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Week 1 In The NFC East Was No Cupcake; Winners, Losers & More

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Blog - Week 1 NFC East Update

A lot was written about the NFC East this offseason, as Chip Kelly and the Eagles have been the center of attention in tearing down the roster for a fresh start.

Elsewhere, the Giants opted to stick with what they had - extending Eli Manning to make a run in 2015.

The Redskins benched Robert Griffin III and played the Dolphins tight. In the end, our Dallas Cowboys sit at 1-0 and in first place. Here's how it went down -

Cowboys Nation on Twitter

NFC East Career QB Ratings: Romo 97.6 RG3 90.6 Jason Garrett 83.2 Eli Manning 82.4 Sam Bradford 79.3 Tim Tebow 75.3 Mark Sanchez 74.1

Dallas Cowboys 1-0

When Tony Romo drops back 42 times, the Cowboys are likely trailing. That was the case through three-quarters against the Giants' on Sunday night - two interceptions and a lack of consistency put Dallas down entering the fourth.

When given a fighting chance, Marinelli's defense looked sharp - playing with a healthy Sean Lee. Losing Randy Gregory was a big hit, but the secondary did not allow a big play. The Giants averaged just over 5 yards a pass.

In what was shaping up to be an instant classic, it was going to be up to a playmaker to make a play. As we know, Dez was not out there. A slate of young receivers was - along with Romo and Jason Witten.

Draft Blog - Scout Report: Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Also leading the charge was Tyron Smith and the offensive line giving Romo time to silence the critics on the big state.

With 7 seconds left, Romo picked up a bad snap and fired it to Jason Witten at the goal line for the winning score. This came after Rashad Jennings was told not to score, giving the Cowboys a chance.


 

New York Giants 0-1 

Consistency is the model that Tom Coughlin and the Giants try to follow year in and year out. However, a lack of pass rush due to the Jason Pierre-Paul "injury" and gaps in the offensive line spelled the end for New York on Sunday night.

Eli nearly avoided mistake after mistake, as Rod Marinelli and his stacked defense looked to force a turnover and make an impact. Rookie Ereck Flowers held his own against Randy Gregory.

Ultimately, the team was not able to keep control of the game - losing the time of possession battle 37:10 to 22:50 and falling to 0-1. The Giants will return home to face the Falcons at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.


 

Philadelphia Eagles 0-1

Cowboys Nation on Twitter

By himself, Eagles CB Byron Maxwell gave up 179 yards in coverage last night. The Cowboys entire defense gave up 193 against the Giants.

At the heart of the passing game trend that took over the NFL in week one is none other than Eagles' head coach Chip Kelly. Former college teammates Sam Bradford and DeMarco Murray on the Falcons turf should have been unstoppable.

Tell that to Dan Quinn and the new look Falcons, who did just enough to slow down the Eagles and pull off a Monday night win.

Matt Ryan and Julio Jones connected for two scores in the second quarter to put the Falcons ahead.

Murray led the Eagles back in the third, scoring from eight and five yards out. In the end, it was Bradford's late mistake - an interception to Ricardo Allen - that sent the Eagles home at 0-1.

They will now prepare for Tyrone Crawford and the Cowboys in week 2.


 

Washington Redskins 0-1 

Dallas was not the only NFC East team to lose a top wideout; Kirk Cousins lost DeSean Jackson in a loss to the Dolphins. Washington held tough throughout, despite Cousins throwing a pick-six.

Finding a way to lose, it was Jarvis Landry who ran a punt back for Miami to give the Dolphins the 17-10 win.

They will host Nick Foles and the Rams on Sunday.


Ready for week 2? Shoot me a tweet @ShoreSportsNJ and be sure to tune into Upon Further Review on Friday for more!

Tell us what you think about "Week 1 In The NFC East Was No Cupcake; Winners, Losers & More" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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Star Blog

If You Could Only Pay One: Ezekiel Elliott Vs. Byron Jones

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys en Español: Proyectando el Roster de 53 Jugadores 2
James D. Smith via AP

Let me first start by saying this is not the case. The Cowboys can find ways to pay both Ezekiel Elliott and Byron Jones over the next two offseasons, securing leaders on each side of the ball.

But last week a couple of Twitter polls got me very interested in this topic, and I wanted to expand on my thoughts.

It all started when longtime Cowboys reporter Mike Fisher wrote that as the Cowboys look to sign their own free agents, Byron Jones will likely be the one who gets squeezed out. So while Elliott, Dak Prescott, DeMarcus Lawrence, Amari Cooper, and Jaylon Smith remain with the team, Jones will likely be off to find a new home.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

if you can only pay one it should be

I put up this poll, pitting Jones against Elliott, and Jones came out as the winner. My colleague John Williams put out the same poll, but with Elliott running away for the victory.

