What this world needs is another opinion on Tony Romo. I'm certain of it.
Please bear with me and resist the urge to eye-roll. Throwing my hat in the contributors ring around here should call for an initiation of sorts, complete with a formal declaration, as in Name, Rank, Serial Number, and Stated Position on Tony Romo. I know and accept that what I say here will be held against me forever more, and might even prompt an audit.
The name's Erod, scrub captain, BR549, and Lord help me, I love the knucklehead at QB. Can't help it, and the intervention and therapy you prescribe won't work, so stuff it.
So let's get to it without trudging the tired and beaten paths more than minimally necessary. Romo is synonymous with politics, religion, chickens, eggs, and Gordon/Earnhardt. Hadn't been an original thought on this subject since TO had money and LeBron was a Cavalier. I mean, the first time he was a Cavalier.
Simply put, never has a player this good been this summarily and unfairly dismissed in the NFL, ever. If you can name another, please share.
Before I make my case for Romo, know this about me. I detest statistical arguments. Despise them to their core. Why? Because they're too often used definitively to cloud the truth. Too many think stats win arguments, when they do exactly the opposite. We have an inherent skill to create them from thin air, and ambiguously skew them as our agenda requires. Reality is, you can't quantify players in team sports with just mathematics. It ain't golf.
Football is more art than science, so to truly know and understand a player, it takes time and thought and prolonged observation, something not everyone can or will devote to a single player. I can't say from here that I fully understand or appreciate Matt Ryan or Jay Cutler or Phillip Rivers either. I don't drench myself in the day-to-day with those teams to have more than a fan's impression from afar. However, I still take care not to lean on stats for any of them, and base my impressions from my mind's eye, with room to change my mind.
Jeff George had kickass stats. So did Ernest Givens and Herman Moore. Troy Aikman and Drew Pearson and Lynn Swann didn't. Peyton Manning has them; Russell Wilson doesn't. Numbers reflect circumstance, style, and approach. Imagine if Emmitt had been drafted by Kansas City, or Jerry Rice was catching passes from Steve Pelluer.
Hey, let's be honest, Romo has great stats. A bajillion yards passing and enough TD passes to make Roger and Troy blush. "Greatest QB rating in the 4th quarter of all time" is the coolest one to say out loud. Whatever, I don't care about Romo's numbers because his case doesn't depend on them. All I've had to do is open my eyes and my mind, watch the games, and ask myself....
Where would this team have been the past five years without him?
Pardon the shudder, that's scary to ponder. Romo has danced the Charleston on a high-wire act throughout this ongoing circus since Tuna left town, suffering through Wade, and now waiting on the rebuilding hopes of Garrett, McClay, and now Linehan. I so wish Parcells was 10 years younger and could have raised him properly in this Beatles-band spotlight of Dallas.
Way back when, Romo inherited a pretty salty team, but he was an NFL quarterback in training at the time, relying on Jedi mind tricks and a boyish grin to get him from one huddle to the next. As the newness wore off and his game sharpened, that same roster began to age and falter almost overnight. His arrow pointed opposite the team's, without enough fruitful draft picks and cap room to catch the fall.
The offensive line became tattered and torn, and the defense regressed into historic incompetence. There were still shiny, skilled objects to distract the masses, which allowed Romo to amaze us all with sleight-of-hand and Houdini acts along the way. Because of him, this 4-12 roster got more attention than it deserved.
Garrett knows this. So do coaches and quarterbacks past and present, who often seem to be the only public voices to support Romo. Even the likes of Jaworski and Simms and well-intentioned RG3 have made a distinct point to say to him and us, "You're a damn fine quarterback, don't listen to what everybody says about you."
What grits my teeth is that so many Cowboys fans don't get this. They go full goose-step and adopt the opinions of ne'er-do-wells hundreds of miles away, instead of trusting their eyes and their instinct. It's easier and less exhausting to just chime in with the thoughtless hordes.
No, I haven't forgotten the bobbled snap. (How many starting QBs hold on field goals?) I watched the failure of 13-3 end against the Giants. (If Crayton doesn't drop the ball.) I saw the 2011 finale in New York. (Romo played with a sprained throwing hand), the 2012 pick against Washington, (the defense gave up nearly 300 yards rushing before Romo's awful pass), and Orton against the Eagles (if Romo played that day, they win easily).
And yes, I've seen the late-game interceptions that transfix the zombies. Games, mind you, that Dallas had no business being competitive in without Romo. Brady and Manning throw late interceptions, too, but their defenses put out the fire, so nobody remembers. Other quarterbacks do - or don't - throw picks late, but they're down three touchdowns, so nobody cares. I share your frustration with Romo at times, understand, but balanced in context.
