WHITT’S END: 24.12.21
Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope party, welcome to Whitt’s End…
*Remember when Luka Doncic was considered one of the favorites for the NBA MVP? Suddenly his season snowballed south.
First, he admitted he was out of shape. Then there were knee and ankle injuries, forcing him to miss nine of the team’s last 17 games. And now it’s been moved to the COVID list.
He’ll likely miss Christmas Night’s showpiece game against the Utah Jazz and won’t be back in basketball shape until…hoping his start to 2022 is better than his end to 2021.
And Luka’s Christmas wish? It doesn’t become a New Year’s resolution… and then a Valentine’s Day hope… and then an Easter surprise…
*Mike McCarthy’s job just got a whole lot easier. The Dallas Cowboys weren’t respected and for the coach, that’s the perfect motivational carrot to lead this team into January. Of a 10-4 team that has at times displayed both the best offense and the best defense in the NFL, only five players – Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and punter Bryan Anger – have been elected for the Pro-Bowl. Colts 8-6 send seven; chargers 8-6 six. Last year, of course, the Cowboys had no players drafted for the first time since 1989. Personal rebuffs are hot fuel.
*The biggest surprise left out of the Pro Bowl for the Cowboys could be Dak Prescott who, before injuring his calf on Oct. 17, was considered a favorite for MVP. But, in reality, the biggest snub is tight end Dalton Schultz. Confirming that the NFL preys on style over substance, Schultz was passed over for ballyhooed Falcons rookie Kyle Pitts. But why? Schultz has clearly done more with less. Fewer physical attributes. Less of a draft (he was a fourth rounder; Pitts went No. 4 overall). And on 13 fewer targets, he produced more receptions (61-58) and touchdowns (5-1). Admittedly, Schultz is below par as a blocker. But Pitts has been below par as a player. The highest drafted tight end ever, he was supposed to be the unstoppable weapon in Atlanta’s red zone. When Falcons No. 1 receiver Calvin Ridley left the team due to mental health issues, Pitts’ role should have increased even more. But… a touchdown? While Schultz is one of the more pleasant surprises of a successful Cowboys season, Pitts is one of the NFL’s most disappointing draft picks. Building a team for the future? Pitts. Reward a player for his performance in 2021? Schultz.
*I can’t be the only one excitedly impressed by the Mavericks’ win over the Timberwolves this week using guys apparently signed from the pickup game at the local YMCA. Someone by the name of Theo Pinson, who was signed the day before the game, produced seven points, four rebounds, three assists, one block and four steals in just 22 minutes. Moral of the story: just play. These days we get so caught up in analytics, trends and scouting reports and… just play around. As Cowboys offensive lineman Blaine Nye said of rookie quarterback Clint Longley’s sudden success on Thanksgiving in 1974: “Call it the triumph of a clean mind.
*Wait, is it going to be 84 degrees at Christmas? Sunscreen in your stockings, anyone? According to this site, Texas ranks seventh in the United States in the highly subjective area of ”holiday spirit.” But sweating on “Sleigh Ride” won’t help this cause.
*Not if – but when – Connor McGovern is catching a touchdown pass this season, you heard it here first. The Cowboys offensive lineman was routed and wide open in the end zone last week when Prescott hit Schultz. McGovern won’t be the first reading, but he will be an option.
*Let me turn on my Scrooge for a moment? K, thank you. GMC’s creative advertising team makes horrible TV commercials. Horrible insult. There’s the one where the wife fucks off a black pickup that the husband apparently bought himself. And worst of all, where an impossibly gorgeous couple meandering through the middle of snowy terrain exchange whistles and… pull out a pup, followed by a truck. So many questions: When he jumps into his arms, why isn’t the dog covered in snow? Who held the dog out of sight and over the hill? How did the dog handler hear the whistle as a truck drove by? How did the truck driver hear a whistle with his windows closed? And – most importantly – where have the classic Christmas commercials gone… like this one?!
*Quarterbacks who became starters this season: Cooper Rush 1-0; Garett Gilbert 0-1. I guess the Cowboys got it right.
*From the Redundancy Department: You don’t have any more “water heaters” than you breathe “the oxygen in the air”. It’s just a water heater. Come on folks, let’s get smarter in 2022, shall we?
*For you old school Mavericks fans who remember Jamal Mashburn – one of the “Three Js” of the 1990s with Jason Kidd and Jim Jackson – prepare to feel even older. Jamal Mashburn Jr. is averaging 18 points per game as a second-year guard for New Mexico.
*Yes, there is such a thing as an award for NFL Assistant Coach of the Year. And, yes, Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn should win it, hands down. Without him in 2020, Dallas’ defense was historically horrible, the worst in franchise history. With him in 2021, two players have made the Pro Bowl, the defense leads the league in steals, and this team has a chance to lead the NFL in turnover margin for the first time in 62 Cowboys football seasons.
*Are we completely out of ideas? Once upon a time, every sports stadium in America did the “Wave”. Now we all sing the same opening to the same song, the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” and every athlete in seemingly every sport celebrates with the same “Griddy” dance. I don’t know you for yourself, but I prefer my teams, my fans and my players to be much less homogenized.
*Jerry Jones said this week that he would consider giving up a home game at AT&T Stadium to play in Mexico City. Yeah, but how’s that gonna play with Texas’ “Close the Border”! crowd?
*Last weekend, South Oak Cliff High School won Dallas Independent School District’s first state football championship since 1950. Unless you recognize Carter’s greatness – and tainted title – in 1988. And, yes, thanks for asking, my Duncanville Panthers lost in the championship game for the third time in four years – all at Galena Park North Shore.
*The Cowboys’ plan to produce four takeouts per game is fun, but is it sustainable? Unlikely. Rather fool’s gold. The better the opponent – at playoff time – the more he will protect the ball. And, by the way, isn’t it a bit alarming that the Cowboys defense forced four turnovers against teams led by Taysom Hill, Taylor Heinicke and Mike Glennon and the offense only managed to score 20? , 20 and 21 points? Yes yes it is. In its last 85 games, the Cowboys offense has produced just 15 touchdowns. This will not be enough in January.
*Good news: The winter solstice was this week, marking the longest day of the year. So every day from now on we will have more and more daylight.
*Bad news: We won’t be able to advance the clocks to daylight saving time until March 13.
*I will definitely see the new one Matrix movie. Corn I feel like I’ve seen it before, disguised as the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day loss to Las Vegas. Consider: In their three games before playing in Dallas, the Raiders scored 16-14-13 points. In their three games after playing in Dallas, the Raiders scored 15-9-16 points. Against Dallas, they busted for 36. That’s what we call a glitch in the Matrix.
*I know he hurt his calf, but Prescott’s maneuvers in the pocket and mobility out of the pocket have taken a nosedive in recent weeks. He started the season looking like Lamar Jackson but ended it looking like Tom Brady. All is well, but defenses no longer have to fear his legs on RPOs.
*Christmas shout out to my old friend Wally Lynn. Living in San Marcos and dabbling as a writer in the local newspaper. It warms my heart that he straightened out his life.
*This weekend? Saturday is to see what Santa left us under the tree, duh. Sunday night is for the Cowboys-Washington football team. Merry Christmas. As always, don’t be a stranger.