Each NFC East Team’s Biggest Draft Need

By Leo Silbert

It is getting to the point of the year that fans are trying to figure out who their team needs to draft or what position needs the most help.  Some teams like the Patriots don’t have a glaring need so they are able to pick for desire and are allowed greater risks.  Other teams like the Browns have needs all over the map so they are best suited to just take the best available player.  I’m going to sort this out by division and within the divisions I’ll sort them by 2016 records.

Next up, the NFC East:

  1. ezekiel-elliotDallas Cowboys- The Cowboys put together a season that seemed to have come right outside of a movie script.  The veteran qb goes down with an injury and it is up to a couple of hotshot rookies to keep the team afloat until the star veteran could return.  Except, the veteran never returned and not because of his injury being too severe, the hotshot rookies were on a roll and looked unstoppable.  They seemed to be taking the team over in the same kind of way that Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk took over the Rams in their first years starting on the team, except Zeke and Dak were true rookies.  That was all until the team got to the playoffs and lost to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in their first playoff game.  Now it is time for them to find their flaws and the biggest one is their ability to rush the passer consistently on defense.  They might not be in this position where their biggest need is at this position if Randy Gregory didn’t end up becoming a head case, but it is where they are now.  And this draft, besides just being a deep edge rusher draft is also a draft where a late first round prospect at edge rusher plays for a Lovie Smith in college who runs the same defense as Rod Marinelli with a lot of the same terminology in Dawuane Smoot out of Illinois.  Dallas really is building something special here, and once they get a consistent pass rush, they can potentially advance to the next round of the playoffs.
  2. landon-collinsNew York Giants- Going into the season, most Giants fans expected the Giants to have the most explosive offense in the NFC East and one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL while their defense would be improved from the worst ranked defense in the league but not being anything special.  And that right there is why the games are played.  The Giants’ defense turned into one of the very best units in the NFL with all 3 of their big free agent acquisitions proving their worth, a 2nd year pro at safety going from looking lost in coverage into arguably the best safety in the NFL, and strong showings from multiple rookies.  So yea, for now the Giants’ biggest need isn’t on that side of the ball.  Their offense on the other hand looked like it was a Ferrari parked in a garage and not moving because no one knew where the keys were.  There wasn’t a 100 yard rushing effort by a running back until week 17, Victor Cruz couldn’t get separation on the outside, Eli Manning was missing some throws, the tight ends looked like they had anchors strapped to their feet after the catch, but most importantly was that the Giants had some of, if not the very worst offensive tackle play on both sides of offensive line in the NFL.  Eli Manning threw the ball sooner after the snap than any other quarterback in the league yet he was still constantly under pressure.  Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart are not good enough to be starting tackles in the NFL, and their inability effected how every other person on the offense struggled.  Now, I have said before that this draft is a weak offensive tackle draft, but late in the first round is where a team can actually get value at the position in this year’s draft.  If the Giants can fix their offensive tackle problems, they may be able to find the keys to the Odell Beckham Jr lead Ferrari.
  3. trent-williamsWashington Redskins- Coming off their first playoff appearance since 2012, the Redskins had high expectations for this past season.  On offense, they had some of the most yards in the league behind Kirk Cousins throwing for over 4900 yards and a receiving corps that ran deep with 2 great receiving threats at tight end.  They had a very good offensive line and they had a developing running back in Robert Kelly who can stand to have a change of pace backfield mate.  Their defense on the other hand needs some help.  They were the worst team in the NFL in 3rd down defense, allowing 46.63% of all third downs to become first downs.  By comparison, the Buccaneers who were first in the NFL in that category allowed just 34..36% of third downs to be converted.  That big of a difference is unacceptable and something needs to be done to fix that.  One thing that would help them greatly is an inside linebacker who can go out in coverage and stop the run equally well.  Mason Foster was adequate at that, but he doesn’t have sideline to sideline speed and none of the other linebackers on the roster have that kind of skill since Su’a Cravens will be moved to strong safety which will help that position.  If the Redskins get a speedy linebacker to compliment Foster, they will be a lot closer to having a competitive defense.
  4. NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia EaglesPhiladelphia Eagles- The Eagles came into the year with a rookie qb pegged as the starter after they traded away Sam Bradford with little time before the start of the season.  Carson Wentz started out fast but slowed down as the season went on.  They also switched to a new scheme on defense, switching to a 4-3 wide nine scheme from a 3-4 two gap system and for the front 7 it worked out wonderfully.  Brandon Graham had a career year, Fletcher Cox lived up to his contract, Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham were great at linebacker, and in the secondary Malcolm Jenkins showed how he is a top 5 safety.  But both their offense and defense had an Achilles heel.  For the offense it was their wide receiving corps which was one of the worst in the league with only Jordan Matthews playing at a passable level on offense while on defense their best corner back  was Leodis McKelvin who isn’t good enough to be a top 2 corner on most teams in the NFL.  According to Pro Football Focus they had the lowest ranked receiver in the NFL in Nelson Agholar and the lowest ranked corner in the NFL in Jalen Mills.  Both of these positions are in dire need of help, but their receivers need to improve to help the development of Carson Wentz.  If they get a good wide receiver, they may be able to help Carson Wentz into not having a near 1:1 touchdown to interception ratio in his 2nd year and may make the Eagles’ offense into a more serious threat across the board.

