The Dallas Mavs make a move that has nothing to do with a player. And, so far, Micah Parsons is proving to be quite the consolation prize for the Dallas Cowboys, as we examine in our weekly DFW Sports Notebook ... WHITT’S END: 9.24.21 ...
Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End …
*New Mavericks’ general manager Nico Harrison hasn’t exactly dazzled us with expansive connections that were supposed to finally lure big-ticket free agents to Dallas. But give him a huge assist in eradicating a cancer from the organization. Haralabos “Bob” Voulgaris is no longer with the Mavs, after a tumultuous spring in which he butted heads with everyone from former GM Donnie Nelson, to head coach Rick Carlisle and even superstar Luka Doncic.
Though Voulgaris was initially a Mark Cuban favorite with a background in gambling and next-gen analytics, Harrison ultimately decided the Mavs’ “Director of Quantitative Research and Development” was no longer worth the trouble and turmoil.
Said Harrison on a recent interview on The Ticket, “I understand how much chaos he’s caused.”
None of this makes Voulgaris a bad guy. But a bad fit? "Chaos'' is quite a word. So ... Good riddance.
*Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. It’s always best to be both. In last April’s NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys wanted – needed – a primo cornerback to upgrade 2020’s historically horrible defense. Problem: By the time they were on the clock at No. 10, desired targets Patrick Surtain and Jaycee Horn were off the board.
As first reported by CowboysSI.com, Dallas did look into a trade-up to Miami at No. 6. But eventually, the Cowboys downshifted, trading with the Philadelphia Eagles and selecting Micah Parsons 12th. Parsons came with a higher draft grade, but at a lower-priority position. But with Plans A and B kaput, owner Jerry Jones gets credit for calmly taking the best player on the board. Because, if early indications are accurate, Parsons might one day be one of the best defensive players in the league.
“We thought he was the best defensive player in the draft,” Jones said this week on his 105.3 The Fan radio show, “and that’s why we didn’t cut our throat when we didn’t get a corner.”
The Cowboys also get credit for identifying Parsons’ immense talent, and having the creativity to move the linebacker to defensive end to compensate for last week’s absences of DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory. Parsons had eight quarterback pressures to go along with the a sack in the win over the Chargers.
Not a bad little consolation prize. In picking Parsons, the Cowboys were lucky, and good. And everybody's throat is intact.
*I like where the Texas Rangers’ heart is, but not sure about their head. Wednesday at Globe Life Field will be “Last Chance” night, with fans getting the opportunity to take home any promotional items – bobbleheads, T-shirts, calendars, etc. – leftover from this season’s theme nights.
Cool idea. But wouldn’t those items be better delivered to youth baseball organizations or underprivileged groups unable to make the trek to Arlington?
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*Really, you’re one of those types all giddy that temperatures plunged into the 40s on the first official day of Fall this week? First comes pumpkin spice everything. Followed by the sweaters. Then coats. And finally, well, have you already forgotten last February? I hate Fall, because it’s nothing more than brief foreplay before the bleak freezing.
*Predict and analyze the Cowboys at your own peril. They are 1-1, but the stats don’t equate to the scores. In their win, they forced only one punt (negated with a roughing penalty), allowed 408 yards and didn’t score a touchdown over the game’s final 45:17. In their loss, they amassed 29 points, 451 yards and a plus-3 turnover margin. A win and a loss? Sure. Just feels like they should’ve won the game they lost and lost the game they won.
*After a weird, pandemic-prompted drive-thru year in 2020, the Texas State Fair opens its three-week run in Dallas on Friday. Been going since I was in elementary school. Love the rides. The games. The animals. The people-watching. But not the food. This year’s fair-fried specials: Chicken-fried bacon (okay I admit, that sounds tempting), a pineapple float served in a light bulb, fried potato salad, fried pecan pie and even fried salad. In my lifetime I’m betting they serve fried water. And, make a note, don’t freak out this year when Fair coupons for food, drink and rides cost $1 instead the previous 50 cents. A ride that in 2019 cost $5 will still cost $5, only now it will cost five coupons instead of 10. It’s denomination simplification, not outrageous inflation.
And if you’re a hoarder who has held on to coupons for years, congrats. The coupons you paid 50 cents for are now worth $1. I think.
