For the first time this season the top of the NFC East mountain is occupied by someone other than the Dallas Cowboys.
While the Cowboys have been busy losing three straight games, the New York Football Giants have been on a three game streak of their own... churning out a hat trick of victories.
Here's your weekly breakdown of the NFC East and where each team stands.
New York Giants (3-2 Overall, 1-1 Against NFC East)
A New York Giant made a huge catch on Sunday Night Football and it didn't spark a revolution of hype around him.
Pretty crazy, right?
Larry Donnell hauled in a touchdown from Eli Manning in the waning seconds of the Sunday Night contest, giving the Giants sole possession of first place in the NFC East. This victory is the third in a row for the Giants as they have now rolled past the Redskins, Bills, and 49ers.
The Giants are gaining steam at a very convenient time. Their star receiver Victor Cruz is nearing a return and their next four games are at Philadelphia, home against Dallas, at New Orleans, and at Tampa Bay. If they're able to come away from those first two with one victory, and potentially two, they are in prime position as neither the Saints nor Buccaneers present that great of a challenge.
It's still early in the 2015 season, but as a Cowboys fan I am worried about the Giants. Should they beat Philadelphia they will be 5-2, and 2-1 within the division, when we head up there. It would be scary to fall to 2-5 while they jump to 6-2. It is not a hyperbole to say that October 25th could very well decide the fate of the 2015 Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas Cowboys (2-3 Overall, 2-0 Against NFC East)
You are well aware by now about the 30-6 thrashing that the New England Patriots gave the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday; however, losing to them was not a shocker.
Very few people realistically expected the Cowboys to walk away victoriously last Sunday, the pain right now is still concentrated on watching CJ Spiller dash his way into the endzone back in New Orleans.
That was a game that the Cowboys HAD to have. They would be 3-2 right now and feel a lot better about their spot in the division given the recent success of the G-Men.
The Cowboys are now looking up at the Giants and can only sit by as we watch the Giants and Eagles square off next week on Monday Night Football. The state of the Cowboys now rests on the right arm of a new starting quarterback, Matt Cassel, who can hopefully reinvigorate this team and get them back on track.
Washington Redskins (2-3 Overall, 1-1 Against NFC East)
The Atlanta Falcons are one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now. They are 5-0, but they were taken to overtime by the Washington Redskins.
All four of the NFC East teams have played Atlanta very tough this season (and Atlanta has vanquished them all, a perfect 4-0 against the division), but Washington took them to extra minutes.
The Redskins defense has really come to play this season as they have managed to lock down the Eagles and Julio Jones (for the most part) in back-to-back weeks. Bill Callahan has obviously had a great influence on their offensive line and perhaps their team as a whole.
Washington has a date with the New York Jets this week, which will surely be a tough test for quarterback Kirk Cousins. They've been a lot friskier this year than I think most people anticipated, and they've managed to play well enough that all of their misfires (e.g. Robert Griffin III) are an afterthought. It's a pretty crazy world when the Redskins aren't the most dysfunctional team in the NFL. Feels weird.
Philadelphia Eagles (2-3 Overall, 0-2 Against NFC East)
The Philadelphia Eagles offense finally showed up... a little. Even in a winning effort against the New Orleans Saints, Sam Bradford managed to inject doubt into the minds of Eagles fans (assuming they have brains) that he is a legitimate NFL quarterback.
Philly's offensive potency can really be summed up to how porous the New Orleans Saints defense is... a tough pill to swallow for Cowboys fans as Dallas was unable to exploit that. This was a good game for the Eagles as it might have given them a sense of confidence that they are not a 3A high school team and that maybe they can sustain success through the magical smoothie recipe of Chip Kelly.
We'll find out next Monday Night against the New York Giants.
Could Loaded FA Safety Market Drive Down Earl Thomas’ Value?
It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys and Earl Thomas share a mutual interest in one another. Thomas has publicly stated his desire to join America's Team and the Cowboys did their darndest to make that happen last offseason. Nothing ever materialized a year ago, but it's looking as if the stars have finally aligned and a union between the two could merely be just weeks away.
Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys may have dodged a bullet last year when the Seattle Seahawks refused to part ways with their All-Pro safety. Not only would they have had to surrender a high draft pick, but they would've also had to extend Thomas' contract. Fortunately, timing is everything and now the Cowboys might just have to do the latter.
A potential contract between the Cowboys and Thomas is of course what I want to dive in today. I'm not going to get into numbers right now, because it's nearly impossible to project any kind of contract for any safety this offseason, especially for the former Seahawk, Earl Thomas.
Right now, it's a little difficult to know who might have the advantage in contract negotiations, Earl Thomas or the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of times the one that has the leverage, however slight, is the one that gets the better of the deal. As surprising as it may be, the Cowboys might just have the advantage here and I'll tell you why.
First off, this year's market for free agent safeties is pretty stacked with starting caliber players. See below:
- Earl Thomas
- Landon Collins
- Lamarcus Joyner
- Tyrann Mathieu
- Adrian Amos
- Clayton Geathers
- Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
- Glover Quinn
- Tre Boston
- Kenny Vaccaro
- George Iloka
- Jimmie Ward
- Adrian Phillips
Earl Thomas is obviously the headliner here amongst the free agent safeties, but having so many starting caliber players available could drive down Thomas' market value just a bit. This is especially true when you take into consideration the market for FA safeties just a year ago. It was almost a complete standstill last year, with only Kurt Coleman signing a three-year $16.5 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Not even the "Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu could get more than a one-year deal.
With all of these safeties available in free agency, we could be looking at another stingy market. This of course could be good or bad news for the Dallas Cowboys, especially as it pertains to Earl Thomas. Since he is the top FA safety available, everything could once again be at a standstill until he is signed.
Of course, we all know this will ultimately come down to determining Earl Thomas' market value. There is no denying he is still arguably the best free safety in the game today, but there are concerns about his age (30) and the two lower leg injuries he's sustained in the past three years.
Even with the loaded free agent market of starting caliber safeties and Thomas' age and recent injury history, he's still likely to receive a contract that earns him $10 million annually, give or take. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he gets another four-year deal worth $40 million, $25.7 million guaranteed, with a $9.5 million signing bonus like he signed with the Seahawks back in 2014.
The Cowboys of course would probably find a four-year $40 million deal for Earl Thomas acceptable. They would more than likely frontload the contract with a lot of protection in the details. They have the cap space to make this happen and still be able to sign their own, so money shouldn't be a problem.
Now, whether or not Thomas' market value may dip a little due to all of the above mentioned reasons will be something we will have to wait and find out. Regardless, I'd be a little shocked if Earl Thomas doesn't finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.
Do you think Earl Thomas' market value will take a little hit this offseason?
Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors
What a difference a receiver makes, right? As Dallas fans, we know the impact of a player who can shake coverage, get open, and catch the ball. How was the season going before the Cowboys pulled the trigger for Amari Cooper in the deal with the Raiders? Cooper proved to be the lightning rod and a turning point in a season that was growing increasingly dismal. Dak Prescott and Cooper went together like peanut butter and jelly, while the Cowboys stormed to a division title and a postseason berth.
Now, imagine all of that times two… maybe even two and a half if Antonio Brown could be had from the Steelers. Scary right? We understand there’s only one ball to go around but that didn’t stop Kevin Durant from joining the Warriors, did it?
As of this writing, the best online sportsbooks like Intertops, are dealing Dallas as the seventh of 16 choices to win the NFC championship at odds of 12-1. Imagine how those odds would shrink if Brown wore a Cowboys uniform next season, giving Prescott the luxury of not one upper echelon wideout but that plus an elite receiver. Hut, hut, hut and a few clouds of smoke later the Cowboys would be moving the chains or celebrating in the endzone.
Brown and Cooper would be a devastating combination with Ezekiel Elliott coming out of the backfield. Brown was made for Dallas, it gives him an even grander stage than the one he shared with Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh.
Despite the fact that the 'Boys haven’t won a Super Bowl since Barry Switzer was roaming the sidelines in the mid-90s, America’s Team still resides in Dallas. But we need a game-changer and Brown is just such an athlete. But what do we give in return and will that cost be worth whatever productive years Brown has left after this one? Let’s not forget that the mercurial Miami native will be 31 when the season begins and men who make a living with their legs don’t get better at that age. But Brown is so good and so unique that, even if he drops half a click, he's still amongst the best in the game.
That level of talent is hard to replicate and it could be the missing piece which allows Dallas to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender next season and the year after.
However, up to this point, we’ve been very good at dreaming of a Brown to Dallas trade but haven’t quite worked out the details. It takes two to tango and if we expect to get the Steelers’ attention we need to give them something valuable in return. Dallas surrendered their first-round pick (27th) this season when they traded for Cooper so that’s no longer an asset.
Pittsburgh would be vying for a first-round pick (and likely more) for Brown's services but some have speculated Dallas would consider dealing rookie-standout Leighton Vander Esch.
Wait... what? We know, you’re clutching your pearls, and the words are stuck in your gasp. We get it. The kid was a home run this past season, leading the Dallas defense in tackles and earning a Pro Bowl invitation in his inaugural NFL season. But this would be a Faustian deal.
The Cowboys give up a player who is poised to be a stud for years to come for a playmaker in Brown that could render a Super Bowl in the immediate future. Brown's expiration date will surely turn his milk sour sooner rather than later, but in the here and now, Antonio Brown could be the bell cow who leads the Cowboys to the promised land before he’s put out to pasture.
Just something to think about...
2018 In Review: CB Anthony Brown Bounces Back
To say it's been an up-and-down start to the career of young cornerback Anthony Brown would be an understatement.
As a sixth round pick in 2016, everything Brown contributed during his rookie season was a plus. Due to injury he was asked to step into a greater role as the season went on, and he performed well enough to make the front office comfortable allowing multiple veterans to walk for nothing in free agency the following Spring. Brown looked like a legitimate starting cornerback in the league, and when Dallas brought in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis during the next draft, the young secondary seemed set.
Then 2017 happened. And Anthony Brown struggled. Really struggled.
These struggles, coupled with the emergence of both Lewis and Awuzie during their own rookie seasons, made Brown's status heading into 2018 rather uncertain. Some wondered if they would trade him for a day three pick, others thought Brown could even end up being cut. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown were slated to compete for the nickel cornerback job in training camp, and as it turned out, all Brown needed was that one extra chance to compete.
Brown won the job outright during the preseason, and began 2018 as the starting nickel. A fan favorite, most thought Lewis would reclaim his rightful spot on the depth chart sooner or later, but Anthony Brown's play (and Kris Richard's preferences) kept Lewis on the bench for much of the season.
Simply put, Anthony Brown balled in 2018, and was the Cowboys' second best corner for most of the year. By the end of the season Chidobe Awuzie had regained form, but Brown and Byron Jones were the most consistently reliable corners on the roster all of 2018.
Brown tallied 44 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception in 2018, and finished third on the team in pass breakups with 8. As the slot corner Brown had an excellent season, especially for a former sixth round pick.
Now he enters a contract year, and with the Cowboys having so many guys to pay over the next two offseasons, he could find himself as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And if he can keep up his play from last year moving forward, he could be in for a nice payday that Spring.
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