Previous articles in this series:

AFC East- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/each-afc-east-teams-biggest-draft-need/

AFC North- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/each-afc-north-teams-biggest-draft-need/

AFC South- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/each-afc-south-teams-biggest-draft-need/

AFC West- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/each-afc-south-teams-biggest-draft-need-2/

Bye Week Blues

Tay Holloway

The Dallas Cowboys are headed to the playoffs as the number one seed in the NFC and that also comes with a bye week. I am here to tell you that I have my own opinion on bye weeks going into the playoffs. I like them but then again I don’t. I know at this point in the season a lot of teams are suffering from fatigue and injuries and would love a chance to rest and heal my thoughts being hot and cooling off or being young and inexperienced.

The team has rookies at key positions such as running back and quarterback going into the playoffs and they need all the reps and real game situations. Week 17 they rested a lot and Elliott did not play a snap. This is a cause for concern for me because of rust and the chemistry can certainly run off. I guess we must hope that the guys stayed focused and studied the game plans for all the potential three teams they could face in the divisional round.

 

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This team was on a hot streak before the season ended and showed its dominance in week 16 against the Lions. I bring up that week because that’s the last time all the starters played a full game and they looked great except for the penalties that kept shooting ourselves in the foot. We also had a key injury that week and that was to All- Pro left tackle Tyron Smith. He will be rested for almost 3 weeks when the cowboys step on the field again and that should help us keep Dak blindside safe.

In week 17 we got to see a series from the longtime starter Tony Romo and he came out and took the team down the field for a touchdown to Terrance Williams. That outing was great to see and put hope in the hearts of cowboy fans that he can still play and he is not afraid to go out and showcase his talent. Romo has been a good teammate by taking a step back and letting Dak keep the starting job. In his own words, he said that Dak “Earned” the right to be the starter and you can tell on the sidelines with him helping Dak that he was all in to win no matter what. This is a great example of being a team player and not a “Me” Player. I don’t know what the future will hold for Romo but I hope he gets to retire a Cowboy and if he does move on to a different team I will wish him well just not against my Cowboys.

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In 2007, the Cowboys had a bye in the playoffs and we were one and done. That bitter taste still lingers in my mouth and I hope that is not what happens this season. That would make this season a failure due to everything that we accomplished. I want to win more than just a little division title; I want to win a championship because that is the reason why we play the game.

UNTIL NEXT TIME… HOW BOUT THEM COWBOYS!!!!

 

NO PLAYOFFS

Kirk Cousins

This is another embarrassing moment in Redskins history. We have had our chances to make the playoffs thanks to our rival, the Dallas Cowboys beating teams down the stretch that we needed them to beat to keep us in the hint for the playoffs. When it was our turn to continue on beating teams, the only one we could beat was the lousy bears which,is nothing to brag about.

