2015 was a whirlwind of a season for the Dallas Cowboys. In the second half of the Cowboys' Week 2 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, all playoff hopes went out the window when Tony Romo landed on his left clavicle. Despite Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel quarterbacking the offense, the Cowboys were in almost every game. Going 4-12 obviously poses for a ton of headaches during the season. But one benefit of a miserable season is that the Cowboys will be in terrific position to get a player who can come in and immediately make a difference.
Dallas wasn't a big player in free agency. But that doesn't mean the Cowboys won't have upgrades in the regular season. Considering their injuries, Romo and Dez Bryant coming back from injury will be the biggest additions to the starting lineup. With Romo back in place, the Cowboys not only have one of the best quarterbacks in football calling the shots, but the running game will open up as defenses will not be able to load the box.
Don't get me wrong, the rest of the division has improved through free agency and other front-office moves. But at this point in the offseason, it looks as if every team has improved. Dallas is set up for success behind their offensive line. When the Cowboys are running the football with success, it not only helps the offense, but the defense stays off the field which in turn keeps them fresher. Let's take a look at each NFC East team and see why they'll finish below the Cowboys in 2016.
New York Giants
With the additions of Damon Harrison, Janoris Jenkins, and Olivier Vernon, the Giants definitely wanted to upgrade the defensive side of the football. Out of the big three signings, the one that scares me the most is Harrison. Perhaps one of the best plugging-type defensive tackles in football, Harrison will be a tough guy to move for Travis Frederick and Zack Martin. But the signings of Jenkins and Vernon are extremely questionable. Jenkins played behind the most talented defensive line in football and Vernon's production really isn't worth the contract he was given.
Under a new regime, the Eagles will be more of a traditional football team. Chip Kelly's approach led to questionable decision-making and as is the case with any new coach, there will be a learning curve and growing pains in Philly. Brandon Brooks and Rodney McLeod will both be nice additions, but the Eagles also spent $21 million on a backup quarterback. The rest of their free agency class doesn't provide for much talent. Sam Bradford is back in the fold and not only is he marginal to say the least, the Eagles don't have much talent on the offensive side of the ball and that will lead to their demise.
The Redskins benefitted from a horrible division last year. They peaked at the right time and Jay Gruden's plan finally worked out for the team and Kirk Cousins. However, I still remember the Week 15 matchup last season when the Cowboys went into FedEx Field and completely shut out the Redskins' offense. Similar to the Eagles, the Redskins really didn't add anyone in free agency that will offer huge improvement. With Dallas' big guns back in the fold, the Redskins will fall out of the top spot in the division.
Romo might just be the best player in the NFC East and when he's healthy, the Cowboys are a much better football team. Add in that the Cowboys will get a top draft pick and the Cowboys' future is bright. Dallas hasn't been extremely active this offseason, but there are reasons why. The Cowboys are extremely talented and the Jones family knows that this team can mean business if all of the pieces can stay in place.