The Dallas Cowboys defense – a unit that has already been mired in mediocrity for far too long – is now depleted by three suspensions to start off the 2016 season. Collectively, three starters in the front seven will miss 18 games in total, with Rolando McClain out for 10 games and Randy Gregory along with fellow defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence out for 4 games.
Cowboys' Head Coach Jason Garrett preaches the need to have the “right kind of guys” wearing the star on Sundays, but a closer look at the team's current suspensions compared to the rest of the league shows that Dallas still has a long way to go in this regard.
As of today, 17 NFL players will serve suspensions totaling 87 games.
This data came from Spotrac.com, and you can see their full suspensions list right here. Let's start with that total number of games that the league has handed down in suspensions. We already mentioned that Cowboys' defenders will miss a total of 18 games. This means that three Dallas Cowboys account for a fifth of the league's number of suspended games.
To make matters worse, you could probably guess by now that no other team has more suspended players than the Cowboys. The Ravens and Jaguars come close with two players each, but neither team will see players as close in importance to McClain, Gregory, and Lawrence miss significant time.
QB Tom Brady, WR Martavis Bryant, and DE Sheldon Richardson are arguably the three biggest names on this list. Even still, their teams feature a definitive plan with depth behind the suspended players to stay in contention.
I'm willing to bet that the Patriots will find a way to be relevant all season long again, the Steelers passing attack will still put up points, and the Jets defensive line will still torment quarterbacks.
The same cannot nearly be said about the Cowboys' defense as a whole, which will represent a third of a team that has serious Super Bowl aspirations.
It is alright to be frustrated, Cowboys Nation. All we can do is root for the players in silver and blue that will actually see the field every week, and represent what it truly means to be a Dallas Cowboy. Defensively, let's hope some of these guys can step up and make us forget about these suspensions.