With news that 2016 defensive standout David Irving will be hit with a four game penalty for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy, he joins a long list of Cowboys (both current and former) that have been on the receiving end of league-mandated vacations. The Cowboys have built a defense on “no-name” players that come together under the stewardship of Rod Marinelli to create a sometimes pretty terrible, sometimes pretty great, oftentimes middle of the road group. Irving blew up last year after being plucked off Kansas City’s practice squad and was in line to cash in next offseason if his production continued to improve after last year’s break out campaign.
Irving could have left millions of dollars on the table, however as he is yet another Dallas defender that was pinched for PEDs. Will the Cowboys re-sign someone that is one failed test away from a lengthier suspension? Was last year’s breakout just performance enhanced smoke and mirrors? Will Irving still command as hefty a raise if he’s only playing twelve games next year? With players like Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence still on the team and Rolando McClain in the recent past, will Dallas try to distance itself from the ne’er do wells on defense like they have on offense? Those are all questions to ponder when the Cowboys commence their NFC East title defense this fall.
I think the big question is, on a defense with plenty of players that have been in trouble for “juicing” why aren’t they any better? Can’t these guys coordinate their juicing schedule so you can get one stellar year out of that group of bums that leads to a title? Instead, their staggering it so only one guy on the defense is any good (enhanced or otherwise) at any one time (except Sean Lee who is just an oft-injured robot).
What say you, Cowboys fans? Would you trade a title for the knowledge that your team did it while under the influence of PEDs? Do you think PEDs work well enough that they would tip the scales in Dallas’ favor (and not just if you count tranquilizers in Garrett’s Kool-Aid as PEDs)? Let your voices be heard!
-Matt Magill and Justin Lasher
Just like you, Justin and Matt have their favorite NFL teams. Just like you, they were both waiting with baited breath as the draft picks rolled in over the weekend. Sure, they could cover all the picks in the entire draft, breaking down and grading which teams did well and which teams were the Chicago Bears. Instead, Justin and Matt are breaking down the Jets and Cowboys, respectively, so you can get a fan’s perspective on the draft from two teams in drastically different places in terms of what they were looking for and where they were picking. If you want to contribute with your thoughts on your favorite team (even if it’s the Jets or Cowboys) drop us a line and let us know.
Draft Haul –
Taco Charlton (No. 28 overall), Chidobe Awuzie (No. 60 overall), Jourdan Lewis (No. 92 overall), Ryan Switzer (No. 133 overall), Xavier Woods (No. 191 overall), Marquez White (No. 216 overall), Joey Ivie (No. 228 overall), Noah Brown (No. 239 overall), Jordan Carrell (No. 246 overall)
The Cowboys went into the draft with an express need to get better at defense. Not only was this need brought on by the fact that their defense was far from championship caliber last year (and for the last few years if we’re being honest) and because they lost so many pieces in free agency this year. As Cowboys fans, we may not have been too happy with guys like Carr or Claiborne, but going into the year with a big question mark is even scarier, especially given where Dallas was last year.
Dallas definitely addressed the two most glaring issues on their team, the secondary and the defensive line with the majority of their draft picks. Save for two wide receivers, Dallas focused solely on those two areas of need and played this draft like a team that knew they were a couple players away from contending. Top pick Taco Charlton was a wise addition to the defensive line. It creates a bit of a logjam there this year, but provides the opportunity for young guys to push the vets, making everyone better (or weeding out the dead weight). Besides, what better system, what better coach than Rod Marinelli to teach a young defensive lineman? I would have liked to see Dallas trade down out of the first and pick up an extra pick or two, like Green Bay did one pick later, but I can’t fault the Cowboys for taking who they did and filling a huge hole.
Versatility at the Corner/Safety position was the name of the game with Awuzie in the second round. This gives insurance in case Anthony Brown falls back to earth or Jeff Heath becomes the Jeff Heath we all remember and not the Jeff Heath from the season-ending Packers game last year.
Why take wide receivers? The Cowboys have a decent pass receiving corps already, however it’s not great. Can Beasley replicate last year’s success? Does Dez ever return to form as one of the best receivers in the game? Can Witten squeeze a couple more years of effectiveness out of the end of his career? And what of Terrance Williams? I know the Cowboys just re-signed him, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be pushed to get better. So far, in his career, Williams has yet to separate himself as a true #2 receiver in my opinion, so churning the roster in that regard is not unwise. Plus, receivers and defensive backs also offer versatility in the return game. Essentially, aside from the defensive line positions, Dallas was able to draft two positions in one nearly across the board. That’s how you maximize your draft picks.
