Brice Butler Doin’ Work in Mini Camp

Returning to Dallas on a one-year deal worth just over $1 million, Brice Butler has a bit of a chip on his shoulder. So far in mini-camp, it’s showing! Video provided by Law Nation.

Dez Dominating Mini Camp

With training camp about five weeks away, Dez Bryant already looks to be in mid-season form, as shown in the video provided by Law Nation, a friend, and partner to PSDC.

David Irving Facing 4 Game Suspension for PEDs

By Lindsey Jones
Project Shanks Cowboys & Rangers Writer

David Irving is yet another Dallas Cowboys defensive player who is facing a 4 game suspension to begin a football season and I’m sure all Cowboys fans are thinking the same thing: “Another one? Really?”

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Sports Enyi Time: Cowboys – What to Watch For

Back for episode 2, Enyi Nduka and Darreck Kirby talk all things Cowboys – from David Irving’s suspension, to what to look forward to moving forward and the players to keep an eye on.

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Grading the Cowboys 2017 NFL Draft

Coming into this year’s NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys found themselves in a precarious position: despite coming winning 13 games the previous season, their defense, namely the secondary, had lost significant contributors throughout. How would the Cowboys brass respond? By putting together a defense-heavy draft. Darreck Kirby and Brennan Scala of Project Shanks break down each of Dallas’s picks, offering insight and issuing grades.

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The Not-So-Silence of the Rams

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Cordinator

We had reached week fourteen in the NFL, and no coach had been fired so far. It was such an anomaly, I almost wrote about it in this space last Sunday. As bad as it’s been in places like Buffalo and Jacksonville, no one had pulled the trigger yet and it looked like everyone would be safe until Black Monday.

I should have known better.

The Rams fired Jeff Fisher Monday, one day after he tied Dan Reeves for the all-time lead in losses for head coaches.

You might think that would be either a sign of mercy, or of utmost frustration. You’d be right either way.

Since the Rams lost Sunday to the Falcons, then had to turn around and get Gilmered by the Seahawks three days later, you’d also would think seventy-two hours notice wouldn’t be the best time to dump your head coach, but that’s part of the magic of Jeff Fisher.

The NFL waited more than twenty years to bring a franchise back to Los Angeles, but Thursday’s pummeling was another night where most of LA didn’t bother to watch. Let’s face it, there’s other things to do in Los Angeles. There’s movies, shows, restaurants, the beach, and complaining about the Lakers to do, they don’t need the Rams. And for that matter, they don’t need a barely-adequate Chargers team, either, unless they’re going to combine both teams and make one good one. In the land of casual plastic surgery, LA would at least respect that.

I’m a little bit depressed about it, to be honest. I had about six Jeff Fisher jokes I was saving for the rest of the season. Learn from my mistakes, kids. Never save your best material.

So the Rams are the first team to drop their head coach, I’ll put the over/under at three additional coaches fired by the time Black Monday is done. And while discussing other people’s employment seems to be a morbid thing, that’s life in the NFL. It’s also life in television, as I remember from trips to Walmart when I couldn’t get through the checkout line without someone asking me about my TV news colleagues and if they had been fired. I’m certainly not going to feel bad about it at this point in my life.

On to the picks. Last week I went 3-3, and also 3-3 against the Las Vegas spread. I always enjoy being as accurate as a coin. For the season I’m now 57-32-1 straight up, and 36-50-3 against the spread.

Here’s the picks for week fifteen.  Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only. As always, no wagering. And since last week, I was right at coin-flip level, I’m also going to flip a coin and see if I can beat that.

Detroit (+4) at NY Giants: Odell Beckham Jr. is making a living dropping easy passes and then turning around to make amazing plays. If he was a rapper, he’d have to pay Terrell Owens for sampling his career.
Pick: Lions to win it outright.
The coin says: Go with the Lions.

Jacksonville (+5.5) at Houston: The AFC South championship is basically a door prize, all you have to do to win is be present. And not be Jacksonville.
Pick: Texans to win and cover, which means I think they’ll win by six or more.
The coin says: Take the Jaguars. My coin may have been drinking, it seems.

