After four years as the NFL Vice President of Officiating, Blandino has taken a job in television and will no longer be the one trying to defend referee errors after games. With controversial calls impacting Dallas' last two playoff games, Blandino became a four-letter word among Cowboys Nation. The change is certainly welcome.
While not yet confirmed which network Blandino will be working for, this tweet from Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman suggests he and Tony Romo may be co-workers soon:
During Super Bowl week, was told Dean Blandino was leaving for CBS. CBS said not true. But it's clear Blandino has been trying to get out.
It's likely that Blandino's job with CBS, or whichever other network he's been hired by, will be similar to the role that Mike Pereira currently holds with FOX as their chief officiating consultant. Broadcast teams will go to Pereira during games to clarify rulings or simply to get his opinion on a controversial call. Pereira held the NFL V.P. of Officiating job from 2004-2009.
Dean Blandino leaves behind a checked history in a very difficult position. Perhaps his most challenging days were in connection with the Dallas Cowboys. Here are the three major incidents between Blandino and Dallas.
The Party Bus
In August 2014, TMZ captured a nighttime photo of Dean Blandino stepping off the Cowboys "party bus" along with Cowboys executive Stephen Jones. It was clear that the two, along with some female companions and others, were having a fun time. Given Blandino's position as the head of officiating, this raised eyebrows and ire throughout the NFL.
The appearance of potential favoritism came back around in the 2014 playoffs when Dallas received an important, favorable call in their playoff win against the Detroit Lions. Linebacker Anthony Hitchens was called for pass interference while covering tight end Brandon Pettigrew, but the calls was then reversed.
While the replay clearly shows that Pettigrew initiated contact and actually pulled Hitchens by the facemask, many still felt the call should've stood. When Dean Blandino had to defend the referees' decision after the game, the party bus incident came back into light. He even had to address it specifically when denying any sort of bias towards the Cowboys.
That incident and its subsequent fallout have been blamed, by some, for what happened the following week in Dallas' next playoff game in Green Bay.
The Dez Bryant Non-Catch
As any Cowboys fan is painfully aware of, a catch by Dez Bryant near the goal line was ruled incomplete in the Divisional Round of the 2014 playoffs as Dallas visited the Packers. Bryant seemed to complete the catch and then dive toward the endzone, with the ball coming loose as he stretched out while landing. Because he did not maintain possession upon hitting the ground, the referees ruled it was an incompletion.
With most NFL followers and analysts screaming that Dez had completed the catch and made a "football move" to dive for the endzone, the referees stood their ground on the incompletion call. After the game, Dean Blandino was back in the spotlight as he again supported the officials and their interpretation of the rulebook.
Given the majority view that the Dez Bryant play was indeed a completed catch, one might conclude that Blandino was biased against the Cowboys in the immediate aftermath of the Detroit game and the party bus implications. His credibility had been called into question just a week earlier and now he was ruling against Dallas to try to restore balance.
Even if integrity wasn't the issue, Blandino's general competence was now under attack. That he doubled-down on defending the officials seemed less like genuine, objective analysis and more like blind support for his referees. Naturally, it made him a public enemy for Cowboys fans.
The Brice Butler Huddle
The Cowboys' most recent game brought with it another controversial call. Receiver Brice Butler ran out onto the field but then back to the sideline. Dallas was hit with a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, per the rule that players can't join a huddle and then not participate in the next play.
The only problem is that Butler never joined a huddle. Before the offense huddled up, Butler quickly ran back off the field. This obscure ruling left many bewildered and, later on, questioning the interpretation of the rule based on what actually transpired on the field.
Of course, as he did two years prior, Dean Blandino stood by his officials and the call that was made. It reinforced the perception that he was less concerned with the accuracy of his team and more maintaining a good image and protecting the NFL shield.
Cowboys Nation Reaction
Even though none of the aforementioned controversies were the clear reasons that Dallas lost its last two playoff games, that hasn't stopped Dean Blandino from becoming a target for angry Cowboys fans. Here is just a sample of the reaction on social media to the news of Dean Blandino's departure.