We had the Giants Week 17 and all we had to do was win the game and we were in the post season for the second straight year since the 90s. Well we went out and played like pure trash can juice and we have nobody to blame but ourself. The defense was bad yet again and Kirk Cousins did not live up to all the hype. We were driving down the field late in the 4th and he threw an interception directly into the hands of the Giants. On a lateral pass, Jordan Reed threw a pick six to end the game, which made the lost more embarrassing. Our fans deserve better then this and we deserve to be sitting at home and watching all the other teams in the playoffs.

I am not sure if we should sign Kirk Cousins to a long term deal. I think he is a poor mans Tony Romo and thats being nice. He just doesn’t have that killer instinct when it matters most. He can only kill bad teams and he rolls over a dies for the good teams. We need to fix our defense and draft some good players. I’m starting to believe in all the hype of our GM because we are making the same horrible mistakes and looking like the Skins of old times. We have the 17th pick in the draft and we need to make it count and use our cap space well.

Written by Melvin Jackson III

Ground and Pound

Tay Holloway

This past week the Cowboys played the rival Steelers on the road in a battle that has been waiting to happen again since 2012.

That year the game went down to the wire and dallas won the game at the end and Big Ben could not lead his team to comeback win.

This time the Steelers were looking for revenge on a mildy cold evening infront of a sold out crowd of thousands in the stands and millions on television.

Dallas Cowboys v Pittsburgh Steelers

The game started off hot for the Steelers with the running legs of Bell and the arm of Big Ben. He was slicing the dallas defense with quick passes and he was not afraid to test the corners by throwing the deep ball. They went directly down the field for a score but they did not take the extra point but they went for two, which is the signature of Mike Tomlin. He does not like the new PAT rule so he lives and dies by the two point conversion. They failed and the score was 0-6 until Dallas got the ball and showed exactly why they are a team to be taken seriously.

The Cowboys run game is on point and a scary thing to face. You have to wrap the rookie Elliott up tight and don’t let him get the edge because he has speed and power that will get him yards. He is usually not touched until he is about three or four yards down the field and that is because of the massive offense line that dallas has.

They play as a unit and make it look easy on the field. They did have a lot of holding calls but as I have learned watching football, we can call holding on every play of the game if we wanted.

Prescott looked good this week and was not rattled by his first possession of the game being a fumble and recovered by the defense. He went out there and played his normal cool game and didn’t force passes and took what was open. I still think he needs to feel the pressure more and learn not to take the sack and throw the ball away.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Pittsburgh Steelers

Elliott had a career day with almost 200-yards total and three touchdowns. The last touchdown was the game winning touchdown and he went in untouched on all three of his scores.

The Steelers defense is not the steal curtain defense we have known for them as over the years. This defense is decent at stopping the run but they are poor at stopping the pass.

Dez Bryant was open mostly all night and caught a 50-yard pass for a touchdown. He was playing with a heavy heart during the game because of father passing away the day before due to an illness.

Prescott did not try to force the ball to Dez this game and he once again used the tight end Witten as his security blanket, which was good because he is a reliable option in that offense.

The sore spot was the defense not being able to stop Bell and Big Ben. They had their hands full with Brown and had a lot of flags for holding, face mask, illegal hands to the face and roughing the passer.

All those flags gave a lot of yards to the Steelers, which made a lot of their scoring drives very easy and fast.

At the end of the game the Steelers defense was gassed and they could not stop anything to help their offense.

Big Ben still had them in position to win the game last in the 4th, but once again the defense crapped out and the Steelers lost their 4th straight game. They are in a free fall in the AFC North division standings.

Dallas Cowboys v Pittsburgh Steelers

This week coming up the Cowboys head back home to play the Ravens in a battle of two tops teams in their respected divisions.

The Cowboys have won eight straight games and thats not a easy thing to do in the Professional ranks. That is something special for a team that didn’t have high expectations coming into the season and a lot of people wrote them off as to having another 4-12 season.

