Former NFL Head Coach Herm Edwards delivered a quote on October 30th, 2002 that will apply to the game of football forever.
"You PLAY to WIN the GAME!"
NFL seasons can yield many different personal achievements: Pro Bowl and All-Pro Selections, leading the league in yards or touchdowns, even the league's MVP award all are accolades that only one person can receive.
Wins are the statistic that TEAMS value most. Wins are what it's all about. Like Coach Edwards said, wins are why you play the game.
The NFC East is arguably the most difficult division in the National Football League, and it is certainly the most historic. The division owns the most Super Bowl titles of all eight divisions with 12 and it has had some of the most iconic games throughout history between its rivals.
Like a great cupcake and brownie, we're going to combine these two ideas today. Who wins the most in the toughest division in football? That's what matters, right? You can lay claim to your team's player leading in this or that category, but the team with the most wins is the one that plays in January. Which NFC East team is, simply put, the best at winning football games?
This isn't Mrs. Blackwell's history class so I'm not going to go back to the beginning of time here. To establish a sense of fairness I chose a year where the majority of these four teams' current nucleus was already or about to be in place... 2011.
- Jason Garrett began his tenure as the Dallas Cowboys Head Coach.
- The New York Giants won their second Super Bowl under Tom Coughlin.
- The Philadelphia Eagles were two years away from the Chip Kelly era.
- The Washington Redskins were a year away from the Robert Griffin III era.
I'm sure that all of you are going to totally agree with everything I say so there's no use in putting it off! Let's get started.
|Year||Overall Record||Division Record|
You'd think that in a world with seven Fast and the Furious movies that those would be the worst thing that we could ever lay eyes on, right? Enter... the Washington Redskins.
Trying to win football games as the Washington Redskins is like trying to grill hamburgers with spaghetti noodles. Their record isn't exactly the worst one in the NFL in that span, but it's not too far away from it.
The only year on here that the Redskins were even watchable was obviously 2012. RGIII was a rookie and for once in Washington, the sky was not falling. They put together 10 wins, including 7 in a row to end the season.
What happened? Well the Robert Griffin III experiment did. The front office got rid of Mike Shanahan after 2013's unimpressive 3-13 campaign. Jay Gruden was able to come in and summon enough talent to lead them to an improved 4-12 last season.
There's a lot of pressure on this team, and this quarterback, to not be completely terrible in 2015. They significantly trail their NFC East rivals since 2011 in overall wins, division wins, and in playoff wins... the Redskins have 0 in that stretch.
New York Giants
|Year||Overall Record||Division Record|
*Playoff team, ^Super Bowl Champions
The New York Football Giants, baby. They are the only NFC East team to bring home a Lombardi Trophy in this stretch, earning their World Championship in the 2011 season.
The 2011 Giants immortalized themselves as the NFL's best, and there's no one that can take away from that. Since then? ...pretty mortal.
Coach Tom Coughlin has two rings to his name so he's not necessarily the person to doubt within the NFC East, but the Giants have dwindled since their Super Bowl run in 2011. In terms of overall and division wins since 2011, the New York Giants are 3rd within the NFC East; however, they easily have the most playoff wins with 4 total and 1 big one in Indianapolis.
The Giants have one of the NFL's most exciting players in Odell Beckham Jr., but how did his big-play making ability translate in the win column last year? In his 12 games the Giants were 4-8.
"BUT WHEN ODELL TAKES OVER THE GAME IS WHEN THE GIANTS WIN!"
Are you sure? Beckham topped 100 yards 7 times in 2014... only 3 of those games were victories. In fact his top two yardage performances were losses, one of which was against the division rival Eagles! Wins are what count, remember?
The Super Bowl victory in 2011 is impressive, that's obvious; However, since then the New York Giants haven't done much in the NFC East. With Victor Cruz coming back from injury this year they may have a shot, but if the Giants are relying solely on Odell Beckham Jr., it might not work out.
|Year||Overall Record||Division Record|
One year ago the talk was all about how the Dallas Cowboys and their three straight 8-8 seasons were the epitome of mediocrity. Can somebody, anybody, please tell me what 32-32 spells out? I was the Spelling Bee champion in fourth grade so I think I can handle this: M-e-d-i-o-c-r-i-t-y.
