Tag Archive | "Dallas Cowboys"

2016 NFC East Preview

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NY Giants Victor Cruz

 

New York Giants (10-6)

 

The Giants are the team with the fewest question marks in the division.  The additions of cornerback Janoris Jenkins through free agency and Eli Apple in the draft will bolster the Giants secondary that had its problems last season.  Olivier Vernon is a bit of a stretch but will improve the pass rush as well.  The receiving core of Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and a (hopefully) healthy Victor Cruz should flourish with Eli Manning in the third year of Ben McAdoo’s offense.  The Giants did struggle last season in preseason and did so early in this preseason.  That could be an issue again.  Ben McAdoo had to be promoted to head coach to keep Eli familiar with the offense; the question will be answered as to whether or not he is ready.

 

Washington Redskins (9-7)**

 

The Redskins will attempt to become the first repeat champion in this division since the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005 and 2006.  The Redskins made the big offseason acquisition in acquiring cornerback Josh Norman from the Carolina Panthers.  Norman was good last season, but played a lot of zone coverage in the Panthers scheme.  It will be interesting to see if the Redskins ask him to play more in man-to-man this season.  Kirk Cousins was efficient last season, but it was a contract year so we will have to see if he can continue that improvement.  DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are solid weapons in the passing game and Jordan Reed is very underrated as a tight end.  Offensive guard Brandon Scherff will have to continue to progress now in his second season for this offensive line.

 

Dallas Cowboys (6-10)

 

The Cowboys will play the first half of the season without Tony Romo who suffered a compression fracture in his back against the Seahawks this preseason.  The Cowboys weren’t going to do much this season regardless.  Dak Prescott will perform better than the Cowboys backups last year, but they went 1-11 so that shouldn’t be too difficult.  Ezekiel Elliot should flourish behind the Cowboys offensive line and a healthy Dez Bryant will make it easy for Prescott.  With or without Romo the Cowboys offense isn’t the issue however.  Their defense has zero pass rush.  Sean Lee’s durability is always an issue at linebacker and their secondary is average at best.  Second year safety Byron Jones will have to force turnovers and play incredible for this defense to make any noise.  The first half of the schedule is manageable, so if Prescott can keep this team competitive and the defense survives, Dallas has a shot with Romo coming back.  This is a serious injury however, and the second half of the schedule is brutal so don’t expect it.

 

Philadelphia Eagles (6-10)

 

The Eagles should not be able to do much this season.  They are going back to a conventional offense after playing in Chip Kelly’s ‘fast break’ scheme the last three years.  Switching players back to a conventional pro style will be an issue for this team, and I expect will also impede the progress of rookie Carson Wentz.  I don’t see them putting Wentz in to an offense still adjusting like that.  Fletcher Cox is one of the better players in the league on the defensive line, and Malcolm Jenkins is a solid safety.  The rest of the defense is suspect after that.  Eagles may struggle to get to even six wins this year.

 

 

**Denotes Playoff Team

 

Confident Cowboys

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Dallas Cowboys are starting to win the games they have customarily lost.

 

A lot is right in North Central Texas these days.  The Dallas Cowboys go into the tough confines in Seattle with a record of 4-1 having reeled off four straight wins.  DeMarco Murray is playing like an MVP, and the defense, much maligned in the offseason, is competing and doing enough to keep Dallas competitive.  The offensive line has gelled very well and three of their last four first-round picks (Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zach Martin) are steamrolling guys in the running game and keeping Tony Romo upright in the passing game.

 

Yes, I did predict the Cowboys would go 4-12 this season, and I am happily wrong about that prediction.  While I thought the defense would be better than last season, I thought they would still be awful this year.  I also did not expect the offensive line to come together as quickly as they did.  The most impressive thing about the Cowboys this season is that they are making the mistakes they have always made in the past.  The difference this season is that they are working through those mistakes where in the past they let those mistakes kill them.

 

Last week against the Texans, the Cowboys had a Murray fumble, a Terrence Williams dropped pass inside the five yard line that cost them a touchdown, and a Tony Romo interception inside the five.  They also gave up 10 points in the closing minutes to a struggling offense and missed a field goal at the end of regulation from the reliable Dan Bailey.  The Cowboys didn’t get the ball first in overtime, yet a spectacular catch from Dez Bryant set them up for the win.

 

The week before against New Orleans, after controlling the game well into the fourth quarter, the Saints got the ball back down 14 points with plenty of time.  Dallas got the stop they needed and then went down the field and scored a touchdown to ice it.  In the previous week, they spotted an inferior Rams team 21 points only to fight their way back and get the victory.

 

There was a lot of noise coming out of Cowboys’ camp following their lackluster performance to open the season against San Francisco.  The defense did play well in that game despite being put in a lot of tough spots due to the offense’s turnovers and I believe gained much needed confidence for that unit that was shellacked last year.  The offensive struggles in that game appear to be more due to rust from Romo’s lack of playing time in the preseason due to injury.

 

A lot of the improved play of the defense this year has to do with the Cowboys controlling the ball on offense with Murray that has kept the defense off the field.  The play of Rolando McClain has been a godsend at middle linebacker as replacement for the injured Sean Lee, and J.J. Wilcox has really improved at safety in his second season which has helped the secondary.  The unheralded defensive line is competing every week, and this unit is getting turnovers.  The better the defense keeps playing, the more confidence they will gain throughout the year.

