FRISCO, Texas – At some point this week we will get back to pure football, but can't stick our heads in the sand with so much swirling around affecting the Cowboys' ability to return from their bye at full strength.
But at least we know they returned to practice on Wednesday, along with Ezekiel Elliott, preparing for an 0-6 San Francisco team hungry for a victory. So beware. No cakewalk on Sunday in Santa Clara, California.
- So to me, here are the two key points Southern District Court of New York Judge Paul Crotty made while issuing Elliott and the NFLPA the temporary restraining order on Tuesday that allows him to at least play on Sunday against the Niners and possibly the following Sunday at Washington. First, he told the NFL that the only person in jeopardy of suffering "irreparable harm" if a TRO or Permanent Injunction" isn't issued would be Elliott, and cited not only the NFL allowing Zeke to play in the opener, but also pointing out that Tom Brady ended up playing an entire season before eventually serving his four-game suspension at the start of the following season. "The NFL can impose a suspension at a later time if the NFLPA's request for a vacatur is denied" and went on to say, "Elliott stands to suffer significant harm …" Judge Crotty also told the NFL the Tom Brady case does not prevent the courts from judging "fundamental fairness" in an arbitration case, saying, "Brady II did not decide the issue …" And he is the third federal judge to question if Elliott received fundamental fairness from the NFL in his arbitration.
- And here is the impetus for the league's persistence to win this case: The league is worried that if Elliott wins his lawsuit – if it even goes to trial – this would jeopardize the NFL's ability to further punish players for domestic violence without precedence of judicial penalty since they have no subpoena power for the accuser to be interviewed or cross-examined during the arbitration process. And that, in a nutshell, is the slippery slope the NFL has stepped onto trying to adjudicate without the same ability as the court systems to provide the accused "fundamental fairness." In fact, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones pointed out as much last week during his segment on 105.3 The Fan, saying, "The law does provide us the outline, the precedent of how to do it. Our system in the NFL does not."
- Amazing the Cowboys have lost two of their past three games when scoring four touchdowns in each game, averaging 29.2 points a game and having converted more than 50 percent of their third downs in the two losses. Well, this might be one reason: Neither the Cowboys defense or special teams has been credited with a takeaway in the past three games, and technically, while they are credited with four takeaways overall, one of those was on that final throw-around play in the Green Bay game. And even though they have four statistically, only Atlanta has fewer with three. Ouch.
- The Cowboys sure didn't "ease" David "Dino" Irving back into play after serving his four-game suspension. He ended up playing 45 snaps in the Green Bay game (75 percent), and only seven defensive guys participated in more plays. Said he was a sore dude last week, especially since he got kneed in the thigh twice. But he's ready to go, thanks to the bye, and says he has no problem playing either defensive tackle spot. And with five tackles, two sacks and three QB hits, he basically made one play every 4.5 snaps. So sure, Cowboys lose Stephen Paea, reserve retired, but gain Irving up front, outside if they want or at the nose on the three-lineman formation.