Links to stories on other NFC East blogs — Bleeding Green Nation, Blogging the Boys, Big Blue View
The 2022 season is seen by many, perhaps most, as being a make-or-break case for Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy. Despite getting his team to a 12-5 record in his second year, the rapid exit from the playoffs just created more frustration. Keeping his job past this year may well depend on stacking a couple of playoff wins. That assumes he will still get the team to the postseason in a division where the other three teams are perceived to have made some major strides forward while the Cowboys may have lost ground in the offseason. Ironically, what happens with the team this year is not going to be determined by what McCarthy does. Due to his chosen role as a walk-around head coach, that is mostly in the hands of his coordinators and assistants.
This does not absolve McCarthy of responsibility. He agreed, reportedly by choice, with keeping Moore as his OC when he was hired. Quinn was his choice to try and right the defense. There is no evidence his hands-off approach was forced on him, so he is on the hood for that. Moreover, he is responsible for having the team ready and the plan in place each game. If the coordinators are not doing their job, it is up to him to motivate or as a last resort intervene. The buck stops with him. In this case, though, he may be paying a bill others ran up.
Jonathan Allen, Commanders: While Jonathan Allen’s 2021 season was highlighted by some unflattering sideline antics, the defensive tackle hit a career high in sacks. Allen has developed into a disruptive and key part of the Commanders’ talented defensive line and any success the unit has in 2022 will hinge on his play.
Montez Sweat, Commanders: The NFC East is loaded with edge defenders who are solid now but could take huge leaps in 2022: Chase Young coming off of injury, Kayvon Thibodeaux having a huge rookie year, Josh Sweat continuing to improve as a full time starter…But of all the up and comers, Montez Sweat has put together a solid three years in the NFL as an impactful run defender and moments where he flashes brilliance rushing the passer. If he can put it all together in year four, he will be a force on the Washington defense.
Antonio Gibson, Commanders: Antonio Gibson made the most out of a bad situation in 2021. The second year running back ran for over 1,000 yards despite horrendous blocking up front and general dysfunction across the whole offense. It is clear a more stable situation on that side of the ball will hugely benefit the talented ballcarier in year three.
Terry McLaurin, Commanders: Despite a rotating door of quarterbacks, Terry McLaurin has been a force since he entered the league as a rookie. He is a route running master with great ball skills, making him a threat on every target. The Commanders might finally have some stability at the quarterback position in Carson Wentz (if you can believe it) and McLaurin will be the main beneficiary.
Andrew Norwell, Commanders: After a few years of solid play in Jacksonville, Andrew Norwell comes to Washington to fill the big shoes of the departed Brandon Scherff. While Norwell isn’t the player he was a few years ago in Carolina, he is still a solid and steady presence at guard.
With just days remaining until training camp, there are still some useful players looking for jobs
Smith is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound cornerback who has played with the Baltimore Ravens since he was selected at 27th overall in 2011. He played 293 total snaps last season with two passes defended, one penalty, and no touchdowns surrendered.
The primary issue with Smith is age. He is just about to turn 34 years old. Do the Giants have room for an older declining player on their roster – who worked with defensive coordinator Wink Martindale for years – or would they instead roll the dice on a young player? They could sign him cheap, see how he assimilates, and make that decision at cut-downs.
The 2018 UDFA out of Tennessee impressed immediately after he signed with the Denver Broncos. Johnson went undrafted in 2018 after he was accused of a crime, but he was acquitted and made the Broncos’ final 53-man roster. He eventually landed on the practice squad and assumed the starting role in Week 5 of the 2019 season.
According to Pro Football Focus, Johnson ranked in the top 10 twice in overall defense at linebacker while finishing second in limited snaps as a tackler in 2021. Johnson tore his pectoral muscle in week six last season; the Broncos’ rush defense suffered mightily.
Denver let head coach Vic Fangio and his staff go, and the 30-year-old linebacker remains unsigned.
Andre Patterson accepted the defensive line coaching job for the Vikings in Joseph’s first season in Minnesota.
Joseph made two Pro Bowls playing under the tutelage of Patterson, but the Vikings were forced to release Joseph for salary-related reasons. Joseph played the last two seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers.
In two seasons, Joseph earned 42 pressures and a sack with the Chargers while playing solid overall run defense at the nose technique and one-shade position. Joseph is now 33 years old, coming off a two-year, $17 million contract with the Chargers. Joseph has made plenty of money in his career.
Just before the 2019 season, Moses suffered a bad knee injury and missed the entire year. He was a step slower in 2020 but decided to forgo his senior season and enter the draft.
He went undrafted in 2021 and signed with the Jaguars, who recently released him; he never played a down in Duvall. Jacksonville drafted Devin Lloyd and Chad Muma after awarding Foyesade Oluokun (formerly of the Falcons) a big contract in free agency.
Moses is just 24 years old at 6-1, 240 pounds. The Giants still have questionable depth at linebacker. There is no harm in allowing Moses – a former team captain of the most prestigious college program – to compete in training camp. He may not make the team, but at least the Giants are now familiar with his skill-set, and if they suffer injuries throughout the season, they can add him, and the transition would be easier.
He recorded 52 catches for 825 yards and three touchdowns, earning First Team All Pac-12 honors. However, he did not test well at the NFL Combine, and he was a lot shorter than many imagined, at only 6-2. Bryant went undrafted and was signed by the Lions because of this reality.
He only had one catch for 44 yards in his career and spent much of it battling injuries. He failed his physical designation in 2021 and was waived by the Lions in 2022. The former four-star recruit is only 23 years old and should command nothing more than a minimum contact.
The Cowboys used to own the highest winning percentage in NFL history, but unfortunately, three-straight 13-3 seasons from the Green Bay Packers have changed that. The current rankings for the highest winning percentage are as follows:
These two teams are neck and neck and it wouldn’t take much to jump the Packers. Green Bay has played in over 400 more games than the Cowboys so their winning % curve is less sensitive than the Cowboys. If both teams were to struggle, that means the Cowboys might still have to win a few more games than Green Bay to finish with a higher winning percentage. However, if both teams are good, then the Cowboys just need to keep close to the same record to finish with a better overall winning percentage.
We’ve plotted each team’s new winning percentage based on how many games they’ll win this upcoming season. You can see that 12-5 is the mark when the Cowboys eclipse the Packers in winning percentage if they both win the same amount of games. We’ve also included the exact record Dallas would need for every win/loss scenario for Green Bay.
The game with Green Bay should make that mid-November afternoon battle in Lambeau Field that much more important as it will represent a two-game swing. Not that we needed another reason to root against Aaron Rodgers and company, but alas, here it is.