Only two of the eight division winners in 2015 made the playoffs in 2016 (Patriots & Texans). There hasn’t been back to back NFC East champions since 2004, the last year the Eagles controlled the division, and for four straight years (2001-2004). The Dallas Cowboys haven’t had back to back 10-win seasons since the mid-1990’s.
Life in the NFL moves fast. Parity is the goal of the league. Repeating success is hard. So why am I so confident that the Dallas Cowboys will wrap up the NFC East again in 2017? Let’s dive in.
This coaching staff and front office have been together for a while now.
That sentence is so important. Read it again. Seriously.
It’s a relationship, just like having a long-term boyfriend or girlfriend. You know what they like, what they don’t like, how to make them happy. Consistency starts at the top, and all of these draft picks–this year, last year, etc.–were picked for this scheme and these coaches.
Veterans aren’t learning something from the ground up, they’re changing a few things and working on some new wrinkles, but they know the majority of the playbook. Not dealing with the fear or stress of being fired can do wonders for an organization.
The Jones’ may be set for years.
This early in the preseason we know little about how this most recent group of draft picks will perform in games. However, we do have an idea of how last year’s draft performed in year one, and therefore an idea of how they might perform in year two.
You hope to see improvement, which of course that doesn’t always happen, although you would assume not all of the talented players would have down years together.
There are a lot of talented players from last year’s draft too; if you follow me on twitter (@SingForTheDay) you probably know that I’ve mentioned how the 2016 draft could’ve produced 8 people making the 46-man game day roster if everything breaks right (Elliott, Jaylon Smith, Maliek Collins, Charles Tapper, Dak Prescott, Anthony Brown, Kavon Frazier, Rico Gathers).
Draft picks are gambles, lottery tickets. You don’t get eight players that work out from a single draft. No one gets that lucky, do they Mr. Jones?
Dak as the Starter
Last year Dak Prescott was the third string quarterback. As such he was not getting many reps with Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, or Jason Witten. Now they will have had a whole off-season and training camp to work together.
We saw a noticeable difference in Dez Bryant between the first half of the season and the second half. Dez is healthy, and he’s been working with his quarterback.
This bodes well for Cowboys fans, but should worry opponents.
The Goal is Set
This team has their eyes on the prize. They’re not rebuilding, they’re not trying to make the playoffs early in their careers. They know they’re a contender, they comport themselves as such. They practice like they are preparing for a run. Not at the division, at the whole caboodle. They have veteran players that know how fickle an NFL season can be.
Dez brings the passion, Witten brings the work ethic, Orlando Scandrick brings the dog, Sean Lee brings the hustle, and the offensive line sets the tone. They have the pieces, every team has its weaknesses, it’s about overcoming those. There is an urgency, this team is hungry for greatness.
The concerns about the 2017 Dallas Cowboys are well documented already, well before week 1 has kicked off. Pass Rush. Secondary turnover. “Sophomore slump.” A suspension that is still in the appeal process–and could be dragged out further in court. I can talk all day about those, it’s up to the players to prove people wrong.
What I would like to address here is that fact that every team has question marks. No one is exempt.
Let’s take a quick look at the NFC East competition:
- New York Giants: Aging QB with a tired arm that needs to bounce back (no great backup either). Inconsistent offensive line play. Running game, what’s that? Can the defense repeat?
- Washington Redskins: Dysfunctional front office. Offensive Coordinator change. Wide Receiver turnover. Offensive line and pass rush concerns. Running back having to lose weight to compete.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Has the QB fixed his mechanical issues? Pass catcher and secondary concerns. Unproven head coach.
Point is, the whole division has question marks.
Who do you trust to answer the bell on the majority of issues, become NFC East Champions, and make a legitimate run at the Lombardi?
Let me know on twitter @SingForTheDay or in the comments below.