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NFC East And Plan IV: The Dream Lives On, Moving On To Phase II

RJ Ochoa

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NFC East Blog - NFC East And Plan IV: The Dream Lives On, Moving On To Phase II

A few summers ago I vacationed in the Denver, Colorado area.

My first day in the Mile High City was quite an eventful one.

I had to drive to the airport in my home city, fly to Denver, take a shuttle from the airport to the hotel, and what was the first item of suggestion upon my arrival (while beginning to deal with the high altitude)?

"Let's go white water rafting!"

I'm an easy-going guy so I went along with it. Plus it sounded cool to say that I conquered land, air, and sea all in one day. If you've never been white water rafting then let me tell you... it's quite the chore.

You have to put on an enormous amount of equipment and listen to a lecture of instructions before you even hit the water. When it's your first day in the climate it can all be a little overwhelming, either that or the altitude was starting to affect me.

After signing forms, putting on the uniform, and grabbing a powerbar we hopped in the boat with our instructor. He had very specific instructions as to how we were going to proceed with every process of this whole excursion.

"When I say, 'Forward one' I want you guys to all paddle one stroke. 'Forward two' means two strokes, so on and so forth."

One stroke here. Two strokes there. Another stroke. And another. This dude had us doing more strokes than Michael Phelps!

This process went on for the whole ride, but hey... we survived! I can still hear him shouting how many paddles to go when it rains sometimes...

With Week 13 officially in the books, let's all grab our paddles and give Plan IV a nice...

Forward one.

Congratulations! We survived Phase I of Plan IV!

Here are the current standings in the NFC East through Week 13:

Overall Record Division Record
Washington Redskins 5-7 2-2
Philadelphia Eagles 5-7 2-2
New York Giants 5-7 2-3
Dallas Cowboys 4-8 3-2

If you have no clue what in the world I'm talking about then I highly recommend reading Plan IV in its entirety so that you can be caught up with the rest of the class. Got it? Good.

Over the last month and a half or so I've put together different "plans" that basically serve as a what-to-root-for-to-win-the-NFC-East guide for Cowboys fans. After three versions were tossed aside, Plan IV has given us something to smile about.

Phase I

During Week 13 the Cowboys caught a huge break when the New York Jets took down their stadium-sharing buddies, the New York Giants.

I know, I know... the Eagles beat the Patriots. As shocking as that is, it really did not affect Phase I of Plan IV. Here's why:

Phase I was predicated on one simple thing... the Cowboys beating the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football and climbing to four wins. Obviously if we did that we'd keep the Redskins at bay with five wins, but the Giants were already sitting on five. We needed to keep them there and we did. That was the whole purpose of Phase I.

The Eagles entered their game against the Patriots with four wins to their name so while it would have been preferable to have them sit at four with us, the leader in this race is at five... there's just three of them there now as opposed to two. It's all going to be ok, though. I'll explain in a bit.

Phase II

Here's what we've got going on this week:

  • The Philadelphia Eagles host the Buffalo Bills.
  • The Washington Redskins travel to Chicago to take on the Bears.
  • The Dallas Cowboys travel to Green Bay to take on the Packers.
  • The New York Giants travel to Miami to play the Dolphins on Monday Night Football.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that we want all three division rivals to lose and for the Cowboys to win, but we need to be realistic here.

In Plan IV I predicted that both the Redskins and Giants would win their Week 14 games while Philly would lose theirs. Let's assume that happens.

I also predicted a win for the Cowboys at the holy cathedral of professional football - Lambeau Field. I felt confident in this a week ago and feel even stronger about it now.

The Packers struggled on Thursday Night Football against the Detroit Lions and if not for a fluky facemask call and amazing hail mary... they'd have just lost four out of their last five. They're susceptible. And we're hot.

So say we pull off the win. Say Washington and New York do as well. Say DeMarco Murray continues to whine about his carries and Philly doesn't. We'd still be a game behind the Redskins and Giants. Relax.

Looking Forward: Phases III, IV, And V

We're not going to get too far ahead of ourselves here because we're only in Phase II, but here's what's in store for the NFC East in Phase III:

  • The Philadelphia Eagles host the Arizona Cardinals.
  • The Washington Redskins host the Buffalo Bills.
  • The Dallas Cowboys host the New York Jets.
  • The New York Giants host the Carolina Panthers.

That's a pretty tall order for everyone in the division. You can reference Plan IV for how I think those games will fall, but the place where things are going to get really interesting is Phases IV and V of Plan IV.

Between the last two weeks of the 2015 season the Redskins will play the Eagles and us while the Giants and Eagles will also square off. Assuming a win for the Cowboys over Washington in the season finale, there are two other NFC East games going on here... that's two losses that we have to hand out.

Phases II and III are going to determine where exactly we want those losses to fall in the final weeks of this season, but we need to be patient.

Phase I went over pretty well all things considered and if we can climb out of Week 14/Phase II with another win beneath our wings then we will enter the final Phase of non-division games with a lot of momentum and more potential options down the road.


RJ Ochoa on Fancred

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How optimistic are you about Phase II? Comment below, Email me your thoughts at Roel.Ochoa.Jr@Gmail.com, or Tweet to me @rjochoa!

Tell us what you think about "NFC East And Plan IV: The Dream Lives On, Moving On To Phase II" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, 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!

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DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line

Kevin Brady

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DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line

The Cowboys got off to a busy start to week two of free agency on Monday, and capped it off by signing defensive lineman Kerry Hyder to a one year deal.

