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NFC East Position Rankings: The Quarterbacks

For decades, the NFC East was the most competitive and most feared division in all of football. In fact, an NFC East team participated in six of the nine Super Bowls played between the 1987 and 1995 seasons. However if you were to refer to the NFC East as the most competitive and most feared division in all of football today, you’d be only half right. Lacking a repeat champion since 2004, the division has become a source of parity while still maintaining the highly regarded and nationally viewed rivalry games which have become a staple of the NFL. After a horrid season a year ago where it looked as if a 7-9 team could steal the division at many points during the year, the NFC East looks to be improved and ready to begin to return to its old school form.

Kevin Brady

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NFC East - NFC East Position Groups: The Quarterbacks

For decades, the NFC East was the most competitive and most feared division in all of football.

In fact, an NFC East team participated in six of the nine Super Bowls played between the 1987 and 1995 seasons.

However if you were to refer to the NFC East as the most competitive and most feared division in all of football today, you'd be only half right.

Lacking a repeat champion since 2004, the division has become a source of parity while still maintaining the highly regarded and nationally viewed rivalry games which have become a staple of the NFL.

After a horrid season a year ago where it looked as if a 7-9 team could steal the division at many points during the year, the NFC East looks to be improved and ready to begin to return to its old school form.

Who will come out on top of this game of NFC East thrones this year? In order to make our best guess, we will break down each position group on each team in the East, and decide which team has the advantage at said group.

Let's get started with what many consider the most important position on the field, the quarterbacks.

Dallas CowboysCowboys Headlines - Tony Romo Gets New Set Of Logos From ESPN 4

Quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys is just about the most talked about position in all of sports. And this offseason has been no different.

After the abysmal 2015 campaign which highlighted the Cowboys lack of a competent backup quarterback, the Cowboys decided to draft Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott in the fourth round of the 2016 draft.

Kellen Moore, who saw time at the end of 2015, is expected to be the backup quarterback, and Jameill Showers, who is impressing many within the organization, will more than likely be the odd man out.

Then of course there is the leader of the Dallas Cowboys, the man who's absence last season was felt like no others in history, Tony Romo. When healthy, we all know who Tony Romo is and what he can do. He is a special kind of player who embodies everything the Jason Garrett-led-Cowboys are meant to represent.

Philadelphia Eagles - Auto Draft

The Eagles quarterback drama has been impossible to avoid if you consider yourself a football fan this offseason.

Sam Bradford, the only notable survivor from the "erase everything Chip Kelly did" movement, signed a short contract extension this offseason. Bradford has been average at best during his career, but was expected to be the starter for next season after re-signing with the Eagles.

But then, the Eagles traded up to select North Dakota State Bison's quarterback Carson Wentz with the number two overall pick in this years draft.

It was all good just a week ago, wasn't it Bradford.

Now Bradford has been causing drama within the organization and reportedly seeking a trade which he most likely won't get.

The third quarterback on the roster is long time backup quarterback Chase Daniel, who comes over from Kansas City with new head coach Doug Pederson.

New York Giants

NFC East Blog - Coaching Changes Around The NFC East

Dec 6, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) and offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo look at the playbook during the second quarter against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants quarterback situation is about as simple as it can get.

Eli Manning has been healthy for basically his entire career, and has been a good-to-great quarterback for the Giants, even if we don't like to admit it. While he is aging, he certainly has a firm grip on the job for the forseeable future.

Ryan Nassib is the backup quarterback for the team, but has seen only small amounts of game time during his short career. BJ Daniels is the third quarterback listed on the roster.

Washington Redskins

NFC East - Washington Redskins Use Non-Exclusive Franchise Tag on Kirk Cousins 2

In this photo taken Oct. 25, 2015, Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) passes the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Landover, Md. If Kirkthrows an interception in a game, he throws a second, and the Washington Redskins lose. If Cousins plays a pick-free game, the Redskins win. It really is that simple so far this season. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The Washington Redskins quarterback position has featured a revolving door of sorts over the past few seasons with Robert Griffin, Colt McCoy, and Kirk Cousins all starting multiple games.

However, the position seems to be solidified for at least this year, as Kirk Cousins returns after impressing many during his 2015 campaign. (I wasn't all that impressed and will argue that he didn't play as good as most seem to think he did, but that's for another day.)

The Redskins also have my favorite backup quarterback in the entire division, Colt McCoy. I openly rooted for the Cowboys to make a run for McCoy this offseason, as he fits the backup role very nicely.

After ditching Robert Griffin this offseason, Nate Sudfeld remains as the third quarterback on the roster.

So, who's the best?

Keep in mind I am going to rank these position groups objectively, keeping any of my Cowboys' bias out of the picture.