I feel like this draft went about as well as it could have considering where the Cowboys were picking. Without big trades (which Jerry thankfully failed to make this year) the Cowboys weren’t going to get the best talent available. They went with their guys though, drafted for positions they needed, and stuck to the plan. Generally, when that happens, the Cowboys wind up with a better draft than when they are movers and shakers to move up. This may not go down as a historically great draft for the Cowboys, but it doesn’t have to, it just has to stay the course. And, bonus, they didn’t draft any injured guys or criminals!
New York “J-E-T-S”:
Draft Haul –
Jamal Adams (No. 6 overall), Marcus Maye (No. 39 overall), ArDarius Stewart (No. 79 overall), Chad Hansen (No. 141 overall), Jordan Leggett (No. 150 overall), Dylan Donahue (No. 181 overall), Elijah McGuire (No. 188 overall), Jeremy Clark (No. 197 overall), Derrick Jones (No. 204 overall)
Leading up to the draft, I was fully expecting The Jets to go quarterback with one of their first two picks. I was praying they would go secondary and make the wiser decision. Much to my surprise, they actually made a football smart decision and addressed the glaring hole in the back end of their defense.
Last season, teams would repeatedly throw the ball up against The Jets porous secondary, to gains of 20 plus yards, and often a long TD. It was horrendous to watch. Call it fate, or luck, Jamal Adams fell right into our laps at #6. Adams will help the secondary in pass defense, but also being able to stuff the run, with his ball hawk like skill set. I was blown away with their second pick that The Jets picked another safety in Marcus Maye. While Maye is probably the more NFL ready to contribute right away compared to Adams in terms of pass defense, this almost solidifies the departure of draft bust Calvin Pryor.
The Jets continued to please me with their next two selections, picking two solid receivers that will add depth to a much needed position as we enter into the West Coast Offense. ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen are two solid athletes with good hands, that I feel will contribute right away. Stewart is more of a deep ball threat while Hansen will help move the chains. If we see injuries to our receiving corps like last year, we should be more suited to be productive rather than the mess we had to witness in 2016.
With the 150th overall pick, I believe The Jets selected one of the steals in the draft with TE Jordan Leggett out of Clemson. Not only does Leggett have good legs, he can catch the ball, something we haven’t seen out of a TE in New York for some years. New offensive coordinator, John Morton, loves to feature TE’s in his offense, something very refreshing for a position so close to my heart.
I would have been pleased to see some OL help added with the next two picks, to help the offense hide some passing deficiencies and to aid the 4.3 yards per rush in 2016. The picks of small school players Dylan Donahue and Elijah McGuire, don’t wow me, but I will take a wait and see approach here.
Going cornerback with their two final picks add depth to a position of need for The Jets, but I am not sure either one of these players (Clark or Jones) is ready to contribute now. I hope that one or both of these guys can develop into good, solid, players for years to come, but it’s more likely they will be special teams players in the short term.
Overall, I feel The Jets came away a better football team from this year’s draft. They picked up a stud in Adams, a solid player in Maye, and a underrated athlete in Leggett. They were able to address a couple of positions of of need, and they didn’t mortgage the franchise to reach for a quarterback that isn’t ready to contribute (they already have two on their roster). I think they went into the draft knowing they weren’t going to overhaul things in one draft, but they made progress, and that is more than I expected.
There are a lot of outlets where you can read about the various first round draft picks (and the trades that got them to their eventual landing place) from last night’s draft. Justin and I were in constant discussion during the draft, which is why you didn’t hear from us last night, and we had some interesting conversations revolving some of the trades and picks that were made. I’ll go into some of that as well as some overall impressions from last night’s action.
Start the John Fox Hot Seat Talk:
Trading up one spot, to draft a position you don’t need in a weak draft at that position anyway is throwing money and draft picks away. I don’t believe Mitch Trubisky is the answer for anyone, especially for a Bears team that has so many defensive holes. Trubisky may turn into a serviceable quarterback, but I bet John Fox isn’t around to see that come to fruition.
