take a deep dive into the numbers:

             

    Jared Goff, Rams: 11-of-18 for 171 yards with no touchdowns and one interception

    Goff completed just four of six passes for 89 yards and one interception (to Roquan Smith, in tight coverage) before halftime of the 17-7 Rams victory over the Bears. The Rams possessed the ball for just 12 minutes in the first half, and their offense went three-and-out five times throughout the game while desperately trying to protect a slim lead. Goff threw for 64 yards on the final Rams scoring drive to both ice the game and make his stat line less dire, though his numbers would look better if a 51-yard touchdown to Josh Reynolds wasn’t nullified by a penalty.

    Goff now has 11 touchdown passes, 10 interceptions and an 82.1 passer rating through 10 games. We would mention how much money he is making, but that would just be rubbing it in.

    Up against Goff was Mitchell Trubisky, another "storyline quarterback." He bounced balls off the calves of defenders while trying to lead a comeback from what was a three-point deficit for most of the night and then left the game with what the Bears described as a hip injury. If you went to bed early instead of staying up to see whether Goff or Trubisky would be more disappointing, Gridiron Digest values and envies your choice.

           

    Kirk Cousins, Vikings: 29-of-35 for 319 yards, with three TDs and no INTs

    Cousins was 11-of-12 for just 58 yards in the first half as the Broncos built a 20-0 lead over the Vikings. He started the game with completions of 6, 2, 2, 4, 6, 6, 5, 10, 14, -3 and 6 yards, with three sacks and a lost fumble, plus one deep completion negated by a holding penalty. It was essentially a parody of Cousins at his worst.

    He then turned it around to throw for 261 yards and two 30-plus-yard touchdowns in the second half as the Vikings came back to take a 27-23 lead. Their defense then stopped a late Broncos drive at the 4-yard line, so Cousins wouldn't be blamed for not being able to come back.

    So to sum it up: Cousins is now capable of having both Good Cousins and Bad Cousins games in the same week. That must be why he gets paid the big bucks.

              

    Kyle Allen, Panthers: 31-of-50 for 325 yards with no TDs and four INTs

    Allen was also sacked five times. He was 11-of-14 for 121 yards throwing to Christian McCaffrey, mostly short passes against the prevent defense the Panthers faced for much of the second half of a 29-3 loss to the Falcons, making Allen 20-of-36 for 204 yards and four picks, three of them in the first half, when throwing to everyone else.

    It turns out that Cam Newton's obscure backup is probably neither an improvement over Newton nor his worthy successor. Shocking, isn't it?

              

    Jameis Winston, Buccaneers: 30-of-51 for 313 yards, with two TDs and four INTs

    This was the fifth four-plus-interception game of Winston's career and the second of this season; you may recall that he threw five interceptions against the Panthers in London in mid-October. It was Winston's 21st career multi-interception game and his third multi-interception game against the Saints, who easily beat the Bucs 34-17 on Sunday.

    On the plus side, Winston did throw a short left-handed pass to Dare Ogunbowale while escaping a pass-rusher on Sunday, so he has yet to throw a left-handed interception that we know of. In fact, maybe Winston has secretly been left-handed all along. That makes as much sense as the fact that the Bucs keep giving him endless starting opportunities.

                 

    Josh Allen, Bills: 21-of-33 for 256 yards with three TDs, plus seven carries for 56 yards and another TD

    In four career games against the Dolphins, Allen is 72-of-118 for 913 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions, with 29 carries for 318 yards and three touchdowns. The Bills are 3-1 in those games, including Sunday's 37-20 victory. 

    If Allen faced the Dolphins every week, he would be Lamar Jackson. But if Lamar Jackson faced the Dolphins every week, he would be Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds.

Tank Watch

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Gridiron Digest is happy to announce that this year's terrible teams are so morbidly entertaining that the weekly battle for last place will become a regular feature in this space for the rest of the season!

             

    Jets 34, Redskins 14

    Sam Ficken kicked a 30-yard field goal early in the second quarter, but a Washington player plowed into him, so the Jets took the points off the board and opted for a Sam Darnold-to-Robby Anderson touchdown instead. That play set the tone for the rest of the afternoon. Every time the Jets tried to keep Washington in the game with an interception or a fumbled kickoff, Dwayne Haskins took a sack in the red zone or Dustin Hopkins missed a 29-yard field goal. 