Tampa Bay (+7) at Dallas: The number one reason to let Tony Romo go this offseason was the talk this week about whether or not Dak Prescott should be benched. Keeping Romo is like getting married, but letting your long-time girlfriend keep living in the guest room. Bad ideas abound.
Pick: Cowboys to win, Buccaneers to cover, which means I think Tampa Bay will lose by less than seven points.
The coin says: Cowboys.

Pittsburgh (-3.5) at Cincinnati: The two trademarks of this rivalry are cheap shots by Vontaze Burfict and an injury to Le’Veon Bell. And at this point, Steelers fans are rooting against those, but Bengals fans are still hoping for both,
Pick: Steelers to win and cover.
The coin says: Bengals.

Green Bay (-6) at Chicago: My rule is, if Matt Barkley can make people forget about you, then you weren’t very memorable to begin with. And this rule applies to pro football, college football, and life in general.
Pick: Packers to win and cover.
The coin says: Packers. My coin likes Aaron Rodgers as both a quarterback and a commercial spokesman.

Cleveland (+10) at Buffalo: Marcell Dareus guaranteed a win for the Bills over the winless Browns this week. That’s not exactly Jimmy Johnson putting it in “three-inch headlines” the Cowboys would beat the 49ers, is it? That’s more like promising to not trip on a speedbump on the way into Target.
Pick: Bills to win, Browns to cover the spread.
The coin says: Browns.

I’ll also take Western Kentucky over Memphis in the Boca Raton Bowl, Tulsa over Central Michigan in the Miami Beach Bowl, and none of those teams to want to go home after spending a week in Florida in December. Good luck, everybody.

– Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

An NFL Thanksgiving in Las Vegas

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

As the Lions kick the game-winning field goal, the woman next to me erupts in joy. She pumps her fists and screams, and runs about the floor of the MGM Grand Casino, high-fiving anyone who’ll raise a palm to her.

She’s not even a Lions fan.

It’s Thanksgiving Day, and I am an embedded reporter in a Las Vegas sportsbook. On today, the biggest family holiday of the year, the fifty-plus huge-screen televisions here in this Vegas casino are showing NFL games to a packed house of people who have either come here to flee their families, or brought them along so everyone can lose money together.

At nine a.m. on a Thanksgiving morning, they were already there, armed with astonishing amounts of information. They had magazines, newspapers, and gambling forms so full of complicated numbers they seemed to be the chemical formula for a linebacker, and they sat down to compile it all before making their wagers. They were all looking for the one thing to put them over the top and honestly, that strategy works about 48% of the time, which is exactly the correct ratio for everything.

15241243_660919507422401_4532970873563991461_nThe Lions won and covered the point spread, which made the woman from Charlotte, North Carolina, exuberant. I talk to her husband for a few minutes while she takes her victory lap, and find out he’s a huge fan but she’s never even watched an NFL game seriously before. They’ve left their kids with their family back home and came out to Vegas for a mini-vacation, and they’ve put money down on all three NFL games that day. They’ll be there a while, spending about eleven hours cheering together.

It’s a fun moment, but only half the people here are celebrating. A guy on crutches who seems homeless and is missing most of one of his legs drops his head and rubs his brow. Earlier he told me he had the Vikings, and when I asked him how much he bet, he said “two large.” I couldn’t imagine him having two of anything extra to lose.

But that’s the way it goes, there’s no winners without losers, even on Thanksgiving Day. There are a lot of homeless people here in Vegas who are wearing shirts and caps from various gambling events and poker tours. It seems like everyone’s got a system until you wind up sleeping under a bridge.

For the Dallas-Washington game, the sportsbook filled up quickly. The Cowboys are still America’s Team, which means people will line up to root for and against them. I see a guy in a Romo jersey sitting down front, cheering at every play. Later I see a guy with a Dak Prescott jersey, so I tell him if he wants, he can go take the other guy’s seat.

Cowboys fans are everywhere. There’s a couple wearing Claiborne and Witten jerseys, who came to town to get remarried for their Thanksgiving trip. Sitting in front of me, a couple from Scotland are Facetiming their friends back home to tell them how awesome Dak Prescott is. It’s very funny to me for some reason, although I can’t exactly explain why.

A guy from Indianapolis in a vintage Franco Harris Steelers jersey tells me he made plans to come here after a buddy broke up with his girlfriend, so they could have a boys’ weekend. Since the trip was booked the relationship rekindled, and now it’s a bachelor party weekend. I get the feeling he doesn’t think it’s a good idea, but no one’s turning down a trip to Vegas on moral principles. As a Steelers fan he hates the Cowboys, but he still bet them to win.

