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Fact Or Fiction: NFL Officiating Conspiracy Against Cowboys?

Brian Martin

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Believe it or not, there is a rumor going around Cowboys Nation that NFL officiating is purposely avoiding calling penalties against the Dallas Cowboys opponents these last few weeks. It's a little strange to think such a thing possible, but it's hard to argue against it after watching the Cowboys play the Atlanta Falcons Sunday afternoon.

It's a little bit difficult to believe there is some kind of conspiracy going on in the NFL. But then again, it wouldn't be the first time conspiracy theorist stirred things up. I mean, look no further than the entire Colin Kaepernick situation and the rumors of collusion between NFL owners to keep him out of the league. Anything's possible I guess and there certainly seems to be enough ammunition in the barrel to believe the NFL might have it out for the Dallas Cowboys.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones are obviously on the outs with one another. Jerry Jones has recently hired a lawyer in an attempt to block Goodell's new contract, but this fight started long before this.

The NFL has seemed to have it out for the Dallas Cowboys ever since they started the investigation into Ezekiel Elliott's domestic violence accusation. A lot of people believed it was a witchhunt from the get-go since Elliott was acquitted because of lack of evidence after a police investigation, but for some reason the NFL decided to conduct their own investigation anyway.

This of course all spilled over into the on-again/off-again suspension situation that Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys find themselves in currently. Who knows how this will all work out in the end, but this was the ammunition I was speaking about that has fueled the conspiracy theory fire.

I personally don't know if there's a conspiracy between the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys. But, one thing is for sure. The NFL officiating has been absolutely terrible in the Cowboys games the last few weeks and it has definitely benefited their opponents. But, don't take my word for it. Let's take a look at a little bit of evidence from the Cowboys/Falcons game.

QB Dak Prescoott

Nov 12, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) is sacked by Atlanta Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn (99) during the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY

I want you to take a good long look at the picture above and try to explain to me why a photographer from the sideline can take a picture like this, but an NFL official standing a few yards away misses the facemask/hands to the face penalty? It doesn't really seem possible they can miss a blatant penalty like this, especially with the focus on protecting quarterbacks.

That of course was just one of many missed penalties that should've been called on the Atlanta Falcons. Let's take a look at a few more, because the conspiracy theory doesn't look that far off base.

Marcus Mosher on Twitter

One of these was called roughing the passer. Another one was not. https://t.co/MvtR8wDOKY

This is yet another example of the NFL officials missing an obvious penalty against the Atlanta Falcons. The officials could've called a roughing the passer penalty, a helmet to helmet hit, or even a launching penalty. They could've gone any direction they wanted here, but instead they failed to unleash the flag. Strange isn't it?

The missed penalties not called on the hits on Dak Prescott should have absolutely been seen by the officials, but the hit on Dez Bryant should have been seen as well and flagged.

Marcus Mosher on Twitter

This was somehow not a foul. Don't tell me your league cares about safety, @NFL https://t.co/eCkFRnyxa2

I don't know how this wasn't flagged by the back judge. This is the definition of a hit on a defenseless player and this wasn't the only time it happened in Sunday's game. The Falcons secondary was extremely aggressive and there were a few other instances where they completely laid out the Cowboys WRs like they did Bryant in the clip above.

I want to show you one more example that feeds into the conspiracy theory that the NFL officials have it out for the Dallas Cowboys.

Cowboys Nation on Twitter

HOW DO REFS MISS THIS https://t.co/IUzhYTdW3p

Dak Prescott wasn't the only Dallas Cowboys player who failed to get a facemask penalty recognized by the officiating Sunday afternoon. I honestly don't know how they didn't see Alfred Morris get his head and helmet twisted by a Falcons player pulling his facemask. It looks pretty obvious to me, but I wasn't wearing a zebra suit.

Now, I don't know if there is some kind of conspiracy going on or not, but it is blatantly obvious that the NFL officiating has been absolutely terrible when the Dallas Cowboys take the field. It's hard to argue there isn't some kind of conspiracy, but I'll let you decide for yourself.

I do know one thing though. It's going to be really tough for the Dallas Cowboys to win games when they have to beat their opponent and the officials week in and week out.

Do you think there is a conspiracy against the Dallas Cowboys?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. fgoodwin

    November 14, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Blaming losses on the refs is a time-honored tradition. Cowboy fans are especially good at it.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      November 14, 2017 at 2:09 pm

      Who is blaming the loss on the refs? I was merely stating all of the missed penalties on the Falcons. The same thing happen against the Chiefs, but the Cowboys won that game.

