Roger Goodell removed all excuses for the Dallas Cowboys in 2019

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Ezekiel Elliott met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday. By Wednesday, Goodell had removed all excuses for the Dallas Cowboys.

When Dallas Cowboys‘ running back Ezekiel Elliott met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last week, the collective fanbase held its breath. By the end of the next day, Goodell had made his decision and removed any excuse the Cowboys had for not repeating as NFC East Champions.

In May, Elliott was handcuffed but not arrested following a confrontation with a 19-year old security guard during a late-night music festival in Las Vegas. And it was all captured on video.

The NFL investigated the incident as a possible violation of the league’s personal conduct policy. But after meeting with Elliott this week, and following a public apology by Zeke on Twitter, Goodell opted not to punish the 23-year old.

During the 2016 season, quarterback Dak Prescott and Elliott’s rookie year, the Cowboys caught lightning in a bottle and ran out to a 13-3 record. This was despite the preseason shoulder injury to former quarterback Tony Romo which would essentially pave the way for Prescott and end Romo’s career. Although Dallas lost in the first round, the future seemed very bright for the young nucleus of Dak, Elliott, and All-Pro wide receiver Dez Bryant.

That plan was cast into doubt when Elliott was accused of physical domestic abuse during the summer of 2016 and subsequently was handed a six-game suspension by Goodell. Lorenzo Reyes chronicled the events in his USA Today article titled Investigation of Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott: Timeline of allegations, aftermath. Elliott’s on again/off again routine during the 2017 season was one of the factors that led to a 9-7 season and the team’s failure to make the playoffs.

Again, the Cowboys are on the precipice of going back to back as division champs and Elliott was facing another suspension for possibly violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. The Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, and New York Giants were undoubtedly looking to capitalize from another suspension, but not this time.

Barring injuries, Dallas will have the NFL’s leading rusher for a full 16 games. Aside from Elliott, there are three distinct reasons why Dallas is the divisional favorites to repeat as champion and expect a deep run into the playoffs.

First, Prescott has had an extra year of maturity along with a full offseason throwing to two top-notch wide receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. You throw in Randall Cobb and a rejuvenated tight end in Jason Witten, and Dak has the best weapons of his career. The Cowboys are betting on his relationship with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and quarterback coach Jon Kitna to bring out the best in the fourth-year passer.

Second, center Travis Frederick is back from a year-long bout with Guillain-Barré syndrome, an autoimmune disease. His presence in the lineup cannot be overstated because the foundation for everything the Cowboys want to do on offense starts with the offensive line. Center Joe Looney did an admirable job filling in last year, but Frederick is on a completely different level.

Lastly, head coach Jason Garrett is in a contract year which means he will pull out all stops. There have been times where Garrett has coached timid and other times where he’s been borderline reckless. Cowboy fans are likely to see the best version of Garrett in 2019 and hopefully, that’s enough to keep all these pieces moving in the right direction.

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The decision by Roger Goodell to not suspend Ezekiel Elliott was the first domino to fall and erases every excuse. The 2019 version of the Dallas Cowboys can do what hasn’t been done in the NFC East since the Eagles in 2004 … become back-to-back champions. Accomplish this goal, and I’ll be the first to say: Thank you, Roger.