What is it about Mike Williams that scared Tennessee away? Sure, they filled the position of need with Corey Davis out of Western Michigan, but they had the best player at that position staring them in the face and they blinked. I’m not saying Davis won’t be good, I’m saying Williams will be better. The Chargers made up for Tennessee’s blunder by selecting Williams two picks later. He’ll instantly take a good offense that already has guys like Antonio Gates, Justin’s man-crush from last year in Hunter Henry, Melvin Gordon and of course, Phillip Rivers, and makes them dynamic. Chargers games will be must see TV next year. Watch, this will be a playoff team, while Tennessee will miss that playmaking ability.
The Jets were in prime position to do something stupid with the sixth pick. Luckily, Chicago did something stupid ahead of them and the Jets took the best player available. Adams won’t fix their sorry offense, but they’ll need a couple drafts for that. Adams will strengthen the Jets in a place they desperately needed and should be a major contributor from day one.
Offense Rules the Top Ten:
In a draft that was so deep for defense, Justin and I both found it interesting that three receivers, two running backs and two quarterbacks went off the board in the top ten picks, with many of those picks, in our estimation, being absolute stretches for the teams. McCaffrey is a good running back, but we both felt Carolina had better options available to them and that they could have picked up a decent back in the second round if they wanted to go that way. Likewise, John Ross to Cincinnati is such a Bengals pick, all he’s missing is a police rap sheet. Lots of flash, doesn’t really address their needs. The Bengals will be picking in the top of next year’s draft too. And let’s talk about Kansas City for a second. Justin felt the move to ten was to grab a quarterback before New Orleans and Cleveland (the next two picks) could. He was right, but the fact that they picked Pat Mahomes was the real surprise. I thought Mahomes was, at best, a second round talent, and in our Just Average Sports Guys top five released a couple days ago, I don’t think Justin even had Mahomes included. I know Andy Reid is known for getting the most out of his quarterbacks, but I don’t see Mahomes being the guy, and I think KC moving up that far to get him is a huge mistake.
The Watson Debate:
This was a huge point of contention last night. As soon as I saw the Texans move up to 12, I knew it was for Watson. It was their highest position of need, their only position of need really, and something they had to do. They gave up a first round pick next year, but if this acquisition works, they’ll be picking at the end of the first round anyway. I immediately thought that this made the Texans the team to beat in the AFC South, and though I haven’t looked at the schedule yet, I can see the Texans winning at least ten games next year. Yes, the Texans got lucky that they played a battered Oakland team in the playoffs last year, but they outplayed the eventual Super Bowl champion Patriots the following week and would have won had they a competent quarterback. I think they are getting more than a competent quarterback with Watson. I think they have a good receiving corps, decent running game and a lights out defense. I think this is a playoff team, maybe even an AFC Championship team with the right breaks.
Justin was not high on this decision at all, to the point where he assumed it would cost head coach Bill O’Brien his job and send the Texans spiraling into mediocrity. We’ll wait and see, but I think this will be a fun debate to have throughout the season. I think both Deshaun Watson and the Cleveland Browns need to send Tony Romo a fruit basket, if nothing else.
Late Round Notes:
I was a little disappointed to see both Marlon Humphrey (16 to Baltimore) and Adoree Jackson (18 to Tennessee) both go off the board before the Cowboys picked at 28, but understand why they did. I feel like the Cowboys should have done what the Packers did one pick later and traded out of the first. They could have picked up Taco Charlton with the Browns’ first pick in the second and got another pick out of it. That being said, I’m okay with the Charlton pick and think he’ll be able to contribute right away.
San Francisco trading back into the first to take a risk like Reuben Foster will either cement this team as a contender in a few years, or could be seen as one of the nails in the coffin of John Lynch the GM. That being said, with an offensive mind like Kyle Shanahan running the show, it’s a little surprising to see the first two picks of his tenure going the defensive route. Would this be the case if he and John Lynch had not signed six year deals?
The Bucs are going to win the NFC South next year, mark it down.
The Giants made the most ho-hum pick they could with Evan Engram out of Ole Miss. That’s two straight first round picks that had people scratching their heads (Eli Apple was their first rounder last year).
What can we expect from every NFL team in the draft this year? Let’s take a look based on first round draft order.
- Cleveland – There’s a good chance they will screw up this pick.
- San Francisco – No matter who they pick here, it won’t have an immediate impact on yet another team decimated by the “Chip Kelly Blueprint for Success” (patent pending).