      • Cowboysdude

        November 15, 2017 at 7:20 am

        This is the cowboys fans mantra…..’the refs’… Why would anyone write this idiotic story and give life to this stupid theory that isn’t there. EVERY team complains about the same exact things….. the refs are human yet we expect them to find every little thing…..not happening. As a Cowboys fan my theory is this……hire a real coaching staff, get better at depth and play football, The End. Writing idiotic stories and whining about and blaming others for losses and trying to invent some conspiracy theory because you want to believe that this team is SB bound every year is just not smart. With the current situation there is NO way this team is seeing a SB anytime. How about you write a story on the puppet and the fact that he really didn’t start winning games until they brought in 3 former HC’s to basically do his job for him……..THOSE are FACTS. Use that.

        • Brian Martin

          Brian Martin

          November 15, 2017 at 8:57 am

          Never once in the article did I blame the loss on the refs. I was merely stating that they have missed way too many calls here lately against Cowboys opponents. I’ve tried to buy into Jason Garrett as a HC, but I think it’s time to clean house with the coaching staff. I doubt it happens though. I don’t think they want to change things up, especially with Dak Prescott playing well in the system.

          • fgoodwin

            November 15, 2017 at 2:22 pm

            No you didn’t literally blame the refs for the loss. You just left it up to the reader’s imagination. It’s cool.

        • Datschu

          November 16, 2017 at 12:04 am

          Bro a main player in this Jerry against the world issue is Arthur blank…. who owns the falcons. BLANK AND GOODDELL are boys! And all of a sudden the falcons don’t get ANY severe possibly Game changing g penalties called against them while playing Jerry Jones team? The refs were going to let players be injured and IRed for the year it looks like. Just to send a message to Jerry. Bank on it!!

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            November 16, 2017 at 9:07 am

            I hate to think such a thing is possible, but there were way too many missed penalties against the Falcons. So, I guess it’s possible.

  2. Edward Wehrenberg

    November 14, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    You left out the most egregious part:

    There hasn’t been a holding penalty called against an opposing Offensive Line in six straight Cowboy’s games.

    And who leads the NFL in holding penalties? You guessed it, the Cowboys.

    Can you please tell me how Dallas’ much improved D-Line hasn’t drawn a SINGLE flag for holding by an opponent in six games?? Almost seems impossible – haven’t we heard for years that holding can basically be called every play, blah blah blah…

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      November 14, 2017 at 6:16 pm

      Edward, you’re absolutely right. The Cowboys DL gets held just about every single play, but there hasn’t been a single flag. I don’t know if there is a conspiracy or not, but I think we can agree the officiating has been downright appalling.

  3. Albert Smith

    November 14, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    A penalty called here or there which was plain to see, and we would’ve at the very least had a chance to fight it out fairly.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      November 14, 2017 at 6:17 pm

      That’s really all I want to see. A fair game called both ways.

  4. Rodney Lawhon

    November 14, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    This was the worst of the worst what the NFL’s Officiating crew did in the history of pro football as we the fans seen it on TV. Hey if you are blind ! an betting with the bookies this not blaming losses on the Refs. This is a fact Jerry Jones save clips an sue the hell out of the NFL this one you will win an the NFL thinks it’s to big to fail. Guess what its going to happen to the NFL !

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      November 15, 2017 at 8:58 am

      There are way too many missed calls against the Falcons, but I doubt anything ever comes of it.

  5. Richard Hamblen

    November 14, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    ..definitely rigged..Stevie Wonder could have seen those penalties..the officials were told to do that..they had to be..it’s not like they were hidden in the pile..I saw Morris get that face mask on-screen, but no call?..buncha political B.S..not giving the fill-in tackles any help was also stupid..they had him out 3 yards..hell, anyone could have gotten by and they did..six by one rusher..he’s good, but not THAT good..

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      November 15, 2017 at 8:59 am

      I don’t really buy into the entire conspiracy, but it’s obvious the refs are missing way too many penalties against Cowboys opponents.

      • Datschu

        November 16, 2017 at 12:12 am

        It’s goodell sending a message to Jerry. It happens in every business in every walk of life. The nfl is run by humans. Why would it be any different….

