The Eagles may have added an elite cornerback in Darius Slay this offseason but they won’t come close to slowing the Dallas Cowboys offense in 2020.
If winners were determined early in the offseason, Philadelphia would have won the NFC East in a landslide. While the Dallas Cowboys watched studs like Byron Jones, Robert Quinn, and Randall Cobb walk out the door, The Eagles signed top-of-the-market players like defensive tackle Javon Hargrave and cornerback Darius Slay to upgrade their already talented NFC East winning roster.
It wasn’t just that the Dallas Cowboys lost more talent than they signed. Or that Philly added more talent than they lost. It’s that the players Philly signed could have really helped Dallas. Two of the biggest weakness on the Cowboys this offseason were cornerback and defensive tackle. And seeing the best players on the market go to Philly instead of Dallas hurt greatly (Slay was available via trade).
But the offseason doesn’t end in the first phase of free agency. There’s an Act 2 that involves that draft that helps determine offseason success as well. And THAT, my friends, is where Dallas separated from the pack.
Philly and Dallas: Same Needs – Same Draft
The Dallas Cowboys had much of the same needs as Philly did when they rolled into the draft. Despite trading for and re-signing Darius Slay, Philly still needed another cornerback or two. Their current stable was abysmal and they needed someone to help them against teams who had multiple receiving options.
Darius Slay ain’t worth a hill ‘a beans if the rest of the secondary can’t handle business in coverage.
While Slay helped solve the Amari Cooper riddle, Michael Gallup was still a force to be reckoned with on the Dallas Cowboys. What did they do? They failed to draft a single defensive back on Day 1 or Day 2 of the NFL Draft. To make matters worse for them, they saw the Dallas Cowboys add yet another elite WR in CeeDee Lamb.
Suddenly Darius Slay means absolutely jack squat.
While elite coverage is arguably the most important part of a good defense (numbers suggest more important than even pass-rush), one elite coverage player ain’t worth a hill ‘a beans if his cohorts can’t handle business as well.
Let’s say the Eagles shadow Amari Cooper with Slay and they’re able to essentially neutralize him (something that’s honestly happened before). Who’s going to stop Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb? Gallup has quietly developed into a top-20 WR in the NFL and Lamb is expected to be that and more in no time.
Philly could bracket one and use safety help, but it’s going to be impossible to double both of them. Now look at Blake Jarwin. Jarwin may be 50% projection and 50% optimism but the guy has shown us what he can do. Have you seen Philly’s starting linebackers heading into the 2020 season?
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At LB, Philly has Nate Gary, T.J. Edwards, Duke Riley penciled in as starters. They’re going to have a tough time with anyone in the NFL, much less a dynamic downfield threat like Jarwin. And if they pull their LBs in favor of nickel and dime packages, Ezekiel Elliott is going to run wild.
For as much as it stinks not getting Darius Slay this offseason (and it really does), it’s no big deal that he went to a division rival like the Eagles. Unless someone (or should I say, sometwo) steps up at CB for them, Slay isn’t going to matter because easy completions are all over the Eagles secondary.
It’s unfortunate the Eagles got Darius Slay and Dallas did not, but Slay’s impact is directly linked to the Eagles ability to cover Dallas’ other weapons and that doesn’t look promising for them.
- Published on 05/01/2020 at 12:30 PM
- Last updated at 05/01/2020 at 12:19 PM