Seriously though the Eagles have hardly been mediocre over the last four years. They are coming off of back-to-back 10 win seasons, the first two in the Chip Kelly era, and look to be a contender in 2015.
You know, however it plays out, the Chip Kelly experiment in Philadelphia is going to make for a fascinating sports documentary someday. Philly has the second most wins in the NFC East since 2011 and is tied for the most division wins, the stronger half of their tenure being under his watch.
The other side of that coin is that even as I type this I worry that somehow, someway, Chip Kelly is going to find a way to trade me away... and I'm not even on his team! He personifies mad scientist more than anyone else in recent history and is all-in with his current squad.
Breaking the rules a bit here, Chip Kelly is 20-12 overall and 8-4 against the division. The Eagles have, like the Redskins, 0 playoff victories in the overall time since 2011...despite an appearance in 2013.
The 32 overall and 14 division wins are impressive. The Eagles have managed to be a contender in the division for the last four years, but with so much turnover on their roster can they improve on that to become the best team in the division?
|Year||Overall Record||Division Record|
Overall wins since 2011... 1st in the division. Division wins since 2011... tied for 1st in the division. You PLAY to WIN the GAME.
The Dallas Cowboys Run The NFC East.
You're smart, I know that. I'm not fooling you with some fancy card trick or rabbit out of my hat. The most wins in the NFC East over the course of this analysis belong to America's Team... who are coincidentally the reigning NFC East Champions.
The Cowboys have built a team that can challenge for a Super Bowl title all while still remaining in contention for the NFC East crown year after year. That is incredible.
In 2011, 2012, and 2013 all 16 games of the Dallas Cowboys' regular season mattered. That can not be said for any other team in the NFC East in any season. Each other team had a drop off season, or multiple seasons, where their fans did their Christmas shopping knowing full-well that the playoffs were mathematically impossible. Not the Cowboys.
Since the dawn of the Jason Garrett era the Dallas Cowboys have bested their division brethren. It should be noted here that the Super Bowl victory that the Giants had in 2011 is the ultimate trump card, but even then what the Cowboys have accomplished is untouched by the others.
Beyond the overall and division records the Cowboys, not factoring in the 2011 Giants run, have the lone playoff victory. The Giants haven't been to the playoffs since 2011, the Redskins lost to the Seahawks in 2012, and the Eagles lost to the Saints in 2013... while the Cowboys bested the Lions in last year's wildcard round.
The best regular season of all four teams, across all four seasons, also belongs to the Dallas Cowboys. Their 12-4 performance in 2014 is two games better than the next best, 10-6, that the Redskins had in 2012 and the Eagles did in 2013 and 2014. Not to mention that the 2014 Cowboys are tied for the best single season division record with the 2011 Eagles and 2012 Redskins at 5-1.
A lot has been said in terms of whether the Cowboys can repeat on their 2014 success. What you should take away from this is that in 2014 the Cowboys repeated on their 2011, 2012, and 2013 success. They have for four straight years continued on the path that they have methodically built.
The 2015 Dallas Cowboys season is 38 days away. Look forward to then as the Cowboys will pick up where they've left off for the last four years and continue to run the NFC East.
Jason Garrett Can’t be Serious About Retaining Scott Linehan, Can He?
One of the few positives most of us were looking forward to after the Dallas Cowboys Divisional Round loss to the Los Angeles Rams was the fact that Scott Linehan would no longer be the offensive coordinator for America's Team. Everything was pointing to his dismissal, but that may not be the case according to Head Coach Jason Garrett.
Jason Garrett said on 105.3 The Fan that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will return in 2019. "We don't anticipate any significant changes on our staff," Garrett said.
I can't say that I was happy upon learning Jason Garrett plans on retaining Scott Linehan as the Cowboys OC in 2019. In fact, my first thought was… Well, something better left unsaid. I'm sure many of you can kind of read my mind, because I'm pretty positive you had all that the same thoughts running through your head as well.
