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Why aren't we talking about the Cowboys?

Why I'm starting to think Dallas is the NFC East favorite. Matt Bowen

Print This August 20, 2011, 03:00 PM EST

You can’t talk NFC East football right now without the discussion moving over to Andy Reid and the Eagles. Division favorites, a possible playoff run and a trip to Indy for the Super Bowl. We’ve all heard it since free agency started. Loaded with new talent.

Rob Ryan Can Rob Ryan be the difference this season for the Cowboys? That's how I'm thinking.

And even after a bad night football on Thursday in Pittsburgh, Philly is still looked at as the clear favorite in the East.

But what about Dallas? Because if I had to make some NFL predictions (which I will soon), I don’t have any issue picking the Cowboys to take the division and possibly put together some post-season wins.

Why? Because of the new defensive coordinator in town—Rob Ryan.

The way I see it, defense is going to win in the East this season. And I’m talking about defenses that can dictate the flow of the game. Think of impacting offensive game plans, bringing pressure and forcing turnovers.

If you aren’t familiar with Ryan, think of what we see from the Ravens, Saints, Packers, Steelers and Jets. Top-tier units that live by pressure-based schemes. Much different than the style of football we might watch in Chicago or Indy. Tampa 2 teams that force the ball to go underneath, limiting the big play in zone based schemes.

In Dallas, you are going to see a defense that attacks the line of scrimmage and protection schemes. Plus, coaching that will polish and improve the play of the secondary.

Can one coaching change really do that? Of course. I saw it first-hand when Gregg Williams came into Washington. The first day he walked into the meeting room, our attitude and defensive scheme flipped. What came next was accountability and a different approach to practice and game days.

But we didn’t have the offense that Dallas does right now. Because this is the other part of the equation for the Cowboys. A healthy Tony Romo at QB and solid talent at the skill positions. Run the ball, set up play action and use the vertical passing game to produce explosive gains.

So, am I going to pick the Cowboys to win the NFC East? I'm starting to lean that way. 

Follow me on Twitter: MattBowen41


Add a Comment
Ryan Brothas
Aug 20, 2011
03:05 PM

Vick,Eli & Rex Beck: RIP ,Dont get Scared be AFRAID!!!!!!!!!!!

Jerry Jones Jr.
Aug 20, 2011
03:08 PM

How Bout Dem COWBOYS!!!!!!!! (Americas Team vs DA Dream Team vs Da All Hype Team?)

Cowboy fan
Aug 20, 2011
03:11 PM

Matt you are The Man , Its gone be a lot of Haters on this Blog now.

Dez Bryant
Aug 20, 2011
03:17 PM

Asomugha,Samuels & Cromartie vs Austin ,Dez & T. Pryor.

Aug 20, 2011
03:21 PM

They still have flaws mainly a reworked offensive line and a sub-par run game. I have them finishing second to Philadelphia in the East.

The Polish Leaner
Aug 20, 2011
03:36 PM

English class is clearly very low priority in Dallas.

The Polish Leaner
Aug 20, 2011
03:36 PM

English class is clearly very low priority in Dallas.

DA Baracus
Aug 20, 2011
03:38 PM

Why? Because their secondary still stinks, they let go of offensive depth at multiple positions, they didn't add any talent this offseason, the offensive line is again a work in progress and they have Tony Romo "leading" them. The Cowboys did not improve, the Eagles did.

Aug 20, 2011
04:23 PM

Matt: Sure, Ryan brings a good scheme, but you have to have players in the back end who can cover, right? I have no confidence in Newman or Jenkins, much less the safeties, to hold up against the NFC East's elite receivers. The linebacking corps, led by Ware, will always produce, but I have to think that inability to cover will be what keeps the Cowboys out of the NFC East race.

Aug 20, 2011
05:02 PM

Don't confuse Rob Ryan with Rex Ryan. Can almost see them rolling coverage already. You need look no further than him being there as a big reason Nnamdi didn't go to Dallas. His early years in Oakland had Ryan as his coordinator?

Aug 20, 2011
05:54 PM

Why aren't we talking about the Chiefs, Bengals, Bills, Seahawks or Buccaneers?

The Polish Leaner
Aug 20, 2011
06:08 PM

Because people who live in Kansas City, Cicninnati, Buffalo, Seattle, or Tampa Bay don't even care about those teams.

John M
Aug 20, 2011
06:12 PM

Thanks for the info, I'm a big 'boys fan and the two things I'm worried about are 1) the defense particulary the secondary and 2) O-line's ability to protect Romo. Romo is a very good QB that puts up the numbers and doesn't get the credit he should. But anyways, I'm a fan of yours and enjoy your hits on WSCR 670 in Chicago. Keep up the excellent work!

Aug 20, 2011
08:04 PM

So you're saying the DB didn't want to play for Rob - Matt, that deserves some follow up don't you think. Not heard that angel before but Murder the Man.

Jennifer Walker
Aug 20, 2011
10:42 PM

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Aug 21, 2011
12:50 AM

I dont see it. Dallas offensive line is dodgy at best, and I think the secondary is mediocre. I aactually sort of like the Giants at this point (wish amakamura hadnt been hurt though). NY is a schizo team though But they have the potential to win it. Washington who knows. Not this year, though Beck looks good. But defense is a project. So Philly? maybe. A lot obviously depends on Vick. The eagles will be very good on defense. They should be favorites i suppose. But dallas? Not enough D, and rob ryan cant work miracles.

Aug 21, 2011
01:05 AM

And matt, love to hear you analyse Crennel's Defense in KC.

