Tag Archives: Dallas Cowboys

2017 NFC East Draft Grades

facebooktwittergoogle_plus

Dallas Cowboys

First-Round Pick: Taco Charlton-Defensive End-Michigan

Best Pick: Taco Charlton

Grade: B

The 2016 National Football League season saw the Dallas Cowboys go 13-3 en route to winning the NFC East Championship. However the Cowboys have still been unable to advance past the second round of the playoffs since winning the Super Bowl at the conclusion of the 1995 season. Last year showed that the Cowboys have the offensive firepower to win the Super Bowl, but their defense lags behind.

Taco Charlton

Focusing of fixing their defense was the plan of attack for the Cowboys heading into the 2017 National Football League Draft and they made sure to stick to their guns. The first round saw the Cowboys select Michigan Wolverines defensive end Taco Charlton. In four years at Michigan, Charlton continued to improve as an edge rusher, and although that he might not be the next DeMarcus Ware, he is definitely a breath of fresh air for a Dallas team that needs to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

The Cowboys were 26th in the National Football League in pass defense last season, and after drafting Charlton, four of their next five picks in the draft would see them focus on the secondary which was highlighted by them selecting Colorado Buffaloes cornerback Chidobe Awuzie in the second round.

This draft class might not produce immediate impact players for the Cowboys, but it is definitely a step in the right direction for them on the defensive side of the football.

New York Giants

First-Round Pick: Evan Engram-Tight End-Ole Miss

Best Pick: Evan Engram

Grade: C

In spite of the fact that the New York Giants were a playoff team last year, they still entered the 2017 National Football League Draft needing to address several holes on both sides of the ball. The Giants have spent this off-season attempting to give quarterback Eli Manning bigger targets to get the football to in the red zone. And in the first round of the draft, New York selected Ole Miss Rebels tight end Evan Engram.

At 6’3″, 234 lbs., Engram could be viewed as a big wide receiver or a small tight end. But what Engram gives the Giants is a presence. The past few years have seen the Giants rely on smaller wide receivers such as Odell Beckham Jr. But as good as Beckham is, he is not going to win that many jump ball situations in the red zone which is where Engram comes into play. With defenses focused on Beckham, Engram can work the seams, while also keeping linebackers honest as he should help to improve Manning’s efficiency.

After losing defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins in free agency to the Indianapolis Colts, I expected New York to find his replacement early on in the draft. The Giants used a second-round choice on Alabama Crimson Tide defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson who could be another project on New York’s defensive line. Tomlinson was surrounded by nothing but talent at Alabama, and he is now joining one of the top defenses in the National Football League.

Davis Webb

There is a possibility that the Giants may have found Manning’s heir apparent in the third round of the draft when they selected California Golden Bears quarterback Davis Webb. Webb played in two prolific offenses during his collegiate days which saw him start off with the Texas Tech Red Raiders before he transferred to Berkley. Now Webb must convert from the air-raid offense to a more conventional pro-style, and who better for him to learn from than a two-time Super Bowl MVP.

The main problem for the Giants is that they had too many holes, without having multiple picks in the early rounds to fill all of those needs. The Giants still have issues on the offensive line and at linebacker as it is going to be paramount for them to develop players such as their sixth-round in guard Adam Bisnowaty in order to keep up with the top teams in the NFC.

Washington Redskins

First-Round Pick: Jonathan Allen-Defensive Tackle-Alabama

Best Pick: Round Four-Samaje Perine-Running Back-Oklahoma

Grade: C+

The Washington Redskins entered the 2017 National Football League Draft with some glaring needs on the offensive side of the ball and they did not address those issues. This off-season has seen the Redskins allow their top two wide receivers from last season in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon to each leave in free agency. This didn’t make quarterback Kirk Cousins a happy camper as he already wasn’t thrilled about the fact that Washington slapped the franchise tag on him for the second consecutive year.

Jonathan Allen

There was a run on wide receivers early in the draft which saw all of the pass catchers who had first round grades attached to them come off of the board by the time that the Redskins would make their selection. Instead of trading up get a wide receiver, the ‘Skins selected Alabama Crimson Tide defensive end Jonathan Allen.

The Redskins did have issues on defense last year as well as they were 28th in the National Football League in total defense and the drafting of Allen gives them a versatile body on their defensive line. Washington was able to keep the defensive theme going in the second round when they selected Allen’s Alabama teammate in outside linebacker Ryan Anderson which was followed by taking UCLA Bruins cornerback Fabian Moreau in the third round.