    It's gonna be hard for any team to be worse than Washington down the stretch this season.

               

    Raiders 17, Bengals 10

    This game was so devoid of sizzle that NFL.com appeared to be padding things out to stretch the highlight reel to six minutes: watch carefully and you may see some fair catches, a Lamar Jackson touchdown and a scene from The Mandalorian sneaked in among the sacks and fumbles. 

    It looked as though once the Raiders took a 14-7 lead, both teams looked at each other and said, "Let's just play between the 30-yard lines and trade punts for the whole second half. That way we stay in the wild-card picture and you remain on track to get the No. 1 pick in the draft."

    The saddest thing about the Bengals falling to 0-10 is that, on paper, they look like a better team than the 6-4 Raiders. 

             

    Bills 37, Dolphins 20

    Someone needs to tell the Dolphins special teams that losing is the new winning! The Dolphins offensive line allowed seven sacks and their defense made Josh Allen look like John Elway (as they often do), but their special teams recovered an onside kick, while Jakeem Grant returned a kickoff for a touchdown to keep this game (vaguely) interesting.

    The Dolphins have their work cut out for them after back-to-back wins if they hope to finish in last place. They can't have their kickers and return men going rogue on them.

             

    Falcons 29, Panthers 3

    The Falcons have never been accused of trying to tank; they were just terrible and depressing. Though maybe they began trying to tank last week against the Saints, but because they are so bad at everything they set out to do, it resulted in back-to-back big wins against solid opponents. Either that or the Falcons are a decent team. Nah, tanking-at-tanking makes more sense. 

Awards Digest

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    Defender of the week: Jamal Adams recorded three sacks against Washington. Gridiron Digest did some digging on Pro Football Reference and found just seven other three-or-more-sack games by defensive backs in NFL history; Adams has joined an illustrious list that includes Troy Polamalu, Rodney Harrison and Adrian Wilson, among others. All it took were teammates so bad that Adams must blitz frequently to generate pass rush, plus a rookie quarterback so ill-prepared that the Jets had no reason to keep their safeties deep!

    Offensive line of the week: The Colts rushed for 264 yards, 7.3 yards per rush and three touchdowns against the supposedly mighty Jaguars defense, so this week's award goes to Anthony Castonzo, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Mark Glowinsky and Braden Smith. More on Nelson in a moment. 

    Special teamer of the week: Kenjon Barner of the Falcons returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown to give the Falcons an early 10-0 lead in what grew into a 29-3 rout. Honorable mention goes to Bobby Okereke of the Colts for his two-point interception return against the Jaguars.

    Mystery touch of the week: Quenton Nelson may be an irresistible force when run blocking, but he turned into more of an immovable object when he lined up at fullback and took a goal-line handoff. Nelson fell like a boulder off a cliffside well short of the end zone, but referees signaled a touchdown to trigger an automatic review (gee, this system works so darn well), allowing Nelson and some teammates to simulate a keg stand as their goal-line celebration. There's no truth to the rumor that Jaguars teammates had to hold Gardner Minshew II back from taking part in the keg stand celebration.

    Best supporting actor in someone else's highlight: Marlon Mack's double spin move not only juked out both Najee Goode and Tre Herndon of the Jaguars, but it left them stacked neatly atop one another as Mack stiff-armed his way past Jarrod Wilson for a touchdown. 

    Fantasy leech of the week: Undrafted rookie Qadree Ollison scored a two-yard touchdown for the Falcons on the first carry of his NFL career. Great for Ollison, but only the Falcons can win 29-3 and still find ways to disappoint fantasy owners.

    Kicker fail of the week: Eddy Pineiro missed 48- and 47-yarders in the Bears' loss to the Rams. In the future, Gridiron Digest is just going to assume that the Bears kicker wins "fail of the week" every week unless someone else really screws up.

    Kicker success of the week: Congratulations to Adam Vinatieri on his 710th career field-goal attempt, which pushed him past Morten Andersen on the all-time list. Vinatieri made the historic attempt, as well as all four of his extra points. We probably shouldn't have to mention the extra points but, well, with the season Vinatieri has had, we have to mention the extra points. 

