The understatement of the 2017 NFL season thus far would be, here on August 12th, to tell you that there was a shortage of reactions to yesterday's news that Dallas Cowboys star RB Ezekiel Elliott was suspended for the first six games of the season per a violation of the league's "personal conduct policy".
The NFL world reacted accordingly to the ever-changing but all important details that continued to emerge throughout a day that was incorrectly viewed by some as the merciful end to a 13-month NFL investigation into one of their brightest young players.
This was not the only misconception in circulation, as another one of the most common comparisons I saw being made was that of Elliott's six game suspension coming off as too harsh when weighed against former New York Giants' kicker Josh Brown's one game suspension handed down on August 17th last year.
The Josh Brown case originally got 6 gms, was reduced to 1... I wonder if the NFL does something like that just to get the thing over with
Brown's suspension was of course another violation of the NFL's personal conduct policy, occurring in May of 2015 with a much clearer picture of Brown - according to his ex-wife Molly - physically abusing his partner more than 20 times over the course of several years.
It is very important to note that the NFL's investigation into Brown still took a lengthy ten months, as they arrived at the conclusion that, "investigators had insufficient information to corroborate prior allegations. In addition, no criminal charges were brought forward regarding the incident in question or prior allegations. The NFL therefore made a decision based on the evidentiary findings around this one incident as provided to us by the District Attorney."
Ezekiel Elliott's case is eerily similar to Brown's when it comes to the cooperation of key witnesses and handling by the league as an above-all-else enforcer of policy, although the NFL reportedly reduced Josh Brown's suspension from the expected six games down to one for two key reasons that can further help Zeke in his potentially upcoming appeal of a six game ban.
"...there were two mitigating factors, from the league’s perspective. First, the NFL didn’t regard the incident as a serious instance of domestic violence, since Brown simply grabbed his now-ex-wife’s wrist. (Many would say that any incident of domestic violence is serious.) Second, the NFL considered its difficulty in getting cooperation from Brown’s now-ex-wife or from law enforcement to be a mitigating factor."
An Ezekiel Elliott appeal and "war" as Mike Fisher from 105.3 The Fan has been eluding to will only bring public more damning details about both Elliott's involvement with Tiffany Thompson and the NFL's handling of this case - perceived as so erroneous that long-time Cowboys reporter Charean Williams believes it will cost the Commissioner Roger Goodell his job.
On @ESPN_SA just now, @NFLCharean says "I truly believe Roger Goodell will lose his job over this
A ready-to-fight Jerry Jones and Ezekiel Elliott may very well know that there is even less wrongdoing by Zeke here than a "grab of a wrist", even with pictures of the victim Thompson surfacing again yesterday (signaling the start of this battle in the court of public opinion if nothing else).
Ezekiel Elliott responds via attorney @nflnetwork
As for the second point regarding Brown's case above, it appears that Elliott's camp has already taken a stance against any accusations of a lack of cooperation on their end or by the District Attorney in Ohio that dismissed this case.
Ezekiel Elliott did not "do nothing" here. That much is nothing but another misconception muddying the waters of an already blackened trail that began - and will end - with Elliott insisting his innocence against all charges of domestic violence that he committed with Tiffany Thompson.
Just how much of Elliott's suspension decision came down to that initial domestic violence incident remains unclear after reading the official letter Commissioner Goodell sent to Elliott.
I'm told #Cowboys Zeke Elliott is willing to take this whole suspension appeal through courts if he has to. This could drag out a long time.
A harsh truth here as Cowboys Nation digs in mentally for the "end" of this Ezekiel Elliott story to truly only be just the ugly beginning is that facts may never win out.
The NFL can and will do what it wants, proving so emphatically yesterday by enforcing a full six game suspension against Elliott that is consistent with a domestic violence offense that the league did not provide additional evidence of in regards to Elliott and his perceived guilt via Roger Goodell.
The shield could very well stick their foot in the ground and do everything possible to hold up this six game suspension, making an example out of Elliott - perhaps only that empowering victims beyond reasonable plausibility will be their new by-the-wayside standard when the next Ezekiel Elliott, or should I say Tiffany Thompson, comes along.
Conversely, Elliott could win out legally behind the support of the Dallas Cowboys and specifically Jerry Jones, following in the footsteps of Josh Brown well before he was blacklisted from the NFL - something the Cowboys have no intentions of doing with a player they'll continue to invest significant resources into as a face to America's Team.
What cost will this impossibly well-known face now have on the NFL, Roger Goodell, the NFLPA, and the Dallas Cowboys though? The answer to this cannot be derived from anything that occurred in Josh Brown's swift exit from the league unfortunately, as a suspension of any length will do nothing long-term to keep Ezekiel Elliott away from the brightest public spotlights and nearest official willing to hear his case of innocence.
Starters Make Cowboys Serious Contenders, But Depth is a Concern
Playing in the National Football Conference, the Dallas Cowboys have a difficult task ahead of them if they are to be serious Super Bowl contenders. Even still, they've become a very underrated football team due to their 9-7 record last season. The Cowboys struggled in many areas and with the Philadelphia Eagles crowned as Super Bowl Champions, everyone has forgotten about America's Team.
2017 was an awful year for the Cowboys. It seemed like a roller coaster of success, putting up an impressive performance one week only to disappoint the next one. Let's be honest with ourselves here and talk about what really ended the Cowboys' last season.
As much as we talk about how there shouldn't be any excuses in football - the Eagles made a huge statement by winning it all with a backup QB and other key starters missing - we can't deny the impact of these injuries.