Washington would find themselves a road grader in the fourth round when they selected Oklahoma Sooners running back Semaje Perine. At 5’11”, 233 lbs., Perine is very difficult to tackle due to his thick lower body as he has tree trunks for legs. Perine’s 4,122 rushing yards at Oklahoma are the most in the history of the program which says a ton with the likes of Billy Sims and Adrian Peterson having played there. And now Perine could become very valuable in the Washington’s backfield.

The Redskins didn’t select a wide receiver until the sixth round when they picked Georgia State Panthers wide receiver Robert Davis who will probably be a special teams player initially. And this inability for the Redskins to address their issues at the wide receiver position could hinder their chances of making the postseason here in 2017.

Philadelphia Eagles

First-Round Pick: Derek Barnett-Defensive End-Florida State

Best Pick: Derek Barnett

Grade: B

The Philadelphia Eagles finished in last place of the NFC East in 2016, but this is a team that isn’t too far off from being a playoff contender. The Eagles went 7-9 which included posting victories over the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys who were each playoff teams. The Eagles have already had a strong off-season as they signed wide Alshon Jeffery, along with defensive end Chris Long who helped the New England Patriots will the Super Bowl last year. And a strong showing by Philadelphia at the National Football League Draft could be the icing on the cake for what has been a productive off-season for them.

Derek Barnett

The Eagles needed to continue to process of beefing up their pass rush which they did in the first round of the draft by selecting Tennessee Volunteers defensive end Derek Barnett. In three years at Tennessee, Barnett amassed 33 sacks and in the process he broke the school record of former Eagles defensive end Reggie White. Barnett can be as good as advertised and playing alongside the likes of Long and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox in Philadelphia could make him a logical candidate to be National Football League’s Defensive Rookie of the Year.

The Eagles would then turn their focus to the secondary as their next two selections would be used on Washington Huskies cornerback Sindey Jones and West Virginia Mountaineers cornerback Rasul Douglas. In the fourth round Philadelphia would select San Diego State Aztecs running back Donnel Pumphrey who enters the National Football League as the Football Bowl Subdivision’s all-time leading rusher with 6,290 yards. Pumphrey is in the mold of current Eagles running back Darren Sproles as he is a short and shifty back coming out of the backfield who can be dangerous in space.

The rich get richer and this draft class could springboard the Eagles to their first postseason appearance since 2013.

facebooktwittergoogle_plus

There’s No “D” In Big D

facebooktwittergoogle_plus

The 2016 National Football League season saw the Dallas Cowboys re-emerge as a power. The Cowboys went 13-3 which tied their franchise best mark which was set in 1993 and 2007. And just like 2007 when the Cowboys had home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, they were one and done in the postseason. But even in defeat the Cowboys can hold their heads high as they were put in this position by a pair of promising rookies.

Ezekiel Elliot, Dak Prescott

Running back Ezekiel Elliot was the fourth overall pick of the 2016 National Football League Draft and he delivered in a big way this season for the Cowboys as he had 1,631 rushing yards which led the league while also having 15 rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Dak Prescott didn’t come to the NFL with lofty expectations as he was a fourth round pick out of Mississippi State University. But when starting quarterback Tony Romo suffered an injury in the preseason, it opened the door for Prescott to become the Cowboys starting signal caller. Prescott was merely expected to keep the seat warm until Romo got healthy, however the wins kept piling up for the Cowboys with him under center and thus head coach Jason Garrett decided to stick with him.

And when the Cowboys faced the Green Bay Packers this past Sunday in the NFC Divisional Playoffs, before you blinked they were down 21-3 at home. However it was the combination of Prescott and Elliot who got the Cowboys back into the contest. With just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys managed to tie the score at 28. Even when Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was able to put Green Bay in position to kick to go-ahead field goal to make it 31-28 with 93 seconds remaining, Prescott drove the Cowboys down the field to give kicker Dan Bailey the opportunity to once again tie the contest. But with just 35 seconds left, Rodgers found a way to get his team into field goal position which was highlighted by finding tight end Jared Cook and a 36-yard completion on third-and-20 which set up kicker Mason Crosby to make a 51-yard field goal as time expired to win the game for the Packers, and dash the Super Bowl dreams of the Cowboys.

And now as the Cowboys are left to lick their wounds after their heartbreaking loss, it is up to team owner/president/general manager Jerry Jones to address his defense.

The Cowboys were 14th in the National Football League in total defense this season and plus-five in the turnover category which was tied for ninth in the league. Dallas also managed to tally 36 sacks which were 13th in the NFL, but as they had game changers on offense, they were missing that element on defense.

