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Cowboys News: Why 2016 Cowboys Defense Can Be Better Than 2014 Version

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Current Cowboys Defense Better Than 2014 Version - Ben Grimaldi, Cowboys Nation
Grimaldi makes an interesting case for why this year's Cowboys defense will be better than the 2014 version (we'll make a similar case today at 10:00 am EST on Blogging The Boys):

They are younger, more athletic and have better overall talent than they did back then. So before you start believing the chatter about how they have the worst defense in history, remember to keep everything in perspective.

The 2016 defense is also better than 2014’s at specific positions. Free agent acquisition Cedric Thornton is a massive upgrade over Nick Hayden at defensive tackle, Lee is better than anyone the Cowboys had at weak side linebacker, Byron Jones is a gift compared to any safety the team had two years ago and Tyrone Crawford continues to get better at his newfound position. The only downgrade is missing McClain in the middle, but Anthony Hitchens is more than capable of taking his spot.

Additionally, the Cowboys have a few players on a redemption tour. Cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne are out to prove their worth and Orlando Scandrick returns from injury to lead the secondary. Scandrick has stated he feels he can be even better than he was before his injury, which would lead to a better defense in 2016.

Grimaldi closes with some valuable life advice for Cowboys fans:

Don’t just assume the Cowboys will have a bad defense in 2016 because of what you’ve heard this offseason. Let’s wait and see what they can do before judging them.

Fantasy 5: Why Dez Bryant might be undervalued - Jeff Ratcliffe, PFF.com
Looks like you could get a great deal with Dez Bryant in fantasy this year.

I’ve noticed a lot of people are down on Bryant this year, and place him well behind the Big 3 of Brown, Odell Beckham Jr. and Julio Jones.

This line of thinking seems to place too much stock in last year while ignoring the fact that Bryant was a top-five fantasy receiver in each of the three previous seasons from 2012-2014. He’s also only entering his age-28 season, which is typically where we see a lot of receivers at their peak. With Romo back under center and a potentially potent run game with rookie Ezekiel Elliott toting the rock, Bryant is poised to bounce back in a big way. Better yet, you can get him several picks after the Big 3 come off the board.

Redskins Rookie Enemies: Ezekiel Elliott - Cadillactica, Hogs Haven
Hoga Haven takes a look at Elliott and explains how he makes the Cowboys better and creates problems for the Redskins.

So I need to get this out of the way despite the criticism I may face. Elliot was a home run pick for the Cowboys. You could argue that he is the best all-around running back prospects to come to the NFL in years. The primary concern with Elliot is if the Cowboys will overwork him. There is some tread on the tires already after two prolific seasons at Ohio State. On paper the Cowboys addressed that concern when they signed former Redskin Alfred Morris and brought durability to the position outside of oft-injured Darren McFadden.

With a starting offensive line of Smith, Collins, Frederick, Martin, and Free the Cowboys have one of the best if not the best offensive line in football. Ezekiel Elliott will get to the second level and the Redskins need to be prepared at all times. The linebackers will have to step up and practice sound technique and remain disciplined when trying to take down Elliott. He has excellent lateral running ability and can definitely make space where there is none. There can be no half-hearted efforts or ankle diving tackles for Elliot will make his opponents regret it.

NFC East Q&A: Which teams would trade their QB straight up for Eli Manning? - Dan Graziano, ESPN
Dan Graziano of ESPN New York asks his fellow NFC East writers who would trade their QB for Manning. The Redskins say "yes," the Eagles say "yes" on Sam Bradford and "no" on Carson Wentz, while the Cowboys say "heck, no." Here's Todd Archer:

I can answer this in one word: no.

Manning has two Super Bowl wins and Tony Romo has two playoff wins, but if we’re judging body of work as a player, Romo is simply better. He can do more things. He can create when things break down -- that’s not something Manning does well. The argument can be made that Manning keeps himself out of that trouble but he just seems to get into funks when more is asked of him. Maybe others would consider this deal because of Romo’s health; Manning has not missed a start since taking over for the Giants in 2004. It’s a remarkable streak. Yes, he is durable, he is tough, and Romo missed 12 games last season.

Call me hard-headed, but the Cowboys are still better team with Romo as their quarterback than they would be if Manning was their quarterback.

Chris Canty says Cowboys’ offense ‘going to have to be the defense’s best friend’ - SiriusXM NFL Radio
Canty explains what the Cowboys expect from their offense.

"The offense -- and that offensive line and that running game with Ezekiel Elliott -- they’re going to have to be the defense’s best friend," former Cowboys defensive end Chris Canty told Cole Wright and Phil Savage on Late Hits. "They’re going to have to control the time of possession, limit the opportunities for the defense to get exposed by the opposing team’s offense. I think that’s how the Cowboys have to be thinking going into this season."

NFL updates the catch rule and still manages to create more confusion - CBSSports.com
The league has changed wording to describe when a receiver becomes a runner, but they've simply made a fubar even worse. Now, in addition to stealing Dez Bryant's catch, the tweaked rule would make Terrance Williams' toe-tap against the Seahawks an incomplete catch as well.

Morons.

But as pretty much the entire Twitterverse immediately pointed out, the NFL appeared to be saying that toe-tap catches on the sideline or in the back of the end zone won't actually be catches, because receivers won't have time to establish themselves as runners by being "capable of avoiding or warding off impending contact of an opponent, tucking the ball away, turning up field, or taking additional steps" before falling out of bounds.

The only explanation is that "tucking the ball away" and "taking additional steps" can occur out of bounds. Because otherwise, we're looking at a rulebook that says plays like this are incomplete:

How The Cowboys Could Replace Rolando McClain - Dallas Robinson, ProFootballRumors.com
This is probably as extensive a list of outside options to replace McClain as you'll find anywhere. Problem is, none of the 14 players listed sound like an upgrade over what the Cowboys already have.

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'Tis the season to be rankful

Rankings galore, from simple clickbait to the utterly ridiculous.

NFL 25 At 25 - The 25 Best Young Players Of 2016 - Today's Pigskin

Ranking the top 10 safeties in the NFL | FOX Sports

The five best Dallas Cowboys CBs of all time, ranked | SportsDay

Top 5 players the Cowboys regret passing on in 2015 draft | SportsDay

Ranking the NFL's top 10 feuds - ESPN

The definitive all-time ranking of musical performances by NFL teams & players - SBNation.com

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2016 NFL Supplemental Draft: What you should know - Chris Pflum, Big Blue View
The supplemental draft is set for July 14th, and Pfulm provides an excellent breakdown of everything you need to know about it.

U.S. Congressman says 2017 NFL Draft will be held in Philadelphia - CBSSports.com
Pennsylvania representative Bob Brady seems pretty confident that the NFL Draft is headed to Philly.

The congressman said he got the news directly from Philly mayor Jim Kenney.

"The NFL wanted to come here, which is a good start," Brady told Philadelphia Inquirer. "I talked with the mayor. The mayor had a concern about money because he didn't want to put the city in debt, rightfully so, so we had to go around and see if we could get some people that would help finance it, and I think we were kind of successful."

The only problem with Brady's announcement is that the mayor's office says there's no deal yet.

How many years away are the Eagles from winning a Super Bowl? - Brandon Gowton, Bleeding Green Nation
Good question, as Gowton walks through Pat Kirwan's list of 13 questions that help determine whether NFL teams have enough roster depth to win a title. And this enterprising BGN-member has the winning answer:

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