After finishing in first place in the NFC East in 2016, the Dallas Cowboys will look to retain their NFC East title in 2017. Dallas added plenty of new players over the offseason via the NFL Draft and free agency, but so did the Washington Redskins, New York Giants, and the Philadelphia Eagles.
In order to get back to the playoffs and make a run at the Super Bowl, the Dallas Cowboys must focus on beating the three teams they will see most.
New York Giants
The Giants were the one team last year the Cowboys could not figure out.
In two meetings with the Giants, the Cowboys lost both games. While neither lose was a blowout, when two of your three regular season loses come from the same opponent it calls for a bit of concern.
Key Free Agency Additions
- D.J. Fluker - OT
- Brandon Marshall - WR
- Shaun Draughn - RB
- Devin Taylor - DE
The Giants added multiple players via free agency this offseason with the four listed above being the most important. The Giants offensive line has been the team's Achilles heel over the past few seasons.
D.J. Fluker is a former first round pick who had a roller coaster of a career with the San Diego Chargers.
Brandon Marshall was brought in to be a compliment to the team's number one receiver, Odell Beckham Jr. There is no question that Brandon Marshall has seen better days, but adding him into the mix with an already high-powered offense makes the Giants offense tough to defend.
Shaun Draughn and Devin Taylor were also signed by New York this offseason. While Shaun Draughn isn't a flashy player he has just as much chance to win the starting running back job as second year player Paul Perkins, or rookie Wayne Gallman.
Devin Taylor was a late signing for the team, just last week. Taylor is a veteran player who plays the run very well and will be a good rotational player behind often inured Jason Pierre-Paul.
The departure of Johnathan Hankins could come back to haunt the Giants, especially in their match-ups against the NFL's leading rusher, Ezekiel Elliott.
- Johnathan Hankins - DT
- Marshall Newhouse - OT
- Victor Cruz - WR
Hankins was one of the top run defenders in the league last year, and a main reason the Cowboys struggled to get things going on the ground against the Giants.
The Giants offensive line wasn't very good, to put it nicely. Losing Marshall Newhouse doesn't help. Newhouse was by no means an elite offensive lineman, but when you lose something you don't have much of to begin with, it definitely hurts.
When healthy, Victor Cruz has been causing the Cowboys problems for years. Luckily for Dallas, they no longer have to deal with the salsa dancing slot receiver anymore. Cruz signed with the Chicago Bears after getting pushed down the depth chart by second year player Sterling Shepard and Brandon Marshall.
Key Draft Picks
The Giants covered a lot of their holes in this draft, while also ignoring some of their biggest weaknesses.
- Dalvin Tomlinson - DT
- Evan Engram - TE
- Wayne Gallman - RB
The signing of Dalvin Tomlinson to replace Johnathan Hankins was a smart move by their front office. Hankins was a valuable player on defense last year and losing him to the Indianapolis Colts made Ezekiel Elliott a happy man.
One of the strangest picks in the first round was Evan Engram to the Giants.
Evan Engram has all the talent in the world, but he's not a traditional tight end. All signs from the coaching staff -- and sources around the league -- point to Evan Engram being asked to play as a true tight end limiting his ability to reach his full potential.
Wayne Gallman was a great value pick for the Giants in the fourth round. Gallman is a three-down back who has no problems blocking, running the football, or catching the ball out of the backfield.
Gallman and Perkins will likely battle for first team reps and may even end up splitting carries throughout the season.
Summary and Record VS Dallas Cowboys
The Giants will decline in 2017. Their offensive line is a huge weakness and, while the offensive weapons are there, the team struggled offensively last year.
The additions of Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram look like great picks for New York, but with no clear-cut running back and a weak offensive line, I expect both the offense and the defense to take a step backward.
The Cowboys will win the first game of 2017 at AT&T Stadium against the Giants and lose their game on the road later in the season. The Giants and Cowboys will be in a season long battle for the NFC East Division title.
The Redskins had a very good offseason in my opinion. They made good moves in free agency and had one of the better drafts.
The Cowboys were 2-0 against the Redskins last year, both tough games.