At the back of the room cheering on Washington is Chris from Los Angeles, wearing a Redskins hat, garish red and gold shoes, and an authentic Sean Taylor jersey. He looks like the Redskins threw up on him, but he’s a hardcore fan who grew up watching the team with his dad. He couldn’t make it to the family gathering, so drove four hours to Vegas to support his team as a family tradition. And hopefully win some money, of course.

As the Cowboys-Redskins game rages on, I notice the cheering feels different, maybe even more pure. These cheers aren’t from the hearts of fans, they’re from the wallets of gamblers. And they know it’s a shallow thing to do, but they don’t care.

During the Steelers-Colts game that night, I meet two guys in their mid-sixties from New Jersey who come here for Thanksgiving every year. And judging from the slips in front of them, they bet a lot. I get the feeling this is a regular occurrence in their lives. I ask why they didn’t just go to Atlantic City, and they laugh at me.

And I am scared to ask for any more details.

After a long Thanksgiving Day spent watching football in the midst of the heavily invested, a couple of things stand out to me. Las Vegas is a different plane of existence where the rules of reality just don’t exist, and it means something different to everyone. I’ve met people here who came here for the holiday because there’s nowhere else they’d rather be for the holiday, and some who just showed up to be around other people on a lonely day of the year for them.

Also? Before ten in the morning, listening to Phil Simms is even more intolerable than usual.

For tonight’s game, the Cowboys are favored by four, and I’ll take that easily over the Vikings. Sometimes you just have to let Sam Bradford be Sam Bradford. I’ll be back Sunday with the rest of the picks. Good luck, everybody.

– Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

(This article originally appeared in the print edition of the Tyler Morning Telegraph.)

Reid’s NFL Picks: The Dumbest Thing I’ve Ever Heard

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

As an observer of humanity, I’m always looking for things I haven’t seen before, the amazing and ridiculous, and the moments so bizarre they stay with me for a good long time. And so this week, I was pleasantly surprised to have a new top entry on my list of “The Dumbest Thing I’ve Ever Heard.”

And yes, even in the week of the most intriguing election since Napoleon Dynamite, I heard something so silly and insane it stood out. It was one of those talking head sports-shouting shows that I can watch for about twelve seconds before I have to flip to something more interesting, such as a “King of Queens” rerun or my cat taking a nap. Anyway, one of these alleged sports experts said the following.

“The Dallas Cowboys have GOT to trade Tony Romo.”

I understand on these shows, hot opinions are all that matters. They don’t have to make sense, indeed, it’s often better for the ratings if they don’t, so they say dumb things just to get a reaction from the audience.

“The NFL should suspend Richard Sherman, but make him play kicker while he’s out.”
“The Raiders should leave Oakland and just play in a series of Winn-Dixie parking lots all over California!”
“LeBron James is nothing more than a modern-day Kurt Rambis!”

You know, just angry gibberish, which people seem to eat up for some reason. But the Romo trade demand makes less than zero sense. It was so foolish, I wandered around for the rest of the day searching for truth and honesty in society, and coming up snake-eyes on that one.

It’s a given now that the Cowboys are Dak Prescott’s team. He could easily be the MVP of the league in the “non-suspended for four games” category. And Tony Romo will more than likely be cut loose in the offseason, and not truly appreciated until many years later. But that doesn’t mean things have to change immediately.

This is professional football. It’s not “The Replacements,” where when the starting quarterback comes back, you fire the backup for no apparent reason.

If you have a proven backup quarterback and you’re in a playoff chase, you don’t get rid of him. You don’t dump a major asset for a minor draft pick unless you’re Bill Belichick, and you’re devilishly insane.

Yes, once upon a time Drew Bledsoe lost his starting job to Tom Brady and was traded away, but not until Bledsoe had to come off the bench and help win the AFC Championship Game. If you’re okay with the thought of Dak getting injured this season and Mark Sanchez being a playoff starter, you go right ahead and keep losing money on Draft Kings, my friend.

