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Taking A Preseason Look At The Cowboys NFC East Rivals

With this being dress rehearsal week, the time has come for us to once again look around the NFC East to see how the 'Boys measure up to the three squads that they will have to out perform to make it in to the playoffs.

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You know you've missed Eli-face
You know you've missed Eli-face
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

New York, Washington, and Philadelphia have all captured the NFC East crown since the Dallas Cowboys last made the NFL post season, but each time that championship has come down to a season ending showdown with the Cowboys. For fans of the silver and blue, this has been a frustrating series of missed opportunities. The time has come for Dallas to return to the post season festivities, but for that to happen the Cowboys need to beat out their NFC East rivals.Let's take an early look at how the other three teams are doing half way through the preseason.

New York Giants.

  • The Giants brought in Ben McAdoo, formerly the Green Bay Packer's quarterbacks coach, to serve as the new offensive coordinator So far, the results have been less than impressive. Quarterback Eli Manning has gone 7 for 16 passing in limited action through three games, while dancing diva Victor Cruz has yet to haul in a single reception.
  • Rookie wide receiver and first round draft pick Odell Beckham, Jr. has been hampered by an injury which is more than familiar to Cowboys fans. Beckham suffered a hamstring issue during the first workout of training camp. The Giants had hoped to use the rookie on the outside, which would allow Victor Cruz to move into the slot where he is most dangerous, but so far the injury to Beckham has not allowed this to happen.
  • Offensive line issues were a problem for the Giants in 2013, and there appears to be no resolution thus far in 2014. Head coach Tom Coughlin has picked up where he left off last season. He is still juggling lineman in and out looking for any combination that might work. Nothing is set in stone, The coach addressed this issue recently with the New York media.

"They're all playing pretty much everywhere. You always attempt to be creative and flexible."

Washington Redskins

  • The Washington offense under the new regime of Jay Gruden has struggled to come together. Robert Griffin, III has faced challenges in becoming the pocket passer Gruden expects him to be. Statistically, Griffin played a decent game in his recent outing against the Cleveland Browns, but numbers can whitewash the truth. The quarterback was not poised in the pocket, he was holding the ball too long, and Griffin's decision making process was lacking. He and the Washington offense face many obstacles in adapting to the new scheme in town.
  • Defense was an area of concern last year for Washington, but somehow in the middle of the coaching shake-up, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett managed to keep his job. The continuity seems to be paying off as the Skins D is playing better this summer. Pass rushing threats Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo are in rhythm early on and their colleagues are stepping up as well. It must be remembered; however, that Washington's defense have faced the Tom Brady-less New England Patriots and a lousy Cleveland Browns offense that featured a pair of struggling quarterbacks.
  • Running back Alfred Morris remains the key cog in the Redskin offense despite the change to the overall offensive philosophy. While the aerial game remains a work in progress, the ground game remains a viable threat for Jay Gruden's club and he has indicated that  he will ride Morris as far as the young back will take him in 2014.

"For a while, we didn't have the pieces in place to run it [like this]. Now everything is here and we're established, and that's something we've taken a lot of pride in. "As we get in the season the [passing game] will become a bigger part. We have outstanding playmakers. But it will be nice if this carries us forward." - Wahington TE Logan Paulson

Philadelphia Eagles

  • As you would expect, the Philly offense continues to be centered around LeSean McCoy. With the departure of DeSean Jackson to Washington, expect the Eagles offense to rely even more on Shady. His teammates have already started to compare him to another legendary RB, Barry Sanders, thanks to his ability to carry the bulk of the offensive load.
  • Since I brought up the Eagles receivers, this would be a good time to point out that Nick Foles two biggest returning targets, Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin have been facing some injury concerns. Cooper has been dealing with a foot injury and Macklin too has hamstring issues. Both of these are something that could seriously impact the team later in the season if they continue to flair up. On the other hand, Jordan Matthews, the rookie brought in to replace DJax, is rapidly proving himself to be a threat in Foles' arsenal; he may be the best news out of camp for Chip Kelly this season.
  • As it was last season, Bill Davis' defense appears to be a work in progress.

The pessimist would point out that the Eagles' two glaring weaknesses on defense last year don’t seem to have been corrected. Last season, Philadelphia struggled to get off the field on third down and did not have an effective pass rush. - ESPN Eagles beat writer Ashley Fox

As I stated last month when I took an in-depth look at off-season moves that were made around the division, Philadelphia did little to address their real needs, not that I am going to complain.

There you have it, folks; a quick run down of what is going on around the NFC East as we get ready for the dress rehearsal weekend of the preseason. After this weekend's games we should not see the starters again until the football season kicks off in September. If you get a chance, take a look around the division this weekend and see what the enemy looks like. After all, our Cowboys are going to face each of these squads twice during the regular season.

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