Aug 21, 2011
01:26 AM

I'm a die hard Cowboys fan, but I still think Philly is the favorite (on paper) to win the division. But we'll see once the games start getting played. I definitely think the Cowboys will be much improved over last year just because Phillips is gone. Garrett is actually holding people accountable and has some good structure going now.

Aug 21, 2011
02:41 AM

why not have them as favorites? The cowboys are the perennial favorites each year. Why? hyped up marketing, hyped up roster...

how do you equate a 6-10 team that resigned their veterans and commit them to the favorite based upon the hope that a defensive coordinator can convince them to play the same game they quit on the previous year?

I'm not saying they can't do it, they can. any team can win on any sunday.

But after everyone predicting big big big things from them in 2010, only a fool jumps right back on that nag and hopes to win the horse race....

Aug 21, 2011
06:35 AM

Seriously? Look at Rob Ryan's track record:

2010: 22nd ranked yardage defense, 12th ranked scoring defense
2009: 31st ranked yardage defense, 21st ranked scoring defense
2008: 26th ranked yardage defense, 21st ranked scoring defense
2007: 20th ranked yardage defense, 25th ranked scoring defense
2006: 3rd ranked yardage defense, 17th ranked scoring defense
2005: 26th ranked yardage defense, 24th ranked scoring defense
2004: 30th ranked yardage defense, 31st ranked scoring defense

Rob Ryan has not exactly been a resounding success in his coaching career. Rob Ryan is no where near as good as his brother or his father.

And that doesn't even address the fact that the Cowboys' defensive talent is severely lacking.

Aug 21, 2011
12:07 PM

milroyigglesfan & Kyle - I think you guys have forgotten that this is essentially the same team that went 11-5 in 2009 as well as 6-10 last year. And to say that the 'Boys Defensive talent is severely lacking is grossly inaccurate. In 2009 they had the 9th ranked defense in terms of yards and the 2nd in terms of points. So the talent is there. They just need better coaching, which hopefully they have.

Bob Raymond
Aug 21, 2011
01:48 PM

Long before he went senile, Al Davis said he judged a team by its offensive line and its secondary because those are the two units which can most easily cause a loss.

By that standard, the Cowboys will have an erratic season.

Aug 21, 2011
02:51 PM

Cowboys haven't had a secondary since Roy Williams was exposed as a fake. They were left flat-footed by Aso not signing with them, and already had a porous secondary as it was to boot. (If not for the Texans almost historically bad secondary in 2010, we'd have all been talking about how bad the Cowboys were in that regard.) Cowboys did almost 0 to fix it, while other teams got better across the board.

Bob Raymond
Aug 21, 2011
06:13 PM

"Cowboys haven't had a secondary since Roy Williams was exposed as a fake..."

I like what Pro Football Focus wrote about Orlando Scandrick: "He is an underrated corner, but struggles in coverage."

Which can be a problem for a cornerback...

Aug 21, 2011
09:16 PM

Hey yea this defense is looking great tonight! Lots of pressure (NOT) on the quarterback and solid (NOT) secondary play! Definitely looking like the favorite to win the East tonight.

Aug 21, 2011
09:19 PM

Hey yea this defense is looking great tonight! Lots of pressure (NOT) on the quarterback and solid (NOT) secondary play! Definitely looking like the favorite to win the East tonight.

don Hutson
Aug 21, 2011
09:37 PM

Dallas at Greenbay on a cold January Sunday playing for the NFC Championship. Where have I ever heard that one before?

Sweet Lou
Aug 21, 2011
10:01 PM

Before each season begins there is genuine hope for most teams, the Cowboys clearly are one of them. But their marketing can't cover the fact they have won exactly one playoff game since Bill Clinton was president (remember that?). They might be better but it seems that every year football fans are bombarded with Cowboy hype. I think their main issue if their GM. The fact he's slightly better than Dan Snyder doesn't mean squat to the rest of the league.

Aug 21, 2011
11:26 PM

Since nobody's ever going to come back and review these picks, there's value in trying to be different.

You wouldn't bet money on the Cowboys winning the division. Anything's possible, but it's not a smart bet.

The article would've been fine without the false bravado: "Why aren't we talking about the Cowboys, they might be better than people think" is valid by itself.

Aug 22, 2011
01:38 PM

Rob Ryan will do a better job than Wade did last year. But don't figure on it hinging all upon The Belly. Their front 7 is good but the secondary has been abysmal. That can be a liability considering 2 of their 3 opponents in the East are pass happy.

Aug 25, 2011
02:46 AM

Well there's a few good questions here about the OL and the secondary in Dallas but if you look at their schedule last year, prior to the loss against the Jacksonville (where they had lost Romo) the Cowboys were within a touchdown in all of their losses. In many cases you can point to several individual plays and say "that's the moment they lost the game." That's probably typical of a Wade Phillips coached team. The team was always horrendously underprepared to play on Sundays and Wade always had this confused look on his face and never really look like he had everything together. I can think of five plays off the top of my head that were where last year's squad lost the game. That tells me that they WERE talented enough to compete last year, despite a 6-10 record, just that a combination of luck and bad coaching kept them from having a winning season.

Under Garrett some of those mistakes were still made, but Rome wasn't built in a day, this team has a new attitude and completely new philosophies. They managed to cut a lot of deadweight in the offseason, yet Keith Brooking still has a job, and that alone should be some sort of addition by subtraction. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that they'll finish first, but I wouldn't be shocked either.

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