The Dallas Cowboys have made a lot of changes during the offseason. But where do they rank amongst the other NFC East teams?
The Dallas Cowboys have made a lot of changes this offseason to their roster but so have all of the other NFC East teams. For a long time the Cowboys were considered to be at the top of the division however now with the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl victory, where does Big D rank among the NFC East contenders? Let’s take a look.
The Dallas Cowboys may have lost their Hall of Fame tight end and superstar wide receiver, however, this team looks more functional than ever before. Jason Witten would make plays because that is how good of a player he was not necessarily because that is what the situation called for.
Having Dak Prescott make more throws down the field and forcing defenses to respect the passing game more. The team has added several wide receivers who in my book make this unit better than where it was a year ago. Dez Bryant was no spring chicken, and his incompletions turned into deflections way too many times in 2017.
I mean he had at least four passes that bounced off of his hands that led to interceptions, which also left Dak with a larger turnover total than he should have had. Adding players like Michael Gallup, Allen Hurns, and Cedrick Wilson should help remedy that problem.
The Cowboys wanted receivers with safe hands and the ability to make adjustments, two things Bryant never did with regularity. The addition of several sure-handed receivers should lead to the Dallas Cowboys offense scoring more touchdowns through the air than in previous years.
Let’s also remember that Witten was getting up there in terms of age and he had lost a step from a few seasons prior. That is not a knock on him, just reality. Having younger tight ends who could stretch the field more and play with more athleticism seems to be the right idea.
Witten would have still had a solid season if he were with the Cowboys but his retirement gives the team options offensively. These two big retirements and the sudden influx of new talent also guarantees that opposing defenses have no idea where the Cowboys will go with the football.
There are more options than ever for Prescott in this offense and he should not have a hard time a capable receiver to get the football to. In terms of the Dallas Cowboys offensive line, they are better off than they were a year ago as Connor Williams along with a bunch of free agents should help bolster this offensive line.
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This should help keep Dak upright as he can be protected better than he was a season ago. More time in the pocket equals better throws and more completions. Another factor is having Ezekiel Elliott back for a full 16 game schedule should do wonders for this offense.
With an improved offensive line to run behind, Elliott could easily become the favorite to win the rushing title. If we look at the defensive side of the ball the Dallas Cowboys could have solidified their linebacking corps with the selection of Leighton Vander Esch as he will likely be a Week One starter.
LVE (WLB), Sean Lee (MLB), and Jaylon Smith (SAM) will make for an elite unit if all are healthy at once. The youth movement began at the cornerback position and this season should be the year we begin to see the fruits of their labor as they should make more plays than they did in 2017.
Let’s hope a rash of injuries do not plague this young unit like it did a season ago. Byron Jones moving back to corner seems to be the right move and he should still shadow opposing tight ends in certain packages.
The addition of Kris Richard as the Dallas Cowboys defensive backs coach was a huge get as he is the same coach who put together the Legion of Boom. Richard already has some big designs on what the teams game plan should be for their defensive backs and it has everyone pretty excited.
The Cowboys defensive line looks stronger than ever before even with the David Irving suspension. Taco Charlton will likely be more of a factor this season and the addition of Jihad Ward and Kony Ealy were smart moves by the Cowboys front office.
With Randy Gregory slated for reinstatement who knows what exactly he could bring to the table this season as well. Charles Tapper is still an unknown who has yet to prove he can stay healthy for this team and another unknown (rookie) Dorance Armstrong could easily take his place if Tapper were to be injured again.
So where does all of this leave Dallas? Well, the Philadelphia Eagles have only seemed to have gotten better, however, any changes in their Super Bowl formula could have some unintended consequences.
Let’s also not forget the Eagles were 13-3 while the Cowboys were 9-7, that is not that huge of a disparity. Another six games with Elliott could have easily pushed the Eagles out of the playoffs altogether.
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is coming off of an ACL tear which is not the easiest injury to predict. Teams will have also had a year to figure out what exactly the Eagles offense did well and that should play a factor as well.
If we look beyond Philadelphia, we see the New York Giants, who actually had a pretty fantastic draft. Landing Saquon Barkley was a huge get for an offense that lacked a true focal point.
Barkley should be that guy but that brings us to our next point, they finally addressed the offensive line. The selection of Will Hernandez improves the Giants O line right away. He is a fantastic run blocker who should easily fight to make holes for Barkley. The team did overpay for Nate Solder but not everyone can be perfect.
The Giants offensive line is expected to be better but who knows how the offense as a whole will perform. Finally, if we look at the Washington Redskins they have made just about as many changes as the Dallas Cowboys have in recent months.
A brand new quarterback in Alex Smith, a new running back in Derrius Guice, and some new receivers should have this offense flowing a lot differently than it has been in the past. Will they be better?
Well, there are too many question marks to know that right now, however, they do seem like they are headed in a new direction. Both the Giants and Redskins have the biggest hills to climb as they struggled massively last season and a few new additions should not suddenly make them elite.
In reality, it should still be a race between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles to win the division and potentially much, much more.