Usually this is the time in the season where a football writer/blogger analyzes the moves made during free agency and looks forward to the NFL Draft. Unfortunately for the Cowboys this offseason there are no significant moves to point to this week that are even worth the time or thought process to evaluate. This leaves the NFL Draft to discuss, but this writer/blogger has a Mock Draft coming out next week for Landry Hat, so here I sit in Limbo about what to write about for this weekly column. To gather ideas I fled to Facebook, where there are multiple NFL Groups, (Realistic NFL Fans – Extreme Football Talk, being the best) but there are even strictly Cowboys groups where people float out topics for daily debate. This week was dominated by two topics and the media has even caught onto them and as I sit here writing this column I need to suck down an entire bottle of Advil just to keep my head from exploding with the rhetoric and complete stupidity of each topic.
The first topic hits directly at the Cowboys fan, and there is a growing trend in Cowboys fans that is sickening. Tony Romo has been an enigma in every sense of the word. His up and down play throughout his career has been enough to drive this Cowboys fan to the bottle of Jack Daniels each week. This week I have seen many Cowboys fans worried about Tony Romo’s contract extension and there is a split in the Cowboys Camp for people that want him extended, and those that say cut Romo altogether and draft a quarterback this April in the early rounds (1-3). The rhetoric on both sides gives a major headache to us Cowboys fans caught in the middle and in the form of being objective about the quarterback position.
To those people that say we should extend Romo for many years, that is ridiculous and the exact reason that the Cowboys are where they are today. They have extended contracts to marginal players like Miles Austin, Doug Free in the past and left them strapped for cash this year when free agency came around. The Cowboys have made a history of vastly over analyzing and blindly throwing money at their own players which has left them little flexibility in the market to work with. The Cowboys need a fresh idea of how to handle this situation that will not hamper the team in the out years of this contract.
To those people that say cut Tony Romo and draft a quarterback this April, SHUT UP!!! you are even more ridiculous than those that want to extend Romo for a long term deal. Cutting Romo for the 2013 NFL Draft class of quarterbacks is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. Do some research, and watch some College Football before you offer such a ridiculous claim. The 2013 NFL Draft Class has ONE definite first round quarterback and a bunch of guys that may be lucky to get taken in round 3. Geno Smith – QB – West Virginia, is the only guy teams want to take in the first round and he is not likely to make it out of the top 10, so the Cowboys will be out of luck to get him. Even if by some miracle Smith falls and is still on the board when the Cowboys draft at number 18, they still should not waste a first round pick on a quarterback in 2013, because the 2014 class has 6 – 7 quarterbacks coming out that will be better than Smith. Johnny Manziel – QB – Texas A&M, is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and will be eligible to leave after next season to lead the class. AJ McCaron – QB – Alabama, is not only an efficient QB, but he has won TWO National Championships and has a great shot at a third this fall. Aaron Murray – QB – Georgia, came back for his senior year after playing in two straight SEC title games and has the opportunity to finally get Georgia to the top of the SEC again. Teddy Bridgewater – QB – Louisville, is one of the most complete quarterbacks in all of college football. After watching him in the Sugar Bowl, NFL scouts were drooling with his running and throwing abilities, and he has even been talked about being the first QB drafted in 2014. All of these players are miles ahead of the quarterbacks in this year’s class and with guys like Connor Shaw – QB – South Carolina, Zach Mettenberger – QB – LSU, Logan Thomas – QB – Virginia Tech, Taj Boyd – QB Clemson and Keith Price – QB – Washington are all either on par with Geno Smith or at least better than the secondary crop in the 2013 draft class. As you can see 2014 is the year to get another quarterback, not this April.
When looking at the Tony Romo situation in Dallas, the only option is to extend Romo because of his massive contract for the upcoming season. The big question is for how long. The best bet is to extend Romo for two years, leaving the door open for drafting a QB in 2014 if things go south next season. Romo’s camp is probably not going to sign a deal like that, so a 3 year extension is probably what will be more likely. If you have been watching any of the moves this past offseason, you should know that the final year of an NFL contract is not worth the paper it is written on. A three year deal would mean that Romo would take less money in 2013, and be under contract for 2014, with a buyout for the 2015 season. That would allow the Cowboys to play Romo this year, draft a QB in 2014 and they would be able to allow Romo to fight for his job in 2014 and if he defends his position, he will be an option to be traded or released before the 2015 season, when the newly drafted QB will be more than ready to take the reins.