- Chicago – The best pick for the Bears will be the un-sexy pick here. If they go for a splash, it’s almost sure to backfire.
- Jacksonville – Are the Jaguars a dark horse for drafting a quarterback in the first round? They’ve reached for one in the past, and coincidentally that would be the guy they’re looking to replace.
- Tennessee – The Titans reap the rewards of the Rams’ stupidity here. They should be set up well to take the best player available.
- NY Jets – There are two picks here, the right pick…and whatever pick Woody Johnson will authorize. My condolences to Gang Green.
- LA Chargers – The Chargers were sabotaged by injury, bad luck and playing in a loaded division last year. Could they be this year’s Dallas Cowboys? Having the seventh pick isn’t a bad place to start.
- Carolina – The Panthers lucked out that their biggest need (defensive back) is pretty deep in this draft. That won’t help their floundering skill positions though.
- Cincinnati – No draft pick will change the Bengals’ culture. Look for more unfulfilled promise for years to come.
- Buffalo – Depending on how the Bills’ personnel takes to the new regime, this pick could springboard them close to the playoffs or just be another decent player on a bad team.
- New Orleans – Drew Brees can make superstars out of regular receivers, so look for a defensive upgrade early in the draft with the skill position addressed later in the draft.
- Cleveland – Look, the Browns are coming out of this draft with a quarterback, be it by draft or by trade. If they trade for one, don’t be surprised if this pick is used in the acquisition.
- Arizona – We all thought last year was their year. Can they wring one last decent year out of the damp washcloth of Carson Palmer’s career and add an impact player here?
- Philadelphia – I don’t think the Eagles are as far off as many may believe, and if they can get some defensive help with this pick, they may sniff the playoffs in a tough division.
- Indianapolis – Andrew Luck needs way more help than a middle of the draft order pick can offer.
- Baltimore – It’s time the Ravens invest in their skill positions instead of using retreads to fill out the roster. The only way to maximize the end of Flacco’s career is surround him with players that will make him look better.
- Washington – Who knows what the ‘Skins will do. Do they draft a quarterback to eventually replace Cousins? Do they look for a wide receiver to replace their depleted pass catching corps? Do they try to shore up a middle of the pack defense? Washington is a definite wild card in this draft.
- Tennessee – The Titans have the luxury of taking the best player available with the fifth pick, and the same holds true on a team that just needs to improve, not necessarily add a bunch of pieces. I wouldn’t be surprised if this pick gets flipped in a trade to move back in the draft and acquire more picks.
- Tampa Bay – On a team that was close to the playoffs last year, the right piece could put the Bucs over the edge. They need to at least address the running back position in the draft and maybe look for upgrades on their defense.
- Denver – They are a good team that is getting older, and in the first year of a new head coach. This pick is important to establishing the new era of Denver Broncos football.
- Detroit – Stafford’s not getting any younger, and the ability to keep him upright and create a running game may be the most important thing on the list of Lions needs right now. This is not necessarily a deep offensive line draft, but they should be able to find good value in the back half of the first round if they want to go that route.
- Miami – Miami, despite being a playoff team last year, has some question marks. Most of them regarding contingency plans if their current crop of players (Tannehill, Ajayi) can’t replicate their success of last year. Drafting depth and guys to push the starters might be a good way to keep everyone on their toes.
- NY Giants – Well, the wide receivers look good, but if Eli can’t get them the ball it may not matter. Running back and offensive line should be, and most likely will be high on the list for the Giants. Don’t be surprised if they come out of it with multiple guys at each position.
- Oakland – They were a broken leg away from a possible AFC Championship game last year, so no need to reach in the draft just yet. Despite all the Marshawn Lynch talk, running back should show up on their draft board at some point, as well as plenty of defenders to take a little weight off Carr’s shoulders.
- Houston – Boy, what a crappy draft to need a quarterback. They’ll cross their fingers and hope that whoever they pick up can pull a Dak Prescott, but they are pretty set at most positions and should be drafting for depth if they don’t use their pick to trade for a signal caller.
- Seattle – The Seahawks are not the juggernaut they once were, and could use help all over the offensive line. Too bad, much like Detroit, they aren’t going to be able to find top-end talent in those positions this year. They still have a few more years of being competitive, but can’t hope for a deep playoff run if Russell Wilson is running for his life.