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*Troy Aikman has made countless enduring connections during his careers on the football field and in the broadcast booth. But none more meaningful than his recent Hail Mary to a dying fan. Grab a tissue.
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*Still not sure we all appreciate what we witnessed last Sunday in Los Angeles. Greg Zuerlein’s 56-yard game-winner to beat the Chargers was the longest final-play field goal in Cowboys’ history. Making it the … longest game-winning final play in franchise history? To beat it, there would have to be a 57-yard touchdown scored as time expired.
Closest I can come to it: The Roger Staubach-to-Drew Pearson 50-yard “Hail Mary” in 1975.
There have been countless longer plays than Zuerlein’s kick, but none longer to immediately and definitively win a game.
*When the Mavs traded for J.J. Redick last March, I was hopeful. That he’d provide some veteran leadership and, more importantly, hit some crucial, open 3-pointers created by Doncic’s drives-and-dishes. But in the end – because of a lingering heel injury – he played just 13 games for Dallas and made only 15 3-pointers, none in the playoff series loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Bottom line: Mavs rented a hobbled Redick for 13 games and Nicolo Melli (who has since left to play in Italy) for 23 games, in exchange for James Johnson, Wes Iwundu and a second-round draft pick the New Orleans Pelicans traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, who selected Western Kentucky 6-foot-11 center Charles Bassey.
They gave up only a little something, but got back literally nothing.
*In their previous 61 seasons, the Cowboys have never produced two 1,000-yard running backs in the same season. Closest they came was 1972 with Calvin Hill (1,036) and Walt Garrison (784). With the pass-happy trend of the current NFL – this year Dallas has passed 85 times and handed-off 49 – it may never happen. Or … will it? With Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard productive and, so far, seemingly content to share duties, could they both reach the milestone that is more attainable in 2021 with a 17th regular-season game?
To reach 1,000, a running back only needs to average 59 yards per game. Through two weeks, Pollard is at 61; Elliott 52.
*The Rangers’ season has been, as predicted, unsuccessful. But not wholly forgettable. How many times, for what it’s worth, can you see a team go 20 stolen-base attempts without being caught? Or a wanna-be All-Star shortstop (Isiah Kiner-Falefa) go 104 at-bats between extra-base hits?
This weekend's four-game series in Baltimore against the Orioles features teams with a combined record of 103-201. Please take notes, not sure I'll catch a single pitch. But our Inside the Rangers gang at SI surely will.
*Only thing worse than Cowboys’ special teams coach John “Bones” Fassel calling that punt rush near halftime and near midfield last week was his supposed justification. Seriously, we’re crowd-sourcing game strategy?
*I call Collin County home. Sometimes, I do it grudgingly. Why? Because it’s home to both wedding planners who steal precious COVID-relief money and stubborn restaurant diners who sit around every morning gnawing on leftover sour grapes.
*Criticize Jones-the-GM all you want, but most Cowboys fans are happy to have him as their owner. The marketing. The stadium. The popularity. But, according to a new study by something called BonusFinder, he's not even Top 5 in the NFL. Say what now?
*Not a lot (re: zilch) of soccer expertise in Whitt’s End, but it’s interesting that FC Dallas fired coach Luchi Gonzalez this week with only eight games remaining in its Major League Soccer season. The team is somehow 6-11-9. More ties than wins should be a fireable offense in and of itself.
*TV shows that lasted much longer than I predicted: Dancing With The Stars (16 years), Pardon The Interruption (20) and The View (25).
*Parsons ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine in February. But in a race for my life, give me CeeDee Lamb. Right, CeeDee?
*RANGERS RISK: We all think the Texas Rangers are going to be putrid this season. Our lil’ roundtable revealed predicted win totals of anywhere between 61 and 78, but no one thinks .500 is plausible. Let’s put our money where our mouth is. I’m going to bet a virtual $100 against the Rangers every game this season and, after six months and 162 games, see where I wind up. I’ll keep a running tab right there each Friday and come October I’ll (wink) disperse my profits to my most loyal readers. RECORD: 55-98 TOTAL: +$1,376.
*This Weekend? Friday let’s watch a day's worth of Ryder Cup. Saturday let’s play tennis before indulging in college football. Sunday let’s chill with the NFL. As always, don’t be a stranger.