        How about this conspiracy theory… all pro sports in this country are fixed controlled regulated to control the flow of money to certain cities in this country. Houston had a catastrophe? Let’s guve them a title in baseball… generate some revenue there

  6. John Williams

    John Williams

    November 15, 2017 at 4:25 am

    The refs were very very bad on Sunday. It was mind boggling. I don’t know if it’s related to a conspiracy or not, but it’s awful.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      November 15, 2017 at 8:59 am

      John, that’s my way of thinking as well.

      • John Williams

        John Williams

        November 26, 2017 at 11:32 pm

        But after Thursday, I’m beginning to lean towards conspiracy.

  7. Cowboysdude

    November 15, 2017 at 7:22 am

    Waaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh my mangina hurts….. STOP it. Go to ANY teams forum and you’ll read the same things over and over again ……’the refs are against us…..’ You know what? Here’s the real issue that no one wants to address….. how about you just hire a real coaching staff, have a better team and stop relying on other outside factors to help you win?

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      November 15, 2017 at 9:00 am

      I’m actually ready for a complete coaching overhaul, but you can’t deny that the officiating was atrocious Sunday against the Falcons. It did have a huge impact on the game, but I don’t know if it would have helped the outcome many.

  8. Datschu

    November 16, 2017 at 12:09 am

    And if y’all out think about it… it alllll started with the zeke ordeal. All the penalties/non calls against the cowboys should’ve been an earlier sign of Jerry making waves against goodell.

  9. Datschu

    November 16, 2017 at 12:13 am

    The American sport sports fans are lemmings

  10. Rodney Simpson

    November 19, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Brian I love your points that first facemase non call was early in the game on 3rd down it would have been big, The big Dez missed calls of grabbing and hits etc each week no call. No our DBs called each time Anthony Brown lol now coaching is ok these clowns sayinv refs have nothing to do with it are DILLUSUONAL now with all that BS ATL played a good game I still think we could have won. I live in ATL note timely calls can sway a game PERIOD .

  11. Scott Lesher

    November 28, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    How about Jason Witten getting thrown down LONG after the whistle directly in front of an official on Thanksgiving against the Chargers? I saw several Charger lineman holding the Dallas D, NO FLAGS…. I know they are human. We all miss things. But when the Dallas line is getting holding calls and the opponent from week to week doesn’t get flagged, that’s not right. Dallas is the only team I will watch with the BS going on in the NFL. If this keeps up I will be done all together. Please don’t forget the Packers playoff game last year. That final drive where Rodgers completed a pass to put them into field goal range. Look at the tapes, a Dallas defensive lineman WAS held. No flag….

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Linebacker

Jess Haynie

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Wolf Hunter: Leighton Vander Esch's Pass Coverage Skills Rising to Occasion

One of the brightest spots on the Dallas Cowboys' projected 2019 roster is linebacker. The young pair of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch have already emerged as one of the league's best duos. But that doesn't mean that the Cowboys have no work to do at the position this offseason.

Having Jaylon and Leighton does take a lot of pressure off. Most teams utilize their nickel scheme more than any other these days, which generally utilizes just two linebackers, in the increasingly pass-focused NFL. And thankfully, both Smith and Vander Esch have shown great skills in pass defense.

But there's still a semi-starting role to get figured out in the base 4-3 scheme. Damien Wilson has held the strong-side or "SAM" position for the last few years and has an expiring contract.

What's more, Dallas has a big decision to make regarding the contract of Sean Lee, which is ripe for terminating with $7 million in salary cap savings possible.

It's highly unlikely that the Cowboys would keep both Lee and Wilson. If they decide to re-sign Damien, Lee will be cut to help fund that move and others. If Sean is kept on, Wilson will almost surely be looking for a starting role somewhere else in free agency.

Even if the Cowboys do make Lee a cap casualty between now and March 13th, they may still allow Wilson to test free agency and then try to re-sign him later at a discount. He's unlikely to attract the same attention that Anthony Hitchens got last year.

How Does LB Joe Thomas Fit Into Cowboys' 2019 Plans?

Dallas Cowboys LB Joe Thomas (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Another factor in all of this is Joe Thomas, a free agent addition last year who provided good depth and could potentially start in 2019. He is scheduled to count $2.2 million against the cap, which is fine for a primary reserve but a bargain for an occasional starter.

A core of Smith, Thomas, and Vander Esch gives the Cowboys a good foundation to build from. Smith can play the SAM in the base scheme and Thomas can be the primary backup to Jaylon and Leighton in the nickel.

However, going that route would deplete the depth chart. Chris Covington, a sixth-round pick last year, would be the only noteworthy player under contract. Dallas would need to find at least two more guys to fill out the group for 2019.

