NFC East Roundup: A Shakeup In Dallas?

Plus, will Josh Doctson start for Washington?

Jerry and Stephen Jones (USA Today Sports)

Jerry and Stephen Jones. (USA Today Sports)

Let’s catch up with the Eagles’ division rivals as they start to put their rookies to work.

Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram thinks it’s time for general manager Jerry Jones to hand over the reins to his son Stephen Jones.

While the general manager of the Dallas Cowboys is working the phones to secure the biggest boxing match in years, he and his family are busy finalizing the production/construction that will be The Star in Frisco; the team’s practice facility will be yet another business “game changer” Jerry has introduced to the NFL.

The cruel irony is that, despite all of this increased business, notoriety and revenue Jerry has helped to create for North Texas and the Dallas Cowboys, none of it has helped to make his football team any better. The football portion of his football team remains miles behind the business part of his football team. Now is as good a time as any to recuse himself as its general manager.

A Cowboys person told me this type of move right now would be akin to “pigs flying.” That does not mean we can’t slap a pair of wings on Jerry and yell in unison his beloved University of Arkansas chant, “Woo Pig Sooie!” and see if it the darn thing can actually fly.

The Dallas Morning News’ Kevin Sherrington questions whether or not the Cowboys defense has improved enough.
I think I’d have taken [Jalen] Ramsey, but I didn’t have a problem with the [Ezekiel] Elliott pick. As noted earlier, I wouldn’t have taken [Jaylon] Smith with such a high pick. But the two DEs they wanted went in the two picks before them. I don’t believe that even a need should force you to take a player higher than what he’s worth. Same reason you shouldn’t overpay for a player like Smith, though. Bottom line: I think the defense will be better if everyone’s healthy, especially Tyrone Crawford. But that’s not saying a lot, is it?
Steve Serby of the New York Post writes that Victor Cruz doesn’t envision a rivalry between himself and second-round draft choice Sterling Shepard.

Does Shepard, the Giants’ second-round draft pick, remind Cruz of a young version of himself?

“Nobody’s a young me, let’s be clear,” Cruz joked. “He has those intangibles, he has those, kinda from a physique standpoint he does [look similar], and that quickness that I have as well, he has that as well.”

Cruz welcomes the addition of the rookie and in no way feels threatened.

“I was clapping in my living room,” Cruz said with a smile, when asked his reaction to Shepard being drafted. “It’s just an added bonus or added weapon for us to use, for Eli [Manning] to have.”

Cruz was asked what the chances are that he can return to being the Pro Bowl-caliber player he used to be, following two years away due to knee and calf injuries.

“I think the chances are high,” Cruz said. “My route-running is still the same. I’m feeling really good coming in and out of my breaks. My legs feel fantastic.”

Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News examines the crowded New York Giants backfield.

The answer to [the question of running back depth chart] depends on who was responsible for that stupid, four-running back rotation they used last year: Tom Coughlin or Ben McAdoo. Hopefully it was Coughlin, and hopefully McAdoo saw that the running game worked better with one guy getting the lion’s share of the workload while everyone else filled roles. In that case, I’d say it would shake out like this:

Rashad Jennings, who I like a lot more than most fans (and media) seem to like, will be the likely workhorse and get the majority of carries. (By the way, hard as it is to believe, he got 48.3% of the carries last year, though I’d expect that to tick up.) Shane Vereen will again be the third-down back and primary receiver-out-of-the-backfield weapon. Maybe they get a little more creative with him. Maybe he just plays better. But I see him being more of a factor.

And then? Good question. I don’t think Paul Perkins, their fifth-round pick, will have much of an impact in the offense this year. I think Andre Williams will likely get the first shot to be the short-yardage back, and the guy who spells Jennings for a series or two. How long that lasts depends on him. And I think Orleans Darkwa and Bobby Rainey have an uphill battle to make the roster.

Liz Clarke of the Washington Post speculates as to what type of contribution first-round draft pick Josh Doctson will make in 2016.

Is wide receiver Josh Doctson, [Scot] McCloughan’s surprise first-round pick, ready to stake a claim for significant playing time in a crowded receiving corps? Doctson, a 6-foot-2, 202-pound wide receiver from Texas Christian, wasn’t the only person stunned when the Redskins chose him with the 22nd overall pick. McCloughan said he was stunned to find Doctson still on the board. So, true to his vow to choose what he deemed the “best player available,” he picked him, insisting later that Doctson’s addition would have no bearing on the status of incumbent starters DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, who are entering the final year of their contracts.

But no NFL team spends a first-round pick on a player it doesn’t expect to start. The question is: How close is Doctson to claiming that role? His size alone solves one problem for the Redskins, giving quarterback Kirk Cousins another large target to complement 6-3 tight end Jordan Reed in red-zone situations.

Master Tesfatsion reveals that Su’a Cravens will start out at inside linebacker for Washington.

That’s what our job is to try and get him in the best situation possible where he’s most comfortable,” Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said. “Initially, we have to teach him a position. Right now, it’s going to be the inside linebacker.”

Gruden hinted that Cravens, listed at 6-feet-1, 226 pounds, could branch out into nickel packages and possibly safety down the road. The 20-year-old said the Redskins want him to learn the defense from the inside-out, but he’s going to remain at inside linebacker for now. He carries a unique ability as a “moneybacker,” a relatively new designation in the NFL. It started in 2014 with Arizona’s versatile and athletic Deone Bucannon, whose game Cravens said he emulates.

“It’s a challenge, but I’m up for it,” Cravens said. “I did it in college. I think with the coaching and all the tools that they give me, I’ll be able to get it. I just need time. I’m just trying to learn as fast as I can and be an impact somewhere on the defense.”