- Kansas City – Eventually the question needs to be asked whether Alex Smith is the guy or not. They may be able to get by for another year or so with him, as they have a big, Dontari Poe sized hole to fill this year.
- Dallas – If Jerry stays put or moves down in the draft, the Cowboys are usually in good shape over the last decade or so. When they move up, they tend to over-reach and get burned. Expect Jerry to do something stupid.
- Green Bay – Despite yet another great run for the Packers last year, they are a team full of holes, which even Martellus Bennett can’t fill. Ted Thompson needs to hit on a couple picks here or the Packers will be picking towards the top of the draft for years to come.
- Pittsburgh – Eventually they need to find a replacement for Roethlisberger, but until that time, building up the defense to withstand the offenses of the Patriots and Raiders seems like a better idea.
- Atlanta – The Falcons should be drafting for depth and to push their current starters at this point. They may run into a contract problem with Devonta Freeman down the line, and it would be wise to have a contingency on the roster (besides just Tevin Coleman) in case that goes south.
- New Orleans – This could be where the Saints go for a skill position guy unless a decent defensive lineman falls.
Teams with no first round picks:
LA Rams – Don’t worry, they’ll be picking at the top of the draft next year.
Minnesota – The Vikings have a lot of holes to fill, and could really use that pick they gave away for a couple good Sam Bradford games.
New England – It honestly doesn’t matter that they don’t have a first round pick. They’ll be back in the playoffs, if not the Superbowl next year.
The NFL’s 2017-2018 schedule was released on Thursday night to much fanfare (which in and of itself is a ridiculous thing, seriously, it’s just the schedule guys). While we all have known since the end of last season who our favorite team was playing this upcoming year, no one knew exactly when until just last night. For some fans, the release of the schedule is just a formality. San Francisco and Cleveland will be pretty lousy regardless of whom they play and when, while teams like New England and Oakland should still be pretty good (barring injury of course) no matter what their schedule throws at them.
What I would like to do is take a look at the black eye of the NFL’s 2016-2017 broadcast schedule, the Thursday night games. Below are the matchups:
Week 1: Kansas City at New England
Week 2: Houston at Cincinnati
Week 3: LA Rams at San Francisco
Week 4: Chicago at Green Bay
Week 5: New England at Tampa Bay
Week 6: Philadelphia at Carolina
Week 7: Kansas City at Oakland
Week 8: Miami at Baltimore
Week 9: Buffalo at NY Jets
Week 10: Seattle at Arizona
Week 11: Tennessee at Pittsburgh
Week 12: NY Giants at Washington (Thanksgiving)
Week 13: Washington at Dallas
Week 14: New Orleans at Atlanta
Week 15: Denver at Indianapolis
Chicago at Detroit (Saturday)
LA Chargers at Kansas City (Saturday)
Week 16: Indianapolis at Baltimore (Saturday)
Minnesota at Green Bay (Saturday)
First Impressions: At first glance, did you yawn? Because I yawned. Rams/49ers? Bills/Jets? Giving the dumpster fire Washington Redskins two back to back Thursday Primetime games? Really? Have you learned nothing NFL? Now don’t get me wrong, there are some bright spots, some good matchups. I’m looking forward to Patriots/Chiefs, Titans/Steelers and Saints/Falcons the most. But that’s about it.
Best game on the schedule: It’s got to be Titans and Steelers in week eleven. Who knows where either of those teams will be that far into the season, but I would have to imagine it’s near the top of their respective divisions and making a severe playoff push. Two of the better running games in the league and, if the Titans add a dynamic receiver in the draft (which they should), two of the overall best offenses in the league should square off here.
Worst game on the schedule: Take your pick. Probably Rams and 49ers in week two. Two cellar-dwelling teams square off in a matchup that literally no one cares about.
Most intriguing game on the schedule: I am very interested in seeing Philadelphia travel to Carolina in week six. A young, dynamic Eagles team facing a Panthers team that is trying to bounce back from last year’s disaster. Is a drubbing by the upstart Eagles enough to get Ron Rivera run out of town?
