As most people predicted would eventually happen, photos of the injuries to Nicole Holder as a result of her domestic violence incident with Greg Hardy surfaced today.
While the photos are consistent with the stories we've heard over the last 18 months, there's no escaping the fact that they bring a whole new reality to the situation that we hadn't previously been exposed to. They're not fun to see, and no I will not share them here.
Many Cowboys fans have gone on the defensive, which does tend to happen when fans of other NFL teams seem almost excited for another opportunity to throw a negative umbrella over an entire group of people. I'll be honest in saying the comments I've read on social media make me sad, more than anything. We actually had someone suggest that our social media manager buy a gun and commit suicide. You can't make this stuff up. There are actually individuals out there who believe taking the moral high ground on the Greg Hardy issue means wishing death upon others.
With that said, let me try to articulate my own views on Hardy, while hopefully speaking for a number of my fellow Cowboys fans.
When I saw articles in the off-season suggesting that the Cowboys sign him, I thought the idea was crazy. He had been out of football for a year, and I just didn't think the circus that would come to town with him was worth it. Again when the NFL passed down their 10-game suspension (and the Cowboys had acquired pass-rusher Randy Gregory in the draft) I found myself suggesting they just cut him. We'll figure out another way, I thought.
Eventually, Hardy went through the appeal process and got his suspension reduced to four games and it became obvious that the Cowboys were going to see this through. At that point, I decided I had to look at this situation holistically:
The NFL -- with all the evidence that was available to the judge in Hardy's court hearing -- had determined that Hardy is eligible to continue playing in the National Football League. It shouldn't be surprising, then, that some team would sign him. I may not be proud to call him a Cowboy, but the reality is that he's here and the Cowboys were planning to stand behind his right to continue his career as a professional football player.
I knew it wouldn't be a fun ride. The NFL knew that. The Cowboys knew that. As such, the last three weeks have gone pretty much as expected. People are angry. Rightfully so, even. They're angry that good things -- like getting paid millions of dollars to play a game for a living -- are happening to a guy like Greg Hardy. They're angry at Cowboys fans who refuse to condemn their team for giving Hardy that opportunity. They're angry at the NFL and Roger Goodell for making a much more concerted effort to punish Tom Brady for allegedly having footballs under-inflated than they made to punish an alleged domestic abuser.
I get it, and I empathize with it. I can even forgive some of the vitriol that has been directed at Cowboys fans who are trying to defend the Cowboys for signing Hardy. He hasn't exactly made any efforts since his reinstatement to change his image, so it's hard to see people defend him on any grounds.
Before you get too caught-up in all that, though, keep in mind that Hardy might be a free agent this off-season. Keep in mind that your favorite team might sign him. Face the reality that there's about a 75% chance your favorite team will at least make a phone call to his agent. Barring any new developments, that's just a fact.
A common claim being made right now is that the Cowboys were the only team that would have signed this guy. That is false. There were actually three teams who were willing to openly pursue Hardy almost immediately after he hit free agency. Even then, the number of teams willing to sign Hardy was not limited to three. There were three teams willing to pay him like a franchise pass-rusher.
Had those three teams stayed away from Hardy, his asking price would have dropped. Trust me, several NFL teams had some price they would have paid to fall on the grenade and be the first team to give Hardy a chance to come back. The Cowboys just had the biggest need at the position and were willing to pay the most money. I get the criticism directed at them for it anyway, but if we want to throw stones at the Cowboys then we should acknowledge the reality that Hardy was going to be on somebody's football team this year regardless.
Should Greg Hardy be allowed to play in the NFL? I understand arguments for and against it, but the bottom-line for me is that that decision has already been made using all the evidence that we have today. Nicole Holder accepted a cash settlement as retribution for what happened that night and has moved on with her life.
Frankly, I think we should all do the same.