Just how perfect does he have to be for this team to win?
Forgotten too often are the numerous games, more than most any QB, that Romo has taken the Cowboys down the field to win a game late, too. Most of those included flaccid rushing efforts and a Cowboy defense giving up yards and points in droves. So many losses that should have been, but weren't, thanks to No. 9. So many drubbings made competitive.
Perhaps the pinnacle of my pissed-off-edness came last year against Denver. We ALL saw Romo outplay Peyton, stem to stern, on every level, before stepping on his lineman's foot and throwing a plucked duck that led to a OT field goal. Romo was brilliant beyond brilliant, but couldn't overcome his French-ified defense that day, and he finally made a mistake. Nanoseconds after the game, the simpletons and dolts spilled from every crevice and hung Romo in effigy. It explains so much about so many things, I suppose, especially beyond football.
I contend that if Romo was the QB in Seattle, he'd be going for his third straight championship this season. Same for San Fran. He's markedly better than both Wilson and Kaepernick, though his circumstances aren't. Jerry's past failings ladle over this team and haunt Romo's legacy.
If there's football justice - and there often isn't - good health will allow Romo a real shot or two with a worthy roster. It's getting better, but it might oughta hurry it up. Bad backs are onerous injuries.
When Romo is no mo', it'll finally sink in among us all. I hope it doesn't come to that, but I know this. We're going to miss him when he's gone.
Will DeMarcus Lawrence Be Franchise Tagged Again in 2019?
The deadline for extending players under the franchise tag has come and gone last Monday, in a day in which none of the remaining tagged players reached an agreement with their respective teams. That includes Dallas Cowboy Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence, who's set to earn $17M in 2018.
The front office and the 26-year old defensive end failed to agree to a new contract before the season's start, but we saw that coming. After all, there was never a point in which we had the classic "X player and his team are close to a new deal" headline.
All of this makes the future of the Cowboys' promising "War Daddy" very uncertain. What lies a head of the player that put on an impressive show in 2018?
Since 2017 was Lawrence's breakout year, racking up 14.5 sacks trough the season, we have leaned towards the narrative of last season being his only good one. His performance last season was impressive and clearly his best one yet, but we tend to overlook 2015.
In his sophomore season, the only other year in which he has played 16 games, he finished the campaign with eight sacks and 35 tackles (55 combined). Really, the idea of 2017 being his only good year is not as accurate as we might think.
That being said, I think it's more likely that we see another great year from him this upcoming season than seeing a disappointing one. This, of course, will end up being the main thing that determines his future in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys front office really took a risk by tagging Lawrence this offseason. #90 was reportedly asking for an average of $17M per year in his long-term contract, which is Olivier Vernon kind of money.
So what if he puts a similar season or an even better one? Lawrence and his agent could end up asking for even more money. Perhaps in the 18 or 20 million dollars per year range. If that ends up being the case, the team will find itself in a tough position when trying to reach an agreement with its promising pass rusher.
Which leads us to the possibility of seeing the Cowboys franchise tagging Lawrence for the second consecutive season. Dallas will already be negotiating a contract extension with QB Dak Prescott, and things will get complicated. Even more if they decide to pursue a big-time free agent in March, such as Earl Thomas.
It would make sense, from a financial perspective, to hand the tag twice in consecutive years to D-Law. However, it shouldn't be the priority. If he plays like he did in 2017, the front office will be more than wise to extend him for good.
According to OverTheCap.com, the Cowboys will have approximately $50.6M. Seemingly, the team's cap woes will be over soon.
Fortunately, Lawrence didn't become a headache by threatening to holdout for offseason programs and even training camp. However, don't expect that to happen if he finds himself under the tag next year.
Careers in the NFL are short, so DeMarcus will surely want to get paid. If he keeps it up, he'll deserve it. As much as he deserves it, though, football is a cold business. If the Jones need to tag him, they will.
Do you think the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence in 2019?
Without Looming Suspension, RB Ezekiel Elliott Should Shine In 2018
NFL Films typically does a good job of exposing some truths around NFL teams. Whether through "Hard Knocks" or Amazon's new "All or Nothing" series, these documentaries do an excellent job of giving fans an inside look of their favorite teams.
If anything was revealed through the Cowboys' All or Nothing series on their 2017 season, it's that Ezekiel Elliott's suspension weighed heavy on his mind all year.