All in all, the schedule is what it is. You’re going to get some good and some bad (and hell, some of the worst match-ups on paper may turn into some of the better games), but you would hope that the NFL would at least try and add some teams with intrigue, with dynamism, instead of teams like Baltimore and Indianapolis, who lack all of that and play on weeks eight and fifteen respectively…and then you have them play each other in week sixteen as well? Break out the No Doze for that one. We will all be watching most of these games, let’s not kid ourselves, but it doesn’t mean we can’t critique the decision-making as it happens, and switch to Dancing With the Stars at halftime.
April 14, 2017
By Matt Magill
First, I want you to read this article from USA Today. It’s okay, I’ll wait.
Now answer me this: who would buy Eli Manning game worn equipment, unless they’re shooting a Tide commercial? Seriously, he spends more time on his back than Ray Rice’s wife after an elevator ride. Hell, even Giant fans don’t like Eli Manning and they’re notorious for bad judgment. The lesson we learned here is to not do things via email or any kind of traceable method. If Eli had just made this request face to face, he probably would not have got caught. Paper trail, Eli! Come on! You’re better than that, not by much, but that was a rookie move. I’d expect that out of Zeke Elliott, but his contribution would be bra from Mardi Gras instead of football gear. Seriously, there are teenagers cheating on their girlfriends that know better than to leave a paper trail. For shame Eli, for shame.
I have already written my goodbye piece to Tony Romo (http://wp.me/p2rqd6-HJ) when it was clear that he was leaving the Dallas Cowboys. At the time, many people, probably even Tony himself, assumed it would be for Houston or Denver. We have recently learned that will not be the case as Romo has decided to ride off into the sunset, retire and go into broadcasting.
I am sure that this choice was not made without careful consideration with his family, and I am also pretty certain that if the Broncos or Texans had traded for Romo , he would have honored that and stuck it out for at least the upcoming season. Being held in limbo for so long probably had a lot to do with Romo’s decision to walk away on his own terms. Sure, Jerry Jones gets nothing in return for him, but upon hearing the news that the Cowboys were close to cutting him anyway, nothing was about what Jerry was expected to get.
It’s looking like Romo will join the CBS broadcasting booth as CBS has offered him the sweeter deal of the two networks that were reportedly in the running, on the lead team with Jim Nantz, replacing Phil Simms as color commentator.
Romo’s future is still up in the air, of course. Only he has any idea where he will wind up, and whether his broadcasting legacy will be as fruitful and full of career-defining moments as his playing career was remains to be seen. One thing is certain, Romo’s legacy can be cemented, and all those haters can be silenced once and for all if he can pull off the broadcasting Superbowl of getting Phil Simms off our television.
March 27, 2017
Updated by Justin Lasher
This original column by Matt Magill was one of the very first columns we published here at Just Average Sports Guys. We have been following the Oakland Raiders proposal to relocate to Las Vegas for almost a year now.
We no longer have to follow the “proposal.” It has become official, as today NFL Owners voted to approve the Raiders relocation to Vegas 31-1, with only the Miami Dolphins voting no.
While we don’t know the exact date that the Oakland Raiders will become the Las Vegas Raiders, we do know that the stadium in Vegas will not be ready to host NFL football until at least 2020.
Both Matt and I have been in agreement since day one, that this move is not only great for the Raiders, but good for the NFL as a whole. So, while we feel for Oakland fans, we also congratulate Vegas for landing the Raiders.
Las Vegas Raiders? “Just Win Baby!”
It’s not always the kiss of death to have Jerry Jones in your corner. For every Quincy Carter, there’s the (now) Los Angeles Rams. So when Jones recently gave such a ringing endorsement to the city of Las Vegas in regards to its future as an NFL destination, it at least got the wheels turning in terms of the conversation as to whether pro football and the gambling Mecca of the United States could coexist. That’s the big question, right? Should a major sports team play half its games in a city known for mob activity and distraught patriarchs losing their nest egg? Would that somehow “taint” the sport? Well that’s what we are here to answer. Is Vegas a good destination, and if so, are the Raiders the team of destiny in that city?
First, the question of should the NFL move to Vegas.
That’s actually really easy. Why the hell not!?
Seriously. What is stopping the NFL at this point from setting up shop in Sin City? A moral compass? Come on, that went out the window when you have individuals associated with the sport such as Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson. Sure, the first two are not in the league at the moment (though I feel like Hardy is one bad injury to a pass rusher away from getting the call), Adrian Peterson just happened to be one of the most productive backs in football last season, a year after a suspension for abusing his child. Whether you agree with the logistics of the case against Peterson or not, the fact of the matter remains that he was suspended for a heinous act (if it wasn’t a heinous act, he would not have been suspended for an entire season) then came back the following year to lead the Vikings to the playoffs as if nothing happened.