The second NFL topic that has left this writer/blogger with a headache the size of a tumor is the new rule passed by the NFL owners that penalizes offensive players for dropping their head into an oncoming defender, when running in the open field. The NFL has come up with this rule in an effort to make the game safer against concussions. For years the NFL has been penalizing defenders for big hits while allowing the offense to get away with anything they want. This rule was an effort to show that the NFL is not just penalizing defenders, but being equally concerned about all players. All of the excuses for this new rule is a load of B/S, and if you believe this has anything to do with the game on the field, I’ve got some ocean front property in Arizona to sell to you.
The media, especially ESPN, has been critical of this rule and it has lead fans to get equally upset about the changes in the game. They have spent most of their time spitting vitriol at NFL commissioner Rodger Goddell, the owners and the competition committee for drawing it up and passing it 31 – 1 at the NFL Owner’s Meetings last week. They have neglected the one group of people at fault for this rule even being in place.
Before we get to that group, lets take a look at how this rule will change the NFL as we know it. The rule says that any player that lowers their head and uses their helmet to initiate contact with another player will be penalized. Cowboys Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith was critical of the rule saying “This rule seems like it was made up by people that never played football in their life.” Smith may be spot on with his assumption and this writer/blogger will go one step further and say this rule may be made by people that have no idea about how the human body works. If you are moving forward and someone is looking to hit you, you use your shoulder to protect yourself, last time I checked, the head is attached to the shoulder and will go wherever the shoulder goes. This rule will also cause confusion for officials on the field, who cannot even be consistent on what is and what is not pass interference. The officials will now be asked to judge the intent of a person running with the ball against the intent of the defender trying to knock them down. As this rule goes into effect, look at the vitriol of analysts now, when games have not been played and just wait until the first big game is decided when a running back breaks outside for a first down to put his team in field goal range by running over a defender, but the yellow flag comes out and they are penalized 15 yards and takes the team out of range, or causes the kick to be harder. The level of outrage for that scenario will be akin to a forest fire in the middle of a drought.
Now we get to the real headache caused by this issue. The outrage of this issue hit all forms of media and has been brought up by people that have no idea how the NFL works. One complaint was that this will extend games and cause more reviews, I saw that on one show this week and almost fell off my couch. I talk about this first, because it is the easiest myth to debunk. For those of you worried about length of the game being affected by this rule, let me ease your pain right now. Hit yourself with a hammer, because you have no clue how the NFL works, the game will not be longer because of this because a coach cannot challenge a penalty on the field. Refs may get together and discuss the call more to be correct about what they saw, but they will not review any penalty for illegal hit.
The biggest thing the media has been afraid to tackle is the reason this rule exists. The NFL spokespeople like to tell us that it is all about player safety, but that is a rouse. The real reason for this rule is to negate liability in the lawsuit presented by former NFL players. The NFL is trying to show that they are concerned about the players and trying to make up for transgressions from the past. Watching ESPN this week in discussion of this rule it was notably silent about the players bringing that lawsuit. One thing that was clear was they had a bunch of former players and coaches on to analyze the rule, but one analyst on ESPN was not used to discuss this matter, Lomas Brown. Lomas Brown is an ESPN football analyst, and despite being an NFL analyst he is also a member of the former NFL players that is suing the league for misconduct in diagnosing head injuries during his playing career. Brown was nowhere to be found when ESPN discussed the implementation of this rule. That was not by accident, Brown and ESPN both know this rule was created and passed by the owners to alleviate the NFL of any liability when they take the law suit to court.
In reality, this rule will not destroy the game we love, but it will change the game. Only time will tell how the product on the field will change, but the fear is we will see more big hits on running backs, and we may see less emphasis on the running game (that won’t change much in Dallas, since it seems head coach Jason Garrett doesn’t even know it is legal to run the ball after first down). The biggest fear is we may see more low hits on players and ACL and knee injuries to ball carriers which will have a greater impact to their NFL careers, but save their heads for their post career lives.
These two issues this week have caused this writer/blogger to check into a hospital with an aneurysm. Luckily, the NFL Mock Draft comes out next week, and that will allow for a fun experience when writing for this site. The split between Cowboys fans can be compared to the split in the Republican party between the Tea Party candidates and the old time politicians. The rhetoric has been nauseating and people on both sides of the Romo issue need to do some research to justify their points. The NFL is trying to protect their players from head injuries, but the gross over analysis and complete lying about the reasons for this new rule has caused this writer/blogger to suffer a concussion from bashing my head on the wall from all the bloviating.