Dan Hanzus takes questions from you, the readers, in his latest mailbag. Thanks to everyone who sent in questions. Now we're all best friends.
Ouch. Imagine jumping in a time machine and showing this tweet to a Cowboys fan following Dak Prescott's resplendent rookie campaign. These are troubling times for the Cowboys' offense, and Prescott simply needs to do more. Dak has fewer than 200 passing yards in each of his last five games. According to our NFL Research team, you have to go all the way back to Quincy Carter and the 2003 season to find the last Dallas quarterback to do that. So now we've connected Dak Prescott to both Mark Sanchez and Quincy Carter in the space of like 75 words! Not good. Meanwhile, Jerry Jones is going on local Dallas radio stations to explain that the Cowboys really aren't that far off from the Rams right now. (The same Rams who got 462 yards and five touchdowns out of their quarterback on Thursday night.)
"You say, 'Well, but we might not have the established receiver that they have.' Well, last year, they had (Tavon) Austin," Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. "We got Austin this year. They made the trade with us, we got it. So when I look at what we might be able to do -- and I put my finger on personnel and then move up with what we know we want to do with our personnel -- I don't think it's a reach to think maybe we can approach that kind of productivity."
Jones brings up Tavon Austin, which is where we'll add that the Cowboys did a terrible job adding pieces around Prescott this past offseason. You can't replace Dez Bryant and Jason Witten with Tavon Austin and Allen Hurns and expect to hang with the Rams ... or anybody. The question now is whether Prescott is the type of talent who can make more with less. It's still early, but recent output suggests that not to be the case.
The Patriots are Radiohead -- smart, innovative, enduring, known to break the rules. The Titans are Collective Soul -- everyone kind of forgets they exist. The Browns are Counting Crows -- not a lot of good after 1999. The Steelers are the Red Hot Chili Peppers -- undeniably successful but always leave you wanting a bit more. The Seahawks are Oasis -- a burst of greatness before burning out. The Giants are Green Day -- they come out of nowhere every five years. The Chargers are Pavement -- the team you say you like to sound cool. The Bears are Stone Temple Pilots -- there's always trouble with the lead singer/quarterback.
Will! So yes, I have two sons, ages 4 and almost 2. I'm a native New Yorker who was born into Jets fandom, and now that I reside in Southern California, I've had to do some soul-searching whether it's fair to pass a star-crossed team down to my boys. As far as inheritances go, "You get to be a Jets fan forever" rests somewhere between water-damaged stamp collection and non-functional electric wheelchair.
But playing along here, there are several directions you can go. I've always been envious of Giants fans, who enjoy a rich tradition, stable ownership and a track record of consistent relevance. The Chiefs have an exciting young roster, great fans and a stellar stadium experience. If you really want to roll the dice, you can point your kids in the direction of the Browns, who are a potential buy-low candidate. Of course, longtime Browns fans will probably frown on anyone who jumps on the bandwagon immediately after the 1996-2017 misery period.
My ultimate choice, however, would be the Rams. A team with a great nucleus of talent, a young wizard head coach, stability in the front office, even a shiny new stadium currently under construction. I was at Thursday night's win over the Vikings, and I came away genuinely impressed by how amped up the old Coliseum was. Football is working in Los Angeles (at least for the Rams). It's a fun time to jump aboard. (Not the Hanzus boys, though.)
I think this dude gets it. And you surface a great question: How much money does it cost to recreate Cam Newton's designer wardrobe? At what point is the social media pop outweighed by the crushing financial fallout? Perhaps the guy has some scratch. Being an Independently Wealthy Local Weatherman feels like one of the great underrated life setups.
Anyway, some greatest hits:
Well done, Weather Guy. Random aside: Is Cam Newton the millennial generation's answer to Walt "Clyde" Frazier?
There seems to be a level of schadenfreude connected to the Raiders and Jon Gruden right now, so I'll try not to pile on. But when a team gets routinely outplayed in the second half of games, it is natural to ask about the coaching. The Raiders have lost their first three games after leading at the half; only three teams have managed that in the last 30 seasons. The last two teams to do it, the 2011 Vikings and 1998 Bears, finished 3-13 and 4-12, respectively.
The fourth quarter has been especially grisly for these Raiders. Oakland has been outscored 37-3 in the final period, and Derek Carr has thrown three of his five interceptions in the game's final 15 minutes. Carr has to be better, and Gruden and the coaching staff need to better counter the opponent's mid-game adjustments. And yes, the Raiders sure could use a late-game closer. You know ... a Khalil Mack type.
Speaking of downtrodden teams by the bay ...
Of course! As I wrote earlier this week, there are few things more crushing for fans than seeing your quarterback (and season) being carted to the locker room. Who knows, maybe Beathard lights it up under Kyle Shanahan's guiding hand and the Niners stay in the playoff picture past Thanksgiving. But if this really is now a lost season for San Francisco, you break no fan code to root for fun teams and stories elsewhere in the league. Just don't drift too far off the reservation. As an example, if you find yourself so taken by Jared Goff and the Rams' offense that you're rooting for L.A. against your Niners on "Sunday Night Football," seek help. Perhaps your buddies can stage an intervention.
Until next time ...