Anthony Hitchens, Sean Lee, Tyron Smith and Ezekiel Elliott all missed some time last year, affecting the team's performance week in and week out. Had the starters been healthy, the truth is this team would've been in the playoffs.
Heading into 2018, the Cowboys will face a very similar situation. This year, starters make Dallas a serious contender. Even if they're playing in a conference that will feature a lot of quality teams, the Cowboys are a team that could beat any team in the league if healthy.
Even the dreaded wide receiver position - which has been famous this offseason for the lack of a #1 receiver - won't be as bad as we make it out to be starter-wise. A starting trio of Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup and Cole Beasley doesn't really sound bad.
Heck, not even Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods starting at safety is concerning. They have what it takes to be decent starters. Sure, Heath isn't a guy who will make the Pro Bowl, but his skills will show on the field once the season starts in September.
The Cowboys' starters will do just fine this season. If the team's fate is up to them, they are in a very good spot. The same can not be said about depth, though.
Except for the defensive line, every other position lacks depth. If Sean Lee goes down, the linebackers stop looking like a three-headed monster. Same goes for the cornerbacks. Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis seem like a good group but as soon as one of them suffers an injury, the Cowboys will be in trouble.
We're in for an exciting season with a lot of young talent waiting to breakout. The Cowboys are underrated this year. They may not be among the NFC's favorites, but they truly have what it takes to replicate the success they had in 2016. However, it seems like circumstances have to be ideal for them to make a run for the Lombardi Trophy.
With a little bit of luck, they'll bounce back this season.
The Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle is Heating Up
Earning a spot on the Dallas Cowboys final 53-man roster is going to be a lot tougher in 2018 then it has been in years past. There is no shortage of position battles taking place right now to earn one of those coveted openings, but it's the battle taking place at receiver that's gaining steam and starting to heat up.
The ultimate unknown right now is how many wide receivers the Dallas Cowboys choose to carry on their 53-man roster this season. Last year they decided to carry six, but they have been known to carry just five. Unfortunately, this means they will have to release some talented players and risk losing them to another team.
As things stand right now there may just be one, possibly two, roster spots up for grabs. I think the only thing we know for sure right now is Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin are the only WRs who can feel secure their jobs are safe for 2018. Everybody else is playing a game of Survivor, just hoping their name isn't the one written down and their torch isn't snuffed out.
Terrance Williams' flame may be safe due to his current contract. The Dallas Cowboys can't save anything by releasing him, but it doesn't cost them that much either. It's unlikely he has a future with the team, so if someone were to prove themselves more worthy, his flame could be extinguished.
Last season I thought Noah Brown was ready to unseat Williams, but that never really materialized. Unfortunately, Brown hasn't really shown up as much as I thought he would this offseason, and missing the game against the San Francisco 49ers last week didn't do him any favors either. This doesn't bode well for him moving forward.
Deonte Thompson was signed as a free agent to provide some veteran experience and speed to the passing game, but that in no way means his job is secure. He needs to do something to show up a little more because his age and salary means a younger up-and-coming WR could make him expendable.
Second-year WR Lance Lenoir Jr. might just be the receiver who has stirred things up the most. He has not only created a buzz for himself in offseason practices, but he was able to carry it over into the preseason last week against the 49ers. His arrow trajectory is definitely pointing upwards.
I'd definitely hate to be the one to decide who stays and who goes when final cuts are made. It's not going to be an easy decision to make, because the outcome will definitely have an impact on the team's success this year.
All of these players were brought into help Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game reach new heights, so making the wrong move could be detrimental. The number of wide receivers and who the Dallas Cowboys decide to keep might be the most important decision they make before the season starts.
How would you predict the Dallas Cowboys WR position battle turning out?
Any Concern About Dan Bailey Not Playing Against 49ers?
With all the excitement of the Dallas Cowboys finally playing in a game last week against the San Francisco 49ers, it may have escaped your attention that Dan Bailey remained on the sideline the entire time. He didn't attempt one field goal or kick off once last Thursday, which in my opinion is a little concerning.
Dan Bailey joined Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee on the sideline as a healthy scratch last week. The decision to sit both Zeke and Sean Lee makes sense due to the physical demands of their positions, but sitting Bailey was a bit of a head scratcher. After all, it's not like he plays a physically demanding position like the other two.
I know. I know. Dan Bailey is an integral part for the Cowboys success moving forward. I'm not arguing that he's not, but after sitting out the majority of the 2017 season with a groin injury and lingering concerns about his health this year, not playing him at all against the 49ers is a bit confusing.
I don't believe there is any kind of kicking competition between Dan Bailey and Brett Maher, who handled all of the kicking duties against the 49ers last Thursday. Bailey will be the Cowboys kicker when the 2018 season gets underway in just a few short weeks. But, the question remains… Why didn't he receive any playing time?
Dan Bailey was never quite the same last season once he returned from his injury. Something was off and I don't know if it was more mental or physical, maybe a little of both. He just wasn't splitting the uprights like his normal self.
Unfortunately, we have seen this kind of thing happen in the past with one of the Cowboys kickers. Nick Folk went through a similar situation with an injury and never really bounced back. I'm just hoping history doesn't repeat itself.
Obviously, the Dallas Cowboys know more about what's going on with Dan Bailey than I do. But, you would think they'd have allowed him to attempt a field goal or at least an extra point in a game situation to build up his confidence once again. It's what I would have done.
Hopefully I'm just being a little paranoid and I'm reading more into this than there actually is. But, the fact I haven't heard any reasoning as to why Dan Bailey was held out last week is sitting a little uneasy with me. I'm just hoping it was precautionary in order to keep him as healthy as possible for the upcoming season.
Should we be concerned Dan Bailey was a healthy scratch last week?
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