John Williams ✭ on Twitter

Inspired by my teammate @KevinBrady88, if you can only pay one, which would it be?

His had many more votes, which likely makes his poll a bit more representative of the fan base's feelings (which reminds me, follow me on Twitter @KevinBrady88.) Plus, I have been carrying the Byron Jones flag for quite some time, so it's possible my followers are biased towards Jones.

Either way, let's examine the situation here.

On one hand is Ezekiel Elliott. The former fourth overall selection in 2016, Elliott has led the league in rushing two of his first three seasons in the NFL. While this is true, his ability (and usage) as a receiver deserves to be questioned, and his lack of touchdown production in comparison to some other elite-level backs is concerning as well.

Yes, this is not totally his fault, as Scott Linehan and an overall lack of offensive weapons outside of Elliott have handcuffed him a bit. But if we are going to place the blame for his faults onto others, then we should at least attribute some of his excellent raw rushing totals simply to opportunities.

Elliott carried the ball 304 times in 15 games, averaging 20.3 rush attempts per game. The next closet player in terms of total carries? Saquon Barkley, who carried it 261 times in 16 games, averaging 16.3 rushes per game. That's a massive gap.

No individual running back is taking the wear and tear that Elliott is on a per game basis. And while it helps make his raw rushing totals look outstanding, it is also likely hurting his shelf life as an elite runner in the NFL.

The main argument I received supporting paying Elliott over Byron Jones was that while cornerback is more important than running back in a vacuum, Elliott is such a special player that his importance is greater than that of a normal running back.

Maybe. But let's talk about how special Byron Jones is and can be.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

Kevin Brady on Twitter

https://t.co/3wwkpl4qM7

Jones' spider chart puts him in elite company, with the likes of Jalen Ramsey, Antonio Cromartie, and Terence Newman. Except, Jones was even more athletic that each of these Pro Bowl caliber cornerbacks.

Cornerbacks with the athletic profile that Byron Jones has rarely ever miss, and most of the time they reach an All Pro level. This is exactly what Jones did in 2018, getting named second team All Pro and to his first Pro Bowl in the same season. Both these honors also came during his first season as a full-time cornerback. Imagine what his ceiling can look like as he continues to work with Kris Richard and get more comfortable in his permanent home.

There's no doubt that Jones struggled a bit more in December last year than he did in September, but he was playing at a pace few players ever have played at or kept up over a long period of time. Even accounting for these "struggles," Jones was graded as the sixth best cornerback in all of football by Pro Football Focus. Elliott, on the other hand, had his overall value questioned by PFF.

Of course PFF is not the be-all-end-all here, but it's certainly a piece of the argument. Both Elliott and Jones will command top money at their position whenever it is their turn to get signed. The Cowboys have struggled for years to find themselves a number one cornerback. Despite paying Brandon Carr big money and trading up for Morris Claiborne, it simply hasn't worked. Really since Newman began aging, they haven't gotten that guy.

On the other hand, Dallas produced two 1,000 yard rushers back-to-back seasons before Elliott even became a Cowboy. Running back is a more replaceable position at the top than cornerback is, and if Dallas believes that Jones should be considered "at the top" of his position group, than the choice between the two becomes clear.

I will say, however, that there is a human element to this as well. Elliott is a clear leader on this team, and if the Cowboys strong-armed him out of town, it could have serious implications across the roster. Jason Garett loves Zeke, Jerry Jones loves Zeke, and quarterback Dak Prescott loves Zeke.

Zeke is going to get paid by the Cowboys, I have no doubts or issues with that, but if all these guys getting paid squeezes an All Pro corner out of town, that could bite this franchise in the butt down the line.



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Jason Garrett Has Hard Road Ahead in Contract Year

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Report: Jason Garrett "Not Going Anywhere" with Possible Extension Coming Soon 1

It seems like every year we talk about how hot is Jason Garrett's seat. This year though, it will be one of the biggest storylines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys. Garrett will enter the 2019 season without an extension. However you feel about the Cowboys head coach, being in a contract year automatically means dealing with low job security.

What is clear though is that Garrett's contract year might be a difficult one.

First of all, the Dallas Cowboys haven't managed to get their superstar 26-year old pass rusher signed to a long term deal. DeMarcus Lawrence has made it clear that he will not play under the tag and until a contract is signed, he'll even postpone his pending shoulder surgery.