The Pro Bowl running back did not look, act, or play like himself while awaiting decision on his incoming suspension. And, once it was finally announced he would serve the six games, the entire team collapsed in Atlanta.
Despite the clear and detrimental effects Elliott's suspension had on the Cowboys' season, Zeke still put up more-than-respectable numbers; rushing for almost 1,000 yards and averaging a league leading 98.3 yards per game.
Now, Ezekiel Elliott enters a season with no doubts about his own availability. Scott Linehan gets to coach an offense that knows they will have their best player for the entire season barring major injury. And, Jason Garrett can lead his team without addressing questions about Elliott's future day in and day out.
Of course, these effects aren't quantifiable. We can't sit here and say that without the pressure of court appearances and suspensions that Elliott will be worth "X" amount of more yards and "Y" more touchdowns.
But I do believe we can say, without question, that playing with a clear mind and without a looming suspension will breed the type of production we saw from Zeke his rookie year.
We can say that Elliott has had a weight lifted off his shoulders, and could be looking for revenge on a league he feels did him wrong.
And, for the Cowboys sake, I hope this is true. Because they are going to need Ezekiel Elliott to be even better than he ever has been if they hope to make a run at the Super Bowl in 2018.
Cowboys en Español: El Regreso de Randy Gregory
A sólo días de que los Dallas Cowboys aterricen en Oxnard, California para dar inicio a su training camp como todos los años, el equipo recibió excelentes noticias respecto a la selección de segunda ronda del 2015: Randy Gregory. Después de pasar todo el 2017 suspendido, el ala defensiva ha sido oficialmente reintegrado por la NFL.
Gregory, quien tuvo muchos problemas debido al uso de marihuana, ha pasado los últimos meses rehabilitándose para poder volver a vestir la estrella y volver al emparrillado. Los Cowboys, quienes siempre apoyaron a su joven jugador, sin duda estarán felices de verlo de vuelta en el equipo por motivos más allá que el football americano.
Sin duda alguna, antes de estar emocionados y felices por verlo en el campo intimidando a quarterbacks rivales, deberíamos estar alegres por el logro personal de Randy como un ser humano. Realmente hizo un esfuerzo consciente en un lugar en el que muchos se hubieran rendido y dejado sus sueños de ser parte de la NFL. Pero no lo hizo, y ahora, todos sus esfuerzos han valido la pena.
El siguiente paso en su lista por-hacer, es volver al campo y poco a poco, ganarse su puesto en el equipo y después, la titularidad. La última vez que vimos a Gregory en el campo, fue contra Philadelphia, en el final de temporada del 2016.
En este juego, Gregory mostró muchos destellos de lo que sería capaz de hacer semana tras semana en la liga y porque valió la pena nunca dejarlo ir, lo cual no hubiera tenido sentido hacer, dado que los Cowboys no les costaba nada (literalmente) mantenerlo en el equipo.
Sean Martin escribió un artículo recientemente en el que analiza este partido a fondo.
El potencial de Gregory es inmenso, suficiente incluso, para aventurarse a decir que se convertirá en el defensive end (ala defensiva) derecho antes de lo esperado. El reto más grande para el jugador de 25 años será regresar a una condición física óptima para la NFL.
Afortunadamente, a diferencia del 2016, Gregory no estará regresando a media temporada. Su llegada toma lugar justo a tiempo para el training camp, dándole tiempo para regresar a la forma en la que tiene que estar.
Una vez ahí, ¿qué tanto le tomará ganarse un rol más importante que el de Tyrone Crawford y Taco Charlton? A pesar de que prácticamente no lo hemos visto jugar en Dallas, sabemos el potencial que tiene para convertirse en un defensivo de suma importancia para los Cowboys.
Un año después de ver la mejor temporada en la carrera de DeMarcus Lawrence, los Cowboys tendrán el potencial de una estrella similar en el lado derecho de su línea defensiva. Gregory tiene una montaña que escalar para cumplir las expectativas de los aficionados, pero no será una sorpresa si lo logra.
Vaya, no olvidemos que si no fuera por sus problemas fuera del campo, hubiera sido seleccionado en el Top 10 del Draft del 2015. Tiene el potencial de conseguir diez sacks por temporada.
Con un poco de suerte, no nos equivocaremos en tenerle fe al jugador que ha tenido un gran viaje para llegar a este punto. El punto de ponerse el casco e ir a trabajar con su equipo.
Incluso si sólo llega a ser un jugador de rotación, sin duda será importante para el éxito del equipo. Entre DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Randy Gregory y el resto del talento que los Cowboys tienen en la línea defensiva, el equipo podría tener un frente de muy buena calidad.
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