On to the picks. Last week I went 5-1, and 3-3 against the Vegas spread, including one game I lost because of a meaningless touchdown in the final minute. And I know it was meaningless, because it was scored by the Rams. But the spread was 3.5 points, and a 13-3 lead suddenly became 13-10, and my win went away. It’s my own fault, I know I should always buy that half-point hook, but I never remember to do that because apparently I enjoy despair.

On the season, I’m now 35-20-1 straight up, 21-32-3 against the spread. Here’s the week ten picks. Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only. As always, no wagering.

Houston (+1) at Jacksonville: I’ll admit certain teams in the NFL I can’t figure out, but the Texans are as consistent as sunrise. They win the games they should win, they lose the games they should lose, and they’re always in line for a crushing playoff defeat.
Pick: Texans to win and cover the spread, which means they’ll win by at least a point. If this one’s a tie, I lose.

San Francisco (+13.5) at Arizona: Chip Kelly is adamant that he’s not going to leave the 49ers to return to college football. Which begs the obvious question, “Why not?”
Pick: Cardinals to win and cover.

Dallas (+3) at Pittsburgh: Last week, Ben Roethlisberger had the worst comeback since Corey Feldman played the Today Show.
Pick: Cowboys to win it outright.

Los Angeles (+2) at NY Jets: If the NFL wonders why their ratings are down, “Exhibit A” should be this game between teams from the two biggest markets in the country, possibly quarterbacked by Case Keenum and Bryce Petty. That’s not a prime time matchup, it’s an Independence Bowl.
Pick: Jets to win and cover.

Kansas City (+3) at Carolina: Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce learned this week that throwing a towel at an official will get you flagged, ejected, fined, and hated by everyone who wasted a high draft pick on you in their fantasy football league.
Pick: Chiefs to win outright.

Seattle (+8) at New England: Richard Sherman couldn’t be more in full-on pro-wrestling bad guy mode if he did his postgame interviews wearing a feathered robe and shouting “Whoo!”
Pick: Patriots to win and cover.

I’ll also take the Patriots to win the AFC, the Seahakws to win the NFC, and the Browns to go 1-15 somehow. Good luck everybody.

– Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

 

Reid’s NFL Mailbag: Deflategate, Cowboys, and Vegas, Baby

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

It’s kind of a dead time in the NFL. The draft and free agency are over, rookies are signing their contracts and mini camps are underway, and since players now have things to do, they won’t be getting arrested any more. It’s Memorial Day weekend, and we didn’t even have the usual “bad news dump” on Friday where the NFL announces all the awful stories they hope no one notices like suspensions, fines, and anything having to do with Buffalo.

Time to catch up on current events with another edition of Reid’s Mailbag.

Q: Did Dallas help themselves in the draft?
A: Absolutely! And yet, not at all. Ezekiel Elliott is a stud, and if he lasts past the first round of your fantasy draft, you’re playing with idiots. But is he that much better than anyone else the Cowboys could have put behind that all-star offensive line? Is giving up a first-round pick you could have used on pass rush worth it to get a great running back? Or could the Cowboys get close to the same results with Matt Bellner in their backfield, running with me on his shoulders? Only time will tell, and that “time” is the amount of time opposing quarterbacks have to throw against the Cowboys.

Dallas is in an interesting position, they’ve got about a three-year window with Romo as their quarterback. After that, it’s anybody’s guess. I shouldn’t have to remind you how bad the post-Aikman, pre-Romo era was for Dallas, so I’ll just say “Hey, remember that year Dallas started a quarterback whose name rhymed with ‘Ryan Schleaf?’”

Can the current crop of Cowboys provide enough talent to take advantage of having a top-flight quarterback in that time span? Maybe, but I need to see some pass rush before I’d favor them over the Panthers, Seahawks, or Packers.

Q: What’s going to happen with #Deflate…
A: Oh, please no.
Q:#Deflategate?
A: Well, the legal case that refuses to die rolls onward. Right now the NFL has won the last case, which means Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will be suspended for the first four games of this coming season. Brady has appealed, and his counsel made a very good point about the NFL only fining players for other equipment violations such as using Stickum, so this one could still go on for a while. Possibly years. Maybe decades.

At this point, I’m not going to change anyone’s mind on this case. Originally, I thought Brady was cheating and Goodell’s punishment was just. After reading through all the case work, I still think Brady was cheating, but four games is unprecedented, especially when the NFL has done an awful job of proving anything was done wrong. When it’s all over, this will be a very odd footnote in both Brady’s Hall of Fame career, and the story of the mid-2010’s NFL.