Business as usual in the NFL.
This is a league with a pretty rampant illegal drug use problem, be it weed or performance enhancers, and all the suspensions in the world don’t seem to be rectifying it anytime soon. This is also a league that just won an appeal against one of its most popular players of all time for deflating footballs in a game that took place nearly a year and a half ago. Now, Tom Brady has to miss four games this coming season because under-inflated footballs is the hill Roger Goodell wanted to die on. When a good portion of your league is dabbling in illegal substance, and you’re busying yourself with persecuting one of the “clean” guys, you can’t tell me that image is that important.
Plus, let’s not forget the almighty dollar in this whole ordeal. Despite all these “scandals” and “-gates” of the last few years, the NFL is raking in the dough. Like, Scrooge McDuck Money-Bin levels of cash (try to get the image of a speedoed Jerry Jones swimming through an Olympic sized pool of money out of your head. No really, try it, and when you do, let me know how many shots it took because I’ve already tried seventeen). Obviously no one really cares about the skeletons in the closet of anyone involved in the league, so thinking that a move to Las Vegas will perpetuate a mass migration from the sport that has grown into “America’s Pastime”, despite the fact that it may eventually kill all of its participants is kind of silly.
So, we’ve established that, moving a team to Las Vegas is as good an idea as any, and probably a better idea than many (remember when it was rumored that the Bills were going to move to Toronto?) So the next question centers around whether the Raiders should be the team to move there.
It was long rumored that the Raiders were looking to get out of the Bay Area, and they have been the one team to flirt very heavily (we’re talking doped up meatball on the Jersey Shore level of flirt) with the idea of moving to Vegas. Obviously, the Rams have moved to Los Angeles, and the general thinking all along is that they would bring another team into the stadium with them, a la Jets/Giants. San Diego and the Raiders were the two teams up for that “honor”, and despite the fact that the Chargers received a one year reprieve from needing to pack their bags, they are still the odds-on favorite to travel north to newer, shinier digs in LA. This kind of leaves the Raiders out in the cold. Could they stay in Oakland and force Steph Curry to switch his allegiance? Sure. Could they move to Las Vegas and be the biggest thing to hit that town since someone realized they could put dollar bills in women’s underpants? Absolutely!
Of course, the issue with Las Vegas is similar to the one we heard when the Rams were moving to Los Angeles: there’s too much to do to have a pro team in that city. While I agree that the activity capital of the United States is probably centered right in the Nevada desert, I don’t think that will prevent people from attending football games. Hell, you only get eight home games a year! You can go see Penn and Teller or visit the Bunny Ranch on Tuesday night if you really can’t live without them. The one thing that could derail attendance for the Las Vegas Raiders would be if they were bad, like Raiders of the Jemarcus Russell-era bad. Here’s the good news in that regard…the Raiders are good, and finally look to be set up to be good for a long time.
I know, someone feel my forehead to make sure I don’t have a fever.
Seriously though, you have a defense led by Khalil Mack, the three headed monster of Carr, Murray and Cooper on offense and the ageless wonder Sebastian Janikowski as your kicker (seriously, he’s been around seventeen years! There are Raiders fans right now that are graduating high school this year who don’t realize what it’s like to not have a guy that looks like The Mountain on Game of Thrones kicking the ball all over the field). Plus, in the draft this year they downright stole both Shilique Calhoun and Connor Cook out of Michigan State with the 75th and 100th pick, respectively. These were two players I have had a pretty close eye on for their college careers and was very high on coming into the draft. The Raiders are set up to win now, especially with the Mark Sanchez experiment taking effect over in Denver, San Diego being San Diego, and Andy Reid’s track record of doing Andy Reid things over in Kansas City. Can they win the division this year? Absolutely, and they are set up to dominate for years to come as well. That’s what Las Vegas wants, and honestly what Las Vegas deserves. If Sin City is going to open its doors to an NFL franchise, they deserve to have a winner (which is why the Bills are staying put).
The Raiders are, and can be that team, and I for one am excited to see that play out. In Jerry we trust.