Key Free Agency Additions
The Washington Redskins lost both Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson in free agency, but made a point to fill their spots quickly by signing Terrelle Pryor and Brian Quick.
- Terrelle Pryor - WR
- Terrell McClain - DT
- Brian Quick - WR
- Zach Brown - LB
Terrelle Pryor was quite the surprise for Cleveland last year after making his transition from quarterback to wide receiver. The 6'4 wide receiver is a tough player to defend due to his size and his speed down the field.
The Redskins also signed veteran wide receiver Brian Quick, who spent his last five seasons with the St. Louis Rams. Quick struggled to get much going with the Rams, but will look to have a career year with his new team.
You hate to see one of your team's players leave to join a division rival but that's exactly what Terrell McClain did.
After a great year playing the 1-technique in the Cowboys' 4-3 scheme, McClain was signed by the Redskins to play in their 3-4 scheme. I'm not quite sure his fit with Washington as he's neither a true nose tackle nor a 3-4 defensive end.
I'm curious to see how McClain plays this year in his new scheme.
Zach Brown may have been the Redskins' best signing of the offseason. After struggling to stop the run in 2016, Washington went all-in on one of the better run stuffing linebackers in the NFL.
Zach Brown had six games where he registered double-digit tackles for Buffalo last year. While Brown faces some competition before he can take over as the starter, he could be a huge upgrade for the Washington Redskins in 2017.
While the Redskins did a great job adding talent to their roster with free agency and the draft, they also lost a lot of their players in free agency.
All of these guys were starters for Washington.
- DeSean Jackson - WR
- Pierre Garcon - WR
- Chris Baker - DT/DE
- Ricky Jean Francois - DE
DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon played huge roles in the Washington offense last year and were two of Kirk Cousins' favorite targets. The Redskins are relying heavily on the development of Josh Doctson and Terrelle Pryor, but both players have huge shoes to fill in the Cousins-led offense.
Chris Baker was one of, if not the best player on the Redskins defense. Ricky Jean Francois was a starter on the defensive line for just about half of the season. Both players were leaders and played consistently good football on a rather disappointing Redskins defense.
Both players will be missed.
Key Draft Picks
As I mentioned above, the Redskins had one of the better drafts this year. Getting former Alabama DL Jonathan Allen with the 17th overall pick is an absolute steal, but to match that with former UCLA CB Fabian Moreau in the third round? Sheesh.
- Jonathan Allen - DE/DT
- Ryan Anderson - OLB/DE
- Fabian Moreau - CB
- Samaje Perine - RB
Jonathan Allen will likely step in and fill Chris Bakers' role as the team's do-it-all defensive lineman.
Allen had some shoulder concerns that pushed him down draft boards and right into the Redskins' lap. The Cowboys offensive line must be on their "A" game every time they line up against Jonathan Allen.
The Ryan Anderson pick was one of the few head-scratchers of the Redskins' draft.
Ryan Anderson is an outside linebacker/defensive end hybrid who will likely play as an outside linebacker in Washington's 3-4 scheme. Anderson isn't a great pass rusher and isn't quick enough to cover sideline to sideline in the running game and passing game. I am very curious to see what role Anderson will play in Washington.
The Fabian Moreau pick broke my heart. Moreau was one of my favorite players leading up to the Draft. Moreau injured his pectoral bench-pressing just weeks before the NFL Draft and started sliding down draft boards immediately.
Moreau was viewed as a late first, early second round pick before the injury. Moreau is sticky in coverage and has excellent instincts. The Redskins have another great corner to match with pro bowler Josh Norman once Moreau is healthy.
The Redskins' running back carousel continues to spin, but the team may have found their RB1 in the fourth round in this years draft.
Samaje Perine fits the Redskins ideal of a north to south power runner. Perine is a powerful runner who won't offer much as a receiver. Perine will likely be in a camp battle with Rob Kelly for the #1 running back spot, but don't be surprised if he wins.
Summary and Record VS Dallas Cowboys
The Washington Redskins will struggle on defense this year. Losing Chris Baker and Ricky Jean Francois will prove to be big loses.
