5 Reasons Cowboys Fans Should Be Excited for the 2015 NFL Season

Dallas, Dallas Cowboys, NFL

The NFL off-season is one of the longest gaps in professional sports schedules. This drought of football has been very tiresome, but Cowboys fans have plenty to be excited about. Below, I have compiled a short list of five reasons Cowboys fans should be excited going into the 2015 NFL season.

1. Dez Bryant’s Contract

Bryant’s future with the Dallas Cowboys proved to be very cloudy after the Dallas front office stamped their #1 WR with the “franchise tag” during the free agency period. Although it was a very bold move, Bryant threatened to sit out pre-season and a couple of regular season games if the “franchise tag” remained as his contract status. To sum things up, Bryant inked his long-term deal, securing his place with the Dallas Cowboys for five more years.

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2. Elite Offensive Line

Now, DeMarco Murray had a great rushing season last year but most of the credit needs to go to the offensive line. The Cowboys had the NFL’s best offensive line in 2014, and they’ve added more strength this offseason with the addition of rookie La’el Collins. Collins gives Dallas four first-round caliber players up front, if he beats out Ronald Leary at left guard. Regardless of who starts, Dallas’ offensive line will be the best in the league once again.

3. Another Year Under Coach Jason Garrett

Jason Garrett: most scrutinized coach in the NFL. That was the storyline prior to last season when he led the Cowboys to a 12-4 record and a playoff win. Now just six months removed from signing a five-year contract, Garrett is in Dallas for the long haul. Cowboys fans should feel good about placing their faith in his hands for years to come.

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4. Return of Sean Lee

Dallas’ defense was formidable at best last season. Injuries didn’t help the cause, especially Sean Lee suffering a torn ACL. Lee is on track to be 100% this season,  With Lee back as a centerpiece of the defense, Dallas could rank in the top 15 in defense this season. Lee’s return should excite Cowboys fans big time.

5. New Running Game

With Murray no longer in the backfield, Cowboys fans will turn their attention to Joseph Randle. Along with Darren McFadden, Randle will attempt to replace All-Pro DeMarco Murray in Dallas, which is no easy task. On the bright side, Randle averaged 6.7 yards per carry last season and showed incredible vision and speed on numerous runs. He’s a home run threat on almost every carry and should be exciting to watch running behind this offensive line.

The Dallas Cowboys are legit Super Bowl contenders. As long as Dallas keeps its intensity up and cancels out the noise from the media, this team will have a great chance at making a better playoff run than last year.

Go Cowboys!

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My Visit to AT&T Stadium

Dallas Cowboys, General Sports, NFL

This past weekend, I spent the eve of my birthday (June 14th) visiting AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. I recommend a tour of the stadium for fans of all NFL teams, architects, and people who enjoy sports. This tour included visits to Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones’ “man-cave”, mid- and field-level suites, as well as the Dallas Cowboys’ and Cheerleaders’ Locker Rooms. At the end of the tour, I was able to walk around the field and take pictures as long as I wanted.

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Surprised to see Mo Claiborne’s locker shared with Cowboys offensive assistant Kevin Carberry. #24 can possibly be on his way out of the door soon.

I’ve attended a couple Dallas Cowboys games and NCAA March Madness events at AT&T Stadium, but I’m pretty sure the best way to see the stadium is embarking on a tour.

Check out additional pictures from the tour below:

Cowboys Cheerleaders Locker Room

Cowboys Cheerleaders Locker Room

Cowboys Locker Room

Cowboys Locker Room

Cowboys Tunnel

Cowboys Tunnel

Miller Lite Club

Miller Lite Club

Mid-level Suites

Mid-level Suites

"Jerry's Box"

“Jerry’s Box”

Issues in the NFL: Player Safety

NFL
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Does anybody know what constitutes as a legal hit anymore? I’m sure the NFL Front Office easily defines it. However, the referees’ interpretation during on-the-field play shows there may not be much agreement on “legal hits” among the pool of officials.

Now, the term “defenseless player” is clearly defined, yet really confusing. Plus, the rules of contact with a defenseless player (and quarterbacks) are even more confusing.

Many receivers argue in favor of taking hits above their waist (and below the neck) rather than below their waist in the efforts to decrease leg injuries. But, the NFL’s rules are tipped toward lessening concussions from above the neck hits.

In my opinion, the NFL wants to avoid being sued by current/former players who may have suffered concussions (long-term costs) by risking the players’ immediate safety through leg tackling (short-term costs).

Both sides (players and the NFL) have their valid arguments:

  • The players want to perform at high levels in the majority of their careers, due to the uncertain job security of the NFL serving as a revolving door of talent.
  • Many players facing the final years on their contract desire job and salary security, which drives them to play through various injuries.
  • On the other side of the coin, the league primarily wants to continue to make money which is totally understandable (the NFL is a business corporation).
  • Decreasing the chance of being sued by current/former players saves the NFL money in the long run.