With that being said, I do believe the Cowboys have the best quarterback situation, on paper, in 2016.Cowboys Headlines - Tony Romo And Jason Garrett Visit "The Boss" At MSG 1

It boils down to this; Tony Romo is the best quarterback in this division, so when he is healthy, the Cowboys have the best quarterback in the division.

It's just that simple.

The Eagles are not even in the discussion here, as I believe Bradford is an average player and while I like Carson Wentz, he is only a rookie. Rookie starting quarterbacks tend to struggle.

The Giants have just about the same backup plan as the Cowboys do if their quarterback goes down, and I evaluate Romo as a better player than Eli Manning.

This puts Dallas ahead of both the Eagles and Giants in my opinion.

While I would agree that the Redskins have more "depth" at the position, the vast talent differences between Tony Romo and Kirk Cousins eliminate the depth argument in my mind.

This leaves the Cowboys atop the quarterback position group ranking for the NFC East.

Feel free to debate me in the comment section, and be sure to check out each position group ranking as they continue to be posted.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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Sean’s Scout: Measuring Randy Gregory’s Impact on Cowboys Defense

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Measuring Randy Gregory's Potential Impact on Cowboys Defense

The Dallas Cowboys report to training camp next week, and for the first time in a long time there may be more excitement for their defense compared to a largely reshuffled offense. This hype for Rod Marinelli's defense, bolstered by the addition of Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard, was elevated earlier in the week when the Cowboys learned Defensive End Randy Gregory would be reinstated.

Gregory's presence as a potential starting right defensive end is an uplifting one for the Cowboys as they depart for Oxnard. Above all else, this is a rare turn of fortunes for a player the NFL can now tote as a success story.

Once Gregory's focus shifts towards taking hold of that starting DE position for good and giving the Cowboys a pass rush of him and DeMarcus Lawrence off the edge, his impact could change the entire complexion of this defense.

After watching Gregory's last game for Dallas, a week 16 win in Philadelphia back in 2016, here is what I saw from the Cowboys "Christmas in July" addition to their defensive line.

Gregory3

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This first clip is probably Gregory's most memorable play through three seasons with the Cowboys. Two teams going in opposite directions since this game, the Cowboys have cycled through their rotation of pass rushers to play the weak side -- with nobody coming close to the athleticism and bend Gregory displays here.

Already planning on attacking the offensive tackle to the outside with his long arm approach, Gregory regains his balance avoiding the low block to get even with Carson Wentz and finish the play. This type of relentlessness is a signature of the Cowboys defense under Marinelli, now fielding a deep group of defensive ends around Gregory and Lawrence.

Gregory1

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Just how much Gregory comes off the field for the likes of Tyrone Crawford, rookie Dorance Armstrong, Charles Tapper, or Taco Charlton will be determined by his ability to hold up against the run. This was a strength for Gregory against the Eagles, as his cornering ability helped him chase down plays all over the field.

It's hard to understate just how important Gregory's speed and range from this RDE spot could mean to the Cowboys, especially given their changes at linebacker for the 2018 season.

This is a team that's also added plenty of range to the second level of their defense with rookie Leighton Vander Esch and another year of Jaylon Smith.

These linebacker's ability to shoot gaps and be disruptive in the backfield will be aided by the depth Gregory is capable of gaining with ease against left tackles.

Gregory2

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Gregory does have a tendency to play upright at times and offer a larger blocking area than needed. As you see above, this can help him as an all-around player, as chasing down the run to the outside comes easy for him.

The Cowboys won't be at full strength at defensive tackle to start the season, with David Irving suspended for the first four games again. Maliek Collins is also coming back from another broken foot, as him and Gregory will be important to watch progress through training camp.

The overall potential for a Cowboys defensive line featuring all three of these players, and the rotational pieces behind them, is incredibly high for a team just looking to get back to their roots this season.

For the Cowboys in 2018, this means running the ball effectively, limiting turnovers on offense, and protecting the lead on defense. Randy Gregory significantly helps the Cowboys do the latter here, improving an already fearsome pass rush in ways that few players are capable of.

This is ultimately why the first-round talent fell to the second round for the Cowboys, who took the risk on Gregory and are now on the long path back towards seeing this gamble pay off, something a very thankful Gregory must see through on the field.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Measuring Randy Gregory’s Impact on Cowboys Defense" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Why Patience Is Key In Evaluating Randy Gregory

Kevin Brady

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Will the Dallas Cowboys "Get Lucky" at Defensive End?

The Cowboys were fully aware of the risks involved when they drafted prolific edge rusher Randy Gregory in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

They were also well aware of the potential rewards too.

Gregory has spent much of his NFL career away from the Dallas Cowboys, dealing with suspension after suspension and rarely playing actual football. Now, Randy Gregory has gained reinstatement into the league, and all signs point to positivity around his future.