The worst they can be this year is 8-8 but right now they have the best record in football and taking it one game at a time.

The confidence is high on this team and they have zero distractions this season which makes it even more special.

UNTIL NEXT TIME………… HOW BOUT THEM COWBOYS!!!

SUPERBOWL OR BUST

By: Melvin Jackson III

The Redskins are coming out of a bye week with a new focus and new life for the last half of the season.  They have a new starting running back with Rob Kelly and that is going to take this team to the next level.

This week the Redskins played the slumping Vikings who started to season red hot and beating up on everyone they played. They have recently been stopped in their tracks. The defense still plays well but the offense is horrible and it’s all Sam Bradford and the offense line fault.

The Vikings woes played to the strength of the skins because we started to run the ball very well and got a few stops against them. The Vikings did score 20 straight points on the skins to take the lead and the skins started to look like the same sorry redskins of the past. They overcame that and went on to win the game with an excellent game from Kirk Cousins who is right now the leader of winning the MVP of the league. Jamieson Crowder is playing like he is emerging as a number one wide receiver and the best wide receiver in the NFC east.

The skins have an easy game coming up next week against the packers. The packers are a mess and just got smacked by the Titians who are not that good of a team. I expect us to blow the packers out by three touchdowns and then get ready for a rematch with the most hated Cowboys.

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Cowboys Keep Rolling….

Tay Holloway

Last week the Cowboys enjoyed a bye week to rest up and heal up. They got a chance to go over places of weakness on the team and address different coaching strategies. The players got a chance to relax and spend time with family away from their busy NFL schedule. That is a good thing but this week it is time to get back into the game and get locked into grind mode. It is time to focus on the back end of the schedule and battle it out until the end.

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This week the Cowboys played the division rival Eagles at home. This game had first place on the line and the Eagles was coming to town with a three game winning streak at the Jerry’s World. The Cowboys are hot right now and they are winning with their two rookies leading the way. Dez Bryant was making his way back and trying to get himself back into the mix of the offense. This game was pretty much everything that everyone was hoping for and more.

The game started off pretty much as a flag city. Jerome Boger is known for throwing as many flags as possible and Dallas had a lot of them. I won’t make excuses for them because the flags they were given was pretty much deserved. You can’t tackle the player after they waived for a fair catch, you can’t run into the punter, you can’t push a person in the back, you can’t hold right in front of the Refs eyes and you seriously can’t put your hands in the face of the receiver after five yards. Those are things that Happened on special teams and the defense that kept on giving the Eagles changes to score more points. They have to clean this up because they can’t keep giving up yards and not getting off the field with this.

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The offense was pretty much stale most of the night. The offensive line had their handfuls with a very good Eagles defensive line. This game was a battle in the trenches for football heads who like to see smash mouth football. The Eagles was bringing five defenders at Prescott Almost every time and it seemed like it was more. He was only sacked one time all game but they hurried him a lot and caused him not to go through his reads well. This caused over thrown balls, under thrown balls and of course an interception. Prescott looked like a rookie and he was struggling but one thing I liked that he did not do was hang his head or show his frustration. He came right back into the game with a cool demeanor and was ready for the next play. He did now dwell on his mistakes but he wanted to make sure he did not make the same ones twice. The interception he threw was on him because nobody was open except for an Eagles defender. The Eagles defense what it was sapped to do on that play so he has to eat that one.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

Dez Braynt was back and the Eagles did not play off him at all. They wanted Dez to show them that he was still that dominate receiver that he was in the past. He had a decent game with over 100 yards reviving and a touchdown. I think he could have had more but Prescott over threw or under threw him a few times. I also think they was forcing the ball to Dez too much instead of taking what the defense gives you and just taking the safe pass. I did like the we were not afraid to try to stretch the field and the play calling was very creative after the half. I do think Dez needs to be moved around more to the inside instead of always playing the outside. He should get more one on one changes and less safety help if he is lined up in the slot. Another highlight I want to point is out Jenkins keeping Beasley in check most of the game. That was a battle to see and Beasley was trying to get free and when he was Prescott just did not have enough time to see him.