Now, when the players are unsure of what is and isn’t legal, there could be a problem. And even when the men officiating the game are confused on what to call, there is definitely an issue.

The integrity of the game is at risk when these confusing rules come into play. Many guys have been fined over the smallest touch to a defenseless player (or quarterback). I’m not saying every quarterback is a defenseless player, but some (elite) QB’s receive this preferential treatment.
Ok, maybe it was more than an elbow swipe.

Sometimes Robert Griffin or Eli Manning would get plastered in the pocket without a flag thrown. There were other times when Tom Brady or Peyton Manning would receive an additional 15-yards for getting swiped on the elbow.

If the rules continue to be confusing and almost impossible to consistently interpret, we may see one of the most-watched sports come up short to living up to its already-established potential.

What do you think?

How can referees become better interpreters of the rules? Is the NFL front office risking safety in exchange for lawsuit avoidance? Do players actually have a voice on this issue?

The human element of officiating seems to work in baseball, but not when awarding a team an additional 15-yards for something that looked illegal.

(Not So) Above the Rules

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The NFL has sent a message to Tom Brady and the New England franchise in their response to Deflate-Gate. Although this punishment will not greatly affect the legacy of Tom Brady, this adds to the numerous scandals of the New England Patriots under Owner Robert Kraft and Head Coach Bill Belichick.

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Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick

The NFL viewed Brady’s actions as arrogance, and I know the league office saw the deflating of the footballs as the mechanical equivalent of using PEDs. That is not such a ridiculous comparison. PEDs destroy the competitive balance of the game and so, too, can altering the equipment.

This ruling—Brady suspended four games, the Patriots fined $1 million and the team losing a first-round pick next season and a fourth-rounder in 2017—has many layers. The NFL clearly decided that Spygate, the team’s last cheating scandal, was part of the equation.

Also, we can look at this decision as part-political. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell needed to satisfy 31 other owners, head coaches, and general managers who most likely believe that Goodell and Kraft were too close and that the NFL overlooked the Patriots’ alleged cheating for too long.

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Patriots’ Owner Robert Kraft

Ryan Clark spoke for most of those other 31 teams when he said, “There was a feeling around the league…that the New England Patriots will bend the rules, they will try to find ways to win games that may border on cheating.”

But what this ruling is mostly about is Brady and the future of the sport. The NFL, in the past, has gotten decisions wrong. Ray Rice was originally suspended for two games for knocking out his fiancee. They will tell you that was a mistake (and Goodell has said it publicly).

Those times of easy punishments are over. That’s the message. It’s a new day because the league knows what’s at stake here. The game can’t be viewed as wrestling. Whether players pump up their bodies with fake drugs or deflate a football, the NFL knows the core of what made it the biggest sport in America is believability.

It’s true that teams warmed up footballs or Aaron Rodgers wants his footballs overinflated or teams used an illicit substance to get a better grip on the football.

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Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

The difference between those teams and the Patriots is prior history. Spygate is a part of this. Those other teams don’t have a major scandal on their record. The warming of the footballs also happened in broad daylight, and when they were caught, the teams didn’t pull a Brady. When Brady was busted, he basically said, “Me? Cheat? What?”

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Patriots QB Tom Brady

There’s a chance Brady’s suspension is reduced to two games, but the message was still sent. You are great, Brady, but you are not above everyone else.

You’re not bigger than the league.

Good Pick, Dallas

Dallas, Dallas Cowboys, Home, NFL

I have to admit, I was flipping back-and-forth between the NFL Draft and the Spurs/Clippers game (which is going to Game 7, this Saturday). However, this year’s NFL Draft was a little more interesting, based on which direction the Cowboys would go.

Last night, the Dallas Cowboys selected Jameis Winston Connecticut cornerback Byron Jones. Great move by the front office to beef up the defense!

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Rookie Byron Jones at the 2015 NFL Combine

The star of the NFL Scouting Combine jumped from under-the-radar prospect to first-round pick after testing well and showing scouts he could cover better than everyone thought. Jones fills a huge need on the Cowboys‘ defense, and his versatility will allow him to play a number of spots in the secondary.

As of now, the Cowboys are not expecting to pay CB Brandon Carr what he wants and CB Morris Claiborne has yet to live up to his draft potential.

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CB Morris Claiborne

Jerry Jones expressed his concern regarding the need to fill in the gaps on defense. Well, the organization stuck by his words.

Jones, who had eight career interceptions, brings help in the secondary and allows the Cowboys to look at other needs in the later rounds. The Cowboys allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 66.5 percent of their passes in 2014. I’m pretty sure the Cowboys hope Jones can improve that stat a lot in 2015.

CB Byron Jones is coming off shoulder surgery, but should be ready to go in offseason training.

Go Cowboys!

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