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.
3 Things We Learned About The Dallas Cowboys In 2018
Coming into the 2018 season, loads of questions surrounded the Dallas Cowboys and the future of their roster.
Could their defense stay intact when the annual Sean Lee injury occurred? Was Kris Richard going to lead the Cowboys young secondary to places we thought they could be? And would Dak Prescott earn a contact extension and become the official franchise quarterback of America's Team.
Of course, there are tons of other questions that may have gone unanswered, but these three critical areas seem to find clarity in 2018.
Leighton Vander Esch And Jaylon Smith Are Legit
The Dallas Cowboys caught a lot of flack for their selection both of these linebackers, each for different reasons.
When they snagged Jaylon Smith in the second round of the 2016 draft, it was still unknown to the public if Smith could ever even play football again. When they took Leighton Vander Esch 19th overall last April, fans questioned how valuable an off-ball linebacker would be on a defense that already had Sean Lee.
Well, after their first full season together, it's easy to say that both Vander Esch and Smith are the linebacker options of the future in Dallas. Named to the Pro Bowl during his rookie season, Vander Esch took the world by storm in 2018. When Lee went down, he was there to not only fill his shoes, but to outplay the veteran all year long.
What is fun to consider is that as good as Vander Esch was this season, Jaylon Smith might be even better. Both posses insane sideline to sideline pursuit ability, and are some of the surest tacklers in all of football.
Watching these two grow together will be a pleasure over the coming seasons.
Their Young Secondary Is Coming Together
Like their linebackers, the Dallas Cowboys secondary is a young group, who fans are excited to watch grow throughout the years. It seemed like more pressure sat on the shoulders of young cornerbacks Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie than of Smith and Vander Esch, however.
With Kris Richard joining the staff and making the decision to move Jones to cornerback full time, it was do-or-die for the former first round pick. Byron Jones answered all the doubters, earning not only a Pro Bowl selection but also First Team All Pro honors for his performance.
Opposite him, Awuzie had a rough start to his sophomore campaign. While typically right there in coverage, wide outs too often made contested catches over him. Over the final few weeks of the year, however, that changed and Awuzie played some of the best football yet.
Xavier Woods, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis (in much fewer snaps) all had fantastic seasons as well, giving the Cowboys great hope and confidence in their secondary moving forward. They may need to add another safety during the offseason, however, though Jeff Heath remains more than just a viable option.
Dak Prescott Is Here To Stay
Whether or not you think it's justified, Dak Prescott is the quarterback of the future in Dallas. And he earned that right the back-half of 2018 and during the postseason. After a shaky start to his 3rd season, Prescott turned things around nicely, leading the Cowboys to a 7-1 finish to the regular season.
Prescott played the best football of his young career down the stretch, and showed just how valuable he is both on the field and in the locker room. It seemed like every game he made 2-3 winning plays that put the Cowboys over the top that afternoon.
Dak is going to get a contract extension, and will be locked in as a Cowboy for the foreseeable future, and with the way he played the final 10 games of his season, I can't second guess this decision much at all.
Jason Garrett Can’t be Serious About Retaining Scott Linehan, Can He?
One of the few positives most of us were looking forward to after the Dallas Cowboys Divisional Round loss to the Los Angeles Rams was the fact that Scott Linehan would no longer be the offensive coordinator for America's Team. Everything was pointing to his dismissal, but that may not be the case according to Head Coach Jason Garrett.
Jason Garrett said on 105.3 The Fan that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will return in 2019. "We don't anticipate any significant changes on our staff," Garrett said.
I can't say that I was happy upon learning Jason Garrett plans on retaining Scott Linehan as the Cowboys OC in 2019. In fact, my first thought was… Well, something better left unsaid. I'm sure many of you can kind of read my mind, because I'm pretty positive you had all that the same thoughts running through your head as well.
In all honesty, I didn't think there was a snowball chance in hell Scott Linehan would return to Dallas after the conclusion of the 2018 season. After all, the Cowboys nearly fired him during the bye week earlier this season, meaning his job security was already on thin ice. He didn't do anything to improve things in my opinion.
I know Jason Garrett has said Scott Linehan will return as the OC in 2019, but not for a second do I believe it. We are less than 72 hours hours removed from the Cowboys exit from the playoffs and I highly doubt any of Dallas' decision-makers has had the time to sit down and discuss who stays and who goes. In fact, I know they haven't.
