Defensive Tackles Should Do More Than Just Plug Holes
In 2016, I think it's time this coaching staff begins to value the 1-technique. Nick Hayden, while a serviceable player, doesn't really give you much. Yea he will plug the middle fine, but he is by no means an impact 1-technique and fails to consistently make plays in the backfield.
When I look back on this season, I remember the Philly game in week 2. The defense in that game, as a whole, was phenomenal, and I can’t help thinking that had, at least, something to do with Terrell McClain playing like a man on fire. McClain was in the backfield all game, disrupting timing. If you remember in that game the DEs were making tackles for losses and the Eagles could not get anything going.
I attribute that to the amount of attention the offensive line had to pay to the interior of our defense with Tyrone Crawford and McClain causing havoc. McClain could be a viable option if not for his durability concerns, so I'd like to see the club look elsewhere in the offseason.
The Dawning Of Run DMC (Darren McFadden)
Darren McFadden really proved himself to me this season. The last offseason when he was signed I honestly did not expect him to beat out Ryan Williams and make this roster. Well, he sure shut me up fast. When Randle was getting the bulk of the carries early on, McFadden in his limited carries did not produce. It wasn’t until McFadden was given a full workload that we got to see why the Cowboys signed him in the offseason.
Doug Free Stepped Up When Needed Last Year
This time last year, people were calling for the Cowboys to draft or find the replacement for Doug Free. Whether it be for productivity or health issues, last year Free was the target of some criticism. I believe over the course of the year, Free shut the haters up. He was healthy throughout the season, and unlike last year, protected very well.
It became incredibly crucial for Free to play well the final 2 games of the season, as Kellen Moore’s blind side was the right tackle, not the left. Free was up to the challenge and protected well. Free’s presence as the grandfather in the locker room cannot be overlooked as I truly believe he has played at least a small part in the younger lineman's development.
Randy Gregory Looked Better Than The Stats Show
While not having a very impactful Rookie Campaign, I think Randy Gregory has a great chance of becoming a good player in this league. While he never officially got credited with a sack, he was in the backfield a ton and impacted a number of throws that lead to positives for the defense.
Where he must improve is developing more pass rush moves.
Gregory always tries to use his speed, dip his inside shoulder, and get around the tackle. This is a fine move, unless you don't have any other moves to set it up or keep the tackle guessing. If you wanna be a one trick pony, that trick better produce sacks like the signature Dwight Freeney spin move.
If there is one more thing Gregory needs to work on it's his feel for his depth when rushing. Too often he would run past the quarterback leaving a very nice pocket for the quarterback to step up into. With all that said, I've seen enough from Gregory this year to assume that he will have a Demarcus Lawrence type of year #2.
DeMarcus Lawrence Is Developing Nicely
Speaking of DeMarcus Lawrence, it was amazing seeing the kind of transformation he had this season. I remember seeing pictures of him last offseason and thinking how much bigger he looked. This season proved it, as switching from RE to LE is not an easy transition. Going against RTs instead of LTs means you must put on size, as the RT is more of a power position. It was amazing to see Lawrence gain the size and not lose a step on the field. All season he was causing havoc in the backfield, and although the sacks started to come late he was getting close to the quarterback all season.
To me, though, what's more impressive than the sacks is that game after game it seemed he was making a big stop in the backfield. Both defending the run and rushing the passer, "Tank" Lawrence made great strides this season.
Whitehead & Butler Stood Out When Times Were Tough
I really hope to see Lucky Whitehead and Brice Butler get more opportunities on offense next season. I can’t help but feel like we have seen the last of Devin Street in a Cowboys uniform. After being given ample opportunity to produce, with Dez Bryant being out and Terrance Williams not playing well, Street was unable to make an impact and failed to get open consistently against 1-on-1 situations.
Brice Butler made big plays seemingly every time he was given a chance; he is a vertical threat and plays big with his size to win contested catches. I'd like to see Butler compete for the number 2 WR next season.
Lucky Whitehead was dangerous every time he got the ball, and I wonder why it took so long for the coaches to give him opportunities. I think both WRs have bright futures, maybe even bright enough to withhold from drafting a WR this year.
Rookie Defensive Backs Impressed Me All Year
I think we have really found something with the young defensive backs on this roster. Byron Jones had an amazing rookie season, doing something that is unheard of by playing all over the secondary as a rookie. His season was well reported on InsideTheStar.com so I will focus on the play of Terrance Mitchell and Deji Olatoye.
Both players were thrown into the fire late in a lost season and I think they both responded well. Actually, they got the only two interceptions from corners on this season. Mitchell has the feistiness we saw at times from Tyler Patmon but he has far more upside. Olatoye - at 6-1 - is a big corner with a lot of upside. I think both of them have a future role on this team.
Dan "The Man" Bailey Was True To Form
I know it doesn't have to be said but this year especially Dan Bailey was unreal. Looking past his near perfect field goal percentage and perfect extra point percentage, Bailey was almost supernatural kicking off this year. He allowed only 23 returns all year after allowing over 40 in every other year of his career. We fans often take him for granted but seeing all the missed extra points and teams shuffling through kickers, I realized how lucky we are to have Dan.
