It must be nice when a down year means you're fifth best in the entire league.
SB Nation's Ryan van Bibber continues to get folks ready for the upcoming season. Earlier this month, he ranked all 32 teams based on the play of the position groups of linebackers, safeties and cornerbacks. Now he's returned with his opinion on two offensive skill positions, running backs and tight ends.
Much has been been made about the fact that Dallas focused on their defense when it came to improving on the 2011 version to prepare for 2012. The offense (save for the offensive line) has been seen as the team's strength. Not many teams can boast of Dallas' collection of weapons on offense.
Jason Witten's production took a slight dip last year with a productive trio of receivers. It was the first time since 2008 his catch rate dipped below 70 percent, and his 79 catches were his fewest since 2006. With Laurent Robinson gone and Dez Bryant's off-field issues, Witten will be especially important, more so than he already is. John Phillips, second on the depth chart to Witten, is a player to keep an eye on as well.
The new wave of pass catching tight ends occupy the top spots in the ranking, with New England taking the top honors, followed by New Orleans and San Francisco. In a normal year, you'd get the argument about how much more of a complete tight end Witten is than the other guys. Witten had a down year blocking however, and the young guns are truly wide receivers playing tight end now days. Still, Witten deserves a top 5 ranking and received it.
Dallas was the highest ranks of the NFC East teams.
Follow the jump for the running backs.
Dallas didn't fare nearly as well in van Bibber's running back rankings. Here, they check in middle-of-the-pack, number 16:
DeMarco Murray did not excite many pundits prior to the 2011 draft, who pointed to his size and injury history. He still has a few critics, despite an impressive debut in which he shattered the team's single-game rushing record. Murray has more than ability to be a top back in the NFL. Felix Jones struggled with health last season, finally having shoulder surgery.
The injuries that affected Murray last year and Felix his entire career make this a tough evaluation to argue. Does Dallas have the talent to be a top running team? Definitely; but they have to prove it on the field for an entire season.
Philly's contingent of LeSean McCoy, Chris Polk and Dion Lewis earned them the eighth spot. The Giants check in at #19 after a down year rushing, and Washington with their timeshare of meh checks in at #25. Houston's combination of Arian Foster and Ben Tate sit atop the ranking.
So what do you think BTB? Any arguments over these rankings?