The Eagles were up two scores in the second half and allowed the Cowboys to comeback and tie the game. Each team had a chance to win the game in regulation but they failed at it and went to overtime. The Cowboys won the toss and took it down the field for a game winning touchdown by the future hall of famer Jason Witten. The eagles left him of all people wide open for the easy catch to end the game and a great comeback win at home. This moved the Cowboys to 6-1 and a two game lead in the division. It was a tough game and the Eagles player harder than it was expected of them from the start of the season. I tip my hat to them and they are a good team and their defense is even better. I do think they need to stop dropping passes for Wentz who is going to be very good for years to come for them. They made the right choice with him as long as he keeps progressing and learning.

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Next week the Cowboys will play the Browns on the road. The Browns are not a push over as they have been playing well but they can’t finish games. They were up over the Jets this week and gave up a three score lead to lose the game at home. They don’t have a win this season and they are starving for a win. The Cowboys will have their hands full with a hungry team full of young guys. We are up for the challenge at hand. Until next time everyone

 

HOW BOUT THEM COWBOYS!!!!!

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Dallas Cowboys: Fresh Start

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Sports Elite

By Tay Holloway

A fresh start or is it? It is the beginning of the 2016-2017 National Football League season and the Dallas Cowboys get to smell fresh air and forget all about the miserable and disappointing season they had last year. The team had numerous injuries, personal issues and just bad play all over the field.

Let’s take a look back before we start new. Last season the Cowboys were coming off their NFC East leading, twenty second divisional championship and their first playoff game win since 2009.  In 2009 they beat the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles 34-14 in the wild card round.

DeMarco Murray won offensive player of the year in 2014-15 season but he left in free agency to sign a lucrative deal with the division rival Philadelphia Eagles.

The Cowboys then turned around and signed controversial defensive end Greg Hardy to an incentive based contract.  This was an attempt to give the Cowboys a steady pass rush. Things looked well until training camp when Orlando Scandrick suffered a season ending injury.  This started the snowball effect as the season went on.  The injuries and personal issues kept piling on.

This season is new like a brand new baby that is fresh out the womb. Key personnel on the team are healthy and ready to start training camp.  There are a lot of questions and what if’s starting this training camp because personal issues have not ceased. Demarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory and Rolando McClain are all suspended to start the season.  McClain was issued the longest suspension adding up to 10 games.  This is putting the defense in a crumbled state. There were already question marks as to whether they would be bottom dwellers on that side of the ball this season. This made the Cowboys bring back an old friend in Justin Durant, who played for the Atlanta Falcons last season and was released in February.

This is not a great way to start the new season but hey this is the Dallas Cowboys; they always seem to have some type of drama surrounding them at any moment. During the draft the Cowboys had the 4th overall pick and they made a choice a lot of people didn’t think they would make. People had them taking a defensive player and I myself thought the same. When the pick was in, Ezekiel Elliott was the name that was called. People were surprised but the Cowboys didn’t bite on offers from other teams to move up in the draft. They also didn’t trade up or down.  The Cowboys just went on and took the best player available on their draft board. I have no issues with that because that let me know that Stephen Jones and Will McClay are in control.

On July 22, Elliott was named a suspect in a domestic violence case in Ohio but he denies all the claims. There were four witnesses to the incident and they all claim that there was no assault that occurred and Elliott was not arrested. The NFL is still forming an investigation into the matter and this is once again not a good way to start this fresh new season. It is  also a bad look for his rookie season. Despite all of the negatives that surrounded the Cowboys, they still have high hopes to bounce back from the horrible season in which they were chosen to be contenders by a lot of sports writers and channels.

This season, the same buzz is in the air and I’m not buying all that talk. I do think we will be better on the field with our play and execution but I also am realistic and won’t fall into the hype. I learned a long time ago that just because it looks good on paper does not mean that it will look good on the field.

Until next time, let me get a HOW BOUT THEM COWBOYS!

 

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