Troy Aikman dishes on NFL playoff storylines, Tremendous Bowl choose

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Longtime NFL analyst, on “Monday Evening Soccer” broadcasts since 2022, and three-time former Cowboys Tremendous Bowl-winning quarterback Troy Aikman makes the calls to do some playoff Q&A with Publish columnist Steve Serby.

Q: What have you ever observed about Dak Prescott this season, and why ought to Cowboys followers consider in him to win the massive one?

A: I don’t know that they ever shouldn’t have believed in him. Sadly for the Cowboys, they simply haven’t performed their greatest soccer when the video games have mattered most, and that pre-dates Dak Prescott. And I believe in some methods, he’s been possibly criticized for among the failures that got here earlier than him due to the fan base that’s pissed off.

However I see a quarterback that’s taking part in at a extremely excessive degree, and he’s performed at a excessive degree all through his profession. We had the sport towards the Chargers on a Monday night time [Week 6], and so they weren’t getting the ball down the sphere. This has at all times been sort of a big-play offense, and Dak’s been the quarterback that’s been in a position to ship the massive balls down the sphere, after which once they went again to that in that Chargers sport Monday night time, it’s when all of it sort of started, they’ve simply been off and rolling.

NFL analyst Troy Aikman might be on the ESPN broadcast for the Eagles-Buccaneers sport Monday night time. AP
Dak Prescott and the Cowboys face the Packers on Sunday to start out their newest postseason look. Getty Pictures

I like what I’ve seen of Dak inside the offense, and the best way Mike [McCarthy, coach] … I don’t wish to say referred to as issues … however extra the footwork and the best way that the ball is popping out. I believe he’s seeing the sphere in addition to he ever has. He’s been correct with the soccer. However an enormous motive for all of that’s I believe the time invested this season in among the footwork and the issues that they emphasised.

Q: Does CeeDee Lamb in any means remind you of Michael Irvin?

A: No, probably not. Exterior of the truth that he’s a big-time participant. Their kinds are so completely different. Michael was extra within the mould of Dez Bryant, who was only a bodily dominant soccer participant. He turned matchups into road fights, and that’s the place he excelled, that’s what he liked. And when the ball was within the air, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anybody as aggressive on the level of the catch as what Michael is and the man who was subsequent closest to that was Dez Bryant.

Q: CeeDee is extra finesse, possibly?

A: I believe finesse is perhaps the unsuitable phrase, I believe. Possibly due to his construct you instantly say that, and I get it. However what’s attention-grabbing is that they’ve used him some within the backfield to run the soccer like San Francisco does with Deebo Samuel, and that amazes me as a result of he’s not constructed like that. And but he likes it, and he can do it. He’s been extra bodily than what he will get credit score for.

Q: It’s been 28 years since proprietor Jerry Jones and the Cowboys have gained. What are Jerry’s feelings do you suppose at this level at age 81 relating to the Tremendous Bowl?

A: There’s no telling what he wouldn’t do to win one. He’s been chasing it for lots of years. I stated this going again to once I performed: There’s no person who needs to win greater than Jerry, and there’s nobody who’s keen to spend cash to win greater than Jerry. And but, it hasn’t occurred. And I believe that’s been the irritating half for him. I believe there’s three groups — Dallas, Detroit and Washington — within the final nevertheless a few years that haven’t made it to the NFC Championship sport, and I believe with the historical past of the Cowboys and all the success going again to the ’60s and the ’70s and the ’90s, and to have this era the place they haven’t gotten even to an NFC Championship sport, I don’t wish to converse for Jerry, however I might think about it pains him to no finish.

Q: With that being stated, how necessary is that this sport for Mike McCarthy, particularly with Invoice Belichick now being accessible?

A: (Snicker) I don’t know if Invoice Belichick’s availability impacts something on the entrance with Mike McCarthy. Mike took this job as each head coach that’s taken the Cowboys job: They perceive what the expectations are. And fairly frankly, that’s one of many points of interest of the job, is understanding that you’ve an proprietor who expects to win championships and goes to provide the assets to take action. However with that stated, I believe Mike’s executed a incredible job. I believe there’s a bent possibly amongst homeowners normally that suppose attending to a Tremendous Bowl and profitable a championship is straightforward to do, it’s something however. I’ve been requested many occasions, “How come there’s no more repeat champions?” And I stated, “Effectively, as a result of to begin with it’s exhausting to win the primary one (chuckle).” Simply doing that may be a process. After which to attempt to do it a second time in a row? So there could be disappointment in the event that they’re not in a position to get to the Tremendous Bowl and win it this 12 months. However I believe Mike McCarthy’s job’s protected.

Troy Aikman thinks that Mike McCarthy’s job might be “protected” with the Cowboys and proprietor Jerry Jones. AP

Q: What if — hypothetical, in fact — the Cowboys lose to the Packers? Do you suppose that may affect Jerry?

A: I nonetheless suppose his job is protected, however I’ll say that Jerry’s an emotional man. … You catch somebody once they’re emotional, something might occur.

Q: What are the variations between Micah Parsons and Lawrence Taylor?

A: I believe it’s the final word praise to Lawrence Taylor, and I’m not placing Micah in that class simply but as a result of his profession remains to be younger. However he positively impacts an offense the best way that Lawrence Taylor did. The distinction I believe is that when Lawrence did it, nobody had ever seen something like him earlier than. He completely modified the best way defensive soccer was performed, and what they had been in a position to do, and the way offenses needed to account for a man like him. They weren’t evaluating Lawrence Taylor to anyone when he got here onto the scene. I believe the truth that anybody compares Micah to Lawrence actually speaks to how dominant Lawrence was. However I do see similarities, as a result of there’s simply an athleticism and a competitiveness, and a tenaciousness and the facility that he has and the power, it’s exhausting to get that in a single huge package deal. Lawrence had it, and Micah has it.

Q: What’s your impressions of Jordan Love?

A: I like Jordan. I like him loads. He’s actually come on and performed effectively. He had a stretch there the place he wasn’t taking part in his greatest soccer, however when he’s performed effectively, they’ve gained, and he needed to play effectively after they dug themselves a gap, and the best way that he was in a position to play the second half of the season and get them into the postseason. I believe that’s the factor that bodes effectively for Inexperienced Bay is they arrive into the postseason feeling good due to the momentum that they’ve received.

Jordan Love and the Packers gained six of their final eight video games forward of the playoffs. Getty Pictures

Q: How do the Packers pull off an upset over the Cowboys?

A: I believe there’s a mode that you need to play towards Dallas. You have a look at the groups which were in a position to have success towards them — San Francisco for the final couple of years, Buffalo later within the season this 12 months — you bought to be bodily with them, and also you’ve received to be to run the soccer. And there’s extra that goes to it than that. To play that sort of sport towards them, you’ve received to have the ability to then convert on third downs, and your protection a minimum of has to maintain the rating shut. When you get right into a sport the place you’re behind otherwise you’re not operating the ball otherwise you abandon it, if you’ve received to ask your offensive line to carry up towards this cross rush, it’s simply not going to occur, and that’s when issues snowball.

Q: What do you consider Jared Goff taking part in towards his previous workforce versus Matthew Stafford taking part in towards his previous workforce?

A: That’s one. I’m an enormous fan of each these guys. I’ve been watching Matthew Stafford since he was in highschool. He grew up proper right here the place I reside in Dallas. I’m an enormous fan of his. The irony in it’s that I had dinner with Stafford in Arizona, the place he was coaching earlier than the draft. Detroit was struggling then, and so they’d been struggling for a variety of years. And but, that’s the place he needed to go, as a result of he needed to win a championship for town of Detroit.

And that’s all he ever talked about whereas he was there. He leaves, he goes to L.A., and he clearly wins one his first 12 months in Los Angeles. In the meantime, Goff — who was in a terrific scenario in L.A. taking part in for [Sean] McVay, and the expertise that that they had — goes to Detroit, the place they weren’t excellent. And it didn’t appear like it will finish effectively for Goff. And but right here he’s the man profitable the division for the primary time in 30 years and received that group rotated.

Jared Goff helped the Lions win their first division title in 30 years. USA TODAY Sports activities through Reuters Con

What at one time, appeared sort of like a one-sided commerce has actually ended up being a profit to each guys. And so they’ve each excelled, and that’s the a part of it that’s made me actually proud. I couldn’t be extra pleased with Jared Goff and [Lions coach] Dan Campbell, and what they did. As a result of I can’t think about what went by Jared Goff’s thoughts when he received traded. And for him to show it into what he has turned it into, I believe that’s misplaced in lots of people.

Q: Jalen Hurts and the Eagles, how involved ought to Eagles followers be?

A: I believe they’re already involved (chuckle). That is an attention-grabbing workforce as a result of they performed so effectively on that stretch of video games that that they had — I imply, that they had a Murderers’ Row of video games that they needed to play, and but they beat Washington; they beat Dallas; they go to Kansas Metropolis, they beat Kansas Metropolis; they beat Buffalo, and also you’re like, “Whoa!” and so they gained 5 straight. Then they, in fact, lose a few video games. San Francisco, you knew that was going to be a tricky sport, they lose that sport. They lose Dallas, and it simply felt like all the things imploded after that — starting on the government degree, within the entrance workplace, as a result of I don’t know that every one the adjustments that we’ve seen or all the things that we’ve witnessed on the sphere is the place it ends. It simply appears like there was an overreaction by lots of people, and now it simply appears like there’s disarray all through your complete group. And what this may appear like on Monday night time, and what it would appear like after this sport in the event that they had been to lose I’d anyone’s guess.