Rookie Left Guard La'el Collins Is Really Special
La’el Collins has a chance to be the best of all our offensive linemen. He is an athletic freak; I’m sure we all saw him go stride for stride with Darren McFadden. He needs work on the mental aspect of the game as it seemed all of the sacks given up were a mental lapse. If he continues to develop as expected, we will have 4 pro bowlers very soon.
Don't Forget About The Other Kicker...
Nobody wants to hear about the punter, but sorry, Chris Jones had to sneak past the NFL and took steroids or something this year (kidding obviously). He killed it after most of us thought he would get beat out by the rookie in training camp. He improved tremendously this year compared to last and was one of the best punters in the league all season. It's weird to say but he was probably the biggest pro-bowl snub on this roster.
Cowboys en Español: Analizando al Rival Más Fuerte en la NFC East
Los Dallas Cowboys se han llevado el título de la NFC East tres de los últimos cinco años. Dos veces han sido con el QB Dak Prescott como el titular. Sin embargo, no han logrado llevarse la división en años consecutivos. De hecho, ningún equipo de la NFC East ha logrado coronarse campeón divisional en años consecutivos desde el 2004. Los Cowboys, actuales campeones del grupo, buscarán romper esa tendencia en la temporada que está por comenzar en septiembre.
Los New York Giants, Washington Redskins y Philadelphia Eagles intentarán evitar que tal hazaña suceda. Sin embargo, parece ser que solo uno de estos tres equipos podrá ser rival para un equipo de Dallas bastante completo tanto en ofensiva como en defensiva.
Los Eagles, quienes estuvieron en postemporada al igual que los Cowboys en 2018 (pero en calidad de comodín), cuentan con un muy fuerte equipo para la próxima temporada. En las apuestas deportivas, las casas de apuesta tienen como favorito a ganar la división a Philadelphia. El margen de diferencia entre ambos equipos es muy pequeño, poniendo las expectativas para ambas ciudades en aproximadamente el mismo nivel.
Para Eagles, termina una agotadora discusión entre Nick Foles y Carson Wentz después de que el veterano partiera a Jacksonville en la agencia libre y dejara a la segunda selección global del 2016 al mando de su equipo, como debería de ser. Wentz es un QB prometedor para su equipo. Antes de lesionarse en 2017, era el claro favorito para ser premiado como el MVP de la temporada. Pero la fortaleza del equipo va más allá de su mariscal de campo.
Doug Pederson ha demostrado ser un head coach muy capaz en la NFL, y tiene la fortuna de liderar un equipo repleto de talento. Similar a los Cowboys, los Eagles tuvieron un offseason algo discreto pero efectivo.
En ofensiva, Eagles consiguió talento para el juego terrestre después de conseguir al ex-Chicago Bear Jordan Howard y al novato de Penn State, Miles Sanders. Como receptor hace su regreso a Philadelphia Desean Jackson, quien será un arma peligrosa con Alshon Jeffery y Nelson Agholor.
Para la defensiva, consiguieron ayuda en la línea defensiva (que de por sí lucía muy talentosa) firmando al DT Malik Jackson. Como linebacker, una posición en la que necesitaban una mejora, llega Zach Brown. Ese frente defensivo es de temerse, sin duda.
Pero no solo se trata de aquellos jugadores nuevos en Philadelphia, sino las retenciones claves. Con Eagles se quedan después de firmar extensiones y nuevos contratos el centro Jason Kelce, el tackle Jason Peters, el caza cabezas Brandon Graham y el cornerback Ronald Darby.
Los Cowboys tienen un rival fuerte a quien superar si quieren llevarse el título de la división por segundo año consecutivo. Ambos equipos se enfrentan en las semanas 7 y 16, pero la NFC East se tendrá que ganar con un esfuerzo en los 16 partidos de la temporada.
Recientemente, Eagles y Cowboys han representado la rivalidad más importante dentro de la división y el 2019 no será la excepción. A nosotros como aficionados, nos espera un espectáculo.
What Will Joe Looney’s Role Look Like In 2019?
The quick answer to the question the title poses is: he will be the backup center.
And, well, yes. Duh. Right?
Now that veteran center Travis Frederick has returned to claim his rightful spot on the Cowboys offensive line, Joe Looney must slide back into his backup role. Looney filled in for the All Pro center admirably in 2018, playing well above expectation level for much of the season. Still, there was clearly a drop off in play between he and Frederick, especially when it came to communication across the offensive line.
It may not be as simple as "Joe Looney is back to being a backup interior lineman," though, especially considering the offseason which the Cowboys had. Dallas went out and added Penn State guard Connor McGovern with their second selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, adding him to a very crowded interior group.
Now, Joe Looney is joined by two guards which played significant time in 2018 in Connor Williams and Xavier Su'a-Filo, the unquestioned starter Travis Frederick, and this rookie who draft pundits have praised to be plug-and-play on the inside.