Some talking about how good a guy Blandino is... I DON'T CARE. He cost us a Chip. Cost Romo a HOF legacy.
You get the idea.
~ ~ ~
Nobody thinks Dean Blandino's former job is easy. You're guaranteed to have somebody mad at you when it comes to officiating; there are no win-win situations.
Unfortunately for him, Blandino was stuck in the spotlight following two painful playoff exits from the NFL's largest fanbase. Bitterness over those losses and Dean's seeming desire to defend his officials' reputation, and perhaps his own integrity, over common sense made him a major nemesis for the Cowboys for the last few years.
His successor won't have it any easier, now having to review all plays from a centralized headquarters. Hopefully, whoever steps into the role will be able to maintain a better reputation with Cowboys Nation.
Can Rookie OL Connor McGovern Compete For A Starting Spot?
Raising eyebrows in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Cowboys added Penn State offensive lineman Connor McGovern to their already deep OL depth chart.
McGovern, who played guard for the Nittany Lions, was reportedly by-far the best player remaining on the Cowboys draft board when they came on the clock in round three. Still, with seemingly more pressing needs yet to be addressed, Dallas' selection of McGovern was certainly a surprise.
When you watch the tape, though, you immediately see what the Cowboys loved about Connor McGovern.
A "plug-and-play" type guard, Connor McGovern is the type of rookie you'd expect to contribute in year one. On many teams he may be a candidate to start at guard or center from the beginning of his rookie season, but here in Dallas, his role for the 2019 season is somewhat in question.
Clearly, being a day two pick, there's no doubt that McGovern will make the Cowboys roster. But can he compete for a starting job?
During OTA's McGovern took reps at both guard and center, pointing towards the possibility of him being the first interior offensive lineman off the bench if one of the starters were to go down with an injury. Fellow interior linemen Joe Looney and Xavier Su'a-Filo each contributed in big ways during the 2018 season, however, and will be tough to beat out during camp.
While possible, I would still say it's unlikely. The Cowboys selection of McGovern seems to be more about 2020 and beyond than it is about the 2019 season. With right tackle La'el Collins coming up on a contract year, Dallas might elect to let him walk in free agency, move Williams back to his college position of tackle, and slide McGovern into the left guard slot.
This seems fool-proof in theory, but this many moving parts across the offensive line could spell trouble early on in 2020. Regardless, Connor McGovern's arrival gives Dallas the flexibility to consider all options on their offensive line.
In reality, McGovern strengthened a strength for Dallas, and may be needed to prove himself as early as this Fall if injury issues arise.
Cowboys en Español: Analizando al Rival Más Fuerte en la NFC East
Los Dallas Cowboys se han llevado el título de la NFC East tres de los últimos cinco años. Dos veces han sido con el QB Dak Prescott como el titular. Sin embargo, no han logrado llevarse la división en años consecutivos. De hecho, ningún equipo de la NFC East ha logrado coronarse campeón divisional en años consecutivos desde el 2004. Los Cowboys, actuales campeones del grupo, buscarán romper esa tendencia en la temporada que está por comenzar en septiembre.
Los New York Giants, Washington Redskins y Philadelphia Eagles intentarán evitar que tal hazaña suceda. Sin embargo, parece ser que solo uno de estos tres equipos podrá ser rival para un equipo de Dallas bastante completo tanto en ofensiva como en defensiva.
Los Eagles, quienes estuvieron en postemporada al igual que los Cowboys en 2018 (pero en calidad de comodín), cuentan con un muy fuerte equipo para la próxima temporada. En las apuestas deportivas, las casas de apuesta tienen como favorito a ganar la división a Philadelphia. El margen de diferencia entre ambos equipos es muy pequeño, poniendo las expectativas para ambas ciudades en aproximadamente el mismo nivel.
