How long should the regular season be? It's an issue often discussed among fans and NFL members alike ... should the season be longer? The majority opinion seems to be no since it would put an added strain on players that are already battling through bumps and bruises over 16 games in the regular season, then you add the pre-season into the mix and it just seems cruel.
But the latest discussions seem to be focusing on the idea of a trade-off between the two, converting a pre-season game or two into regular season games so the overall schedule is still the same.
Roger Goodell has his take on the situation, but it appears that he is more worried about profit than anything. You see it's hard to justify the NFL's current pricing for pre-season games when the starters rarely play more than three quarters in a pre-season game, and even that's beyond the norm aside from one game.
It's a valid point too; tickets cost just as much for less performance and less stakes. Even season ticket holders have to pay full price those games, so it begs the question, should a pre-season game be converted to a regular season game?
The proposed idea has either been switching one or two games over, which will add to the number of regular season games without adding any extra games to the whole season. But in reality it actually does add to the whole season for the teams, not in that they have to play an extra game, but that they have to compete at a professional level for an extra game.
That's another four quarters bone jarring hits that take a toll on the players. Another 60 minutes of stress on player's bodies that adds up by the time the playoffs roll around. That's another 60 snaps that the coaches have to plan and scheme for. The question is whether or not it's justified to put that burden on teams.
I won't sit here behind my little desk and pretend that I know the answer; truthfully I doubt anyone has the right answer on this subject. Owners stand to gain an extra $4 million in profit from even one game being converted, while teams would have to battle through an extra game trying to make it to the Super Bowl.
Personally I believe that we could use one more regular season game and one less pre-season game, but even I realize the consequences of such an adjustment. I cringe just like the next guy when players are hurt on the field. It's my biggest problem with Philly fans, is that when Irvin broke his neck 10 years ago in Philly, those fans were cheering as he lay still on the ground. Every fan in football should be sympathetic to a player being hurt, no matter what team they play for, no matter what's on the line, play-offs, super bowl title, or otherwise.
These guys go out and literally risk their lives and health for our entertainment, and unfortunately, that is not without consequence for some in the short term, and all in the long term.
It's not just because of the length of the schedule that these things come up, though. It's my opinion that the current format for bye weeks is in need of adjustment, with or without changing the number of regular season games.
No team should have a bye week before week 5, anything before that not only makes for an extended stretch of week after week abuse to end the season, but it guarantees injuries and poor performance in the playoffs. With the change of date and venue for the Pro Bowl in next year, it's even more evident as it's expected that few true starters will agree to play in the game if it's played a week before the Super Bowl. Effectively making the Pro Bowl a free-for-all game instead of an All-Star game, putting more stock into being elected to the Pro Bowl than actually participating in it.
So think bye week assignments should only span from week 5 to week 14, even with the current 16 game schedule. Beyond that it's wondered if the pre-season is even needed at all anymore.
Nowadays players are less likely to need exhibition games to get back into shape after an off-season since teams generally start off-season conditioning programs before the draft in April, and they now go through multiple voluntary workouts, OTAs, and mini-camps before even attending the mandatory training camp. In all, there are plenty of reasons why the concept of a pre-season is just outdated and unnecessary.
Then again, would anyone argue that the pre-season games helped Matt Cassel prepare for a season as the starter in New England after seeing Brady go down in week one? How about all the guys trying to earn a starting spot, or simply more playing time in general, with good performances in exhibition games? Are not pre-season games invaluable to teams for those reasons?
It's a sticky subject that has plenty of sound logic on both sides on the fence, and while it would set a new precedent for the NFL, should it not be the players, coaches, and owners deciding what happens to the schedule next? The owners, with the few exceptions the likes of Jerry Jones and Al Davis, have little to do with weekly team operations and arguably are not the best representatives in a debate such as this.
Then again, maybe it's all mute and nothing will come of the talks this year. It only means that it'll be discussed again next year. But you guys tell me, how many pre-season games should be re-designated as regular season games?
You can also comment below if you have a more varied opinion than what a poll can let you describe.
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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