Looney himself, however, doesn't sound too concerned about how these pieces may fall during Training Camp. “Whatever happens, happens. My role is to be the best player that I can be. When the team needs me, my job is to be ready,” Looney told DallasCowboys.com recently. "Right now, it’s about getting better. If my number is called, I’ll be ready.”
There's no question that Joe Looney is both a favorite of the fans, and in the Cowboys locker room. The jolly lineman which NBC's Cris Collinsworth dubbed "Jumbo Joe" has proved his worth both on and off the field during his time in Dallas. Still, he isn't the player now that someone like Frederick is, and he doesn't have the ceiling or potential that someone like Connor Williams has.
One of these interior linemen is likely to be released before the season starts, but my guess would not be Joe Looney. Su'a-Filo did a fine job when Connor Williams missed time due to injury in 2018, but he is likely the odd man out on the interior of the Cowboys offensive line.
Joe Looney's ability and comfortability at the center position is extremely valuable, as is his experience from a season ago playing a full season for this offensive line. It would be extremely difficult for Dallas to move on from him in favor of lesser-known players, especially if Frederick's health is still any sort of question mark.
Catching Up With Dallas Cowboys NFC East Rivals’ Offseasons
It's been a very busy offseason for the Dallas Cowboys, with many tasks still undone. Their work in free agency and in the Draft has gone pretty well as the front office has managed to keep the team from having unfilled needs throughout the process. Currently, the team is still hard at work negotiating contract extensions with some key Cowboys, most notably, Quarterback Dak Prescott. In the thick of the offseason, it's easy to forget that the Cowboys aren't alone in the NFC East.
That's why today we'll take a look around the division to see what's happened with the three teams the Cowboys will have to battle twice this year. Let's catch up with them, one by one.
After starting the season leading the division, the Redskins' 2018 season went crashing down when Alex Smith suffered a pretty serious injury that will keep him off the gridiron next season. That's why the Redskins signed veteran QB Case Keenum and drafted a first round signal-caller in the Ohio State product, Dwayne Haskins.
If Haskins doesn't get the starting gig in Washington from the get-go, it'll only be a matter of time for the rookie to take over. Keenum hasn't proved his worth yet and he isn't likely to in a poor-coached team such as the Redskins. Drafting Dwayne Haskins with the 15th overall pick was seen by many like a steal, and the team built on that early success by taking pass rusher Montez Sweat, who surprisingly tumbled into the late first round. Their 2019 Draft went pretty well thanks to their top two selections.
They also made a splash in free agency by breaking the bank and giving former Giants Safety Landon Collins an $84M contract averaging 14 million per year. Additionally, they had obtained LB Reuben Foster, but the young player will be out for the season after tearing his ACL in practice. Even still, their defensive front looks impressive. Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat won't be easy to contain.
The Redskins won't be in contention for the division unless Dwayne Haskins dramatically exceeds expectations. However, getting a successful season for their rookie would be a huge win for the franchise.
New York Giants
For the New York Giants there's also an important discussion around the QB position. The team used the sixth overall pick on rookie Daniel Jones, from Duke. It was a surprising selection for many, being only the second QB off the board. The key question is, when will he play? The Giants still have Eli Manning and won't rip the reigns off of his hands just yet.
A change could come when the Giants are clearly out of contention and the coaching staff just wants to see what the rookie can bring to the table prior to 2020.
Odell Beckham is out of New York and in Cleveland, taking one of the Giants' best weapons to the AFC. In exchange, New York got a first round selection (DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson), a third rounder (DE Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion), and S Jabrill Peppers. At wide receiver, the Giants added 30-year old Golden Tate. They decided not to pay Landon Collins and let him leave for free agency.
In what seems like a win-win trade between the Browns and the Giants, the latter swapped pass rusher Olivier Vernon for the former's quality offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler. New York's offensive line will be considerably improved for Saquon Barkley's second season in the NFL, but this team is still far from being a serious contender in the division.
Similar to the Dallas Cowboys, the Eagles have had a busy, yet quiet, offseason. The reason why is that they're a pretty good football team that will be a tough rival for the division title in the upcoming season. This offseason, they were able to keep a lot of their key players such as C Jason Kelce, DE Brandon Graham, OT Jason Peters, and CB Ronald Darby.
But they've also managed to add new talent at various positions. WR Desean Jackson makes his return to Philly and Jordan Howard arrives from Chicago to help at RB along with the product out of Penn State, Miles Sanders.
For the defense, they signed DT Malik Jackson, despite sending pass rusher Michael Bennett to the New England Patriots. They also signed LB Zach Brown, improving their linebacker group.
Paired with a quality Draft, the Eagles had a heck of an offseason and will be a tough team to beat in 2019. If Carson Wentz, who signed a huge extension a few weeks ago, remains healthy, this will be a dangerous team for the Cowboys. Beatable, sure. But they're certainly not alone in the NFC East race.
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