Cowboys Nation is hoping to see D-Law get his long term deal before it's too late, and as we know, the Cowboys want to sign him. Who wouldn't? But there's a reason it hasn't happened yet and if this drags out, it won't be good for the team. Jason Garrett can't be happy about not having his best defensive player ready to work.

Kellen Moore, Jason Garrett, Dak Prescott

Rather than an unfortunate situation, this feels more like a bold approach by Garrett. After firing Scott Linehan, the Cowboys promoted Kellen Moore to offensive coordinator. Moore's potential has since been praised by players and coaches around the country and I'm actually excited about what he can bring to the table. But he's still a rookie OC. Young coaches like Sean McVay have taken the league by storm but it still feels like a bold move by Garrett to put Moore in this position. This was undoubtedly a Jason Garrett move and it only makes sense for the Cowboys to let him put together his own staff before the season.

Under the "Cowboys are one player away" narrative, many believed a big free agency signing was bound to happen in Dallas. Specifically, the discussion revolved around one of the newest members of the Baltimore Ravens, Safety Earl Thomas. So far, though, it's been same old, same old for the Cowboys during the start of free agency. Top free agents are off the shelves and Dallas has been pretty quiet so far.

Also worth noting is that the Cowboys will not have a first round pick during the 2019 NFL Draft. Now granted, that first round pick they don't have was worth it thanks to Amari Cooper's arrival but it's still a difficult situation for a football team that has many needs, including one at wide receiver after letting Cole Beasley leave for the Buffalo Bills.

A potential holdout by DeMarcus Lawrence, a rookie offensive coordinator, no splash in free agency and no first round pick... Jason Garrett's approach to his contract year certainly seems like a risky one. Not to mention this is only what we're talking about now. What if Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott or Cooper decide to holdout (even if it's just for a while and eventually come back)? Hopefully this isn't the case, but with the way things go in the NFL today it wouldn't be a surprise.

The Dallas Cowboys will play in an NFC East that might sound like an easy division but surprises happen every single year. If Jason Garrett manages to lead his team to a successful season under such circumstances, he should earn the respect of many fans that want him out of the picture. The question will of course be: "How much does he needs to accomplish to keep his job?" Will making it to the playoffs be enough? Or will he need to make a bigger statement?

Tell me what you think about "Jason Garrett Has Hard Road Ahead in Contract Year" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Would Cowboys Trade Joe Looney if the Saints Came Calling?

Brian Martin

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Would Cowboys Trade Joe Looney if the Saints Came Calling?

The hits keep coming for the New Orleans Saints. Not only are their fans extremely disappointed in the way the Saints 2018 season ended, and rightfully so, but now they have to deal with the fact that one of their best offensive players has decided to retire. Ouch!

Field Yates on Twitter

Source: Saints C Max Unger has retired. Wow.

No matter how you slice it, Max Unger's decision to retire is a huge blow to the Saints offense. The three-time Pro Bowl center is still one of the best in the game at his position and he's a huge reason why New Orleans has been so successful on the offensive side of the ball since he joined the team in 2015.

Unger's ability to keep the middle of the pocket from collapsing on Quarterback Drew Brees, while also blocking for Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram in the running game is the lifeblood of the Saints offense. Without him, the entire offense could be in trouble. Finding someone to step in and fill those huge shoes won't be easy.

As luck would have it, the Dallas Cowboys may have the answer to their problems. Joe Looney had to step in and replace Travis Frederick, another one of the top centers in the NFL, and filled in admirably during his absence. He could do the same thing for the New Orleans Saints.

With Frederick set to return to the Cowboys starting lineup in 2019, Looney suddenly becomes nothing more than a backup C/G once again. Because of that, he could become expendable, making him an intriguing tradable asset for teams looking for a starting caliber offensive lineman with versatility to play any interior position. This could be exactly the kind of player the Saints are targeting.

Unfortunately for New Orleans, they don't have a lot of draft capital in the 2019 NFL Draft to find a starting caliber center. Like the Cowboys, they don't have a first-round pick this year and don't make their first selection until the second-round. After that, they don't have another draft pick until the fifth-round. This further complicates replacing Unger as well as trading for anyone, such as Joe Looney.

It's highly unlikely the Saints are willing to part ways with their second-round pick and the Cowboys would probably want more for Joe Looney than a fifth-rounder. Looney after all has proven to be a serviceable starter, which is probably more valuable for Dallas considering the unknown about Travis Frederick's health moving forward.

So, even if the New Orleans Saints picked up the phone and called the Dallas Cowboys to acquire about trading for Joe Looney, I just don't think the two teams would be able to come together on trade compensation. I guess that means we can put this potential trade rumor to bed.



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