Dallas Cowboys: Looking at the division competition

Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys
Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Philadelphia Eagles

The greatest competition in the NFC East will come from the 2017 Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. The 2019 NFC East champions are the only team other than Dallas that some say will top the division. Washington and New York are left out of the debate.

Philly has a good team, without a doubt. It all starts with their quarterback, Carson Wentz. When healthy, he is a Pro Bowl-caliber player, but remaining healthy has been a problem throughout his four-year career as he missed eight regular-season games along with the 2018 and 2017 playoffs.

They have a solid backfield led by sophomore running back Miles Sanders. They also have Boston Scott and Corey Clement there to give Sanders a rest every once in a while. Sanders can easily eclipse 1,000 yards considering he ran for 818 while only starting 11 games in 2019.

After being heavily criticized for having a weak group of wide receivers, management went out and drafted Jalen Reagor and traded for Marquise Goodwin. Returning to the team are two solid players that suffered injuries in 2019 in DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery.

While Jeffery seems as if he is slowing down with injuries piling up, Jackson remains a great deep threat averaging 15+ yards per reception every season except for 2017 and his rookie 2008 season. Adding Reagor and Goodwin gives them more speed and Reagor’s great catch radius.

The Eagles are blessed to have two very effective tight ends in Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Ertz is a premier tight end that can block and be a lethal receiving threat, and the 25-year-old Goedert is developing into an Ertz clone.

To give you a glimpse of how good Goedert has been, look at this. He ranked 10th in receiving yards for a tight end in 2019 despite being the number two tight end in Philadelphia. In case you were wondering, Ertz placed 4th.

While the Eagles offensive line has been looked at amongst the best in the league, they took a huge hit. They lost two-time first-team All-Pro left tackle, Jason Peters. Replacing him is 2019 first-round pick, Andre Dillard.

The rest of the dominant offensive line is returning for the 2020 season. While they have played great for a long time, any little mistake can cost them the season with a fragile Wentz behind them.

The Eagles trench players on the defensive side of the ball are just as good, headlined by Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham. They have a good mix of pass rushers and run stuffers.

While Cox is looked at as more of a run stuffer, he can make the quarterback suffer. Graham and 2017 first-round pick Derek Barnett are the main guys that make Dak hurt after the game. A healthy Malik Jackson is just the cherry on top.

The linebacking corps is very thin, with their top players being Nathan Gerry and Zach Brown. Brown had two 100+ tackle seasons with the Redskins, and Gerry just had his best season yet with 78 tackles. Behind them are inexperienced and unproven players.

The defensive backs in Philly got a nice boost after the acquisition of Darius Slay and Nickell Robey-Coleman. Slay is a number one corner that will help the young but impressive number two corner Sidney Jones develop. Robey-Coleman will take the nickel spot.

Rodney McLeod and Jalen Mills form a solid safety duo. The departure of Malcolm Jenkins will be hard to replace, but Mills will try to use his coverage skills as a cornerback and bring it to fill the hole at free safety.

The Eagles have an impressive team. Addressing the alarming needs at wide receiver put this team in a much better spot this season compared to 2019. Questions at lineback may be what gets this team into trouble.

Having to worry about running back Ezekiel Elliott is going to be a problem for them. Don’t forget about backup running back Tony Pollard, who The Landry Hat’s Anthony Penna Jr. said is the Cowboys’ X-factor this season.

The Cowboys are likely to win one and lose one. I truly believe that Dallas has a much better team, but Philly is not new to surprising others. Their path to winning the Super Bowl in 2017 is the best example of how they do it.

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When looking at the division competition, you will see that the only competition lies against the Eagles. The Redskins and the Giants both have young rosters and could be a threat in two seasons. A 5-1 record against the division is a huge boost for Dallas to make the playoffs.

NFL player stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference