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New York Giants Top NFC East After 5 Weeks

RJ Ochoa



NFC East Blog - New York Giants Top NFC East After 5 Weeks

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.

RJ Ochoa on Fancred

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What did you think of the Dallas Defense on Sunday Night? Email me your thoughts at or Tweet to me @rjochoa!

Tell us what you think about "New York Giants Top NFC East After 5 Weeks" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!

I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

Star Blog

Sean’s Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Cowboys D

Sean Martin



Sean's Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Dallas Cowboys Defense 1

It took some time, but the Dallas Cowboys have their first outside free agent of the offseason, signing Linebacker Joe Thomas to provide depth at a position where Anthony Hitchens and Kyle Wilber have already signed elsewhere.

The fifth-year pro has played exclusively with the Green Bay Packers, but the Cowboys do have some familiarity with Thomas as he spent part of 2015 on their practice squad.

Joe Thomas has served as a core special teams contributor and sub-package LB for the Packers out of South Carolina State, and will now look to bring these services to a Cowboys team in need of play making ability on both defense and special teams.

Using film from this past season, here is Joe Thomas' full scouting report.

LB Joe Thomas: Strengths

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Joe Thomas lined up at all three LB positions for the Packers, taking the majority of his snaps on defense at MIKE or WILL. The WILL position is where Thomas should fit best in Dallas.

Not overly physical with a shorter but square frame, Thomas is a rangy player with light feet and fluid movement ability. Shifting laterally along the line of scrimmage to "pick through trash" is not a problem for Thomas, nor is flipping his hips and running to the football.

It may take Thomas more effort than it should to get in position on most plays, with false steps and late reads being an issue, but once he establishes his sight on the point of attack this is a downhill missile of a player.

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Joe Thomas uses his length well to disengage from blocks and finish off plays, doing a nice job of not allowing blockers into his chest consistently.

With Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith expected to be the Cowboys' primary starters at WILL and MIKE respectively, Thomas could supplement these two physical, well-rounded players extremely well given his athleticism.

LB Joe Thomas: Weaknesses

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There is a reason a player with the raw traits of Joe Thomas goes un-drafted, and in this case it is because of awareness and anticipation issues in Thomas' game.

Far too often on tape, Thomas is forcing himself to recover from false steps against the blockers in front of him. I would have loved to see a player with this movement ability get more clean opportunities to finish at the football, but it was simply not there for Thomas.

When Thomas wasn't late to the ball against the run, he was getting caught flat-footed in space trying to compensate for this reactionary ability. This led to Thomas' fair share of missed tackles, where the LB failed to break down correctly.

Overall, Thomas did a decent job of avoiding blocks and disengaging, and does play with better-than-expected stopping power. The strength and technique to shed blocks was rarely seen though, relying on his quickness to outrun opponents to the spot.

LB Joe Thomas: Summary

Sean's Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Dallas Cowboys Defense

This is a player that should help the Dallas Cowboys in two phases of their game this season.

Signed for both 2018 and 2019, the Cowboys have clearly seen enough from their former practice squad linebacker in Green Bay to bring back an athletic ST ace with upside on defense.

Joe Thomas shouldn't be taking Lee or Smith off the field regularly this season, but at his best he will factor into Rod Marinelli's defense on passing downs.

Thomas gives a unit predicated on flowing to the ball even more speed on the field, and is an ideal depth signing with the versatility to cover punts and kickoffs.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Cowboys D" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Star Blog

Could a Special Coach Help Dez Bryant’s Route-Running?

Brian Martin



Could Special Coach Help Dez Bryant's Route Running?

Dez Bryant's career with the Dallas Cowboys may be in limbo, but that's not stopping him from trying to improve his game and on-field performance.

Bryant will reportedly train with personal wide receivers coach David Robinson, who specializes in route-running, according to reporter Jane Slater of NFL Network. This should come as good news to a lot of Cowboys fans, because Dez Bryant has often been criticized throughout his professional career for his route-running.

If anything, this news should indicate that Dez Bryant is more determined than ever to rebound from his disappointing 2017 season and prove his critics wrong that he is no longer one of the top receivers in the league. I for one am not going to bet against him.