Para Eagles, termina una agotadora discusión entre Nick Foles y Carson Wentz después de que el veterano partiera a Jacksonville en la agencia libre y dejara a la segunda selección global del 2016 al mando de su equipo, como debería de ser. Wentz es un QB prometedor para su equipo. Antes de lesionarse en 2017, era el claro favorito para ser premiado como el MVP de la temporada. Pero la fortaleza del equipo va más allá de su mariscal de campo.
Doug Pederson ha demostrado ser un head coach muy capaz en la NFL, y tiene la fortuna de liderar un equipo repleto de talento. Similar a los Cowboys, los Eagles tuvieron un offseason algo discreto pero efectivo.
En ofensiva, Eagles consiguió talento para el juego terrestre después de conseguir al ex-Chicago Bear Jordan Howard y al novato de Penn State, Miles Sanders. Como receptor hace su regreso a Philadelphia Desean Jackson, quien será un arma peligrosa con Alshon Jeffery y Nelson Agholor.
Para la defensiva, consiguieron ayuda en la línea defensiva (que de por sí lucía muy talentosa) firmando al DT Malik Jackson. Como linebacker, una posición en la que necesitaban una mejora, llega Zach Brown. Ese frente defensivo es de temerse, sin duda.
Pero no solo se trata de aquellos jugadores nuevos en Philadelphia, sino las retenciones claves. Con Eagles se quedan después de firmar extensiones y nuevos contratos el centro Jason Kelce, el tackle Jason Peters, el caza cabezas Brandon Graham y el cornerback Ronald Darby.
Los Cowboys tienen un rival fuerte a quien superar si quieren llevarse el título de la división por segundo año consecutivo. Ambos equipos se enfrentan en las semanas 7 y 16, pero la NFC East se tendrá que ganar con un esfuerzo en los 16 partidos de la temporada.
Recientemente, Eagles y Cowboys han representado la rivalidad más importante dentro de la división y el 2019 no será la excepción. A nosotros como aficionados, nos espera un espectáculo.
What Will Joe Looney’s Role Look Like In 2019?
The quick answer to the question the title poses is: he will be the backup center.
And, well, yes. Duh. Right?
Now that veteran center Travis Frederick has returned to claim his rightful spot on the Cowboys offensive line, Joe Looney must slide back into his backup role. Looney filled in for the All Pro center admirably in 2018, playing well above expectation level for much of the season. Still, there was clearly a drop off in play between he and Frederick, especially when it came to communication across the offensive line.
It may not be as simple as "Joe Looney is back to being a backup interior lineman," though, especially considering the offseason which the Cowboys had. Dallas went out and added Penn State guard Connor McGovern with their second selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, adding him to a very crowded interior group.
Now, Joe Looney is joined by two guards which played significant time in 2018 in Connor Williams and Xavier Su'a-Filo, the unquestioned starter Travis Frederick, and this rookie who draft pundits have praised to be plug-and-play on the inside.
Looney himself, however, doesn't sound too concerned about how these pieces may fall during Training Camp. “Whatever happens, happens. My role is to be the best player that I can be. When the team needs me, my job is to be ready,” Looney told DallasCowboys.com recently. "Right now, it’s about getting better. If my number is called, I’ll be ready.”
There's no question that Joe Looney is both a favorite of the fans, and in the Cowboys locker room. The jolly lineman which NBC's Cris Collinsworth dubbed "Jumbo Joe" has proved his worth both on and off the field during his time in Dallas. Still, he isn't the player now that someone like Frederick is, and he doesn't have the ceiling or potential that someone like Connor Williams has.
One of these interior linemen is likely to be released before the season starts, but my guess would not be Joe Looney. Su'a-Filo did a fine job when Connor Williams missed time due to injury in 2018, but he is likely the odd man out on the interior of the Cowboys offensive line.
Joe Looney's ability and comfortability at the center position is extremely valuable, as is his experience from a season ago playing a full season for this offensive line. It would be extremely difficult for Dallas to move on from him in favor of lesser-known players, especially if Frederick's health is still any sort of question mark.
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