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The Dallas Cowboys Run The NFC East

RJ Ochoa

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NFC East Blog - The Dallas Cowboys Run The NFC East 10

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?

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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.

Washington Redskins

Year Overall Record Division Record
2011 5-11 2-4
2012* 10-6 5-1
2013 3-13 0-6
2014 4-12 2-4
Total 22-42 9-15

*Playoff team

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.

NFC East Blog - The Dallas Cowboys Run The NFC East

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, left, stands on the sidelines with head coach Jay Gruden, right, during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014, in Minneapolis. The Vikings won 29-26. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

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.

NFC East Blog - The Dallas Cowboys Run The NFC East 1

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is greeted by his teammates as he runs onto the field before the first half of an NFL football preseason game against the New England Patriots in Landover, Md., Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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
2011*^ 9-7 3-3
2012 9-7 3-3
2013 7-9 3-3
2014 6-10 2-4
Total 31-33 11-13

*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.

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05: Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants poses with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Giants defeated the Patriots by a score of 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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.

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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.

Philadelphia Eagles

Year Overall Record Division Record
2011 8-8 5-1
2012 4-12 1-5
2013* 10-6 4-2
2014 10-6 4-2
Total 32-32 14-10

*Playoff team

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.

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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?

Dallas Cowboys

Year Overall Record Division Record
2011 8-8 2-4
2012 8-8 3-3
2013 8-8 5-1
2014* 12-4 4-2
Total 36-28 14-10

*Playoff team

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.

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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.

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Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) celebrates a touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the second half of an NFL wildcard playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

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.

Tell us what you think about "The Dallas Cowboys Run The NFC East" 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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Tony Pollard is Just What the Doctor Ordered in Dallas

Matthew Lenix

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Tony Pollard is Just What the Doctor Ordered in Dallas

The Dallas Cowboys have what many believe to be the best running back in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliott. However, you can never undervalue the importance of depth at any position. When the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft came around, the Cowboys added another weapon to the backfield by selecting Tony Pollard out of Memphis.

If you’re looking for a dynamic player maker with the ability to take it to the house at any given moment, Pollard is your man. The former Tiger averaged a touchdown every 13 touches in college. That’s an absolutely insane statistic when you think about it. He also tied an NCAA record with seven kick returns for touchdowns. Long story short, he can get you six points at the blink of an eye.

The versatility in his game is outrageous and undoubtedly the reason why he was drafted. In addition to running for 941 yards on 6.8 yards per rush, he also had 104 receptions for 1,292 yards. New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has to be salivating about the possibilities with his new toy. Having a running back that can not only carry the load as a runner but also line up at receiver keeps the defense honest. You never know what angle the offense is going to come from.

This has to be a sigh of relief for Ezekiel Elliott. Now, the Cowboys don’t have to overexert him and can bring Pollard in on third downs if need be. Not just to give Elliott a breather but to change the pace of the offensive attack. You can hand the ball off, throw it to him or run jet sweeps when he is on the field. This sets up a potential combo at running back that could be the leagues very best shortly.

Speed, quickness, and agility are all wrapped up in the Tony Pollard package. The Cowboys now have a running back that can line up at multiple positions if need be. Also, this prevents a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on the body of Ezekiel Elliott. This combination has all the potential to set the NFL on fire in 2019.



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CB Byron Jones Not Expected To Return Until Week 1 Against NYG

Kevin Brady

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Byron Jones

Coming off what was clearly the best season of his career thus far, Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones underwent surgery to hopefully fix a nagging hip injury.

While he earned both his first All Pro and Pro Bowl honors in 2018, his first season as a full-time cornerback, Jones still has a lot to prove in the upcoming season. Some still criticize him for his lack of interceptions, and there's no doubt his stellar play slowed down a bit towards the end of the year.

I'm willing to wager that the slight decline had a lot to do with his hip troubles, but nonetheless he must come up with his elite level play once again to earn himself a nice contract somewhere in 2020.

Oh, did I forget to mention it's also a contract year for Byron Jones? As it is for so many important Dallas Cowboys, it seems.

So when will Byron Jones be able to return to the Cowboys' lineup? Well, the initial date reportedly set by Jones and the team was late July, giving him a chance to practice and play a bit before the season opener in September. But, according to the Team Site this week, that date may be pushed back a bit, and we might not see Byron Jones until that season opening game against the Giants.

