Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Leading The League In Suspensions


Being top of the league in a certain statistic is generally a joyous occasion to celebrate.  Being the best at something in a 32-team league is difficult to accomplish - in most cases.  But, in today's study, it would be nice to leave it someone else.

This is a chart that shows the rolling 3-year league standings for NFL suspensions.  You would rather not win this one.

Unfortunately, the Cowboys are not only leading this one, but they are rather comfortably ahead.

This is a topic of conversation because the Cowboys are entering this critical season with three hands tied behind their back as they once again enter the year with three vital pieces on the shelf for self-inflicted absences.  They were suspended for either substance tests or PEDs.  Unnecessary and frankly, inexcusable absences that handicap this team when they really don't need more hurdles.

The conversation came up at the annual "state of the team" address on Friday:

Reporter: Jason, what is your tolerance for acquiring players with known substance issues?

Jason: I don’t want to make a blanket statement about that….each situation is different.

Jerry: I can’t speak for Jason as a coach, but I can as a general manager. I don’t know of any (general manager) that doesn’t have to deal with issues of rules of the NFL and suspended players. I don’t know of any.

Reporter: Would you think that other teams, though, are less likely to take chances than you guys?

Jerry: I can’t speak for them now. I don’t speak for them. But, I don’t know any that haven’t dealt with these issues and that is why they are league-wide. There is a reason why this is a league-wide policy-making area, not just a team policy-making area.

This, of course, is pretty text-book Jerry deflecting the actual question.  Yes, every team deals with "boys being boys".  The question was specifically, do you think other teams are less likely to dance with the devil than your Dallas Cowboys?

Here are the standings for the NFL with regards to suspensions in the last 3 years (2014-2016). There are 5 months for someone to reel the Cowboys in, of course, but the lead appears rather safe:

Team 2014 2015 2016 Suspensions Total Games Lost
1. Dallas  3 4 3 10 50
2. Baltimore 2 3 2 7 35
3. Washington 3 4 0 7 30
4. Carolina 3 3 0 6 39
5. Chicago 0 6 0 6 29
6. Denver 2 3 1 6 16
7. Indianapolis 4 1 0 5 36
8. NY Jets
4 1 5 15
9. Kansas City 3 2 0 5 14
10. Miami  3 1 0 4 26

Here is the chapter and verse for each Cowboys suspension since January of 2014:

Player Year Suspension Games Lost
DE Randy Gregory 2016 Substance 4
LB Rolando McClain 2016 Substance 10
DE DeMarcus Lawrence 2016 PEDs 4
RB Joseph Randle 2015 Personal Conduct 4
OL RJ Dill 2015 PEDs 4
LB Rolando McClain 2015 Substance 4
DE Greg Hardy 2015 Personal Conduct 4
De Josh Brent 2014 Conviction Manslaughter 10
S Jakar Hamilton 2014 Substance 4
CB Orlando Scandrick 2014 Substance 2

Now, in fairness to the Cowboys, before 2014, they had done a very nice job with only 2 suspensions (Robert Brewster and Adam Pac-Man Jones) since Bill Parcells was the coach.  So, they had been far below the league in violations of these types of things for years and years.

But, now the rash has returned.  Why?

Well, some of it is dumb luck.  You sign this many grown men in this line of work and some are going to find trouble.  You could argue that they signed up for Randy Gregory and Rolando McClain knowing what they knew.  You don't even have to argue that they signed up for Greg Hardy.  Many of the others seem to not say anything about the team's general approach to player acquisition.  

But, we do know this:  Yes, Jerry, every team in the league has had at least one suspension in the last 3 years.  Houston and Seattle are tied for last with just one.  But, your team has had 10.  That seems problematic for a number of issues, the biggest of which would be that it sabotages your own team's chances when it comes to Sundays in September.  

It seems to be a very fair topic of questioning to address whether the team needs to develop a lack of tolerance for the "2nd chance" bargains that Jerry so enjoys.  It seems like a short-cut that is not proving to be what you hoped it would be.  Years of talking about getting the "right kind of guys" in here seems to have lost its course a bit.  

We should call it what it is until it gets fixed.  A big problem.  When you rank #1 in suspensions and #1 in games lost to suspension by a healthy margin in both categories over a 3-year sample, that should be where you look in the mirror and commit to doing what it takes to dropping back to league average (3.7 suspensions and 16 games lost over 3 years).  

Telling us "the rest of the league deals with it, too" suggests that the general manager may not see this as a very big issue at all.  Which, frankly, explains quite a bit.  

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