Troy Aikman stated “all the things imploded” for the Eagles after they misplaced to the Cowboys. Getty Pictures

Q: How about Baker Mayfield’s rebound?

A: Like it. I’m an enormous fan of Baker’s. I’ve watched him since faculty [Oklahoma], and I’ve gotten to know him, and what I like is that from what I see once I watch him. He’s at his greatest when he’s received just a little chip on his shoulder and he’s received some swagger. He had that when he first received to Cleveland. We referred to as the sport on a Thursday night time when he got here in off the bench and introduced them again [against the Jets in Week 3 of 2018] and gained the sport, after which issues sort of went south shortly after the playoff 12 months that he had. And he didn’t have it on the finish in Cleveland, he didn’t have it in Carolina, he had it just a little however within the quick time period with the Rams. However he made a guess on himself, and he’s precisely what [the Tampa Bay] group wanted as a result of they had been $80 million in useless cash on the cap, and so they wanted a discount value that may play like a top-10 quarterback this 12 months. And voila! You’ve received Baker Mayfield, and that’s precisely what he did.

Q: Can Josh Allen carry the Payments, possibly previous the Ravens, to a Tremendous Bowl?

A: Sure he can. Will he? I’m unsure. However I believe Josh Allen is able to doing something that he needs to do. This isn’t something new. I don’t know that any group asks extra of their quarterback — possibly Baltimore, possibly it’s becoming. That workforce goes so far as Josh Allen takes them, and he’s been carrying them for a very long time.

Q: What do you consider Texans QB C.J. Stroud?

A: Superb. It shouldn’t occur, first-year head coach [DeMeco Ryans], first-year offensive coordinator [Bobby Slowik], rookie quarterback, and he turns this system round, they go to the playoffs. Poised past any rookie that I’ve seen earlier than. He was on the largest stage within the NFL final week [in Indianapolis] of mainly a playoff sport, and he carried out amazingly effectively, so actual completely satisfied for him.

C.J. Stroud is “poised past any rookie that I’ve seen earlier than,” Troy Aikman stated. Getty Pictures

Q: Had been you wacko for Joe Flacco and the Browns versus Stroud and Texans on Saturday?

A: I’m actually completely satisfied for [Flacco]. It’s not straightforward to do, to return off the sofa and have the success that he’s been in a position to have. I didn’t do it, I didn’t take the trail that he did once I retired, I didn’t come again and play and all that. I believe that if you hit a sure age, he most likely appreciates this second in time greater than at every other time in his profession. He’s most likely having essentially the most enjoyable he’s ever had.

Q: Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins play within the bitter chilly Saturday night time in Kansas Metropolis towards Patrick Mahomes.

A: I believe it’s going to be an actual problem, as a result of I do love what they do offensively, and a lot of that’s their potential to throw the soccer, and it’s going to be an actual take a look at for them.

Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins face the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. USA TODAY Sports activities through Reuters Con

Q: Ravens-49ers is my Tremendous Bowl choose. What are your ideas?

A: Yeah, I believe that may most likely be mine. Two organizations which might be as revered as any in soccer. Coaches that do nearly as good a job as anybody. I’ve stated this many occasions on our broadcast, talked to plenty of coaches, a few of them have simply left on their very own, a few of ’em have been fired from Baltimore, and but all of ’em, to a person, rave about how that group is run.

Beginning on the prime with their proprietor [Steve Bisciotti], [executive] Ozzie Newsome and [GM] Eric DeCosta, after which, in fact, [coach] John Harbaugh. They are surely I believe the usual in some ways as to how their group is run from prime to backside. I believe [San Francisco’s] Kyle Shanahan is the perfect coach in soccer, I believe he’s the perfect offensive play-caller within the sport. He and [GM] John Lynch have been terrific as effectively. If that’s the Tremendous Bowl, that may be an incredible sport to look at. Happily for John, he wouldn’t be going through his brother [Jim] like he did final time they had been in it [Super Bowl XLVII].

Q: Lamar Jackson is the MVP, proper?

A: Yeah, yeah. … The MVP race took plenty of trusts and turns as we wound down the tip of the 12 months. Dak was within the hunt, Brock Purdy was within the hunt, and Lamar simply saved his foot on the pedal and saved doing what he does, and was phenomenal. I believe he does finally win it.

Q: What do you want about Purdy?

A: I’ll say to begin with, he was coached in highschool by my offensive coordinator at UCLA, Steve Axman, so I do know he was well-coached at that degree. And it’s apparent watching him that he’s received a confidence about him. He’s a reasonably quiet man however he’s received a confidence about him that comes out if you watch him play. I simply suppose that he’s a terrific match.

In that offense, I believe it’s a key for many quarterbacks in each offense, that when you make good choices and also you’re correct with the soccer, you’ve received an opportunity to achieve success, and if you are able to do these two issues and also you play in a Kyle Shanahan offense, you have got an opportunity to win league MVP, which he did [have a chance].

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