"As for Jones, all along the Cowboys have been targeting his return for the season opener, but hopefully at that. So, don’t expect to see much of Jones in training camp, and if so, certainly no more than individual and walk-through drills." - Mickey Spagnola

Ultimately, as long as Byron Jones is good to go when the regular season starts, that's all that matters, but the fear of rust when Jones returns is a real one.

It's tough to go from no live football straight to the meaningful games, but if anyone would be able to do it it would be the guy with the freakishly athletic traits. The guy who can get out of the bed in the morning and set athletic records at the Combine.

And, of course, that guy is Byron Jones.



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Dak Prescott: Calm Under Pressure

Matthew Lenix

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Dak Prescott: Calm Under Pressure

When the 2016 NFL Draft came around the Dallas Cowboys were in search of the heir apparent to Tony Romo. Unfortunately, coming off an injury-plagued 2015 season, Romo would find himself on the shelf again after suffering a broken bone in his back during a preseason game against the Seahawks. However, the Cowboys had an ace in the hole, in the form of Dak Prescott who they drafted in the fourth round.

The idea was the groom him for a few years before taking the keys to the car so to speak from Romo, but fate had another idea in mind. Prescott would be thrust into the starting lineup against one of the Cowboys most hated rivals to start the season, the New York Giants. Added to that, was the pressure of living up to Romo's stellar resume as the franchise's all-time leading passer. After struggling in a tough 20-19 loss, no surprise there for a rookie quarterback, Prescott began to take flight.

Over the next eleven games he wouldn't suffer a single loss as the Cowboys were sitting pretty at 11-1. What made this streak more impressive was the efficiency of Prescott. He threw 19 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions over that span. In the process, he set an NFL record for the most passing attempts to start a career without an interception with 176. This broke the previous record held by Tom Brady of 162. It didn't stop there, as he also set a rookie record for completion percentage (67.8), was named Offensive Rookie of the Year and was selected to the Pro Bowl.

The Cowboys would finish 13-3 and win the NFC East. With home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and the franchise only winning two postseason games in 21 years, Prescott was definitely under the microscope. After the offense struggled to produce points in the first half and fell behind 21-3, Prescott lead a furious comeback. Helping the team storm all the way back to tie the game at 28 and again at 31. He finished with 302 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first playoff start against future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers. Even though the team lost 34-31, Prescott proved how much of a gamer he was as he basically went yard for yard and point for point with one of the NFL's elite signal-callers. It was clear the Cowboys were in good hands going forward.

2017 started off well as the Cowboys were 5-3 and firmly on pace for another playoff run. Unfortunately, All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott lost his fierce battle with the NFL over domestic violence allegations, and Dak along with the offense struggled. After a 9-7 season and falling one game short of a Wild Card berth, the pressure on Prescott heading into the next season was immense.

Once 2018 came about Prescott had more pressure than ever with Elliott back for a full season. After a slow 3-4 start the Cowboys traded for Pro-Bowl Wide Receiver Amari Cooper, providing the team with it's first true number one receiver since Dez Bryant. Putting even more expectations on Prescott to turn things around, and boy did he ever.

He would complete 71.6% of his passes in the final eight games of the season, and the Cowboys won seven to finish 10-6. Now, with another division title under his belt, came a playoff matchup with Super Bowl-winning Quarterback Russell Wilson.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys were hanging on to a 17-14 lead. They faced a 3rd and 14 inside the redone with just over two minutes left. After dropping back a few steps, Prescott scrambled for 16 yards setting up a first and goal from the one-yard line. The team held on for a 24-22 victory but here's why that scramble was so important.

If the Cowboys don't convert that 3rd and long that would've set up a field goal attempt. Assuming it would have been successful, that would've only put them up 20-14. Giving Seattle a chance to more than likely win with a touchdown and an extra point or two-point conversion. Prescott essentially won the game with that 3rd down run. Proving once again there's no situation he can't handle.

He's set an NFL record for completion percentage in the first three years of a quarterbacks career at 66.1 percent. No quarterback has won more games than him since 2016 except Tom Brady. No one has more game-winning drives than him since he entered the league. His 13 primetime victories are tops in the NFL over the last three seasons. Simply put, Dak Prescott is a winner and doesn't fold under pressure, instead, he embraces it. There are no bigger lights in the NFL than the ones that shine in Dallas. With those lights come huge expectations and pressure, and it's clear this young man is made of the right stuff to handle it.



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