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Eyes on the Enemy: New York Giants

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Cowboys Blog - Eyes on the Enemy: Washington Redskins 4

Eli ManningAside from losing to the Cowboys on opening day, the Giants got off to a fairly good start highlighted by beating up on the 49ers at their place. But they eventually fell back down to earth losing 5 out of their last 8 games. The secondary was horrendous and the offensive line didn't perform very well during that final stretch of the 2012 season. It was also brought up that Eli Manning may have suffered from "dead arm", which is common in baseball pitchers due to overworking the throwing arm. Manning played in a lot of games the past few years in completing two super bowl runs in the last 6 years. The Giants have some fairly obvious holes they need to fill, along with some that aren't so obvious, if they plan on making another deep playoff push, as has become the standard for Big Blue.

Secondary

New York finished last season 28th in passing defense (yards) and 29th in yards per attempt, which means they got burnt deep regularly. They haven't really had a great secondary for quite a while now, but it really showed last year because the pass rush wasn't as dynamic as in years past. They could really use a safety who can play coverage as Antrel Rolle is now over age 30. Cornerback has also been a weakness in this defense, as the team has seemed to have had a revolving door at this position for years. No doubt Dez Bryant would love to see this trend continue, but the Giants really need to shore up the back end of the defense.

Wide Receiver

When I say wide receiver, it means one thing and one thing only: Victor Cruz. The Giants simply can not afford to let him slip away. Cruz apparently was offered a contract that would give him $7 million annually, but he rejected the offer. Since he is a restricted free agent, teams who would potentially sign him would have to fork over a first rounder, making it less likely he would be going anywhere. Eli Manning has hinted that he would restructure his deal in order to sign Cruz, thus showing how important he believes Cruz is to the team. Bottom line is the Giants have to get something worked out with him, or they will have a huge void to fill there.

Linebacker

The Giants signed former Cowboy Dan Conner recently in anticipation of possibly losing Chase Blackburn to free agency. The Giants were apparently thrilled to pick up the veteran, seemingly seeing something that no one else did in Conner. The Giants also have Mark Herzlich as an option, but he is seen as more of a depth player to the team. New York has also had problems at linebacker for some time, but it has also been masked by the play of their defensive line over the years.

Tight End

giants-martellus-bennettMartellus Bennett signed with New York last season despite the Cowboys all but labeling him a bust. We always heard how good he was in practice and in training camp, but for whatever reason it never showed up on game day. He would routinely drop critical passes and crucial times, but somehow overcame that and thrived with the Giants. But Bennett will look for a big raise this season, making it unlikely he returns to the team. The Giants and Eli Manning have been able to plug and play just about anyone at that position and find production. Just think of how dangerous the passing game could be if they actually found a playmaker at tight end. They could possibly be looking for one in the mid to late rounds in the draft.

Defensive Line

With Osi Umenyiora out, and Justin Tuck seeming to be aging before our eyes, the Giants need to make a move and find an edge rusher to keep the famed "Nascar Package" alive and well. Both Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul had down years to their standards, only combining for 10.5 sacks. And with so many other problems on the defense, it just makes it that much worse that they can't rely on their bread and butter to bail them out. A nasty d-line has become their identity so you can expect them to bolster it this offseason for sure.

Despite the down year, expectations never have changed for the Giants. They are expected to finish high in the division and go on deep playoff runs just about every year, and this year is no different. I would imagine that they will solidify their defensive line and tweak their o-line and be right back in contention in 2013. As a Cowboy fan, I certainly hope they don't but time will tell.



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WR Randall Cobb Named Cowboys “Surprise Standout” for Offseason

Jess Haynie

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Randall Cobb

NFL teams have wrapped up their offseason activities with the close of OTAs, especially where the players are concerned, and await the start of training camps next month. In reviewing the last few months, ESPN had their local reporters each pick a surprise standout from their team's practices. Todd Archer, who covers the Dallas Cowboys full time, selected veteran receiver Randall Cobb.

Cobb is in his first season with Dallas after signing as a free agent last March. He's spent the last eight years with the Green Bay Packers and was a Pro Bowler in 2014, but has struggled with injuries the last few seasons.

Here were Archer's observations on how Randall is doing so far with the Cowboys:

Normally a player with Cobb's résumé -- 470 catches for 5,524 yards and 41 touchdowns during his career -- would not be considered for a category like this. But injuries limited him to only nine games and 38 catches for Green Bay in 2018, and it was hard to know what the Cowboys were getting in the veteran receiver.

If the offseason work is any indication, they have found a replacement for Cole Beasley. Cobb's versatility can expand the offense for others, such as Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Cobb looked quick in and out of his breaks and fast enough to make plays down the field. Will he put up the 1,287 yards he had in 2014? No, but he gives Dak Prescott a security blanket in the slot who can turn a small gain into a big one.

