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Spying on the enemy: What’s going on with the Cowboys’ rivals in the NFC East?

What’s the buzz around the rivals in the NFC East?

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NFL: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After a really wacky start to the week, you can bet that the best thing for the defending NFC East Champions is getting back to work. Training camp is on the horizon which means the grind is about to start.

As caught up as fans get with everything related to the Cowboys, there are three other teams looking to challenge them for the NFC East crown. What’s being said about the Cowboys’ rivals right now?

New York Giants

Earlier in the week, PFF ranked the Giants’ secondary as the top-rated secondary in the league. Both starting cornerbacks, Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, were ranked in the Top-10 in opposing passer rating.

The praise doesn’t end there for the Giants...

The hype is real around the New York receiving corps. USA Today ranked the Giants as the league’s most dangerous receiving tandem.

1. New York Giants: Odell Beckham Jr. has never had fewer than 90 catches, 1,300 yards or 10 TDs in a season. The hype is more than justified. Fellow WR Sterling Shepard caught 65 passes and scored eight times as a rookie. Now mix in WR Brandon Marshall, a red zone force who's basically a tight end, along with first-round TE Evan Engram, who's basically a wideout given 4.4 speed that probably makes him the fastest guy in the bunch. This aerial assault could be unrelenting.

Not so fast, New York, there is still a big uncertainty about that Giants’ offense. Perhaps something that they seemingly ignore.

All these additions on the offense won’t keep the Giants from falling short. Will Brinson, from CBS, brings up one thing that seems to get forgotten in all this chatter about the offensive weapons.

Sportsline: 8.1 wins

Outlook: A stunning 11-win season has Vegas expectations very high and, like a lot of people, SportsLine does not see the Giants matching the success of last year. Eli Manning has weapons galore now with Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram added, but who is protecting him? The defense was very good last year but also inconsistent. That could catch up with the Giants this year.

Another thing to keep in mind is that even with a talent like Paul Perkins, the Giants are virtually one-dimensional. New York struggled to run the football (29th in 2016) and nothing they’ve done in the offseason points to improvement there. Dan Schneier of 247Sports tried to defend the G-Men against Brinson but even he ended up highlighting what folks like Brinson are trying to say.

“The Giants' three major issues on offense were: 1. Their inability to score touchdowns in the red zone 2. Their inability to convert on third downs 3. Their inability to block on the edge of the line.”

Blocking is important, it’s the foundation of a successful offense. In order for the Giants offense to reach its potential, the offensive line will need vast improvements.

Philadelphia Eagles

All eyes will be fixated on the continued development of Carson Wentz. Weapons were added in the offseason, now the pressure is on Wentz to perform:

“After Wentz’s early binge, he began a gradual descent toward mediocrity, and eventually to something worse. When all the numbers were in, he had nearly as many interceptions (14) as TD passes (16). He ranked near the bottom of the league in Y/A (6.23), behind guys like Case Keenum (6.84), Ryan Fitzpatrick (6.73) and Blake Bortles (6.25). Wentz completed a respectable 62.4 percent of his throws, but he averaged just 3.3 air yards per attempt, again ranking among the NFL’s sketchiest passers. (Keenum averaged 3.7, Osweiler 3.6 and Bortles 3.3).”

Did Doug Pederson just say that?! If you remember, Pederson was the backup to Brett Favre during the PackersSuper Bowl success of the mid-late 90’s. Recently, Geoff Mosher, from 97.5 The Fanatic and Fanrag Sports, believes that Pederson’s comments put unnecessary pressure on the Eagles in 2017:

“I look back on my time in Green Bay as a player when we were making those playoff runs, those Super Bowl runs there,” Pederson said. “And do we have as much talent on this team than we did then? We probably have more talent, right?”

Mosher explains how poorly timed this comment was:

People close to the situation have surmised that Lurie wouldn’t hesitate to clean house if the Eagles don’t make steady progression, which makes Pederson’s Packers comparison poorly timed along with lacking merit. You can make a great argument that they’re no slam dunk for the postseason. Not when they’re likely starting cornerback tandem – rookie Rasul Douglas and second-year pro Jalen Mills – combine for two NFL starts.

Pederson, who made a series of judgment call gaffes throughout his rookie season, better have the Eagles come storming out of the gates or his words will come back to haunt him.

Washington Redskins

For the second consecutive year, Redskins QB Kirk Cousins will play under the team’s franchise tag. Washington has continued to do everything but commit to one of the premier passers in the league with over 9,000 passing yards and 54 touchdowns in two years.

John Keim, of ESPN, believes that Washington may have overplayed their hand and it most likely will end with Cousins testing free agency next year:

“The lesson Washington must learn: If you truly want a player to re-sign, don’t wait until late in the game to make what would have been a strong offer a few months earlier. Cousins did debate countering but in the end, he said he wanted to see how this season goes because of numerous changes to the organization.”

Keim explains that a franchise tag in 2018 is highly unlikely as it would cost Washington $34.5M for one season. He says the transition tag isn’t a great idea either because the Redskins have 11 key starters in the final year of their contracts. The $28.7M transition tag would definitely hurt their ability to keep their best players.

And if it couldn’t be any worse, let’s add a little comedy to the situation. Bruce Allen, it’s probably a good idea to get the man’s name right if you’re calling him your franchise quarterback.

At this point, with Cousin’s camp not even making a counter offer, the writing may be on the wall in this matter. Regardless, on the field, the Redskins have more than enough firepower to contend.

Cousins has a bevy of offensive weapons and nearly put up 50 points against Dallas last season. No matter how screwy the Washington front office is, Cousins is essentially in a contract year and his team believes in him. The Washington defense wasn’t stellar last year but they made some improvements on the roster during free agency and the draft.

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