It's all the rage! Let's metricize!
The prevailing sentiment around the NFL landscape is that the Cowboys have fallen into the abyss of the downtrodden NFC East. Although Dallas has managed to finish with a .500 record three seasons in a row, there are many people that think the loss of DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher will undoubtedly place Dallas within reach of a Top 3-5 draft pick in the 2015 draft. I wholeheartedly don't agree. I think that Dallas has a core group of talented players and as is the case any year, they can compete for a division crown.
Now, this isn't saying that I think the 2014 Cowboys will be world-beaters. Let me remind you that I sketched out an entire roadmap for Dallas to blow up the entire roster and also penned a piece stating that I thought it was time for Jason Garrett to be shown the door.
Blow Up The Roster And Start From The Bottom
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your guide as to how the Dallas Cowboys could Blow It All Up during the offseason.
I do however believe that centralized injuries (defensive line) and multiple-season discomfort (Romo's back) played a big role in Dallas being average and that lends hope that an above average 2014 season is possible.
The easiest path to the playoffs is always going to be a division championship. So it's only right to consider how Dallas matches up against the teams they face twice each season. For this exercise, I'm going to employ one of my favorite methods of handcuffing: Confidence Ratings.
Confidence Ratings is something I borrowed from Mike and Mike a few years back. They used it to determine the playoff teams with the best shot at winning it all. Basically, you award points to a team based on how confident you are in them for individual position groups or facet of the team.
If you are most confident in Dallas' quarterback situation compared to the rest of the NFCE, Dallas would get a '1'. The next team would get a '2', next team a '3' and the team you are least confident would get a '4'. You do that across all of the position groups and then tally up the scores. The team with the lowest score wins three internets.
Granted, you can't simply determine the worth of a team based on a sum of it's parts. However, this can still serve as a starting point in determining where Dallas stands in respect to its rivals. So let's get to it, in our Pre-Draft Confidence Ratings comparison.
One thing I noticed when developing these charts with the help of Ourlads.com (good base, but some tweaking was necessary), you can readily see the team units that are in desperate need of upgrading. Here's a look at each group for each team.
|NFC East ||OFFENSE|
|Dallas||Romo, Orton, Weeden||Murray, Dunbar, Randle, Clutts||Bryant, Williams, Harris, Beasley||Witten, Escobar, Hanna||Smith, Leary, Frederick, Bernadeau, Free|
|New York||Manning, Painter, Nassib||Jennings, Scott, Hillis, Hynoski, Conner||Cruz, Randle, Manningham, Jernigan, Talley||Robinson, Donnell||Beatty, Brewer, Cordle, Snee, Pugh, Jerry, Schwartz|
|Philadelphia||Foles, Sanchez, Barkley||McCoy, Sproles, Brown, Polk||Maclin, Cooper, Maehl, Johnson, Benn||Ertz, Celek, Casey||Peters, Mathis, Kelce, Herremans, Johnson|
|Washington||Griffin, Cousins||Morris, Helu, Royster, Young||Garcon, Jackson, Roberts, Moss, Robinson||Reed, Paul, Paulsen||Williams, Lauvao, Stevens, Chester, Polumbus|
Quarterback: We start off with the key position and a difficult choice. Eli Manning will probably go down as one of the most overrated players ever. Nick Foles had a crazy first-year as starter, but the holes in his game are obvious and exploited twice by Dallas. Griffin has all the physical tools as long as the field is cut in half. Romo would have to be the best of the bunch, and he has faltered greatly in his own right. All in all, this is an average position in the division. Order: Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington, New York
Running Back: Shady McCoy is a Top 3 player in the league. It will be interesting to see what Morris does now that the Shanny one-cut is out-of-town. Murray had good numbers in an offense that didn't run, but that might be the line more than him. The Giants just signed a 62-year-old RB to solve their problems. Order: Philadelphia, Washington, Dallas, New York
Wide Receiver: Dez Bryant is clearly the top receiver in the division, followed by Garcon, Cruz, Jackson, then Maclin. As a group? The nod has to go to Washington's new duo plus sneaky good Andre Roberts. Order: Washington, Dallas, Philadelphia, New York
Tight End: And still... champion of the woooooorllllldddd... If Jordan Reed can fix his concussion issues, he will take the mantle as top current TE in the division. Order: Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington, New York.
