top story line screaming headline concerned the ten-game suspension meted out by the NFL Commish. So, we'll start there...
Cowboys' Greg Hardy suspended for first 10 games of 2015 season - David Moore, DMN
Greg Hardy has been suspended for the first 10 games of the season. Moore writes, for conduct detrimental to the NFL in violation of the personal conduct policy. Now, the Cowboys and the league await the impending appeal to determine if those 10 games stand or the penalty is reduced.
Greg Hardy of Dallas Cowboys suspended 10 games by NFL - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Archer weighs in, and finds an interesting tidbit not everyone else has:
The investigation was led by Lisa Friel, who is the league's senior vice president and special counsel for investigations and a vice president at T&M Protection Resources. Prior to joining T&M, Friel was head of the sex crimes prosecution unit in the New York County district attorney's office.
And then we try to digest the news...
Cowboys can only hope Greg Hardy suspension is reduced - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Archer writes that he doesn’t believe the full suspension will stand up to the impending appeal or potential court ruling:
...the chance of the suspension's being upheld is slim. Even if the appeal is denied, Hardy could take the case to court. Adrian Peterson won a court case not too long ago over the NFL's penalizing him under a personal conduct policy that was not in place when the incidents involving his children occurred.
NFL draft series: If Greg Hardy serves long-term suspension, this guy could help Cowboys - Bob Sturm, DMN
Sturm takes a look at the class of defensive ends and singles out UCLA DE Owa Odighizuwa as his "spotlight player":
Odighizuwa is a player who should be available in the range where the Cowboys pick, and he fits their profile quite well. The 23-year-old raised in Nigeria is a prototype 4-3 strong-side defensive end who is stout against the run and can turn the corner and get to the quarterback. Odighizuwa missed 2013 with hip surgeries, but at the combine he scored high for athleticism — including a 39-inch vertical leap for a player who weighs almost 270 pounds. That is quite uncommon, and he has the speed to complement that with a 4.62-second 40-yard dash.
Possible suspension of Greg Hardy would hurt Dallas Cowboys early - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Archer notes that, thanks to a front-loaded schedule, the Cowboys might not have Greg Hardy for games against Eli Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Here's Todd's take:
Not having Hardy against Manning, Ryan, Brees and Brady would hurt a Cowboys pass-rush that recorded just 28 sacks a year ago and saw Henry Melton (five), George Selvie (two), Bruce Carter (one) and Anthony Spencer (one-half) leave via free agency. It also underscores the need for more pass-rush help, even if second-year defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence develops the way the Cowboys believe he will and the continued form of Tyrone Crawford and Jeremy Mincey.
I know some people around here will probably blame John Mara...and those people would be absolutely justified in doing so!
The day after the schedule was released, the assessments filled the airwaves...until the Hardy news, that is.
Schedule Doesn’t Look Any Easier Than Past; Team Is Just Better - Nick Eatman, The Mothership
Eatman engages in a dangerous thought experiment:
Sure, there are some tough teams on the schedule, like both Super Bowl participants, along with the Packers on the road, but we knew about all of those games coming in. But from start to finish, it all looks rather manageable and had several people nodding with approval, as if to suggest the Cowboys should be in good shape. I’ve heard some 11-5 predictions already and even a 13-3. But to me, it’s not because of the schedule. It’s because of the team.
With all due respect to Eatman, extrapolating from one year to the next is a fruitless endeavor. The 2014 Cowboys will not be playing the 2015 schedule, the 2015 Cowboys will. And we haven't the foggiest clue who those Cowboys will be...
Game-by-game predictions: Dallas Cowboys - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
In a similar bit of dangerous reasoning, Archer predicts the score of each game on the Cowboys 2015 schedule and arrives at an 11-5 mark. If not particularly useful, at least it was fun. To wit:
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1 vs. Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m. The Cowboys won at Seattle last year in a game kept close by some special-teams gaffes. As much as the Cowboys had an offensive formula to beat Seattle in 2014, the defense was outstanding. They get the job done at home versus Russell Wilson. Cowboys 24, Seahawks 20. Record: 4-3
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8 vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 8:25 p.m. The Cowboys seem to have righted the ship with back-to-back wins and will welcome Murray to Arlington for the first time. The bigger question might be who is playing quarterback for the Eagles. Will Sam Bradford be healthy? Dare we wonder about Tim Tebow? Cowboys 38, Eagles 27. Record: 5-3
History repeating itself with another 38-27 win in a rematch with the Iggles? One that will crush the black souls of their accursed fans? Yes, please!
5 thoughts on Cowboys’ 2015 schedule: NFC East-heavy slate early; 2nd half offers chance for win streak - Jon Machota, DMN
Machota takes a stab at the schedule prediction game and arrives at 10-6. Thankfully, he also shares some salient observations. A taste:
Why so many division games early on? Last season, only two of the Cowboys’ first eight games were against division opponents. This year, four of their first eight are against division foes. And all four are against the Giants and Eagles. Dallas’ two games against Washington don’t come until December and January. Not since 2006 have the Cowboys opened a season with four of their first eight against NFC East teams.
