I'll try to make what I can out of a sloooow news day. Let's start here.
All four of ESPN's NFC East beat writers offer offseason report cards. Here's our own Todd Archer's card, with a focus on his training camp outlook:
A year ago, some people wondered whether the Cowboys would win five games in 2014, and they clearly surpassed that low bar with a 12-4 record and NFC East title. This year, the Cowboys enter the season with much higher expectations. There is a whiff of confidence surrounding this team, but not the whiff of arrogance that surrounded it in 2008 following a 13-3 season. That 2008 team believed it could show up and win, suffered from internal strife and missed the playoffs. These Cowboys have a number of questions they still need to answer (running back, defense), but they know they are not a finished product.
Note to Jason Garrett: you, sir, are no Wade Phillips. And we thank you for it. Every blessed day.
Archer give the Cowboys' offseason a solid "B," BTW.
Archer's Philadelphia counterpart, the excellent Phil Sheridan, engaged in the same exercise. Here, Sheridan shares his top head-scratcher:
Most puzzling move: It wasn’t surprising that Kelly released Cary Williams and let fellow cornerback Bradley Fletcher and safety Nate Allen walk away in free agency. The Eagles' secondary was a major problem the past two seasons, and it broke down repeatedly during the Eagles’ season-ruining three-game losing streak in December. And it wasn’t surprising when Kelly then dangled $63 million in front of Seattle cornerback Byron Maxwell. Kelly also signed nickel cornerback Walter Thurmond to compete for the other starting spot. But when minicamp rolled around, Thurmond was lining up at safety, a position the Eagles have struggled to fill since Brian Dawkins' departure in 2009. Second-round draft pick Eric Rowe is playing cornerback, so the Eagles didn’t sign or draft a true safety to replace Allen. They might wind up regretting that.
Talk about a challenge! Choosing a "most" puzzling move from the vast array of Kelly puzzlers this offseason. I don't envy you, Mr. Sheridan.
As the title suggests, he give the Iggles a "C."
Another of ESPN's terrific NFC East beat reporter, Dan Graziano, weighs in on the G-men's offseason. His training camp outlook:
The Giants will enter camp with major question marks at defensive tackle, defensive end, linebacker, nickel corner and both safety positions -- not to mention left and right tackle on offense. They hope defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who sat out OTAs and minicamp after being designated their franchise player, can hit the ground running in Spagnuolo's defense. They hope Odell Beckham Jr. can get over his springtime hamstring issues more quickly than he did a year ago. And they hope Victor Cruz can recover from his 2014 knee injury in time to start the season. A lot still has to come together for this team in August -- in a lot of spots.
Graziano give the Giants a C+
I miss Graziano; I always found his takes to be smart and fair.
As luck would have it, Sports Illustrated's Doug Ferrar also penned an offseason report card, for the Giants. Here's his take on the G-men's first round pick:
In an attempt to help the offensive line, the Giants made a controversial and head-scratching move on the first day of the draft, selecting Miami offensive tackle Ereck Flowers with the ninth pick. The 6'6", 329-pound Flowers fits the Giants' desire for aggressive and physical blockers, but his technique is, to put it kindly, a little raw. Coughlin compared Flowers to a battleship and an aircraft carrier after picking him, which would be great except for the fact that Flowers occasionally resembles these two giant structures when he's trying to pass-block.
Ferrar gives Coughlin's crew a B-
And the last of the four (yet again) are the Redskins, covered by the superb John Keim. As the article's title suggests, the Redskins made one crucial hire, which has a positive ripple effect:
Best move: Hiring Scot McCloughan as general manager. The Redskins lacked an experienced and proven person in personnel until McCloughan arrived in January. He’s not a miracle worker, but he at least provided the front office with someone who could provide legitimate help. And, for a change, the Redskins actually seemed to have a blueprint from the front office in terms of what sort of player they wanted to pursue. It led to the Redskins having a somewhat understated but strong offseason. It also resulted in coach Jay Gruden having more confidence in moves that were being made and, more importantly, it provided him with a football person who has some juice in the organization. Bruce Allen had been in that role, but is best served as team president. McCloughan’s moves won’t carry double meaning with them.
Keim's grade: A-
I wrote earlier this offseason that I think the Redskins now have the division's best general manager, and they should be the team to fear in a couple of years. It appears Keim agrees.
New offensive line coach Frank Pollack will once again be in charge of the offensive line group, and he couldn't be more thrilled:
"You can put me in any NFL room and I’m going to be excited," Pollack said. "There’s only 32 of those rooms. But our room is special. There’s no doubt about it. I’m excited to be in there. It’s an honor and a privilege."
Tiny Jim takes a look at Brandon Carr, and finds some positives in his play during the final month or so:
During the Cowboys’ four-game win streak to wrap up last season, he excelled against the likes of Chicago, Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Washington. He helped limit Calvin Johnson to a manageable 85 yards on four catches in the wildcard round of the playoffs, and he held Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson to a mere 22 yards on two catches in the final game of the year.
The gents at the Mothership continue a series on the lesser-known players on the Cowboys roster. Today, they look at WR Deontay Greenberry. Eatman offers a global look and then solicits a scouting take from The Broad One:
Will come back to the ball and high point the pass. Would not call him an accomplished route runner, but does a nice job of catching the ball on the move. Will snatch the ball and head up the field. Doesn’t have breakaway speed, although is very physical with the ball in his hands. Not the quickest off the line. Plays like a tough kid.
In the midst of answering a question about the NFLPA's reaction to Dez showing up at practices, The Babe lets go of this gem:
My question to you…if Dez ultimately signs for the franchise tag, why pay an agent any of that money? His cat could have negotiated the same deal, because there is no negotiation. However, I am opposed to paying any agent a percentage of your contract. You earned it. Why do they get a "percentage?" Go find a good attorney who negotiates contracts and pay him/her by the hour. Be waaaay ahead on the financial end of things.
I cannot disagree.
The Sturminator examines the Cowboys health in recent years, and notes that, in the last 10 seasons, the Cowboys have made the playoffs four times - and those are the four seasons in the last ten that they have been the healthiest. This leads him to conclude:
It seems obvious to conclude that the healthy Cowboys teams make the playoffs. And the Cowboys were, by this definition, the #1 healthiest team in the league. It doesn’t account for Lee, Lawrence, or Claiborne, but there does seem to be a connection to success. They could depend on the idea that the guy next to them each week would be there the following game. I think we all remember 2012 was quite the opposite, and that graphic confirms that as well. The only year they did not make the playoffs, but did stay healthy was 2010, when that single injury was to Tony Romo. Surely QB1 should be weighted differently, as most teams will drop off the map if they lose THAT guy.