The Dallas Cowboys are in offseason mode, their players and coaches having returned from the Pro Bowl and scouting department from the Senior Bowl. Failing to remain in the news and create stories is never something the Cowboys should be accused of, though coaching criticisms following the NFC's loss in the Pro Bowl may have them reconsidering this position.
For writers and fans like myself, the Cowboys permanent status as a larger-than-life entity deserving of constant attention is a great thing. It's also part of the reason why I'm taking this time to formally sign off from Inside The Star. Though being a member of Cowboys Nation will always define me, serving them on these pages daily has come to an end for me.
I couldn't possibly thank everybody that's helped get me to this point. There's a good chance I don't even know whoever you are reading this right now. Perhaps we've exchanged a tweet or comment along the way.
What I can do is proudly say I tried to allow our readers and fans to get to know me. A New Jersey native that takes a lot of pride in flying Cowboys colors in Giants/Eagles territory, the reality that my words about a team in Dallas have impact is something I cherish.
Through a ton of late nights, four years of college ending with the completion of a Sports Journalism degree, my first Cowboys game at the Cleveland Browns in 2016, and first NFL event covered when I attended the 2018 Draft, Inside The Star will always represent everything I hope Cowboys Nation continues to strive for in their coverage of America's Team.
The aspiration to try new things and learn from practical experience are both ways the daily grind of focusing on one team for 365 days a year remains entertaining. So too are the fans that genuinely care, through the good and bad.
On my way out of Dallas today. - Been to Texas ✔ - Been to AT&T Stadium ✔ - Credentialed for @CowboysNation ✔ - Covered an NFL Draft ✔ - Tried @Whataburger ✔ That's a lot of "firsts" in one weekend, and for that I thank you all!
There is one personalized thank you I'd like to write before wrapping up, and that's to this site's Managing Editor Bryson Treece. For seeing something in me that I didn't know I'd ever have, Bryson brought me on near the beginning of Inside The Star's emergence. Though I signed on with the rather bold claim that I was here to cover the Cowboys winning a Super Bowl, as they proceeded to go 4-12 in my first season on the beat, I'm immensely proud of what this staff has achieved with Bryson at the helm despite falling short of this.
The consideration to stop writing about the Cowboys here came up between Bryson and I a few times before the most recent confirmation, and each time his guidance assured me I should stay - as did my readers.
With so many talented writers and media personalities devoting their time to this team, I won't waste any more of yours reading about me when your time is best spent absorbing Cowboys content. If you previously took any time at all, be it five minutes over the last four seasons, to interact with my work at Inside The Star, know that not even this last collection of words can thank Cowboys Nation enough.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @SeanMartinNFL for further coverage and updates on the next chapter. Thank you for making this job fun, I wouldn't want it any other way!
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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