As expected, both the Cowboys and their fan base are excited about the return of Gregory to the roster. And, of course, they should be. Gregory possesses all the traits necessary to be a top tier pass rusher in the NFL, even if we haven't seen it on full display thus far.

At his best Gregory is the prototypical RDE that Cowboys Nation has been yearning for. But it's probably unfair for him to reach that potential as early as this season. Pass rushers coming off suspensions, particularly lengthy suspensions, are rarely able to find their way quickly after returning.

And if you want proof of this, you only have to look across the way at DeMarcus Lawrence. After a strong 8 sack 2015 season, Lawrence was suspended the first four games of 2016. Once he returned, Lawrence battled injuries all season and only appeared in 9 games. Over those 9 games Lawrence tallied just 1 sack and made a minimal impact.

The next season, though? DeMarcus Lawrence was back to playing fully healthy and engaged, en route to a team leading 14.5 sacks and the best overall season of his career.

Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence are different players, and this is obviously a different situation, but the need for patience remains the same. To expect Gregory to be a dominant pass rusher in 2018 is more-than-lofty, as he deserves time to work back into playing shape and perfect his craft off the edge.

Unlike Lawrence, Gregory will have a full offseason and 16 game slate ahead of him. Plus, we haven't heard of any lingering injuries affecting Gregory going forward.

So while we may need to temper expectations at least a little bit, I still expect Randy Gregory to become the RDE we all hoped he could be with time.



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How Should The Cowboys, And The NFL, Value RBs?

Kevin Brady

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Will Cowboys' Offense Improve With Ezekiel Elliott's Return?
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

There is no one, stand-alone "best" strategy for winning in the NFL. There are, of course, common themes and ideals which run true year in and year out among the top teams.

Strategy in the NFL is dynamic, or at least it should be. Running in place for too long under the same leadership often breeds mediocrity, and refusing to move with current trends can put you at a severe disadvantage.

Succumbing to those trends without fully analyzing the confounding factors your situation presents, however, can also ruin a team building exercise.

With that being said, should teams pay elite running backs top dollar? Or are those running backs expendable, replaceable, and often forgettable within the NFL machine?

To be honest these aren't very fair ways to pose legitimately interesting questions. You can acknowledge that a running back is important to your offense while also acknowledging that you don't want to break the bank for a position with such injury risk and high turnover year-to-year.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are currently facing this dilemma, as their star running back Le'Veon Bell asks to be paid like an elite "weapon," not as a normal running back. And when you examine how the Steelers deploy Bell within their offense, he clearly has a point.

Bell is not your traditional "running back." He lines up on the boundary, in the slot, and is a passing threat out of the backfield as well. On top of all of this versatility, Bell is an excellent pass protector, something which is often lost among other "versatile" backs.

Bell can quite literally do it all for an offense, but the idea of paying that position elite-level money makes teams cringe. As The Athletic's Marcus Mosher pointed out on Twitter, teams like the New England Patriots have been able to replicate Bell's production by using multiple speciality backs rather than one workhorse.

In theory, this takes away the injury risk component to a certain extent. Rather than giving one player 350-400 touches per season, you spread those touches out and allow for players to do what they do best.

Lately, the NFL has seemed to agree that this is the most efficient way to play offense. But when you have a player like Bell or Ezekiel Elliott, in what way is taking the ball out of their hands "efficient" at all? In addition, how is using three players to mimic the skill set of one efficient?

Yes, the NFL is a passing league, but when you have a playmaker who is of the caliber of a Bell or an Elliott, it is up to the offense to deploy in him ways that maximize his value. Teams should be using the Bells and Elliotts of the world as pass catching threats and as weapons all over the field. Force the entire defense to account for your running back rather than just jamming him between the tackles like it's 1975.

The movement towards "running back by committee" rather than the traditional one-back system can also be credited to the lack of workhorse-worthy backs entering the league.

Ezekiel Elliotts don't grow on trees, they are rare and special players. And when you have one, especially when you spend a premium pick on him, you should get the most out of him that you can. Playing winning offense in the NFL is about more than just "do you run or do you pass," and it often hinges on creating splash plays of 15-20 yards.

If you can get those plays through the use of an elite running back, that player becomes intrinsically valuable to your team. No matter what "position" he is labeled as. Of course you want to be able create mismatches in the passing game all over the field, so when you are able to do this with a running back, shouldn't that be deemed as highly valuable?

We can't say just yet if the Cowboys should re-sign Ezekiel Elliott once he enters free agency. After all, five seasons (and a franchise tag year) where he touches the ball more than most players in the league will almost certainly bring about some wear and tear.

But with the way the Cowboys have chosen to play offense, and the way in which they've built their roster, a workhorse back like Elliott is necessary for success.

Once again, at least it is for now.



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