Q: What about Las Vegas?
A: Sounds great! Let me grab my go-bag, and let’s go hit the blackjack table. I’ve got a new scheme I learned from a guy in an airport bathroom. I can’t lose!
Q: No, I was talking about an NFL team there.
A: Oh. Well, that’s something else. The fact that the NFL is actually even discussing the possibility of putting a team in Las Vegas is amazing. For decades, pro sports have rejected any connection to gambling, even while playing to gamblers with things like mandatory injury reports.

Remember Tony Romo’s Fantasy Football Convention last summer in Vegas? Of course not, because the NFL killed it. It’ll be in Pasadena this year in mid-July, and I’ll be there.

In 2016, protecting the NFL from gambling seems to be a dead issue, or at least one they’ll revisit. If the Raiders don’t get a new stadium, they’ll try and bolt to Vegas, and I’d put even money they’d be successful in doing so. The NFL seems to be putting the thought of a new market over the old concerns about associating with the gambling industry.

Of course, now you don’t have to go to Vegas to lose money betting on sports. You can do it from your home. You can lose big money on fantasy football for a season, or lose it week-to-week playing Fanduel and Draft Kings. ESPN is now openly talking about point spreads. The NFL can’t just pretend it doesn’t happen, especially since it drives a significant portion of their fan interest.

And by “significant portion,” I mean me, and this column, and my retirement account. Which thanks to my long careers in television and radio, will allow me to live in comfort for the rest of my years, as long as I get hit by a bus no later than the weekend after I retire.

– Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s novel “The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape” is available from Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

Reid’s Official Unofficial NFL Draft Timeline 2016: Smoke and Mirrors

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

Two Weeks Before Draft Day: The newly-rechristened Los Angeles Rams pull off a huge trade with Tennessee, claiming the top spot in the draft. The city of Los Angeles responds by telling the Rams to draft Kobe.

One Week Before Draft Day: Cleveland trades with Philadelphia, giving the Eagles the number two spot in the draft. The Browns now have twelve picks in this year’s draft, which gives Browns fans hope that their team will take those choices and turn the team around. Sort of like last year when they also had twelve picks, won four fewer games, and fired their coach and general manager. Or in 2012 when they had eleven picks and also fired their coach and general manager. [Read more…]

Reid’s Week Sixteen NFL Picks: Coasting To The Finish

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

Hope everyone’s had a very merry Christmas, and either enjoyed your presents immensely, or already returned them for something much better. We are about to enter that DMZ of the year, the week between Christmas and New Year’s where nothing ever gets done.

It’s just hard to muster up any enthusiasm for this week, lurching from holiday to holiday. When I worked in television, you always knew you were past Thanksgiving because everyone of any importance at the station was gone until January. From Black Friday through New Year’s Day, You were about as likely to see the big-name anchors on the air as you were to spot Santa in line at Starbucks. [Read more…]

The NFL Playoff Seeding Offers Intrigue in the Final Two Weeks

By Michael LoCoco
PSDC NFL Beat Writer

With only two weeks left in the regular season, there is still much in the balance in both conferences. Neither conference has any of its seeds decided for sure yet and the Wild Card spots are still in the mix. There is still a ton of meaningful football left and it’s very likely that few teams in contention, if any, will be able to rest their starter in Week 17 (assuming of course that Carolina goes for 16-0). Elsewhere, 14 teams have already been eliminated and their players and coaches are giving their all to both play spoiler as well as to pad their own resumes for the offseason. Let’s take a look around the league.

NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE

In the NFC there are nine teams fighting for the six playoff spots. Carolina, Arizona, Green Bay and Seattle have made the postseason for sure. Minnesota and Washington currently occupy the six and fourth seeds respectively as well. Beyond them, the Eagles, Giants, and Falcons are all still alive for the playoffs. This is a little bit deceiving however. Neither the Giants nor the Eagles can win the sixth Wild Card spot as both are now three games behind Minnesota with two to play. The Eagles and Giants are only in the mix by virtue of a weak NFC East. Washington and the Eagles play next Saturday and then the Giants and Eagles play in Week 17. Those two matchups will decide the NFC East winner who will take the fourth overall seed and host the fifth seed on Wild Card weekend.

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