I would like for one week to go by where I don’t have to address things for a Dallas Cowboys team that is firmly entrenched in the offseason. Unfortunately, as we eluded to last night on “Faces for Radio”, events are swirling around Cowboys players both past and present. First, to recap last night’s discussion, Ezekial Elliott needs to have some rules and boundaries placed on him in order to avoid throwing away a promising career as yet another incident has arisen. Now the first incident, there is some discrepancy as to whether it happened at all or whether it was manufactured by the woman in question, but this one was caught on camera. If he continues down this path, it will not end well.
The second topic we touched on last night was that of the retirement of DeMarcus Ware. Ware was a long-time Cowboy before he left and won a ring with the Denver Broncos. His career accomplishments are second to none and he will go down as both a Hall of Fame player and one of the all-time great Cowboys players.
What we didn’t touch on last night, and something that may have the biggest impact of all is the retirement of Cowboys right tackle Doug Free. Free was a veteran presence on the Cowboys offensive line and was the unquestioned leader of a group that contained three perennial pro-bowlers (and could probably have had more with Ron Leary putting up a dominant performance as well. The fact that he announced his retirement a few days after the free agency period started is a little unsettling. There is no way to tell what the Cowboys front office knew and when. Did Free give any inclination to Jerry and company before the start of free agency? Was this as much a surprise to them as it was to the rest of us? The reason that I would like to know is that the Cowboys let their fourth best lineman, the aforementioned Ron Leary walk and sign with the Denver Broncos just a few days ago. While I realize that the Cowboys have Leary’s replacement on the roster already in La’el Collins, you’re telling me that they would not have preferred to find a way to keep Leary on the roster, slide Collins over to tackle and retain the best line in the league. I realize that finances would not have made this an easy deal to get done, and there’s a chance you would not have been able to sign him to a long-term deal anyway given the way he was jerked around the last couple years. However, that’s where you franchise him, try to get a deal done and at least take a bit of the guesswork out of the next year when it comes to your line.
It’s just a shitty situation for Dallas to be in, especially coming off such a promising season last year. The fact that they have to replace so many players that left via free agency this year (and a lot of quality depth at that) means that adding another important position to the pile, like starting right tackle will just serve to spread their resources thinner than they already are. Oh well, at least it’s constant fodder for people like me to write about every…single…week.
Dear Tony Romo,
You don’t know me, but I am like many Cowboys fans out there. I became a fan when the Cowboys were good in the nineties because I was young then and the options were basically be a fan of the local team (the Buffalo Bills in my case) or be a fan of a Superbowl winner. I chose the latter, obviously. I then stayed with the team through the “lean years” of the late nineties through….well, when you came around. Sure, there were a couple decent years when Bill Parcells took over, but guys like Quincy Carter and Drew Hutchinson, not to mention older veterans like Bledsoe and Testaverde never inspired much confidence. Then a kid out of Eastern Illinois that was an undrafted free agent took the field to start the second half of the Giants game, and everything changed.
Dallas went from being a punchline, which had happened right around the time Aikman decided to hang up his cleats, to being respectable, and eventually feared. No quarterback since the hall of famer was able to generate the fear that you could in your tenure with the star on your helmet. There’s a reason you’re the franchise’s leading quarterback despite the fact that the history is adorned with names like Staubach, Meredith and the aforementioned Aikman. I can remember every spin move, every narrow escape, every little wink and nod to Jason Witten so he knew to run an in route instead of an out, resulting in a touchdown. Aikman made me a Cowboys fan, but you have made me a football fan. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, to see it play out so plainly on the field these last dozen years or so, while heart-wrenching, was also incredibly satisfying. The Dallas Cowboys could have been a footnote, a laughingstock of professional football, but you provided stability and an identity to a team that desperately needed one.
To say that your prime was wasted on bad play calling and some suspect defenses is an understatement. One can only hope that as you ride off into the sunset you are able to grab that elusive ring like your compatriot Demarcus Ware was with the Broncos a few years ago. I was thrilled then that he was able to climb that mountain, and before you hang it up for good, before you move into a far less high-contact occupation, I, and many Cowboys fans, hope you can achieve that same goal; an exclamation point on a hall of fame career, for a deserving quarterback.
Thank you, Tony, for all you have provided to the Cowboys franchise and pro football. You will be missed in Dallas but you have a nation of Cowboys fans pulling for your success.