They could look at re-signing backup Justin March-Lillard, who would at least bring some familiarity and veteran experience. But that might still leave them looking for more of a primary reserve, which would be especially vital if Thomas is promoted to a starting role.

The projected LB free agent pool for 2019 should make it a buyer's market. Dallas may be able to re-sign Damien Wilson or even add an upgrade, like perhaps the Vikings' Anthony Barr, at a relative bargain. There should be ample options for depth as well.

Barring an extremely favorable value opportunity, don't expect the Cowboys to spend a significant draft pick at linebacker. The fourth-round is the earliest I could see one going based on other needs, and even then it would need to be someone they really like.

Good drafting is why Dallas has flexibility and leverage this offseason. The picks they invested in Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch appear to have made LB a strength of the team for the next several years.

There is still business to attend to, but the Cowboys won't have to be too concerned with linebacker in 2019 thanks to their young stars.



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Xavier Woods Versatility Key in Dallas Cowboys FA Safety Pursuit

John Williams

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Cowboys Safety Xavier Woods Is Getting Better By The Week

There has been a debate going on among Cowboys Nation for more than a year now about the prospects of bringing in Seattle Seahawks Safety Earl Thomas. Now with free agency approaching, there are several other names that the Dallas Cowboys could consider when looking to upgrade the safety position. Landon Collins, Tyrann Mathieu, and Tre Boston are several of the many quality and really good safeties that are hitting the free agent market in a few weeks. It's a group with varied skill sets and abilities, which makes the debate even more interesting. The Dallas Cowboys, however, will be able to take a look at all of them when free agency opens March 13th because of one player; Xavier Woods.

Xavier Woods, the Cowboys fifth round draft pick from the 2017 NFL Draft just finished his first full season as a starter for the Cowboys and played really well. In two years he's shown the ability to cover from the slot, play deep, play in the box, be a force over the middle, and make plays on the football. He's one of the more versatile players on the defense with his ability to play all over the field. That versatility allows the Dallas Cowboys' front office an advantage when approaching the names mentioned above.

The Dallas Cowboys don't have to be locked in to one particular type of safety. When people talk about Landon Collins, they label him a "box safety." Earl Thomas is a traditional free safety. Tre Boston is a similar player to Earl Thomas and Tyrann Mathieu is like Collins. The Cowboys can go into free agency with the freedom to explore their options and do their due diligence when it comes to these players.

That's a distinct difference from this offseason to last.

Last offseason, the feeling was that the Dallas Cowboys had to go get Earl Thomas. The safety position was so weak that the Cowboys were going to be playing at a disadvantage in the high-flying, pass-heavy NFL. Xavier Woods proved in his first full season that he can be a productive, play making starter in the NFL and should only continue to improve.

According to Pro Football Focus, Xavier Woods was sixth in the NFL in passer rating against among safeties with at least 352 coverage snaps. His 62.8 passer rating allowed in his coverage was tied with Eric Weddle, better than Derwin James, Reshad Jones, Adrian Amos, and Maliek Hooker. Of the safeties drafted in the 2017 draft class, only Eddie Jackson from the Chicago Bears had a better passer rating against than Xavier Woods.

The Dallas Cowboys got a really good player in Xavier Woods and as they get ready to potentially make a run at a big name safety, they can feel confident that whoever they end up signing will be a good fit with Woods. He can play in the box or cover receivers and tight ends. You can run more two deep safety looks, because he has the range to play it.

This year, as opposed to last, they have more certainty at the safety position because of Xavier Woods and the strides he took in 2018. There's no reason to believe that he can't continue to take a step forward for the Dallas Cowboys. His ability to play all over the field allows the Cowboys to be smart and patient in their pursuit of a safety upgrade this offseason.



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3 Free Agent Targets From Cowboys NFC East Rivals

John Williams

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3 Free Agent Targets From Cowboys NFC East Rivals

The free agency period in the NFL will be here in a little more than three weeks and the Dallas Cowboys will begin the annual tradition of trying to put together the best 53-man roster that they can come up with. Free agency is just one part of the equation that includes the draft, the signing of undrafted free agents, adding and subtracting from the roster during training camp, and picking up players after the final cut down day.

You can rest assured that Will McClay and the entire pro scouting department is doing their due diligence in anticipation of the March 13th start to the 2019 free agency period. They'll look high and low for players that can come in and be contributors for the Cowboys. Even within their own division.