The Cowboys lacked an edge rusher that could consistently put stress on an opposing offensive line, a menacing linebacker, or a game changer in their secondary. And even though that the Cowboys entered the playoffs with the best record in the NFC, it wasn’t a slam dunk that they were going to make the Super Bowl due to their inefficiencies on the defensive side of the football. The Cowboys were able to score points to keep up with the Packers as their rally was sparked by an interception by safety Jeff Heath in the second half. But when Dallas needed their defense late in the fourth quarter to prevent the Packers to get into scoring range, they were missing in action.

As good as Rodgers is, under no circumstances should he be allowed to make a 36-yard completion on a third-and-20 situation as he had enough in the pocket time to make dinner reservations if he needed to. And this is something that the Cowboys must address in the off-season if they want to become a realistic Super Bowl contender.

Randy Gregory

Jones attempted to remedy this by using a second round pick on defensive end Randy Gregory in 2015, but he has more suspensions (three) by the National Football League for failed drug test than he does sacks (1) as he cannot help the team win games while he is rehab. Last spring the Cowboys selected linebacker Jaylon Smith in the second round of the NFL Draft, but a knee injury that he suffered in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl while playing for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish forced him to miss this NFL season. The Cowboys also attempted to acquire defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson from the New York Jets this season. But the two sides could not agree on the compensation as the Jets wanted a first-round selection for Richardson, while the Cowboys were only willing to part with a third.

Improving the defense must be the Cowboys top priority in the off-season as it isn’t a guarantee that Elliot and Prescott can have these kind of seasons in 2017 due to the fact that teams in the National Football League will now have a year’s worth of game film on them. You can’t also overlook that all three of the Cowboys losses came within the NFC East this season as this division is on the verge of once again being one of the best in the league. The microscope will be concentrated on Prescott as I don’t see any scenario in which the Cowboys will keep Romo next season as they’ll definitely look for a trade partner being that so many teams around the league are desperate to have a quality starting quarterback which means that it is Dak’s time.

Jerry Jones

Jones has once again created a buzz around his franchise as he has constructed the Cowboys in the same fashion which led to three Super Bowl Championships over a four-year span in the 1990s. But Jones doesn’t have those impact players on defense in the mode of Charles Haley, Deion Sanders, and Darren Woodson that could take over a game. And until Jones addresses this issue, his beloved Cowboys won’t get any closer to winning the Super Bowl than they did this season.

facebooktwittergoogle_plus

2016 NFL Coach Of The Year Candidates

facebooktwittergoogle_plus

Bill Belichick-New England Patriots

Bill Belichick

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is a three-time National Football League Coach of the Year and he is in the running to once again win the award here in 2016. The deck was stacked against the Patriots to begin this NFL season as the result of quarterback Tom Brady being suspended by the league for the first four games.

But in typical Patriots fashion, they responded to adversity as only they could by going 3-1 without Brady. New England hasn’t had the services of tight end Rob Gronkowski that much as he has only appeared eight games this season, while he was placed on injured reserved last month. The Patriots also traded outside linebacker Jamie Collins last month and they haven’t skipped a beat.

With just one game remaining in the regular season, the Patriots are 13-2, and a victory this Sunday over the Miami Dolphins, or a loss by the Oakland Raiders will give New England home-field advantage in the AFC Playoffs.

Each of the last five National Football League seasons have seen the Patriots at least reach the AFC Championship Game, and as they’ve already secured a first-round bye, there is a good possibility to see them advance into late January.

In all but two of Belichick’s 17 seasons as the head coach of the Patriots, his team has won at least 10 games in the regular season. And as the Patriots could finish tied with the Dallas Cowboys for the best record in the National Football League, it is a tribute to the culture that Belichick has established in Foxborough.

Adam Gase-Miami Dolphins

Adam Gase

For Adam Gase he has walked into a very difficult situation and made the impossible, possible. Prior to this year the Dolphins have only made the playoffs once since 2002, while they hadn’t had a winning season since 2008. But in one year under Gase, the Dolphins are heading to the postseason and in a very improbable fashion.

The Dolphins began the 2016 National Football League season with a record of 1-4 and it appeared to be another lost year in South Florida. But since then the Dolphins are 9-1 as Gase has changed the culture there along with the team’s overall philosophy.

When Gase became the head coach of the Dolphins, he decided to stick with Ryan Tannehill as his starting quarterback. Tannehill was the Dolphins first-round pick in 2012, but he has been up and down during his time with the team. Gase decided to reduce Tannehill’s work load as the Dolphins have rediscovered the running game.

Second year running back Jay Ajayi has become a force for the Dolphins as his 1,213 rushing yards in 2016 are the fourth most in a single-season by a Miami running back. Ajayi’s emergence coincided with the Dolphins resurgence as his 204 rushing yards in Miami’s 30-15 victory in Week 6 over the Pittsburgh Steelers got the ball rolling.