I can see the offense also taking a huge dip in production after losing their top two receivers in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. With no real established running game, a lot of projection at the wide receiver position, and a young inexperienced defense, the Redskins could be in for a tough season.
I see the Cowboys sweeping the Redskins in their two regular season games.
The Redskins consistently struggle to deal with Cole Beasley and now they have a Beasley clone to worry about, too. With Ezekiel Elliott likely to improve -- along with Dak Prescott -- the Cowboys should have no problems against the Washington Redskins.
With rookie Carson Wentz leading the charge, the Eagles struggled last year finishing the season 7-9, last in the NFC East.
The Eagles spent a ton of resources giving Wentz as many weapons as possible and the excuses for him should be silenced if he struggles again this year.
Key Free Agency Additions
The Eagles were not shy in adding plenty of offensive talent in free agency.
- Alshon Jeffrey - WR
- Torrey Smith - WR
- LeGarrette Blount - RB
- Timmy Jernigan - DE/DT
Alshon Jeffrey is looked at as one of the top wide receivers in the NFL when healthy. And that's the big question for Jeffrey, can he stay healthy?
Jeffrey has dealt with his fair share of injuries and was handed a suspension at the end of last season for failing a drug test. Another question with Jeffrey is if he can be successful in Philadelphia's offense.
Jeffrey has had a majority of his success as a vertical-threat receiver. Carson Wentz doesn't like throwing the football deep, like at all. Wentz had one of the worst YPC (yards per completion) percentages in the league last year at 6.2. Jeffrey is a very talented receiver, but will likely have to change his style of play in order to make a difference in the Eagles offense.
Similar to Alshon Jeffrey, Torrey Smith's success comes in vertical plays. Smith is one of the most dangerous deep ball receivers in the league. But in an offense that rarely lets the ball fly, how much of an impact will he make?
LaGarrette Blount was a late signing by the Eagles, and a big one. Blount, who was with the Patriots in 2016, led the league last year in rushing touchdowns.
The Eagles haven't had a consistently good running game since LeSean McCoy left after the 2014 season. Blount, while scoring plenty of touchdowns last year (18), didn't have a great season. Blount finished with 1,161 yards on 299 attempts for a mediocre 3.9 yards per carry average, his second worst average in his eight year career.
Timmy Jernigan was a signing the Cowboys front office didn't want to see. Jernigan was one of the best 3-4 run-stuffers in the game last year with the Ravens. Jernigan came over in a trade just before the draft to fill the hole left by Bennie Logan.
Jernigan will likely start at one of the defensive tackle spots in Philadelphia's 4-3 scheme and get more reps as a pass rusher.
Cowboy fans are very familiar with Nolan Carroll's departure from Philadelphia, seeing as he landed in Dallas and has already made the wrong sort of headlines.
- Nolan Carroll - CB
- Bennie Logan - DT
- Connor Barwin - DE
- Chase Daniel - QB
Carroll was one of the better players in the Eagles secondary last year, and with the lack of talent and inexperience I was surprised they allowed him to walk.
The Eagles will miss Bennie Logan, especially when they play the Cowboys. Bennie Logan is one of the best run defenders in the league and offered a decent amount of pass rush from his position.
Logan took care of a lot of the dirty work along their defensive line and will certainly not be missed by Cowboys Nation.
Connor Barwin isn't the same Connor Barwin from five years ago, but he still is a very talented player as a situational pass rusher.
Barwin was third on the team in sacks last year, behind both Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox. Barwin was the veteran along the defensive line that ranked 16th in the league in sacks last season.
Chase Daniel barely saw the field last year so you're probably wondering why I included him on this list, I did so for two reasons. 1) Carson Wentz took his fair share of hits last year and 2) I'm not sold on Carson Wentz being the franchise guy that Philadelphia so desperately wants him to be.
Now that's not to say 30-year-old veteran Chase Daniel is, but he has had success in the league when he was asked to play.
Key Draft Picks
The Eagles took Derek Barnett out of Tennessee with the 14th overall pick in the draft to try to fill the void at defensive end. Barnett was one of the most productive pass rushers coming out of college in quite some time.