In all honesty, I didn't think there was a snowball chance in hell Scott Linehan would return to Dallas after the conclusion of the 2018 season. After all, the Cowboys nearly fired him during the bye week earlier this season, meaning his job security was already on thin ice. He didn't do anything to improve things in my opinion.
I know Jason Garrett has said Scott Linehan will return as the OC in 2019, but not for a second do I believe it. We are less than 72 hours hours removed from the Cowboys exit from the playoffs and I highly doubt any of Dallas' decision-makers has had the time to sit down and discuss who stays and who goes. In fact, I know they haven't.
Stephen Jones says they won't comment on anything with coaching staff but that they need to take a deep look at why they fell short. Says it a little early to speculate about players or coaches. They haven't had a meeting about it yet.
I think once the Cowboys brass sits down and reevaluates the 2018 season, they will come to the conclusion they can do better than Scott Linehan as their offensive coordinator. There were just too many times throughout the season where the playcalling was a problem just. It's just time to move on, despite the vote of confidence by Jason Garrett.
Of course, this could just be me trying to read between the lines hoping and praying Scott Linehan is finally fired. Like many of you, I've grown way too tired of his predictable and dated playcalling. It's time to move on and find someone more innovative who can maximize the talent the Dallas Cowboys have on the roster, much like Kris Richard did with the defense.
You can either choose to believe Jason Garrett or not. I for one have a hard time seeing the Dallas Cowboys staying status quo with their coaching staff, especially their offensive coordinator. But, only time will tell.
Do you think it's time for the Dallas Cowboys to fire Scott Linehan?
Cowboys Rammed Out of Playoffs but 2019 is Bright
If you were to have clicked over to Sportsbook Review, you could have seen what all the premier online sportsbooks were dealing on the Cowboys/Rams game before kickoff. Sites like Bovada, which incidentally you can read a Bovada Review at Sportsbook Review as well, had the Rams favored in every quarter, in both halves, and installed LA as seven-point favorites over Dallas. As is often the case, the number was nearly spot on as the Rams bounced our 'Boys out of the postseason 30-22. It was a heart-wrenching loss for Dallas fans everywhere but for those who put their money where their mouths were, it was particularly painful in what turned out to be a one-point difference between losing and pushing.
Let’s look on the bright side, though. The Cowboys not only copped the division crown but the draft picks from April bore fruit this season. Linebacker and No. 19 overall pick Leighton Vander Esch is a certified stud while third-round pick Michael Gallup proved he is a bona fide NFL receiver. Second-round offensive lineman Connor Williams had difficulties at left guard, but at the very least, has a season under his belt at the next level and could turn into a legitimate bodyguard for Prescott in 2019.
And let’s not forget about the trade for Amari Cooper, which turned Dallas from a squad struggling to find its identity to an NFC East champ in winning seven of its last nine games since Cooper arrived. This year’s edition also bested a tough Seahawks team in the first-round of the playoffs.
Let’s face it, folks, no one expected the Cowboys to win a Super Bowl this season and what we got was about as much as we could have hoped with the current roster as it is presently constructed.
Dak Prescott has one more year on his rookie contract and will be looking to score a big payday at the end of next season, if not sooner. The Cowboys could enter negotiations and lock Prescott up for the foreseeable future, but it might be best for both parties to see what 2019 brings and go from there. Either way, Dallas will pay beaucoup bucks to keep Prescott in a Cowboys uniform so watching and waiting will most likely be the tact management takes with their star quarterback, with a franchise tag in 2020 as an option as well.
In the team’s immediate future will be signing their second-round pick in 2014, DeMarcus Lawrence. The talented defensive end provided the Cowboys with the edge rusher they needed for parts of this season and his combined 25 sacks over the last two seasons would be nearly impossible to replace. Dallas franchised him this season but will most likely put together a long-term deal for Lawrence in the offseason.
Ezekiel Elliott has also reportedly been hinting at his own contract extension even though he is contractually committed to the Cowboys for next season with a team option in '20.