Bryant's work ethic and passion for the game have never been questioned. His desire to be the best is evident anytime you turn on his film, whether it is in a game situation or on the practice field. He takes the "practice like you play" mantra to heart.

Everybody should be encouraged that at this point in his career, Dez Bryant is still looking at ways to improve his game and seek help. Hopefully, working with a well-known receivers coach like David Robinson can take Bryant's game to the next level.

Dez Bryant

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (AP Photo/Matt Strasen)

You may not know who David Robinson is (I certainly didn't), but he is well respected around the league and has helped other receivers under his tutelage. Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jordan Reed, and even Cowboys former WR Brice Butler have all benefited from Robinson's coaching.

Dez Bryant has always been regarded as one of those types of receivers who is always open regardless how tight the coverage is around him. His ability to go up and snag the ball out of the air is arguably his best trait, but he could become more dangerous if he can create separation on his own with better route-running.

Unfortunately, Bryant is entering the stage in his career where age becomes a factor and some regression is to be expected. This is why improved route-running could improve any deficiencies Bryant maybe dealing with.

But, what exactly will David Robinson be working on with Dez Bryant?

Robinson told Jane Slater that in his workouts with Dez Bryant, he will concentrate on the expansion of Bryant's route tree, shaking defenders at the line of scrimmage, and improving footwork technique to compensate for any natural loss of speed due to age.

I don't know about you, but I'm actually looking forward to seeing how Bryant responds to Robinson's coaching, hopefully still as a member of the Dallas Cowboys.

We all know that Bryant's status with the Cowboys is unknown, at least to those of us on the outside looking in, but I don't see him going anywhere in 2018. There just aren't any vet WRs or rookies who I can see replacing his production. Of course, I could be wrong.

One thing is for sure though, Dez Bryant isn't going to sit on his hands while he waits to find out what his future holds.

Do you think improved route-running will help Dez Bryant's game?

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Star Blog

Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?

Brian Martin



Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?

Since becoming the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, Rod Marinelli hasn't had too many of his former players follow him to Dallas. In fact, I can only think of one… Henry Melton, and we all know how that turned out.

I don't know about you, but I found that a little strange. It's pretty common for coaches to try to bring some of their players with them when they accept a new job. Familiarity goes a long way in the NFL and former players can also help make the transition easier for everyone.

Strangely enough, Rod Marinelli hasn't really been afforded that luxury, whether it was his doing or not. But, there is a free agent who played under Marinelli's tutelage in Chicago who might make sense for the Dallas Cowboys, linebacker Shea McClellin.

Rod Marinelli was the defensive coordinator in Chicago when the Bears decided to draft Shea McClellin 19th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Marinelli likely had a big say in that decision, and if he still feels the same, a reunion could be in order.

Shea McClellin started his career in the NFL as a 4-3 left side defensive end playing opposite Julius Peppers, but was also viewed as a potential Brian Urlacher replacement. He showed flashes of becoming a solid defensive end his first few years in the league, but was eventually moved to linebacker, where he seemed to find a home for himself.

Shea McClellin

New England Patriots LB Shea McClellin

After his contract expired with the Bears, the New England Patriots decided to bring him aboard to help with their linebacker depth. He only ended up starting four games for them in 2016, but made some memorable plays to help the Patriots become the Super Bowl champions.

Unfortunately, the 2017 season wasn't very kind to him. His entire year was wiped out due to a concussion, which probably had a lot to do with why they recently released him.

This of course could be good news for the Dallas Cowboys. They currently need some depth at the linebacker position and Shea McClellin could provide that, if he's healthy. The healthy bit here is key, because he has had problems with concussions in the past.

If McClellin is indeed healthy, he could bring a versatile skill set to the Cowboys defense. His best spot is probably at strong side LB (SAM), but I think he could play middle linebacker (MIKE) as well. He also could provide depth at defensive end, the position he played to start his NFL career.

With the LB depth a concern, Shea McClellin makes quite a bit of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, his past history with concussions is a red flag, but it also drives down his asking price. I think he would definitely fall into that "bargain shopping" mentality the Cowboys have been using these last few offseasons.

He probably wouldn't be viewed as a very important signing, but you still need these types of players on your team in order to succeed in the NFL. Let's see if the Dallas Cowboys agree.

Do you think a Rod Marinelli and Shea McClellin reunion is in order?

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