O-Line: Philadelphia's line is the best in the division, followed by Dallas who is one player away from the title. The other two have also-ran lines. Ran into the wall, also ran over by defenders. Order: Philadelphia, Dallas, Washington, New York.
|NFC East ||DEFENSE|
|Dallas||Selvie, Melton, McClain, Crawford, Mincey, Hayden, Bass, Rayford
||Lee, Carter, Wilber, Holloman, Durant||Carr, Claiborne, Scandrick, Webb, Moore||Church, Wilcox, Heath, Johnson||Bailey, Jones, Harris|
|New York||JPP, Moore, Jenkins, Hankins, Kiwanuka, Patterson, Kuhn, Ayers||Beason, Paysinger, McClain, Herzlich||Rodgers-Cromartie, Amukamara, Webster, Thurmond, Hosley||Brown, Hill, Rolle, Taylor||Brown, Weatherford, Holliday|
|Philadelphia||Thornton, Logan, Cox, Curry, Cole, Barwin, Graham, Hunt
||Kendricks, Ryans, Acho, Matthews
||Williams, Fletcher, Boykins, Carroll||Jenkins, Wolff, Allen||Henery, D. Jones, Dam. Johnson|
|Washington||Hatcher, Bowen, Baker, Cofield, J.Jenkins, Orakpo, Kerrigan, Hayward, B. Jenkins
||Jordan, Riley, Sharpton, Robinson||Hall, Amerson, Biggers, Porter, Minnifield||Meriweather, Clark, Thomas, Rambo||Forbath, Malone, Moss/Paul|
Front: Yes, 3-4 OLBs have some coverage responsibilities, but for all intents and purposes, it's either a 5 or 4 man front. Philly stops the run, minimal pressure. I didn't think I'd say it, but with the addition of Hatcher I think Washington has the best front in the division now. Order: Washington, Philadelphia, New York, Dallas
Middle: Formerly known as the linebackers, we're talking 4-3 groups plus the middle guys from 3-4s. What an ugly group. You basically have Sean Lee, Jon Beason and a bunch of ughs. Honestly, no one should get points here. Order: Dallas, New York, Washington, Philadelphia
Cornerback: I think the addition of DRC (who was grossly overpaid for someone who openly considered retiring) puts the Giants corners at the top of the list. The rest of the field is filled with disappointments, as the picture of defenses in the NFCE becomes strikingly clear. Literally, run into an NFCE defense and be in the clear! Order: New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Washington
Safety: Can we rename this position? Nothing is safe here. Again, I think New York has the best of the division in their young guys plus Antrelle Rolle as the backup. Philly has some dogs back there, woof. Clark is a good, smart guy for Washington to add, he just has no wheels. Dallas has depth, it's just that all the corners that play should be manning the box safety role and they desperately need a centerfielder. Order: New York, Washington, Dallas, Philadelphia
Special Teams: Dallas wins this race hands down. One of the league's best kickers in Bailey, one of the league's most dangerous return men in Harris. Hi Redskins. Chris Jones was actually the better of the average punters in the division. Outside of Dallas, the ST in this division are all blah, with Washington's unit mind-numbingly bad. Order: Dallas, New York, Philadelphia, Washington
Coaching: There shouldn't be much debate here. Tom Coughlin has won two Super Bowls. Chip Kelly turned around a franchise in one year. Jason Garrett has been .500 for each full season and Jay Gruden has never been head coach in the NFL. Order: New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Washington
|NFC East ||OFFENSE||DEFENSE||OTHER||RANK|
Dallas at the top of the division? You must be insane! Well, no, not really. First things first, the NFC East isn't a good division; so being labeled as the "best" in the division isn't saying much in the grand scheme of things. After all is said and done, Dallas and Philadelphia ended up with the exact same scores on both offense and defense. The kicker? Dallas' Special Teams has a bigger advantage than Philadelphia's coaching does. But it's such a close race.
Of course, as stated earlier, this doesn't truly crystallize the picture of the division. There are plenty of positions where if you scored a team relative to the leader of the pack, they'd be a lot lower than 4th. But for this exercise, Dallas and Philadelphia have a clear advantage over the other two teams in the division. Each still has holes needing to be fixed and they will work on those in the draft.
Let's regroup after the second weekend of May and see what the scores say then. For now, let us know where your opinion differs from mine. Which groups would you re-order and why? Work it all out in the comments!