How The Tables Have Turned for 2019 Dallas Cowboys
The 2018 season was a two-part tale for the Dallas Cowboys. The first is the story of a mediocre 3-5 team that couldn't get it going offensively. The second part is about a football team that turned its season around, made the playoffs, got a win in the postseason and ultimately lost to the team that ended up representing the NFC in Super Bowl LIII, the Los Angeles Rams.
Surely, 2018 didn't go as planned. The storylines leading to last season are actually very different from the ones we're hearing today. Let's take a look at a few examples of how the tables have turned for the Dallas Cowboys.
The need for a true WR1
Last season, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys preached the philosophy of not needing a #1 wide receiver. While that could've sound encouraging at the time, once the season began the team was proven wrong. They did need a WR1. Fortunately, this season we won't have to worry about it. This year, Dez Bryant shouldn't be a discussion topic among Cowboys' fans.
Amari Cooper is in the house. And he's been pretty good since he started playing with a Star on his helmet. If we have conversations about the WR position, they will not be about who's the #1 guy. With Michael Gallup showing up late in the season, it probably won't be about who is #2 either.
Back on top of the NFC East
Last year, the Dallas Cowboys were not really the favorites to win the NFC East. The Philadelphia Eagles had just made history by winning their first Super Bowl ever and it seemed like the Cowboys would have to get a wildcard spot to play in January. Now it's the Cowboys back on top after sweeping the Eagles and turning their once 3-5 season around.
That of course, means a tougher schedule next season. However, it's nice to be back on top of the division. These two teams will surely have an intense race for the division title next season. Maybe we even see them both in the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Sean Lee's uncertain future
I'm pretty sure no one expected Sean Lee to be considered a potential cap casualty for the 2019 season. Even if he was, it would've probably been anticipating an injury or something like that. No one would've imagined that Leighton Vander Esch would be so good to take Sean Lee's job.
The Cowboys' first round rookie truly earned the starting role as the defense's weak linebacker and he should keep it. With Sean Lee set to return to the field, I'm sure we didn't expect him to be a backup by now. We'll have to wait and see if the Cowboys decide to part ways with him. As a fan, it would certainly be painful. But we can't deny it would be a move that makes sense.
It's a crazy franchise on a crazy league. Who knows how things will go from now on, but the Dallas Cowboys certainly look like a promising team heading into the 2019 offseason. Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue to update you with the latest on your favorite NFL team.
Cowboys en Español: Volviendo a la Idea de Earl Thomas
El año pasado, Earl Thomas fue uno de los temas de conversación más frecuentes para los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys. Después de que los Seattle Seahawks no le dieran su deseada extensión de contrato, Thomas se convirtió en un candidato a ser intercambiado de su equipo. Entre los favoritos estaban los Cowboys, quienes tenían una necesidad en su defensiva secundaria. Ahora que la temporada 2018 llegó a su fin, la misma necesidad por un safety de calidad está presente en Dallas.
Sólo que en esta ocasión, Earl Thomas no está bajo contrato con ningún equipo. Su último momento con el uniforme de los Seahawks fue en un carro de lesiones, donde salía lesionado en dirección a su vestidor. Esto mientras se despedía de su equipo con el dedo de en medio extendido hacia sus entrenadores y compañeros. Así concluyó su temporada y su carrera en Seattle.
Ahora, listo para cumplir los 30 años en mayo, Earl Thomas probará la agencia libre cuando comience en marzo. Y sin lugar a dudas, uno de los equipos candidatos a firmarlo serán los Dallas Cowboys. Es un equipo que a pesar de tener una de las mejores defensivas la temporada pasada, se vería muy beneficiada con la llegada de un profundo del calibre de Thomas.
A pesar de su edad y las lesiones, Thomas continúa siendo uno de los mejores en la liga. Su talento es innegable y tendrá toda la disposición de demostrar lo que vale cuando tome el campo la próxima temporada. Cuando llegue el momento, podríamos ver una guerra de ofertas entre varios equipos de la NFL para llevarse al veterano a sus respectivas ciudades.
La pregunta es: ¿estarán los Dallas Cowboys en esa guerra de ofertas?