 

The fact that Dallas is finding ways to win despite mistakes instead of finding ways to lose will also fill this team with confidence.  Early season wins for lesser teams typically inhibit them from having a surprise year and doom then to another poor season.

 

There is still a lot of work for this team to do this year, and knowing the Cowboys history, you can never get too comfortable that they won’t self-destruct.  Improved play from the defense and finding ways to win, however, is the way to start to write a new script that is a departure from the recent past.

 

 

.500 over 17 Seasons for The Cowboys

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Easy to quote but only a good quote with little evidence to further malign the Cowboys Owner.

 

 

No one understands the frustration the Dallas Cowboys have put their fans through more than me, and Jerry Jones is an easy target to vent frustrations.  Jerry does have a big ego and there are plenty of reasons to take shots at him, but the much quoted 136-136 record over the past 17 seasons sounds great as a criticism, but is a classic false choice fallacy.

 

Stephan A. Smith is one of the loudest to beat this drum on his show “First Take.”  Just how bad is the 136-136 record though?

 

Take out the 3 straight 5-11 seasons under Dave Campo in which Troy Aikman got hurt the first game of Dave Campo’s career, the last game Aikman ever played, and the Cowboys record looks pretty impressive.  Are people going to blame Jerry Jones for a team struggling initially after losing a quarterback of Troy Aikman’s caliber?

 

Buffalo is 115-157 with two playoff appearances over the same 17 years.  Detroit is 91-181 with three playoff appearances.  These two teams are the only ones over the past 17 seasons that have both losing records and either fewer than the Cowboys four playoff appearances or no Super Bowl appearances.

 

Oakland is 106-166 in that span and played in a Super Bowl.  Cincinnati is 116-156 with four 10-win seasons and five playoff appearances over that time.  Jacksonville is 131-141 with five playoff appearances, three 11-win seasons, and a 12 and 14-win season.

 

Chicago is 132-140 with four playoff appearances that include two 13-win seasons and two 11-win seasons, two conference championship appearances, and one Super Bowl appearance, as well as seasons in which they won 9 and 10 games without making the playoffs.  The Chiefs are 129-143, four playoff appearances, two 13-win seasons, and a 10-win season in which they did not make the playoffs.

 

Arizona – 109-163; three playoff appearances, one Super Bowl appearance, one 10-win season with no playoffs.  St. Louis – 116-155-1; five playoff appearances, two Super Bowl appearances, one Super Bowl Championship, and 14, 13, and 12-win seasons.  Washington- 118-153-1; four playoff appearances, three 10-win seasons.

 

Carolina – 125-147; five playoff appearances, one Super Bowl appearance, three Championship game appearances, three 12-win seasons and two 11-win seasons.  Tampa Bay – 133-139; seven playoff appearances, one Super Bowl Championship, one 12, two 11, and two 10-win seasons, a 9 and 10-win season without a playoff appearance.  Miami Dolphins – 135-137, six playoff appearances, three 11-win seasons, one 10-win season, and 10 and 9-win seasons without playoff appearances.

 

The following are some teams that are better than .500 but not by much.  San Francisco is 139-132-1 with seven playoff appearances, two 13-win seasons, three 12-win seasons, 11 and 10-win seasons, a Super Bowl appearance and three straight championship games.  Atlanta – 141-130-1; seven playoff appearances, one Super Bowl appearance, two Championship game appearances, one 14-win season, two 13-win seasons, two 11-win seasons.  Tennessee is 140-132 with six playoff appearances, a Super Bowl appearance, three 13-win seasons, 12 and 11-win seasons and a 9-win year in which they didn’t make the playoffs.

 

Houston and Cleveland are both under .500 but have not played every season since 1997.  Houston is 79-113 with two playoff appearances, and Cleveland is 77-163 with one playoff appearance and a 10-win season without making the playoffs.

 

Here, I am shredding apart another weak narrative by ESPN with FACTS detailing what actually occurred.  The Cowboys’ 136-136 record is not bad on its own and includes a horrendous span of  three years following the loss of a Hall of Fame quarterback during which the team went 15-33.

 

Yes, the Cowboys are only better than 15 of the 32 teams in the league over that span, putting them right in the middle.  This would illustrate Stephan A. Smith’s point that The Cowboys are a “Walking piece of mediocrity.”  Whether they are mediocre or not, however, is irrelevant; what is relevant is whether or not the Cowboys 136-136 record over that time is an indication that Jerry Jones is doing a poor job.

 

The Cowboys are better than 11 teams that have been to the playoffs as many or more times than they since 1997.  They have a better record over that span than two teams that won The Super Bowl (Tampa Bay/St. Louis) and three teams that made a Super Bowl (Chicago/Arizona/Carolina) appearance.  Clearly, going .500 over 17 seasons in the NFL is good enough to be a contender for a championship.  Judging Jerry Jones on the Cowboys’ regular season alone is a false choice.

 

The overall regular season record over the last 17 seasons speaks to the parity for which the NFL so strongly strives and very little to the fault of the owner.  It is time to stop using this lame argument to which I gave a halfhearted effort to destroy and did so in less than an hour.  Plenty of things illustrate the faults of Jerry Jones, no need to pile on him with a weak argument when there is plenty else from which to choose.

 

 

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