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Eyes on the Enemy: New York Giants

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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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Dallas Cowboys

Should Cowboys Pursue Veteran Backup at Quarterback?

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys en Español: Cooper Rush
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys only have two quarterbacks under contract right now, starter Dak Prescott and backup Cooper Rush. With only three years of combined experience between them, one could argue that a veteran presence would be useful. Should Dallas make a veteran QB a free-agent priority in the 2018 offseason?

Of course, there’s plenty of other QB experience on the Cowboys staff. Head Coach Jason Garrett played professionally from 1989-2004, and started his coaching career with quarterbacks.

Scott Linehan has been coaching offense with an emphasis on the passing game for 30 years.

Kellen Moore, who is taking over for the departed Wade Wilson as quarterbacks coach, has played very recently and will bring a fresh perspective.

However, losing Wilson’s experience from the room, and the lack of any veteran player at QB, shouldn’t be dismissed.

Dak Prescott has said veteran Mark Sanchez — who was with Dallas in 2016 — was a major help during his whirlwind rookie season. Tony Romo enjoyed veteran advice from guys like Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, and Kyle Orton throughout his playing career.

This isn’t to say Dallas would want to bring in a veteran to knock Cooper Rush down the depth chart. After a surprising preseason, Rush took the backup job from Kellen Moore and certainly has intriguing upside.

If the Cowboys were to add a veteran, that player would have to come in with the understanding he’s competing with Cooper and may not be guaranteed a job.

The good news is that it’ll be a buyer’s market for veteran quarterbacks this offseason.

Guys like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, and Matt Moore could all be available. Even a player with more pedigree, such as Sam Bradford, may have trouble finding starting work with many jobs taken among the NFL’s 32 teams.

Dallas could even consider bringing back Mark Sanchez, given his previous relationship with Dak Prescott. He only had a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears.

Given Prescott’s seeming durability, Dallas will likely only keep two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster in 2018 and for years to come. Because of that, they may be content to focus on Dak and Cooper Rush, and just get through the offseason with training camp bodies.

However, the case can certainly be made for adding another veteran player with the desire to teach to help these young quarterbacks develop. Prescott was not the same guy in 2017 that we saw as a rookie, and perhaps the absence of guys like Sanchez and Tony on the sideline had something to do with that.

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Why WR Coach Sanjay Lal is a Good Hire for Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Why WR Coach Sanjay Lal Is A Good Hire For Cowboys

Yesterday, it was announced that the Dallas Cowboys will hire Sanjay Lal to be their new wide receivers coach. Lal spent 2017 with the Indianapolis Colts in the same position, but has made multiple stops around the NFL prior to joining the Cowboys staff.

Most recently and arguably most notably, Sanjay Lal was the receivers coach for both the New York Jets (2012-2014) and the Buffalo Bills (2015-2016). This means he coached on Rex Ryan’s staff for two different teams, with two very similar offensive philosophies.

Run the football.

As seen in the video below, Sanjay Lal has experience working as the wide outs coach for an offense with a run-first philosophy. He even says himself that their offense in New York was “ground and pound,” but notes that “without a pass game there’s no pound.”

Cowboys fans became all too familiar with the truth behind that statement during the 2017 season, as even solid efforts in the run game were rendered meaningless by their lack of explosion through the air.

Jets Nation Inside Camp: Sanjay Lal Mic’d Up

Jets wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal is mic’d up during training camp, and also discusses trying to play pro football before becoming a coach in the NFL.

A lot has been made of Sanjay Lal’s lack of 1,000-yard receivers during his time as a coach. The offensive philosophies of the teams which he coached for, however, show why this criticism is flimsy.

It’s quite possible the Cowboys will once again be without a 1,000 yard pass catcher this season, but if Ezekiel Elliott and the run game are clicking, and Dak Prescott is spreading the ball to different targets, this stat won’t mean a thing.

Lal was also the coach in Buffalo when Sammy Watkins had the best years of his career, including a 1,000-yard season.

During that stint he coached Robert Woods to productive seasons as well. Now Woods is a dangerous target for the Los Angeles Rams after being coached by Lal for multiple seasons.

These were also the same years that quarterback Tyrod Taylor was at his best.

While in New York, with the Jets, Lal’s most productive receiver was Jeremy Kerley, who finished with 827 yards in 2012 and 523 in 2013. What’s important to note here is that Kerley played as a slot receiver for much of his time as a Jet.

The Cowboys lacked any type of production from the slot in 2017, but maybe Lal can change that by getting the best out of Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer, as he did with Kerley.

Bryan Broaddus on Twitter

Know that some believe he had a real shot to be an OC in this league one day. https://t.co/1s21w2jZGR

All indications from those “in the know” suggest Sanjay Lal is on his way to becoming an offensive coordinator soon. Many believe he has the smarts and the football IQ to command an offense himself, as soon as he gets the right opportunity.

Maybe that opportunity will come down the line in Dallas, where he can continue to coach within that “ground and pound” style, which he has done for many years while also implementing elements of his own passing game expertise.

Everyone has been critical of the Cowboys’ inability to bring in external hires, and to spark up new/creative offensive ideas. Lal has spent time among some of the smartest offensive minds in football.

Maybe he’s the man to bring in that outside creativity this offense seems to lack.

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Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach

Sean Martin

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Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach

After hiring Paul Alexander to fill their vacant OL coaching position, the Dallas Cowboys are continuing to retool their offensive staff below Scott Linehan. Sanjay Lal has been hired to coach the Cowboys’ wide receivers, replacing Derek Dooley.

Lal has experience as a WR coach with four different teams, dating back to 2009 with the Oakland Raiders. He was promoted up to this position after serving as the Raiders’ quality control coach from 2007-08.

David Moore on Twitter

Sources: Cowboys have reached an agreement with Sanjay Lal to become the team’s WR coach. Lal was with Indianapolis last season and replaces Derek Dooley on the staff.

Most recently, Sanjay Lal coached the receivers for the Indianapolis Colts in 2017. He has also been with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

In this interview with the Colts, Lal mentions being very detail-oriented with a focus on the technical aspects of playing receiver.

Lal beats out former Cowboys WR Miles Austin for this position, earning the right to lead a room of receivers in desperate need of fresh talent. In an offseason that’s been about finding fresh ideas with the coaching staff so far though, the Cowboys have a new voice on offense.

Tell us what you think about “Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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