Ajayi has been able to produce behind a Dolphins offensive line that is without the services of a center Mike Pouncey who is a three-time Pro Bowler, but it has been the overall attitude of this unit as well as the commitment to the running game that has turned things around in South Florida.

Overall the Dolphins are ninth in the National Football League in rushing and that will be important in the postseason as they will be without the services of Tannehill who is out with a knee injury. But the Dolphins haven’t skipped a beat with backup quarterback Matt Moore who is 2-0 as a starter.

The Dolphins also possess a ferocious defensive line that features Ndamukong Suh and defensive end Cameron Wake who tend to have a weekly meeting a the quarterback.

And once you factor in Miami’s ability to run the football along with a stout defensive line, they should be a force next month in the playoffs.

Jack Del Rio-Oakland Raiders

A franchise turnaround begins with a culture change and this is very evident with the Oakland Raiders. Once upon a time that Raiders were the gold standard of success in the National Football League as they were revered. But since 2003, the Raiders became the laughing stock of the NFL as they have had the worst winning percentage in the league over that stretch without a playoff appearance, or a winning campaign. But things have changed on the watch of head coach Jack Del Rio.

Jack Del Rio

Del Rio in his second season as the head coach of the Raiders, and under him the team has returned to glory. The Raiders record of 12-3 this season is the second best in the AFC, while it is their best mark since they went 12-4 in 2000.

Del Rio has changed the culture in Oakland which wasn’t an easy task and in the process he has woken a sleeping giant in the National Football League. But Del Rio’s biggest task is still ahead of him as the Raiders will enter the postseason without the services of Pro Bowl quarterback Derek Carr.

Carr suffered a fractured fibula this past Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts which really put a damper on the Raiders postseason chances. Carr was in the running to be the National Football League’s MVP and now the Raiders will go into the postseason relying on backup quarterback Matt McGloin to get the job done. And if Del Rio and the Raiders find a way to advance in the postseason with McGloin under center, it will arguably be one of the best coaching jobs ever done in the history of the league.

Jason Garrett-Dallas Cowboys

Jason Garrett

After the Dallas Cowboys went 4-12 in 2015, they were expected to be an improved team here in 2016, but nobody expected what they have become. Through 15 games in 2016, the Cowboys are 13-2 which is tied with the New England Patriots for the best mark in the National Football League and they’ve already sewn up home-field advantage in the NFC.

But things looked bleak for the Cowboys in August when starting quarterback Tony Romo was sidelined with a back injury. And that meant that the Cowboys would go with an unproven rookie at quarterback in Dak Prescott.

Prescott has more than overachieved this season as he is completing 68.1% of his passes, while he has thrown 23 touchdown passes to just 4 interceptions. And typically a season like this would see Prescott as a shoo-in to be the National Football League’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, but he has some very stiff competition from his teammate in running back Ezekiel Elliot.

Whereas much wasn’t expected from Prescott who was selected in the fourth round of the National Football League Draft by the Cowboys, the same cannot be said for Elliot. Elliot was the fourth overall selection of the draft as he was expected to ignite the running game for the Cowboys which is what he has done. Elliot is leading the NFL in rushing with 1,631 yards, and he has brought excitement back to that position in Dallas which has not been seen in Dallas since the days of Emmitt Smith.

Prescott and Elliot have benefited from playing behind one of the best offensive lines in the National Football League, while Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has kept the game plan simple, but effective for his rookie quarterback.

And if Dallas continues on the pace that they are currently on, they could be in line for their first Super Bowl Championship since 1995.

Ben McAdoo-New York Giants

Ben McAdoo spent the last two years as the offensive coordinator of the New York Giants and he found himself being promoted to being the team’s head coach last January. McAdoo’s task was to get things turned around for a Giants franchise that had not reached the postseason since winning the Super Bowl in 2011.

Ben McAdoo

Under McAdoo, the Giants began the season 2-0 for the first time since 2009 and their 10-5 mark has seen them qualify for the postseason. McAdoo’s Giants are the only team to defeat the Dallas Cowboys this season as they’ve done it twice. But it has been the Giants defense that has kept them going this season as they are 11th in the NFL in total defense, but third in points allowed at 18.3 ┬áper contest. McAdoo’s specialty is supposed to be offensive football, but New York has been stuck in the mud as they are 24th in the National Football League. However being that the Giants have improved after going just 6-10 in each of the last two seasons has to put McAdoo in the mix as far as being the NFL’s Coach of the Year.

 

facebooktwittergoogle_plus

2016 Week 14 NFL Picks

facebooktwittergoogle_plus

Quarterback Dak Prescott has the Dallas Cowboys on the verge of an NFC East Title?

facebooktwittergoogle_plus