Ironically, one of the strengths of the Dallas Cowboys in recent years was a relatively weak link this season. The offensive line was decimated by injuries and Pro Bowler Travis Frederick missed the entire season. But those wounds will heal for next season and the old gang will be back together again.
The Cowboys have loads of cap space but are without a first-round pick due to the trade for Amari Cooper. Nevertheless, the young blood on the team looks poised to contribute for many years and there will be money available to woo free agents to a club now viewed as a legitimate contender.
If you want to look at next season’s odds, make sure to educate yourself on which online sportsbooks are the most reputable, trusted, and reliable. Read the Bovada Review over at SBR and see what customers are saying about one of the industry’s top sportsbooks. Then, when the lines come out on next season’s division, conference, and Super Bowl winners, you can be informed and maybe throw a few bucks on the 'Boys from Dallas!
Cowboys’ Window Depends On Maximizing, And Helping, Dak Prescott
Saturday night's Division Round loss was met with mixed reaction among Cowboys Nation.
Some fans, claiming they are the rational ones who hold the Cowboys to a higher standard, believe this might end up being their best chance at a Super Bowl for some time. The young players this roster is built around will only get older and more expensive as the years go by, and 2018 ends with yet another Jason Garrett-led playoff loss.
Other fans, claiming they are the rational ones, said that Dallas accomplished a lot this season, climbing back from a 3-5 start to win the NFC East and a home playoff game before losing a competitive game to one of the league's best. This group believes that the Cowboys championship window is as open as it has been in years, with young talent galore on Dallas' roster.
Whether this is true, however, hinges on the shoulders of two individuals. One of which, ironically, hasn't even been named yet and the other a source of constant debate among those same segmented fans.
Those people, of course, are quarterback Dak Prescott and whoever ends up as the offensive coordinator in 2019.
Dak Prescott is a good quarterback.
Let's start there. I firmly believe that Dak Prescott did enough during his third season to earn the contract extension he will likely receive from the Cowboys within one of the next two offseasons. Especially once the Cowboys acquired wide receiver Amari Cooper.
Clearly, Prescott is far from "perfect" is a passer. He makes mistakes in decision making, he sails some throws, and he sometimes exhibits inconsistent footwork when the pocket breaks down. But we focus too much on his mistakes while simply glossing over his accomplishments, talents, and upside.
Not only is Dak Prescott someone that the team responds to and believes in, but he is also a good football player. Prescott finished the 2018 season 12th in total Expected Points Added, ahead of quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, and Baker Mayfield. He's also finished 3rd and 4th in raw QBR during his first two seasons in the NFL respectively. And, despite his slow start to 2018, Dak Prescott ended his third season on the best run of games in terms of QBR he has ever had.
Prescott is improving, and this is evident each week. He played more comfortably in the pocket over the last 6 games of the season, panicking less, taking fewer dumb sacks, and abandoning his technique fewer and fewer. And, while he doesn't run as often as many would like, the times Prescott does carry the ball often change drives and games.
And while I despise "QB Wins" as a determining statistic, the fact remains that bad quarterbacks don't win at the rate Dak Prescott does. Three straight winning seasons has been rare in Dallas over the last 15 years, and Prescott orchestrated this his first three seasons as a starter.
Passing Wins Championships.
Though very different than the old cliche, this appears more accurate by the season. The final four teams remaining in the NFL are each top 5 in passing DVOA, while not a single one has a top 10 defense by DVOA.
Neither the Chiefs nor the Rams have had a good run defense at all this season, but stopping the run doesn't matter as much as stopping the pass most weeks in today's NFL. I know this sounds absurd after the Cowboys run defense got abused by Los Angeles, but the numbers often bear this out.
The Cowboys have to do everything in their power to aid Dak Prescott and the passing offense this offseason. They need to draft another pass catcher, preferably with their second round pick. They need to continue to improve the chemistry between Prescott, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.
And, maybe most importantly, they need to hire an offensive coordinator who can maximize this passing game.
Scott Linehan simply is not the answer. And if the Cowboys are going to make the most out of whatever title window they may have, the offensive play caller will be the most critical man in the building going forward.
Unfortunately, latest reports point to Linehan returning in 2019.
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