Earlier this week, Ben Natan of the SB Nation Eagles site, Bleeding Green Nation, proposed an all-star roster comprised of the best offensive players in the NFC East.
The last position Natan reviews is center, and when even that position features a Cowboys player as the top guy, Natan can't quite contain his frustration:
I am sick of writing the names of Cowboys players but here we are.
So let's review all the choices that made him so sick.
First Team: Dak Prescott (Cowboys)
Second Team: Eli Manning (Giants)
Assessment: Natan could have easily taken an easy out here and left Prescott off the lit entirely, given that Prescott has just one season under his belt. So kudos for having Prescott at the top of the list, even if feels this position was ranked grudgingly.
The Cowboys lucked into Prescott, however. They wanted to draft at least three other quarterbacks instead of him and then only gave him the starting role after Tony Romo AND Kellen Moore went down with injury.
I'm a little more surprised by the selection of Manning as the No. 2 guy in the East. Kirk Cousins had passer ratings of 101.6 and 97.2 in his two seasons as a starter in Washington, easily outplaying Manning (93.6, 86.0) over the last two years. Manning does have two Super Bowls to his name but apart from that, he has been a mediocre quarterback for his entire career: Per PFR's Passer Rating Index (called "Rate+" in the PFR tables), which indexes a quarterback's passer rating against the league average in each year of his career, Manning has a 98 Passer Rating Index. In a nutshell, compared to the league average, Manning is a below average passer.
Kirk Cousins for example has a career 107 index, and while Carson Wentz had a bad rookie season with an index of 85, Wentz at least has the potential to improve on that number. Manning doesn't, he is what he is.
First Team: Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys)
Second Team: LaGarrette Blount (Eagles)
Assessment: Not much to see here. Elliott is the correct choice, and while Blount may have not had the most consistent career, he had a great year in New England last year.
First Team: Odell Beckham (Giants), Dez Bryant (Cowboys), Alshon Jeffrey (Eagles)
Second Team: Brandon Marshall (Giants), Jamison Crowder (Redskins), Cole Beasley (Cowboys)
Assessment: I'm sure that while some might find some minor quibble in the ranking of the six players here, the proposed names don't feel wrong to me. I particularly like the inclusion of Cole Beasley, who gets some deserved recognition here that he doesn't always get elsewhere.
First Team: Jordan Reed (Redskins)
Second Team: Zach Ertz (Eagles)
Assessment: I don't like the omission of Jason Witten here, but I understand it. Football is a young man's game, and Witten is entering his 15th season at age 35. Witten is still very important to the Cowboys' offense, but his contribution is increasingly coming in areas that don't show up on the stat sheet, and that's where the the two younger NFC East TEs (whose teams both have less receiving options than the Cowboys) will likely outplay The Senator.
First Team: Tyron Smith (Cowboys)
Second Team: Trent Williams (Redskins)
First Team: Lane Johnson (Eagles)
Second Team: Morgan Moses (Redskins)
Assessment: No Cowboys player here, which is no surprise given not even the Cowboys may know who their right tackle will be this year. But if it ends up being La'El Collins, I like his chances of making a similar list last year, even if lane Johnson may be hard to unset from the top spot (if he plays 16 games for a change).
First Team: Brandon Brooks (Eagles), Zack Martin (Cowboys)
Second Team: Justin Pugh (Giants), Brandon Sherff (Redskins)
Assessment: Here's Natan's ode to Martin:
Zack Martin is not just the best guard in the NFL, he is probably one of the best offensive players in the league. Martin is a complete and dominant player who has great athletic ability and attitude. He is a perfect fit for the Cowboys offense and is a big reason there run game has been so dominant.
First Team: Travis Frederick (Cowboys)
Second Team: Weston Richburg (Giants)
Assessment: Nothing really to add here, except that I hope the Cowboys continue to "reach" for players in the draft that turn out like Frederick.
The Cowboys had easily the most potent offense in the NFC East last year, so it's no surprise to see a lot of Cowboys players showing up on an All-NFC East offensive roster. Six Cowboys get first-team mention, and one gets second-team recognition, all of which bodes well for 2017, as Natan wrote in is assessment of Ezekiel Elliott:
He is a three down star for the Cowboys and there is almost no reason to think he will slow down given that the line in front of him is still very young and the offense added more weapons in the passing game to take pressure off of him.