Digest Sportsbook

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    Lines on the move

    The 49ers opened as 14-point favorites over the Cardinals. The line fell to 12 after the Monday night loss to the Seahawks and kept dropping until it reached 10.5 by Sunday morning due to lots of bad news on the 49ers injury report. Gridiron Digest even saw 49ers -9 at one high-profile New Jersey book. The 49ers survived an upset scare and needed a fluky late touchdown to win by 10, so Cardinals wagerers felt safe for most of the afternoon, although anyone who took that Cardinals +9 line felt a little queasy on Sunday night. 

    The Cardinals are now 7-3-1 against the spread this season, but the house has been slow to adjust, and the public still seems to think of them as members of the Tank Brigade.

    Cowboys vs. Lions was off most boards until late in the week due to Matthew Stafford's injury status. The Cowboys opened -6 upon news that Jeff Driskel would start for the Lions, and the line climbed toward Cowboys -7.5 as kickoff approached due to one-sided action (no one trusts or cares about the Lions).

    The Cowboys won by eight and have now covered in three of their last four games while going over in three straight. They opened as six-point dogs in Foxborough, with the number at 47. The line looks tasty for Cowboys wagers right now. The number does not, for reasons we will get to in a moment.

               

    Spreads gone wild

    Some books were showing the Raiders as 12.5-point favorites against the Bengals. Gridiron Digest jumped on the Bengals and were rewarded with an easy cover in a 17-10 Raiders win. Double-digit spreads are not for wild-card-caliber teams against cupcakes, folks. 

             

    Overwatch

    The number for Saints-Buccaneers was 50.5, which made Marcus Williams' fourth-quarter pick-six to give the Saints a 34-17 lead extra special. Jameis Winston may not be a very good quarterback, but his combination of double-digit touchdowns and interceptions works wonders for the overs.

                

    Undertale

    The Patriots and Eagles did not come close to their 45 number in the 17-10 Patriots win. The Patriots are now just 3-7 at going over this year. They're no longer a team with an explosive offense and a very good defense; they're a team with a struggling offense and an excellent defense. Adjust your wagers accordingly. 

              

    Monday Night Action: Kansas City Chiefs (-4) vs. Los Angeles Chargers in Mexico City

    The Chiefs are 9-1 in their past 10 meetings with the Chargers, dating back to 2014; their only loss was a 29-28 Chargers come-from-behind win in Kansas City in December. The Chiefs are 7-3 ATS in those games, 5-0 ATS in San Diego and Los Angeles. 

    The Chiefs look like such a bargain as four-point favorites that the line almost feels like a trap. Chalk it up to concerns about the neutral site, where altitude and field conditions could keep the game messy and close. Or chalk it up to the Chiefs' high-profile losses and the Chargers' win over the Packers, which may be skewing public perception of both teams. Then eat the chalk by taking the Chiefs.

          

    Historical betting information via TeamRankings.com or Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted. 

Point-Counterpoint

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    Myles Garrett suspended indefinitely for ripping Mason Rudolph's helmet off and hitting him in the head with it.

    Point: Eh, boys will be boys. Wake me up for a real scandal, like Odell Beckham Jr. wearing non-regulation cleats.

    Counterpoint: Garrett should be hauled before an international war crimes tribunal. And why wasn't Mason Rudolph suspended for what he did to Garrett while lying beneath him on the ground? Why wasn't Freddie Kitchens suspended for not teaching Garrett not to rip the helmets off opponents? And what about the Steelers coaches who kept putting Rudolph in jeopardy? And how does the helmet manufacturer get off scot-free in all of this? No, I'm not missing the point. Everyone else is missing the point! 

               

    The NFL and NFLPA are making progress toward a collective bargaining agreement that would include a 17-game season, per Mark Maske of the Washington Post.

    Point: Hooray. More Bengals games to ignore.

    Counterpoint: If anyone finds the NFLPA's backbone, please call them and let them know where it went. They're really worried about it.

               

    Daniel Jones is trying to trademark the "Danny Dimes" nickname.

    Point: Saquon Barkley should trademark "Running Backs Don't Matter" so he has something to fall back on when his knees are rusty hinges in two years. Or weeks.

    Counterpoint: Oh, so Jones gets to trademark "Danny Dimes" but Tom Brady can't trademark "Tom Terrific," just because Tom Seaver had the nickname before Brady was born, and there was also a 1950s cartoon character by that name and just about everyone named "Tom" has been called "Tom Terrific" at some point? Where is the justice? And how does Mason Rudolph get off scot-free in all this?