- Derek Barnett - DE
- Sidney Jones - CB
- Rasul Douglas - CB
- Mack Hollins - WR
Barnett isn't overly athletic, but very smart and he has good technique. He isn't fast but he explodes off the snap, which he has a good feel for. Barnett is still very raw and must develop more of a pass rush-move arsenal other than his ability to bend and his hand usage.
Sidney Jones -- once looked at as a first rounder -- was the Eagles' second round pick. Jones tore his Achilles at his pro day and will likely need a red shirt year to get back to full strength.
In the third round the Eagles drafted former West Virginia CB, Rasul Douglas.
Douglas had a great senior season at West Virginia and a really nice week at the senior bowl. He's a long corner that is primarily looked at as a zone CB. Douglas isn't overly athletic and is still very raw with his technique, but he may be one of the most talented defensive backs on the Eagles roster to start the 2017 season.
The Eagles added plenty of receivers this offseason in free agency and the later rounds of the NFL draft. Still unsure of their plan.
If Carson Wentz was the gunslinger type of quarterback that had success throwing the ball deep down the field I would understand, but he isn't. Mack Hollins, similar to Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith, was used primarily as a vertical threat at North Carolina. Hollins is a slower, less physical clone of Alshon Jeffrey.
Summary and Record VS Dallas Cowboys
If Carson Wentz has completely changed how he plays the game from 2016 to 2017, my opinions on adding Alshon Jeffrey, Torrey Smith, and Mack Hollins could certainly change, but for now they just don't make much sense for this team.
I liked the addition of Derek Barnett, but I'm not sure he has much of an impact right away. Same goes for Sidney Jones. But two years from now we may consider Sidney Jones one of the biggest steals from this draft.
The Eagles didn't do as much to their secondary as I thought they would and I think that is certainly going to come back and bite them.
The Cowboys win both games against the Eagles this year, and I predict the Eagles really struggle again this year. Carson Wentz -- to me -- is not a franchise quarterback, and I haven't been a fan of his since he declared two years ago.
The Philadelphia defense lost some key pieces to their defense and the pieces they added to their offense don't fit with their offensive game plan.
The Dallas Cowboys went .500 against their division rivals last year. Losing both games to the Giants, splitting the games with Philadelphia (the loss came in a meaningless game), and sweeping the Redskins. With a lot of new faces in the division, we will see who will run the east in 2017.
Cowboys en Español: 3 Escenarios Para el Futuro de David Irving
En la NFL, la falta de noticias en Junio generalmente significa buenas noticias. Los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys saben esto mejor que nadie y en caso de que lo hayan olvidado, David Irving se aseguró de recordarle a Cowboys Nation el porque de esta frase.
La semana pasada, se anunció que David Irving recibirá una suspensión de cuatro partidos por haber violado la política de abuso de substancias de la liga. Es la segunda suspensión que Irving recibe en años consecutivos y lógicamente, esto es preocupante para el equipo de los Dallas Cowboys.
Las últimas dos temporadas hemos visto a Irving convertirse en una pieza de suma importancia para la defensiva. El año pasado, Irving consiguió siete sacks (capturas) en sólo ocho juegos y se convirtió en un caza cabezas muy efectivo.
Demostrando ser uno de los jugadores más talentosos de su posición en la NFL, es difícil imaginar el futuro del #95 en la liga. Tras recibir un tender de segunda ronda hace unos meses (explico que es eso aquí), el futuro de Irving es muy incierto. Por eso, esta semana en Cowboys en Español, exploraremos tres escenarios posibles para el defensivo de 24 años.
#1 David Irving se va de Dallas prematuramente
Hace unos días, me dediqué a defender mi posición de que los Cowboys estarían cometiendo un error al cortar a David Irving. A pesar de que realmente despedirse de un defensivo como Irving parece muy poco probable, es un escenario que debemos discutir.
Irving ha sido un dolor de cabeza para el equipo en más de una ocasión. Dos suspensiones en años consecutivos no es una buena imagen para un jugador que busca un contrato jugoso al terminar el año.