Stephen Jones says they won't comment on anything with coaching staff but that they need to take a deep look at why they fell short. Says it a little early to speculate about players or coaches. They haven't had a meeting about it yet.
I think once the Cowboys brass sits down and reevaluates the 2018 season, they will come to the conclusion they can do better than Scott Linehan as their offensive coordinator. There were just too many times throughout the season where the playcalling was a problem just. It's just time to move on, despite the vote of confidence by Jason Garrett.
Of course, this could just be me trying to read between the lines hoping and praying Scott Linehan is finally fired. Like many of you, I've grown way too tired of his predictable and dated playcalling. It's time to move on and find someone more innovative who can maximize the talent the Dallas Cowboys have on the roster, much like Kris Richard did with the defense.
You can either choose to believe Jason Garrett or not. I for one have a hard time seeing the Dallas Cowboys staying status quo with their coaching staff, especially their offensive coordinator. But, only time will tell.
Do you think it's time for the Dallas Cowboys to fire Scott Linehan?
Cowboys Rammed Out of Playoffs but 2019 is Bright
If you were to have clicked over to Sportsbook Review, you could have seen what all the premier online sportsbooks were dealing on the Cowboys/Rams game before kickoff. Sites like Bovada, which incidentally you can read a Bovada Review at Sportsbook Review as well, had the Rams favored in every quarter, in both halves, and installed LA as seven-point favorites over Dallas. As is often the case, the number was nearly spot on as the Rams bounced our 'Boys out of the postseason 30-22. It was a heart-wrenching loss for Dallas fans everywhere but for those who put their money where their mouths were, it was particularly painful in what turned out to be a one-point difference between losing and pushing.
Let’s look on the bright side, though. The Cowboys not only copped the division crown but the draft picks from April bore fruit this season. Linebacker and No. 19 overall pick Leighton Vander Esch is a certified stud while third-round pick Michael Gallup proved he is a bona fide NFL receiver. Second-round offensive lineman Connor Williams had difficulties at left guard, but at the very least, has a season under his belt at the next level and could turn into a legitimate bodyguard for Prescott in 2019.
And let’s not forget about the trade for Amari Cooper, which turned Dallas from a squad struggling to find its identity to an NFC East champ in winning seven of its last nine games since Cooper arrived. This year’s edition also bested a tough Seahawks team in the first-round of the playoffs.
Let’s face it, folks, no one expected the Cowboys to win a Super Bowl this season and what we got was about as much as we could have hoped with the current roster as it is presently constructed.
Dak Prescott has one more year on his rookie contract and will be looking to score a big payday at the end of next season, if not sooner. The Cowboys could enter negotiations and lock Prescott up for the foreseeable future, but it might be best for both parties to see what 2019 brings and go from there. Either way, Dallas will pay beaucoup bucks to keep Prescott in a Cowboys uniform so watching and waiting will most likely be the tact management takes with their star quarterback, with a franchise tag in 2020 as an option as well.
In the team’s immediate future will be signing their second-round pick in 2014, DeMarcus Lawrence. The talented defensive end provided the Cowboys with the edge rusher they needed for parts of this season and his combined 25 sacks over the last two seasons would be nearly impossible to replace. Dallas franchised him this season but will most likely put together a long-term deal for Lawrence in the offseason.
Ezekiel Elliott has also reportedly been hinting at his own contract extension even though he is contractually committed to the Cowboys for next season with a team option in '20.
Ironically, one of the strengths of the Dallas Cowboys in recent years was a relatively weak link this season. The offensive line was decimated by injuries and Pro Bowler Travis Frederick missed the entire season. But those wounds will heal for next season and the old gang will be back together again.
The Cowboys have loads of cap space but are without a first-round pick due to the trade for Amari Cooper. Nevertheless, the young blood on the team looks poised to contribute for many years and there will be money available to woo free agents to a club now viewed as a legitimate contender.
If you want to look at next season’s odds, make sure to educate yourself on which online sportsbooks are the most reputable, trusted, and reliable. Read the Bovada Review over at SBR and see what customers are saying about one of the industry’s top sportsbooks. Then, when the lines come out on next season’s division, conference, and Super Bowl winners, you can be informed and maybe throw a few bucks on the 'Boys from Dallas!
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