Before we get into the travesty that the Cowboys’ 2017 season is about the become, a few words about Jerry Jones. Unless you were living under a rock the last couple of weeks you know that our grandstanding Vice-President, Mike “I’m Terrified Of Any Woman Not My Mother” Pence, attended a Colts game for what seems to have been the sole purpose of riling up the roughly 30% of America that currently do not pause from digging their fallout shelter to shake their head and mutter “that fucking guy” when referring to his boss. Pence did this by leaving the game after a few players knelt during the national anthem, claiming that he couldn’t be at an event a) where alcohol is served, without his wife, if other women were present, (he actually has said this; fortunately Karen “Mother” Pence was also at the game and able to keep Mike from wandering off the one true path), or b) where people disrespected the flag and military, presumably by peacefully engaging in their right to free speech that the flag represents and that the military fights to protect. Unravel the paradox as you have been taught.
The Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, responded to this by saying that, going forward, any Cowboy player not standing for the anthem would not play. In the same article JJ says that it is important that the Cowboys “make sure that we do not give the perception that we’re disrespecting the flag….” The emphasis is mine, because, as Jones implies by using that word, the NFL player protests are not, and never have been, disrespecting the flag. They started as a protest by the still-unemployed-and-no-that’s-not-a-coincidence Colin Kaepernick against police brutality against African-Americans and then, to some extent, morphed into a more widespread response to That Fucking Guy’s attempts to stifle free speech by suggesting that any son-of-a-bitch that engaged in said speech should be fired.
The idea that someone quietly kneeling is a sign of disrespect to any particular institution, but JJ may be more sensitive on this issue than most given his past involvement in situations where kneeling could have given the perception of disrespect to the institution of marriage, specifically his own.
All of this, is of course, off the topic as to how the Cowboys are doing so far this year, (we’ll get to it but, spoiler alert, it’s not good), but the issue of free speech is one of my trigger-points. I should point out that Jones, as a private employer, as every right to take the position he is. The First Amendment protects speech from being stifled by government forces; your employer, or mine, or Jerry Jones, is free to do whatever they want in response to an employee’s exercise of their speech, including firing them. So, yes, Jerry Jones is certainly entitled to take this position. And if I thought for a second that Jones was doing this because he was Jerry Super Patriot Jones I might even accept that. I wouldn’t like it, I would certainly challenge it but I would respect it as the exercise in free speech of an individual’s genuinely held belief.
But I don’t.
Jones, in my opinion, is taking this stand strictly for financial reasons. Football fans, you fine people excepted, seem trend towards the reactionary, don’t seem given to a lot of extended thought on any subject more complicated than “Hurr, that nigra waht was kneelin’ fer the anthum is direspekin’ the flag what my great-grandpappy fought fer!!”, (never mind that Great Grandpa fought for the Confederacy), and are either unable, unwilling or both to understand any sort of nuance with regard to the protests. If you want proof, just look at the statements of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. Ross at least admits that he doesn’t want his players to stand for the anthem because of the perception that it’s the right thing to do; he wants them to stand for the anthem because That Fucking Guy has “changed that whole paradigm of what protest is” and that “because of how the public is looking at it” it is important for the players to stand for the anthem and show respect for the flag.
Having said all that, we come to the point of this post, which is how the Cowboys are doing at the bye week and the answer is I don’t care anymore. Fuck ’em. Fuck the entire NFL and fuck their mouth-breathing, #upforwhatever, Golden-Corral-is-fine-dining fanbase. Fuck. Them. I’m done. Not because JJ exercised his right to free speech by saying that the players couldn’t do it on what is essentially his dime, but because, for the one-millionth time, the NFL is taking this position because it appeals to the lowest-common-denominator, because it enhances their bottom-line, (which is all anyone in NFL ownership remotely cares about), and because by participating in it as a fan I encourage that, even if unwillingly. So fuck it. I’m out. I’ll still be around here and I’ll always be ready to make fun of the NFL, because that’s fun and because no dick joke ever insisted that someone not take a knee because of the perception, but as a fan I am done.
As for the Cowboys they seem to be fucked. At the beginning of the season I thought they were an 11-5, 10-6 team, but that was with Ezekiel Elliott, assumed that the defense was somewhat improved and that the O-line was going to be what it was last year, which was a bunch of road-grading, ferocious motherfuckers. None of that has been the case. The defense has been borderline awful and has certainly cost the Cowboys 2 of the 3 games they lost, against the Rams and the Packers. Losing to Aaron Rodgers is one thing, giving up 35 to a team led by Jared Goff, (yes, yes, 21 of those points came from FGs, they still gave up 35 to the fucking Rams), is quite another, and neither bodes well for the future. The O-line has not been the same as it was last year, although it did show signs of recovery late in the game against Green Bay. Elliott, to no surprise, got an injunction keeping the NFL from enforcing it’s kangaroo court 6 game suspension of him, (note that Elliott may very deserve that suspension, and more, but the NFL is such a ham-fisted crew that literally anything they do with regards to domestic violence can be questioned, which is another very real problem with supporting these fuckers), but was underwhelming in the initial games. And he’s now, pending another appeal, had his suspension reinstated, (or not; there seems to be some confusion as to what exactly the Court did), and, if that suspension is immediately enforced, (see above), the Cowboys face the prospect of 6 games with Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris running behind an offensive line that has not been clicking like it should, and that’s not good.
On the bright side Dak Prescott seems to be the real deal. He’s played well. Dez Bryant seems to be aging rapidly, however, so it’s not like the passing game is an A+.
At the bye the Cowboys are 2-3. Their next 6 games are @ SF, @Washington, KC, @Falcons, Eagles, Lesser Clippers. Without Elliott that’s a 2-4, 1-5 stretch. With Elliott, and with the way they’ve played so far this year, 3-3 or 4-2 seems a best case scenario.
Long story short, with the exception of Dak it seems to me that the Cowboys have taken a bigger step back than expected. Some degree of slippage was anticipated given a harder schedule and the rest of the league having more time to prepare for Dak and Zeke. The defense, however, has been really bad, (oh, Sean Lee’s out again? The hell you say!), and I frankly don’t see that getting better any time soon. If Zeke is playing the Cowboys will probably be hanging 28 points on most teams but giving up 30. The math doesn’t work. I suspect 9-7 is the ceiling for this team and without Elliott and/or an improved O-line performance, and without a very much improved defense, 7-9 or 6-10 seems more likely.