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Next Day Rant: Barkley’s Leaping TD Shows Hypocrisy of NFL Rules

Jess Haynie

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Next Day Rant: Barkley's Leaping TD Shows Hypocrisy of NFL Rules

In yesterday's loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Giants' rookie RB Saquon Barkley made an amazing athletic leap from about the four-yard line to the endzone to score a touchdown. You'll see it on highlight reels all week, and deservedly so. But while impressive, the play also revealed a pretty glaring hypocrisy in the NFL's rulebook.

While still in midair, Barkley loses control of the football. Cowboys LB Joe Thomas goes up to stop Saquon, like a center protecting the rim in basketball, and hits the RB's arm as he's diving forward. The ball is dislodged before Barkley hits the ground.

However, because the ball broke the plane of the goal line before Barkley lost control, the play is ruled as a touchdown.

That's fine; that's the rule. And I'm sure that Ezekiel Elliott has benefited from that rule at some point in his career, and likely will again.

But now take that rule and compare it to what the NFL considers as "completing the catch" on a receiving play. Why is it so complicated and exacting for a catch to be a catch, but then Barkley's play is so easily called as a touchdown?

The issue is the concept of having possession of the football. It's a lot easier to say that running back, who got the ball handed to him and then dives toward the endzone, had clear possession of the ball.

But let's say the quarterback lobs the ball up in the endzone and a receiver catches it in midair. He has the ball securely in his hands and is hovering above the endzone. He's a good five yards past the goal line.

That receiver still has to land, while controlling the ball, to be awarded the catch and touchdown. If a defender comes up and knocks the ball out of his hands before that, it's ruled incomplete.

Even if the receiver lands briefly, but a defender comes through and immediately dislodges the ball in some way, it's not a catch.

See the disparity?

Dez Bryant, packers, The Dez Catch

Dez Bryant's infamous incompletion against the Green Bay Packers in the 2014 playoffs.

Of course, I'm bringing this conversation back to Dez Bryant and the 2014 playoffs. What good Cowboys fan wouldn't?

Dez catches the ball, takes two steps, dives forward, and maintains possession all the way to the ground. The ball only becomes dislodged upon hitting the turf.

Had he been a running back diving forward on a carry, it's no problem. The ground can't cause a fumble.

But according to the NFL rules, it CAN cause an incompletion.

Now let's go back to Barkley's play; his feet weren't even on the ground when the ball crosses the goal line. He loses control of the ball while still in midair.

And again, rules are rules. The officials made the right call yesterday on Saquon's touchdown. I'm not disputing that one bit.

But my point here is that the NFL expects a whole heck of a lot from these receivers, but gives tremendous leeway to running backs in similar situations. "Possession" is a much higher standard for one type of play than another.

An even better example is this play from last season:

Steelers Jesse James Overturned Touchdown Ruled Incomplete Pass "does not survive the ground"

Patriots-Steelers 2017 NFL Week 15 12-17-2017 Ben Roesthlisberger pass to Jesse James incomplete after touchdown is overturned by Referee Tony Corrente. Good call, Ref.

Jesse James is on the ground, ball in his hands, and breaks the plane. The football doesn't move until it hits the ground, and because he's a receiver that's an incompletion.

Simply put, it isn't fair.

If Barkley can get a touchdown the way he did, then James certainly deserved one on that play. Dez deserved his catch. So did Megatron. So have a lot of other receivers.

It just puts on display what the NFL can't seem to figure out; consistency in legislation. Whether it's plays on the field or in their enforcement of their domestic violence policy, the league's logic rarely aligns.

I know this seems like small potatoes given that Barkley's touchdown ultimately didn't cost Dallas the game. Even if it had, the Cowboys wouldn't have been hurt by the loss in any way.

But it's still stuck in my craw since yesterday, and reminded me of Dez's catch and other infuriating moments in recent years. Even these calls now on defensive players who can't seem to hit a QB cleanly, no matter how hard they try.

I just wish football still made sense.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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Should Cowboys Consider Trading for Disgruntled Packers S Josh Jones?

Brian Martin

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Should Cowboys Consider Trading for Disgruntled Packers S Josh Jones?

Despite their insistence that upgrading the safety position was a top offseason priority, the Dallas Cowboys haven't really done much to improve the backend of their secondary. They did sign former Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals Safety George Iloka as a free agent and drafted Donovan Wilson in the sixth-round in this year's NFL Draft, but neither player looks like a clear-cut upgrade at this point. Fortunately, there's still time to find Xavier Woods' counterpart for 2019.

Xavier Woods is the only clear-cut starter at safety currently on the Dallas Cowboys roster. Other than that, your guess is as good as mine as to who starts opposite him this season. With that in mind, the Cowboys should be keeping all of their options open, including acquiring players who get released or even making a trade for someone they like. The latter is what I want to talk about today.

A potential safety who could be put on the trade block that I'm kind of intrigued with is Josh Jones, who has reportedly requested a trade from the Green Bay Packers.

Rob Demovsky on Twitter

Packers safety Josh Jones is skipping the voluntary OTAs and working out in Florida because he's hoping to be traded, a source told ESPN. The source said the 2017 second-round pick believes it would be best for both parties if they parted ways. Story coming on ESPN shortly.

Josh Jones clearly sees where he stands with the Green Bay Packers after they signed Adrian Amos in free agency and drafted Darnell Savage Jr. 21st overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, thus his absence from OTA's and trade request. He understands the business and knows he's not going to see the field much behind those two, meaning his best chance for playing time would be in a different uniform.

Josh Jones, Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers S Josh Jones

It's not all that shocking Jones has requested a trade. Even before the Packers added Amos and Savage he wasn't receiving a lot of playing time. He's just never seemed to fit into what Green Bay was trying to do on the backend of their defense. It may be in the best interest of both parties to mutually part ways. This is where the Dallas Cowboys come in.