The former Detroit Lion could be classified as a "one year wonder" of sorts, but when you look closer at his career arc, you see that Hyder can provide upside at multiple positions across the Cowboys' defensive front.

After having 8 sacks and 19 quarterback hits as a defensive end in 2016, Hyder missed all of 2017 with an achilles injury. Last season, under new head coach Matt Patricia, Hyder was moved out of position and forced to play as a nose tackle and 5-technique more often.

So, the last time Hyder was healthy and playing in the role in he will likely fill in Dallas, he was productive. Yes that was a couple of seasons ago but it makes Hyder worth the one year deal he received from the Cowboys.

What exactly is that role, though?

I see Hyder primarily as a rotational 3-technique for the Cowboys. At just 270 pounds Hyder isn't going to play over the center often, and won't be very useful as a 1-technique against the run. He's at his best when lining on the outside shade of an offensive lineman, where he can use his get-off and quickness to create pressure.

Kerry Hyder can also fill in at defensive end if needed, especially when the Cowboys go into a nickel package. Hyder is similar to Tyrone Crawford in his ability to move inside and out, but is a bit better of a pass rusher than Crawford when at his best.

Hyder is a high energy, motor, and character defensive lineman who will fit right in with a Rod Marinelli unit. If it all clicks for Hyder and he regains his 2016 form, the Cowboys will have stolen an impressive pass rushing defensive lineman who can win from multiple positions.

If Hyder is actually a "one year wonder" who is more of his 2018-self with the Cowboys despite being put in a better role to succeed, Dallas can move on rather quickly because he is only on a one year deal.

This is a smart signing by the Cowboys front office as they look to re-tool their defensive line, and avoid being pigeon-holed into over-drafting at a certain position this Spring.



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New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF

Kevin Brady

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New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF

On Tuesday this week it became official the Cowboys would sign former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb to a one year deal worth an estimated $5 million. After his visit Monday morning, speculation around whether and when he would sign was swirling.

Cobb confirmed his intentions to join the Cowboys himself, and did so with some A+ GIF usage on Twitter.

Randall Cobb on Twitter

Randall Cobb on Twitter

https://t.co/9H9xfApFqe

In case you don't know, the GIF Cobb tweeted is Woody from Toy Story, emerging confidently and tipping his cap.

This was Cobb signaling that he his a Cowboy, and he appears excited to be joining America's Team. Cobb also received some social media love from his now former teammates in Green Bay, including wide receiver Davante Adams and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

https://twitter.com/tae15adams/status/1108158105957920770

RJ Ochoa on Twitter

Aaron Rodgers had some parting words for new Cowboys WR Randall Cobb

Clearly Randall Cobb made an impact in Green Bay, both on and off the field. Let's hope he can replicate some of that in Dallas now that he has joined the Cowboys.



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Malik McDowell Is Well Worth The Risk For The Dallas Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Malik McDowell, Michigan State

The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly brining defensive lineman Malik McDowell into The Star this week for a visit, as they decide whether or not to potentially sign him for the 2019 season.

McDowell is a former second round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who fell to day two because of what scouts call "off the field" or "character" concerns. McDowell did not last long with Seahawks, as he was released in 2017 following an ATV accident in which he reportedly suffered "extensive brain and eye trauma" according to Charles Robinson.

None of us know much about who Malik McDowell is as a person, or what concerns their really should be with his health. But what I do know is that on tape at Michigan State, McDowell was a top 5-10 player in the 2017 draft class. He was a stud, and has the traits to continue to be a stud in the NFL.

2017 NFL Draft: Scouting Michigan State DL Malik McDowell - Slant Sports

The 2017 NFL Draft is chock full of talented, athletic, and productive defensive linemen. While most of the draft pundits have focused on EDGE rushers thus far, the defensive tackle class also possesses some of this year's top NFL prospects. Arguably the best of those defensive tackles is Michigan State's Malik McDowell.

Back in 2017 I wrote a full scouting report on McDowell, detailing why he earned such a high grade on my board. McDowell is a versatile linemen who is explosive off the ball, powerful and rangy against the run, and a skilled pass rusher who plays with a high motor. What more could you really ask for?

"McDowell is a patient pass rusher at times, setting up the blocker how he likes and then beating them with ease. McDowell’s ability to swipe hands off helps him greatly, but his quick swim is his most effective pass rush move.

On this play he uses that swim to perfection, forcing the center to power down to the right before swimming back to the other side."

nfldraft malik mcdowell 3

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

When the Spartans went to a three man pass rushing front, McDowell moved to the EDGE often and made plays with his quick, active hands and impressive swim move. He was much more impressive on the interior, however, and could be a direct replacement for David Irving as an explosive and powerful 3-technique for the Cowboys.

nfldraft malik mcdowell 4

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

I love that the Cowboys are bringing McDowell in for a free agent visit. His price will likely be low, as he is yet to play in an NFL game over the last two years, but his ceiling remains very high if he is healthy. It's rare for a player with his college production, natural ability, and measurables to completely fail in the NFL.

Maybe all McDowell needs is a second chance to get his head right and prove that he belongs in the league. Maybe he flames out quickly and can't get on the field due to "off the field" stuff. Or, maybe he simply isn't healthy enough to contribute as an NFL player. Regardless, for the price he'll likely command, McDowell is well worth the risk if the Cowboys are willing to take it.



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