Si Jason Garrett y la administración quieren "dar un mensaje" cortando a David Irving, ¿qué tanto serviría? Esta idea de enviar un mensaje, a la hora de pensarlo fríamente, parece una idea romántica de parte de nosotros los fans. Al final de cuentas, estamos hablando de un locker room lleno de jugadores adultos y profesionales, no de un grupo de niños.
Además, bien sabemos todos que Irving no es el único Cowboy que ha tenido problemas. ¿Será el hecho de que ha ocurrido dos años seguidos razón suficiente para dejarlo ir? Personalmente, no lo creo. Los Cowboys dejarían ir a un jugador muy bueno en una posición de necesidad.
Datone Jones, Jihad Ward y Maliek Collins podrán ser suficiente. Pero David Irving es especial en el campo. Mejor tenerlo por 12 juegos a tenerlo cero.
#2 Irving se queda para el 2018, pero no más allá
David Irving recibió un contrato de un año que le pagaba (antes de ser suspendido) 2.91 millones de dólares. Si hubiera demostrado que no era problemático y que podía mantenerse al 100% toda la temporada, probablemente hubiera recibido un gran contrato de los Cowboys o de otro equipo en la NFL.
Sin embargo, el dicho lo dice todo. "En la NFL, la disponibilidad es la mejor habilidad." Irving no se ha terminado de ganar la confianza necesaria para una gran extensión.
En este punto, Dallas puede esperar a que su tackle defensivo regrese de su suspensión, juegue doce juegos con ellos y les consiga un sack por juego por menos de tres millones de dólares. Después de eso, el equipo pude darse el lujo de dejarlo ir sin una extensión y verlo convertirse en un agente libre.
#3 Irving se queda por más de un año
En este caso, hay dos "sub-escenarios." Suponiendo que, efectivamente, Irving regresa y juega como sabemos que puede hacerlo, no será tan fácil dejarlo ir. Si llega a sorprender y demuestra que realmente es quien creemos que es y consigue diez capturas en sólo doce juegos, ¿realmente no le dará el equipo una oportunidad?
La primera opción sería asignarle la etiqueta franquicia y obligarlo a jugar un año más para un equipo que busca desesperadamente un Super Bowl.
Si se sienten cómodos dándole el salario de una etiqueta franquicia para evitar perderlo, ¿podríamos culparlos después de que les dio por ejemplo, diez capturas? Yo, personalmente, no podría hacerlo.
La otra opción, y una que podría ser la más realista, es más simple. La inmadurez y los problemas de Irving le costarán la confianza y el interés de otros equipos y es posible que en un punto, Dallas sea el único equipo que le pueda brindar seguridad de trabajo.
De esta manera, Dallas podría ofrecerle una extensión de dos, tres o más años a un precio mucho más barato que el de cualquier DT que consiga dos dígitos de sacks.
David Irving sin duda tiene un futuro incierto delante de él. Realmente sería una sorpresa verlo fuera de Dallas en el 2018, pero más allá, quien sabe lo que pueda pasar. Por ahora, esperemos que una vez que vuelva de la suspensión, esté en forma para ir detrás de los quarterbacks oponentes.
Con un poco de suerte, quizá nos olvidaremos de esto en Noviembre.
Is Kris Richard Actually Jason Garrett’s Replacement, Not Rod Marinelli’s?
Much has already been made about the Dallas Cowboys hiring of Kris Richard. He was brought in to be this year's defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator, but it's a title I don't think he will hold for long.
It has already been speculated that Kris Richard will become Rod Marinelli's successor to become the Dallas Cowboys next defensive coordinator. Marinelli in fact contemplated retirement after the completion of the 2017 season, but decided to give it another go in 2018. But, anything beyond that is unknown at this point.
It isn't that hard to believe that Kris Richard will be the Dallas Cowboys next defensive coordinator. He already has a pretty good track record as a DC from his time with the Seattle Seahawks (2015-2017). During that time, the Seahawks had one of the better defenses in the league, which is why a lot of Cowboys fans are excited about what he can do in Dallas.