I believe Josh Jones is exactly the type of safety Kris Richard would like to pair Xavier Woods with on the backend of the Cowboys defense. He fits the criteria Richard likes in his defensive backs as far as size, length, and speed are concerned. And, he also has the kind of skill set/mindset to become that Kam Chancellor "enforcer" type of strong safety.

Josh Jones is at his best when he can play around the line of scrimmage, much like Chancellor was during his time with the Seahawks. But, Jones also has the ability to be a factor in coverage as well. The only real question here is whether or not he's an upgrade over the likes of Jeff Heath, George Iloka, and maybe even rookie Donovan Wilson?

In all honesty, I don't have the answer to that question. Josh Jones really hasn't received a fair opportunity to prove himself in his first two years in the NFL. I believe the skill set is there to start in the league, but there's not much there to back up that belief.

Personally, I'd be willing to part way with a late round pick if I were the Cowboys to acquire Josh Jones. I like the idea of bringing him in to work with Kris Richard and allowing him to compete for the starting job next to Xavier Woods. This is exactly the kind of low risk/high reward move Dallas likes to gamble on, and it could potentially pay off in a big way.

Where do you stand? Should the Cowboys consider trading for Josh Jones?



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How Can The Cowboys Force More Turnovers In 2019?

Kevin Brady

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Ranking The Dallas Cowboys Rookies Through Week 8
Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

2018 seemed like the beginning of a new era. A defensive era. For the first time in years the Cowboys were able to consistently lean on their defense during games, staying alive even as their offense sputtered and limped through stretches early in the season.

The defense was downright prolific some weeks. They carried the Cowboys to an inspiring home victory over the New Orleans Saints to put them in prime position to make the playoffs. They dominated the Wild Card game in key moments, making key stops and holding the Seahawks to just 22 points in the win. They featured one of the league's best individual pass rushers in DeMarcus Lawrence, an All Pro cornerback in Byron Jones, and one of the league's most exciting young linebacker duos.

For all of this success, this defense still lacked one thing. Takeaways.

The Cowboys forced only 9 interceptions in 2018, ranking 26th across the league. In fact, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was actually tied with Xavier Woods for the team lead in interceptions with just 2. When it comes to total takeaways the Cowboys' defense was a little better off, though, finishing 16th in the NFL.

Part of the "problem" seems to be their philosophy. The Cowboys have finished 26th, 24th, 27th, and 31st in interceptions dating back to 2015. They've also finished 9th, 25th, 18th, and 19th in team defense DVOA over that same stretch. Clearly there was an improvement in total defense in 2018, but neither their team defense nor ability to take the ball away has been strong since 2015.

The bigger problem, really, is a lack of luck. While this sounds like a cop-out, takeaways often do come down to just that. Of course putting yourself in the right place at the right time to benefit from a batted pass or overthrown ball matters, but those bounces finding the right hands is usually a matter of luck.

Anthony Brown's Resurgence A Great Sign for Cowboys Defense

Nov 30, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown (30) returns an interception against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Turnovers are incredibly volatile year to year, and as much as you'd like your players to "make their own luck," randomness does play a part here.

You can certainly argue the Cowboys have done their best this offseason to increase their chances at takeaways, however. By trading for defensive end Robert Quinn, re-signing DeMarcus Lawrence, and adding talented players to the middle of their defensive line as well, Dallas has put an emphasis on getting after the quarterback and corralling the opposing running game. Putting pressure on quarterbacks can force them into quick decision making or bad throws, which could in turn breed interceptions.

This is far from guaranteed, though. Plus the Cowboys play against some of the league's top quarterbacks this year, which hurts their chances of taking the ball away further.

In the end the Cowboys will need both the skill of their pass rushers and defensive backs to put them in good positions, and luck to smile down on them, if they'd like to turn around their takeaway numbers in 2019. And after all, this demoralizing trend has to reverse itself at some point, doesn't it?



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Will It Be The Cowboys, Or Another Team, Who Pays Byron Jones After 2019?

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Headlines -  81

After having his fifth year option exercised for the 2019 season, cornerback Byron Jones enters a contract year this Fall.

Jones inarguably had the best year of his career in 2018: earning not only his first Pro Bowl selection but also Second Team All Pro honors for his performance. Doing it all without an impressive stat sheet, Jones was able to let his film speak for itself throughout most of the year, and he became the number one cornerback we'd all hoped he could be when the Cowboys decided to take the freakishly athletic defensive back in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

This contract year is quite unique for Byron Jones, however. Next offseason the Cowboys will be forced to re-sign and extend just about all of their key contributors on both sides of the ball. DeMarcus Lawrence already got his contract, but Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and others still await their deals. Deals which the front office has all-but explicitly promised will come.

This leaves Jones, the former first round pick and now former All Pro, generally considered to be the odd man out. So while 2019 is a contract year for Byron Jones, he may be earning himself a contract from a completely different team.

Jones has had an interesting road to this contract season. One which would be a shame for the Cowboys to waste. Moving between cornerback and safety during the first three years of his career, Jones fell out of the coaches' good graces while playing out of his most natural position. Under Kris Richard's new regime, though, Jones had his best season to date. He looked to finally be comfortable in his role, and was now playing for a coach who believed he could be a special player.

Now that Byron Jones has found his place in the Cowboys defense, and has earned his way into conversations with the league's top cornerbacks, he's likely priced himself out of the Cowboys' future plans.

It's funny how that works out. Of course, Jones should go get paid, and I'd never fault a guy for maximizing his value on the market. But there's a good chance the Cowboys make the mistake of allowing a premier cornerback to walk out of their building next offseason. But if they want to retain players like Elliott and Cooper, they may not have any other choice.



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