Hey, Football is back. The college season is under way and on Thursday night the NFL will get the 2015 season under way. It has been a long offseason, but now the most enjoyable time of the year is about to begin. For Dallas Cowboys fans it means that the time has come to defend the NFC East crown that our 'Boys earned in 2014. Will the Cowboys become back to back NFC East Champions? Let's look at the competition they will face to secure that title.
NEW YORK GIANTS
2014 Record 6-10 Third in NFC East
Week 1 Opponent @ Dallas Cowboys
The Giants will face an uphill battle when they make their annual trip to what they have referred to as their home away from home, AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys are six point favorites in the initial Sunday night contest of the season and that appears to be generous. The off-season, which started out pretty good, has not been kind to the G-men.
One of the biggest impact moments came on July 4th. Jason Pierre-Paul suffered severe damage to his hand in a fireworks accident. The noted pass rush specialist, who has yet to sign his nearly $15 million dollar franchise tender, is still not physically ready to return to the team. JPP met with the team earlier this week but has returned home to Florida to continue his recovery process. The team has no idea when to expect him back for game action.
"I wouldn't put any kind of time frame on it. It's not going to be something that I have anything to say about anyway. It's going to be the medical people." - Tom Coughlin
Pierre-Paul is not the only big name Giant who will be missing. More and more it is looking like wide receiver Victor Cruz is going to be sidelined as well. The lead dancer on the New York roster, Cruz has had his salsa routine and practice availability cancelled out by what the team calls a left calf injury. He will not practice on Wednesday, but has not officially been ruled out of the week 1 game, but his participation is very much in doubt.
The Giants are banged up at other slots as well, including linebacker. Jon Beason is already feeling the injury bug after the Week 2 preseason game and Cullen Jenkins is fighting off a hamstring injury. Both are expected to play on Sunday but the Giants also went out and signed former Cowboy Jasper Brinkley just in case they need a linebacker.
2014 Record 10-6 Second in NFC East
Week 1 Opponent @ Atlanta Falcons
The moves made in Philadelphia over the offseason are either a sign of genius or a madman. The next few weeks will tell us more. One of the moves that will determine if Chip Kelly sinks or swims is going to be the move to get Sam Bradford as his quarterback. Bradford has the talent, but it remains to be seen if he can survive a 16 game season, something he has not done since 2012. Sam, aided by Chip's magic smoothie machine, will attempt to survive behind a shuffled offensive line. (Did you hear that DeMarco Murray?). If he can accomplish the task, it could be a big year for Bradford, possibly one of redemption, but the odds look pretty long when you look at the big picture.
The one advantage Bradford (and eventually Mark Sanchez) has is a corps of talented young wide outs. If someone can survive and get the ball to them, this group can do some damage. Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff and Nelson Agholor are a gifted trio that blend well together. Again, all they need is a passer to get the ball in their hands.
One of the big questions the Eagles will have to answer is 'Can they stop anybody?'. The secondary finished next to last against the pass last season and gave up more pass plays of 40+ yards than any other team. In a division with Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham Jr., and Victor Cruz that can be a fatal flaw. To prevent that the Philly front office (ie Chip) brought in Byron Maxwell at corner and Walter Thurmond at safety. Will it be enough? We will find out soon.
2014 Record 4-12
Week 1 Opponent Miami Dolphins
That draft pick the Redskins made a few years ago, you know the QB, is back in the starting role. No not that guy, the other one. Kirk Cousins won the starting job in Washington after the week three preseason game. That, combined with the cost of drafting backup passer Robert Griffin with the second-overall pick that season, tells you all you need to know about the state of affairs in Washington. The short-term football forecast is dismal. The one positive sign is that Griffin appears to have matured to the point that he is not a distraction in the locker room.
"He's been great. He's always been classy. I don't feel a distraction in the building. The distraction is if I turn on the TV, answer my phone, get on Twitter. As long as I'm in the building working hard and ignoring the noise even if there is something on the outside being said I don't feel it." - Kirk Cousins
One wonders how long that will last. The Skins have yet to announce if RGIII is the #2 or #3 man on the depth chart. If he winds up being buried down the roster, it is likely that the fireworks will begin.
Nothing says dysfunctional better than how wide receiver DeSean Jackson answered a question from GQ during a recent photo shoot.
Q: Do you feel like you guys will contend this year?
A: Long silence. "Uh... how ’bout I say, uh... Let me see what I can answer to that question...."
That is sure to instill confidence in the younger players, considering a veteran leader found himself at a loss for words about the team's prospects.
Never ones to miss an opportunity to chime in on an issue, the Washington Post is running with the 'hot seat' mantra that used to reside with the Dallas media. A recent article there began with the following.
If this winds up being coach Jay Gruden’s last season with the Redskins, at least he’ll be able to say he went out on his terms, and with his quarterback.
Times certainly are good for the Cowboys oldest rival, huh?
There you have it, folks. I quick preseason rundown of the State Of The BEast. The Cowboys should be in the driver's seat to make a return to the playoffs but the football gods may have other plans. That is why they play the games. Anything can and usually does happen. Let's get this thing kicked off and see how it plays out.