If you look around the NFL at the best team in each division (on paper anyway), there's an argument to be made that they're all better than the best team in the NFC East, whoever that may be. A division by division look:
- NFC North: Packers. Better than any team in the NFC East.
- NFC South: Falcons. Better than any team in the NFC East.
- NFC West: 49ers or Seahawks. Take your pick. Better than any team in the NFC East.
- AFC East: Patriots. Better than any team in the NFC East.
- AFC North: This is the only division where it's debatable, even with the Ravens coming off a Super Bowl victory. But personally, I would take the Ravens over any team in the NFC East, and think the division as a whole is better.
- AFC South: Texans. Better than any team in the NFC East.
- AFC West: Broncos. Better than any team in the NFC East.
In other words, the NFC East does not have a particularly strong team. The Eagles have their share of warts, however, so do the rest of the teams in the NFC East. This division is winnable.
Let's tackle each of the other NFC East teams one-by-one, and point out their 5 biggest warts, starting with the Dallas Cowboys.
1) The Cowboys' offensive line is a mess, as usual. Here's a timeline of Jerry Jones' unwillingness to fix the OL from 2008-2012. The Cowboys did draft center Travis Frederick in the first round this year, although that was an awful use of resources.
2) Like the Eagles, the Cowboys are going through a scheme change on defense that might not be a great fit for their personnel. Most notably, DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer have been working at putting on weight this offseason, but according to their listed weights, the Cowboys have the lightest 4-3 DE duo in the NFL. They also have no legitimate depth at DE, which consists of Kyle Wilber, George Selvie, Jerome Long, Thaddeus Gibson, Jabari Fletcher, and Toby Jackson. That group of players has 50 career tackles, 42 of which belong to Selvie, who is on his 4th team in 4 years.
Meanwhile, Jay Ratliff can't stay healthy at DT, and the Cowboys are very thin on depth behind him and Jason Hatcher.
Undersized and thin on depth? If there is a defensive line that is ill-equipped to stay fresh over 4 quarters against Chip Kelly's hurry-up offense, it's Dallas.
3) That scheme change is being masterminded by Monte Kiffin. Chip Kelly faced Kiffin's defenses at USC 3 times. Here are the yardage and point totals Oregon put up against USC in those games:
4) Can you name the Cowboys' safeties? Here they are. Many Eagles fans aren't thrilled by what the Eagles have at safety, but believe it or not, it could be a lot worse.
5) The Cowboys can't run the ball. Last season, they rushed for just 79.1 yards per game, which was 2nd to last in the NFL. The OL is probably the main culprit for their ineptitude in that department, however, it doesn't help that starter DeMarco Murray is injury prone, and he is backed up by a handful of backs with 212 combined career rushing yards. Durability issues aside, are we even sure DeMarco Murray is good? Murray had a 4 game stretch in 2011 in which he rattled off 601 yards on 75 carries. His other 19 games as a pro are far less impressive:
If you can’t run it, you have to pass. When you pass too much, opposing defenses pin their ears back and attack the QB. When opposing defenses can pin their ears back and attack the QB, the aforementioned weak OL gets exposed. When the weak OL gets exposed, Tony Romo is forced to Houdini his way into wins, while often looking foolish in big moments that probably wouldn't happen so often with more competent OL. That's what I like to refer to as the "Cowboys' offense shame spiral."
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