This was a terrific hire by the Dallas Cowboys. Richard is one of the top up-and-coming coaches in the league today and is highly respected around the league. For him to take a step back from defensive coordinator to become the DB coach/passing game coordinator in Dallas is a little confusing.
Why would he take a step back in his coaching career to come to the Dallas Cowboys?
Before he agreed to come to Dallas, Richard interviewed for the head-coaching job with the Indianapolis Colts. To already be considered a head-coaching candidate tells you all you need to know about the trajectory of Richard's career. Again, why take a step back with the Cowboys?
We all know that Jerry Jones is a fantastic salesman. He must've been able to convince Richard that he has a chance at a big promotion sometime soon. But, would a promotion to defensive coordinator be enough for Richard? Does he have his eyes set on something bigger?
I know that I'm not alone, but Jason Garrett is on thin ice this season. If he doesn't at least get the Dallas Cowboys into the playoffs this year, he could be looking for a new job, which would create a vacancy at head coach. This could be the kind of opportunity Kris Richard is looking for.
I find it a little hard to believe that Kris Richard would be willingly to come coach in Dallas knowing that the entire coaching staff could be dismissed after the season if Jason Garrett isn't successful. That's not typically the kind of job security you look for, so something has to have been promised to him behind closed doors.
I know it's a lot of speculation right now, but I don't think it's completely out of the realm of possibility. Someone is going to have to replace Jason Garrett if he falters this season and Kris Richard is a logical choice. After all, it's kind of the way Garrett became the head coach of the Cowboys when he replaced Wade Phillips. Could history repeat itself?
Do you think Kris Richard is Jason Garrett's eventual replacement?
NFC East Position Rankings: The Quarterbacks
The long NFL offseason is finally beginning to come to a close, with teams participating in mandatory mini-camps and training camps just a month away. Still, though, there is a lot of time left before the 2018 NFL season really begins.
With that time it's always fun to rank things and put together lists. I mean, who doesn't love a good article ranking players? Over the next few weeks I'll be ranking position groups in the NFC East to see which team comes out on top.
Today we begin with the NFC East quarterbacks, arguably the most scrutinized position group in all of sports.
4. New York Giants QB Eli Manning
Though he is the most accomplished quarterback in this division, Giants QB Eli Manning comes in last in our current rankings. Manning has seen his play decline throughout the years, even being benched in favor of Geno Smith late in 2017.
With a healthy cast of pass catchers and rookie running back Saquon Barkley surrounding him, however, Manning could be poised for improvement in 2018.
The Giants offense might be the best in the league if each game was a 7 on 7 tournament, so it will be interesting to see how Eli Manning performs this season.
3. Washington Redskins QB Alex Smith
The newest starting quarterback in the NFC East is Washington's Alex Smith, and he comes in third in our rankings. Smith has gotten the reputation as a check-down artist throughout his career thus far, but when surrounded by the right talent he can be very effective.
Smith had arguably his best season to date in 2017 with the Kansas City Chiefs, but I just don't see Washington's offense being nearly as dangerous as those Chiefs were a year ago.
To me, Smith is at best a marginal upgrade over former starter Kirk Cousins, and won't bring too much of a difference over the long haul in Washington.
2. Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott
Second on our list is Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. The now third year quarterback is coming off a bit of a "sophomore slump" to end his 2017 campaign, though his first season and a half warrant him our number two spot.
I expect Prescott to look like himself in 2018, especially with the improvements the Cowboys made to their offensive line. Ezekiel Elliott should be available for all 16 games, and the turnover in the receiver group gives some cause for optimism as well.
Prescott is the former Rookie of the Year and has had a good start to his career thus far, but sorry, Cowboys fans, we can all admit Dak Prescott doesn't deserve the top spot as of now.
1. Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz
The top quarterback in the NFC East right now is Eagles QB Carson Wentz. Wentz was a legitimate MVP candidate in 2017 prior to his injury, and once returning to full health Wentz should be able to impress once again.
The Eagles offense was downright dominant while Wentz was healthy, and though they did win the Super Bowl without him, Wentz brings their productivity to another level.
And with arguably the best supporting cast of the entire division, Carson Wentz is poised for success going forward.
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