Cowboys 2015 Schedule Analysis - KD Drummond, Cowboys HQ
The Noble Drummond authors his take on the 2015 slate, sorted by positives and negatives.
Positive: Dallas’ offense should have a good year if last year’s opponent rankings have any correlation. They will only have five opponents (six games) against teams in the top half of the league in Defensive DVOA. However, that includes the league’s top two defenses in Seattle and Bufffalo.
Negative: The first thing players check out on a schedule is if they are on the road, in the cold, at the end of the year. No such luck for Dallas. Their rematch with the Green Bay Packers is scheduled for mid-December in a late-afternoon slot, meaning the game will end in darkness. Worse, they will travel to face Buffalo two days after Christmas to face possibly the league’s best defense and fiercest pass rush. Not exactly what you’d hope to put Tony Romo up against with the playoffs looming.
Looking at Cowboys schedule, here’s what I expect - Bob Sturm, DMN
The Sturminator offers his two cents' worth on the schedule:
I think – on the surface – it looks rather manageable. The tough games are mostly at home, the division is all in rebuild, and the late stretch looks pretty soft. Tampa, Miami, Carolina, Washington, Packers, Jets, Bills, and Washington are the final 8 games? That looks great! You never know, but, get to the halfway point at 4-4 or better and you should be in a great position for 10 wins and a division crown.
Dallas Cowboys' key opponents will be well rested - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
After taking a moment to digest the meal, Archer notices an unsettling trend, particularly as it pertains to the Cowboys most difficutl opponents:
The Patriots are coming off their bye before visiting Arlington, Texas. The Seahawks and Packers will have 10-day breaks leading into the games after playing on Thursday night in the week leading into the matchup against the Cowboys. Seattle is at the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 22. The Packers are at the Detroit Lions on Dec. 3, playing back-to-back Thursday games the way the Cowboys did last year.
Dallas Cowboys' Orlando Scandrick deserving of new deal - Jean-Jacques Taylor, ESPN Dallas
JJT writes that Scandrick, who emerged as one of the Cowboys' leaders last season, deserves a bit more coin in his pocket. And this is why:
Just so you know, Scandrick is supposed to earn $1.5 million, but that includes $500,000 for attending 90 percent of the mostly voluntary offseason program, which isn't going to happen. Carr is currently on the books for $8 million, and Claiborne is supposed to earn $2.6 million this season.
Scandrick and Bryan emerged as the team's leaders last season - contributions that exceed their very strong performance on the field. If the team recognizes that fact, both will be duly compensated.
And on to the draft...
Cowboys to visit with Dorial Green-Beckham after all - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
After the "denied visit request" kerfluffle, it turns out that DGB will be visiting the Ranch after all. He arrived on Wednesday, the final day potential picks can meet with teams before next week's selection meeting. He's an interesting possibility at 27. Really interesting.
Possible Pick: P.J. Williams A Solid CB Prospect Despite Late Red Flag - Rob Phillips, The Mothership
Today’s featured player on The Mothership is Florida State cornerback P.J. Williams. Here's what Rob Phillips has to say:
How He Helps the Cowboys: At 6-0, Williams has excellent size and he’s comfortable in zone or man coverage. We’ve seen Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli deploy both. Williams could clean up his tackling technique a bit, but he’s a competitor and a winner – the Seminoles went 27-1 in his two years as a starter. It’s no secret the Cowboys will look at drafting a cornerback given the question marks on their depth chart.
I'll have a profile on Williams some time next week...
A couple of global looks at the draft, with differing conclusions...
Draft May Shape Up To Fit The Cowboys’ Primary Position Needs - Rob Phillips, The Mothership
Phillips shares some good news: based on the club’s pre-draft prep, Stephen Jones says he sees depth at all the Cowboys most significant positions of need (RB, DL, CB) throughout all seven rounds. Here's Jones the Younger:
"We may have gotten fortunate," Jones said in an interview with 105.3 The Fan, "in that there may be some good football players on the board deep into the draft in terms of the positions that we’d like to solidify."
Dallas Cowboys' needs match with many teams - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
I'll give the prolific Archer the last word today. Here, he examines the Cowboys' chances of drafting a defensive end or a running back in round one by looking at the other teams that have needs at the same positions. Here's what he discovers:
There are 12 teams picking before the Cowboys with defensive line needs; however, some of those teams use a 3-4 scheme and likely wouldn't be in the mix for the 4-3 players the Cowboys would be interested in.
Nine teams picking before the Cowboys have safety needs and seven teams have running back needs before the Cowboys.
This is one of many reasons pundits think the Cowboys will select a cornerback in the first round.
Team-by-team tranistion tracker - ESPN.com
The folk at ESPN provide a team-by-team glance at significant acquisitions during the 2015 offseason. Strange, but under "Giants" it doesn't mention "coaxing a ten-game suspension for Greg Hardy from the ever-pliant Commish." Probably should, tho'...