The notion of Cobb replacing Beasley is a big one. While we'd like to think that Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup will provide plenty of firepower for the Cowboys offense, Dak Prescott has enjoyed a reliable threat from the slot position since he arrived.

Randall Cobb, when healthy, can do more than just make clutch catches. He has good run-after-catch skills and perhaps bring more big play potential than Beasley did.

If Cooper and Gallup do emerge as a dangerous starting duo on the outside, Cobb should have even more opportunities to punish defenses than Beasley did.

If nothing else, it's very encouraging to hear that one of the Cowboys' few 2019 free agent moves is already reaping benefits. Cobb still needs to bring it over a full season to really justify the move, but these early reports are cause for excitement.



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BREAKING: Cowboys TE Rico Gathers Receives One-Game Suspension

Jess Haynie

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Rico Gathers

Tight End Rico Gathers already had an uphill climb to return to the Dallas Cowboys' 53-man roster in 2019. But that climb just got even steeper; the NFL handed down a one-game suspension to Gathers today for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

If he does make the team this year, with Dallas or anyone else, Rico will have to sit out Week One of the season without pay.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys TE Rico Gathers is suspended without pay for the first game of the 2019 regular season for violating the NFL's policy and program on substances of abuse. This is from his arrest in 2018 for marijuana possession.

Gathers' chances of returning in 2019 were already hurt by Jason Witten's reversed retirement. He dropped to fourth on the TE depth chart behind Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz, and Dallas only kept three tight ends last year.

The Cowboys also added Codey McElroy as a developmental player during the offseason.

While the suspension is news, the incident that led to it is not. Dallas already knew about the arrest, which occurred in early September of 2018, and have kept Gathers around up until now.

The NFL's substance abuse system is pretty formulaic, so the Cowboys likely anticipated this suspension all along. This may not change anything about how they value Rico Gathers for the 2019 season.

Nevertheless, a player who can't help you in Week One and is a liability for ever longer suspensions down the road is definitely a red flag against Gathers' job security.



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Antwaun Woods: Cowboys DT is Just Getting Started

Matthew Lenix

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Antwaun Woods is just getting started

Antwaun Woods went undrafted in 2016 coming out of USC. After two years with the Tennessee Titans, he would only see one game of action. In May of 2018, the Cowboys signed Woods to a two-year contract worth 1.05 million. Probably seen as nothing more than a practice squad guy, Woods would quickly show he was much more than that.

The newly acquired Woods started his climb to stardom in Oxnard during training camp, and not for making plays. One day during practice he got into a friendly game of fisticuffs with All-Pro Center Travis Frederick. The team even posted the video on social media, which had fans buzzing and wanting to know who he was.

All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott echoed those thoughts when he saw Woods during camp. "Honestly, when we first got him, we were like, 'Who is this guy?'. He was giving Travis Frederick, one of our best players, hell all camp. Just trying to figure out where this guy came from," Elliott said.

Once the regular season started it was clear the Cowboys had found a hidden gem. Although the sack numbers won't dazzle you, seeing as he only registered 1.5, you could forget about running the ball anywhere near him. Woods has amazing quickness for a 300 pounder which allows him to extend his arms before offensive lineman can get a hand on him.

How significant is that? It becomes that much easier to bull rush and blow running plays up in the backfield.

When you can get your hands on an offensive lineman immediately when the ball is snapped, he's basically under your control. You can move him around like a puppet on a string. Essential for a 1-technique nose tackle. With that being said, there should be no surprise the Cowboys finished fifth against the run in 2018 with Woods manning the middle.

Woods draws a lot of double teams, and he handles them well. Having the ability to take on multiple linemen frees up your other playmakers. As the anchor in the middle, Woods made life a lot easier for not only his fellow defensive linemen but the team's two young star Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Allowing them to roam freely like Lions in the Serengeti makes running backs essentially Zebra's carrying the ball, cooked food. So much so that both tallied over 120 tackles and were the only teammates in the NFL to rank in the top 15 in that category.

There's nothing but upside with Antwaun Woods. He's only had 18 games of experience in three years. He's already a stud, but with limited snaps, it can only mean he'll be even more formidable going forward.

The Cowboys have a loaded defensive lineman group with around 15 bodies, plenty of competition. All signs point to him remaining the starter, but it's not guaranteed. Even with that being said I don't expect a complacency from Woods, especially with DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn looking like the only sure starters on the defensive line. Plus this is a contract year for him, so you know he'll be even more motivated as he tries to maximize his dollars. We've only seen the tip of the iceberg from this raw talent, setting up for a potential breakout year for him in 2019.



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