The NFL is a copycat league. That's for sure. After the rise of the zone-read in 2012, thanks to quarterbacks like Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick, and Russell Wilson, it seemed that each NFL team adapted their own version of the zone-read. Because NFL organizations are continuously keeping tabs of other teams, it usually leads to each team copying something that works. When the Cowboys beefed up their offensive line and ran the football with success in 2014, it led to the team's best season in quite some time. It also led to many NFL teams following suit, including teams within the division.
In that offseason, the Washington Redskins designed their offense to look more like the Cowboys'. They improved their offensive line and relied heavily on the running game in hopes of opening up the game passing game to provide easier coverage on the outside for Kirk Cousins to get the ball to his receivers.
Or how about when the Philadelphia Eagles signed DeMarco Murray? Shelling out a big contract to an aging, injury-prone running back was a bit extraordinary for the Eagles during that offseason, but did they possibly sign Murray to pry him away from the Cowboys and disband what the Cowboys were doing. Or did they have another reason for doing so? With the 2016 NFL season rapidly approaching, it will be interesting to see which trends and fads will continue and which play concept will become popular next.
OTAs are the time where NFL rosters evaluate what they have on their roster and figure out which players are capable of competing for a roster spot in training camp. However, some NFL teams have different approaches to their OTAs, teams actually within the NFC East.
#Eagles have 2 players wearing red pinnies No. 82/88. Speculation is they are doing scout team stuff, simulating Cowboys Bryant and Witten. — Ed Kracz (@kracze) May 31, 2016
Preparing for the season in this way is out of the ordinary considering it's not even training camp yet, but the fact that the Eagles are doing this proves something very simple, the Cowboys are the team to be reckoned with in this division. After adding Ezekiel Elliott, it only puts more pressure on defenses to load the box in hopes of stopping the running game.
By doing this, it leaves their secondary vulnerable to one-on-ones on the outside for guys like Dez Bryant and Jason Witten to take advantage of soft coverage. That's what the Eagles are trying to figure out, a way to stop the deadly combination of Bryant and Witten on top of the running game.
With so much time left until the start of the regular season and the fact that the Eagles have so many other question marks on their roster alone, it's a little intriguing to hear that they're already thinking of ways to stop Bryant and Witten. Dallas has a team that can go on a lengthy run in post-season and the Eagles' caution is only evident of that. I guess Mike Freeman's article regarding how the Cowboys are turning into a scary contender makes sense after all.