The Philadelphia Eagles will be the only team in the NFC East without a new head coach in 2020. One of their top defensive players, Brandon Graham, says that gives them an advantage over their division rivals. division. Should the rest of us, and particularly the Dallas Cowboys, agree with him?
Doug Pederson is returning for his fifth season as Eagles coach. Since winning the Super Bowl in 2017, Philadelphia has gone 9-7 each of the last two years. That was good enough to win the NFC East in 2019, though, and earn a Wild Card spot the year before.
After a decade of highs and lows under Jason Garrett, the Cowboys finally fired him in favor of Mike McCarthy. He brings a Super Bowl ring and a highly successful track record during a long run with the Green Bay Packers.
The Giants and Redskins will also have new coaches this year, but really we're just worried about the battle between Dallas and Philadelphia. Barring an unexpected surge from either of those other two teams, the NFC East is a two-horse race in 2020.
Brandon Graham, the Eagles' sack leader in 2019, thinks his team is out in front thanks to the coaching turnover in the division.
“It's all about having an advantage and I feel like we've got an advantage right now. We've got the same coach. All we have to do is make sure that we take this offseason like we're supposed to.”
So is Graham correct? Does coaching continuity really give the Eagles an edge over the Cowboys?
Obviously, yes, it's a positive thing for Philadelphia. They benefit from not having to learn a new system and not having any locker room angst from the arrival of new coaches.
But Graham's statement assumes a coaching change isn't a net a positive for the other three teams in the division. And in the case of the Dallas Cowboys, you'd have a hard time winning that argument.
Don't get me wrong; Jason Garrett did good work during his time here. I was probably one of the last Cowboys fans and writers to turn on him.
But while I forgave the 8-8 years from 2011-2013 due to a young coach learning and a team rebuilding, those same excuses were gone last season. And on top of the lack of wins last year, the Cowboys seemed to finally be quitting on Garrett.
Jason seemed to give up as well. You didn't see the same enthusiasm in him on the sidelines. It was like he made “lame duck” status a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The Dallas Cowboys needed a change. And if Mike McCarthy is as good as advertised, a very talented roster just got an upgrade at head coach and perhaps multiple assistant positions as well.
Sure, there will be some transitional issues and growing pains. Perhaps it will give Dallas some extra challenges in the early part of their 2020 schedule.
Thankfully, the Cowboys' first division game isn't until October 11th (vs Giants). Their first meeting with the Eagles isn't until November 1st. They have time to work out the kinks.
So no, what Brandon Graham said isn't wrong on the surface. Continuity is an asset when you have the right coach, and Doug Pederson seems to be one of the better ones.
But for the Dallas Cowboys, sticking with Jason Garrett would have made them a weaker team in 2020. The likely upgrade to Mike McCarthy should make them more competitive this year and draw them closer to the Eagles, if not making them the favorites in the NFC East.