              

    Adam Gase gets a vote of confidence from Jets ownership for 2020. 

    Point: Smart move. Gase only had three years to completely gut the Dolphins and one to wreck the Jets. There's no need for a hasty decision.

    Counterpoint: Folks, I think we know where Loki went with the mind-control stone after he disappeared in Avengers: Endgame. 

                

    Tua Tagovailoa suffers devastating injury Saturday.

    Point: Get well soon. We're all pulling for you.

    Counterpoint: Ditto. You brought thrills to our Saturdays and have given a lot of NFL fans something to dream about. We hope to see you here in Point-Counterpoint again someday soon, under better circumstances.

Point-Counterpoint, Bonus Coverage: The Colin Kaepernick Workout Saga

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    Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

    NFL announces on Tuesday that it scheduled a one-time league-wide pro day for Colin Kaepernick on Saturday.

    Point: Oh, so Kaepernick gets to work out for all 32 teams but nobody else does? When is the NFL going to stop giving him preferential treatment?

    Counterpoint: Good news for Kaep? Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. I was ready to throw a "Justice for Kaepernick" party. I even started taking down all my Impeachment Proceedings Party banners and balloons.

             

    The league gave Kaepernick only four days' notice, provided almost no details and demanded that he make a decision in less than two hours.

    Point: Same as my engagement and marriage. Nothing unusual here.

    Counterpoint: The NFL got this idea from every movie in which the kidnapper calls from a payphone and demands the ransom be delivered to Mount Davidson Park at midnight.

                

    Several Kaepernick supporters arrived at the Falcons practice facility hours before the scheduled workout Saturday, as well as a small handful of anti-Kaepernick protesters.

    Point: Make that a medium-sized handful, buddy. I was the courageous patriot who ducked behind some shrubbery when Jourdan Rodrigue approached with a mini-recorder.

    Counterpoint: Nothing screams "patriotism" like spending your Saturday protesting a fellow citizen's right to work.

              

    The NFL reportedly asked Kaepernick to sign a non-standard injury waiver. Kaepernick refused, talks fell apart, and the official workout at the Falcons facility turned into an informal one at a high school in Riverdale. 

    Point: Oh c'mon. It was the standard demonic sell-your-soul contract waiver. The NFL didn't even demand that he sign it in blood!

    Counterpoint: Riverdale was chosen so Kaepernick could have his choice of receivers to throw to: classic Archie or modern, sexy Archie.

              

    Hue Jackson, who originally agreed to conduct the workouts, headed to the airport once the time and venue were changed. 

    Point: Jackson is a busy guy. He spends his autumn Sundays grocery shopping and raking leaves these days.

    Counterpoint: Jackson's initial plan was probably to bench Kaepernick in favor of Cody Kessler for the entire workout and then blame it all on Todd Haley.

                  

    The NFL issued a statement Saturday that essentially blamed Kaepernick for everything that went wrong.

    Point: How dare Kaepernick spring unprecedented last-minute ultimatums on the NFL after everything they haphazardly and unilaterally cobbled together for him over the previous 96 hours?

    Counterpoint: Remember kids, if you wait to start your 12-page term paper until the night before it's due, then cut-and-paste together some Wikipedia entries and run-on sentences, then get an F, it's the teacher's fault for not recognizing just how hard you worked.

               

    Kaepernick told reporters after the workout: "We're out here. We're ready to play. We're ready to go anywhere."

    Point: Hear that? He keeps saying "We!" Who is this "we" he keeps talking about? Kaepernick clearly plans to infiltrate your locker room with activists, rabble-rousers and participation trophies!

    Counterpoint: Yep, you're right. Only radicals and trouble-makers speak in terms of "we."

                  

    Any final thoughts?

    Point: All anyone talked about this week was whether Kaepernick would go along with the NFL's disorganized, nationally criticized effort to railroad him in the name of public relations and litigation protection. What type of team wants that kind of distraction in the locker room?

    Counterpoint: So the NFL thinks it can avoid a second Kaepernick collusion suit by coordinating a league-wide effort to create a separate set of employment conditions that apply exclusively to him? LOL. You do you, NFL legal department. We'll see you in court again soon.