Between the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Redskins, there are some interesting names to consider as the Cowboys peruse the free agent aisles of the NFL superstore. Some of those players like Landon Collins, Ronald Darby, Nick Foles, and Brandon Graham will be new releases that will cost you a pretty penny at the check out stand. Others like Haloti Ngata will be in the used and refurbished section. And then there are those who could be had at a reasonable or discounted rate.

Here are three from within the NFC East that the Cowboys could have their eye on.

Mario Edwards, Defensive Line, New York Giants

The former Oakland Raiders second round pick out of Florida State University has already played for two teams in his young four-year career. That isn't a good sign for Mario Edwards as he approaches free agency for the first time. You don't generally see many top 100 picks get released from the team that originally drafted as they usually wait as long as they can to see if the player is going to hit.

For Mario Edwards, he found himself caught in a numbers game and outplayed by two rookies in Oakland's training camp in 2018, leading to his release. It also sounds like the Raiders couldn't quite figure out where to put him on their defensive line.

We know that the Dallas Cowboys love looking around the league for those reclamation projects. Edwards could be the next David Irving or Antwaun Woods. A player that isn't highly thought of, but in the right situation and with the right coaching could flourish.

Edwards has played 14 or more games in three of his first four seasons, missing his second season with a hip injury. He totaled more than two sacks a season in those three seasons. He isn't by any stretch of the imagination someone who is going to come in and replace DeMarcus Lawrence or Randy Gregory, but he could be a nice depth piece with potential to see significant snaps both at defensive end and 3-technique defensive tackle.

Edwards could be the next Rod Marinelli special.

Jordan Matthews, Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles

The Dallas Cowboys could be in the market for a slot wide receiver this offseason if Cole Beasley is allowed to walk in free agency, which seems like a near certainty. There are several intriguing options on the roster in Allen Hurns and Cedric Wilson that could play in the slot some, or play on the outside allowing Amari Cooper to play in the slot. They could also look to the draft for Beasley's replacement as well. In the free agent pool, there are several interesting names, one of which is Jordan Matthews.

Jordan Matthews just finished his second stint in Philadelphia and while he didn't have huge production in Philly in 2018 -- 20 receptions on 28 targets for 300 yards and two touchdowns, he's a player with a track record in the NFL and could be a "big slot" option.

In Matthews first three seasons in the NFL, he averaged 75 receptions on 115 targets for 891 yards and 6.3 touchdowns in his first stint with the Philadelphia Eagles. In 2014, Matthews caught 64 of his 67 receptions from the slot, which was second in the NFL that season. In 2015, he led the NFL in receptions from the slot with 81, while also scoring eight touchdowns. In 2016, his final year with the Eagles, he was ninth in the NFL with 53 receptions. So, in those first three seasons in the league, he averaged 67 receptions, 796.3 yards, and six touchdowns. He caught eight touchdowns in each of his first two seasons for the Eagles in the slot.

He's not the same player that Cole Beasley is, but he's a player that knows how to win in the slot and because of the past couple of years could be a cheaper option to try and replace Cole's production.

Jamison Crowder, Wide Receiver, Washington Redskins

If Jordan Matthews is the inexpensive option for the Dallas Cowboys in the slot, Jamison Crowder would require paying a pretty penny. Spotrac.com estimates that Crowder could be worth $8 million per year over four years on the open market.

Interestingly enough, he's never been as productive as Cole Beasley or Jordan Matthews, but because of his age and his work the last couple of seasons, injuries not withstanding, he's seen in a more positive light than Matthews.

Crowder is cut from a similar cloth as Beasley. Smaller in stature and uses quickness and speed to win games. As Cowboys fans, we know all to well the effect that he has in game. Crowder, however, has never had more than 66 receptions in a season and has only scored more than three touchdowns once in his four seasons in the NFL; back in 2016 when he scored seven.

Crowder is coming off of an injury this season that limited him to just nine games, 29 receptions for 388 yards and two touchdowns. In his three full seasons prior to 2018, Crowder averaged 64 receptions on 93 targets for 746 yards and four touchdowns.

If for some reason, his market comes in less than the $8 million per year that Spotrac.com is projecting, I'd be very interested in bringing Crowder to Dallas.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Each of these guys offers something intriguing that the Dallas Cowboys could use. Whether it's a defensive lineman or a slot wide receiver, they all bring something to the table. The Dallas Cowboys need to approach this offseason with a "go for it" mentality, but if they continue to follow their free agency philosophy, Mario Edwards and Jordan Matthews could be nice pieces to add to the team that offer a lot of upside.



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