Los Cowboys tienen espacio en el tope salarial. Sin embargo, este no durará mucho considerando que DeMarcus Lawrence está esperando su merecida y cara extensión después de jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia en 2018. Además, jugadores que aún están bajo contrato también estarán buscando ofertas este offseason.
Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, y Byron Jones están en la lista de quehaceres de la administración. Eso sin mencionar a Cole Beasley, cuyo contrato ya expiró y podría llegar a la agencia libre en marzo.
A pesar de esta complicada situación, los Dallas Cowboys deberían buscar conseguir a Thomas. Siendo sinceros, la defensiva tiene mucho talento y podría mantener su nivel en 2019. Pero hace falta un jugador en la posición de safety para llevar a esta unidad a otro nivel. Un nivel realmente capaz de ganar en postemporada enfrentándose a cualquier tipo de ofensiva. Sin importar que tan explosiva sea. Y además de esto, un jugador que sea capaz de robar el balón y hacer jugadas de impacto constantemente.
Cuando los Cowboys se enfrentaron a Seahawks en temporada regular, Thomas dio un buen ejemplo de esto interceptando en dos ocasiones a la ofensiva de Dak Prescott.
A pasos de un equipo de campeonato, un movimiento agresivo para obtener a Earl Thomas sería algo genial para Dallas. Vimos como los Rams de Los Angeles fueron agresivos al construir su equipo y llegaron hasta el Super Bowl este febrero. Quizá es tiempo de que Jerry Jones y compañía sean igual de agresivos y vayan por ese safety elite que la afición lleva pidiendo desde el offseason del año pasado.
Slot Machine: Amari Cooper in the Slot Could be Even More Dangerous
Amari Cooper was a dangerous man with the Dallas Cowboys after he arrived via trade from the Oakland Raiders last season. He was one of the big reasons why they were able to turn around a season that looked as if it was circling the drain and I don't think anybody would argue the point. But, I think he could be even more dangerous in 2019, especially if Cole Beasley departs via free agency.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you pretty much know the topic of the Cowboys offseason so far has centered around Cole Beasley and his future with the organization. He has been invaluable in Dallas since arriving as an undrafted free agent in 2012, but it's looking more and more as if he could be taking his talents elsewhere in 2019.
With Beasley more than likely moving on, the Cowboys will need to find someone who can replace his production in the passing game, especially in the slot. Everybody assumes Dallas needs to go outside the organization to find that player, but I'm not so sure. I think they already have a wide receiver more than capable of stepping in, and he just so happens to be there first-round draft pick this year.
In case you haven't figured it out already, I'm talking about Wide Receiver Amari Cooper. He has mostly been used as an outside receiver in his professional career, but he does have the skill set and route running ability to be a really dangerous out of the slot. I'm not talking about a full-time move into the slot or anything, just a marginal increase in snaps.
According to Rotounderworld.com, only 12.6% of Amari Cooper's snaps in 2018 were out of the slot. For comparison sake, Cole Beasley's snaps in the slot was 85.9%, the highest of any receiver in the NFL last season. That's a huge difference, not one the Cowboys should try to match with Cooper or any other potential slot WR replacement.
Personally, I'd like to see Cooper's snaps playing out of the slot increased to around 20%. That would put him in Odell Beckham Jr. territory (19.9%), and we all know how difficult he is to cover all over the field. It would likely do the same for Amari Cooper.
I just really like the idea of him having the entire field to work with and the favorable matchup it creates with slot/nickel cornerbacks around the league. Can you imagine opposing defensive coordinators trying to figure out how to contain a player that has the kind of speed and route running ability that Amari Cooper has? They better stock up on Tylenol, because that is a surefire way to get a headache.
This is course is just speculation at this point, especially since we don't know what the Cowboys offense will look like with Kellen Moore taking over the playcalling duties. But if it was me, I'd be doing everything in my power to get the ball in the hands of my best WR, Amari Cooper, and that might mean increasing his snaps out of the slot.
What do you think about using Amari Cooper out of the slot more often in 2019?
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