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Green Zone League Articles

Final Piece to the Puzzle? NFC East
By Garth Pearce
Special to gzl-football.com

DALLAS COWBOYS

Small Pieces Keep those corners healthy. With injuries to Akwasi Owusu-Ansah and Mike Jenkins they've had to utilise 5'7 speedster Gunner Recall as a starter, and his 6 defelctions to 31 catches allowed ratio is proof that he's just not cutting it there (maybe not even in the slot). Some progression into Coty Sensabaugh may be viable to create depth with some height and speed to cover for injuries, otherwise a regressing veteran as a 1 year filler or another trip to the draft to find the right player could be the key.
The O-Line needs to sort its positioning out to get the best returns from those talented players. Knowing that 2 of the left tackles are playing out of position it would be good to see them moved permanently to those spots and avoid the awareness hits they're facing. Get Doug Free into a guard spot where he can use his mobility to great effect on pull plays. D.J. Fluker or Anthony Collins will feel much better out of Right Tackle permanently for a season.
It may look fun on paper, but playing DeMarcus Ware at Left End and leaving left side linebacker Mason Foster to cover ROLB just isn't working. They have 2 sacks between them where Ware has been into double figures himself the past 3 years, and whilst none of the other DE's look to be starter quality there has to be a better option. Yes Ware is slowing down but he's still a better OLB than Foster and it would be a better choice to find a decent starting DE and let Ware play his natural game.

Final Piece Where has Miles Austin gone? After setting a league record last season for receiving yards, he's sitting at a quarter of that number after three quarters of the season. Even the 5'9" rookie slot receiver Tavon Austin is out doing him on yardage. Miles was a massive part of the Cowboys 2012 offensive ability to get the ball moving down the field. With a pass heavy offense keeping the chains moving and therefore the clock running is hard, but Miles showed last season that he was capable of that feat. The team is down by almost a minute on TOP from last season even with a more productive running game, so if the receiving legend can get back to form I think the Cowboys can take more clock and better field position from their opponents and thus preventing them from scoring as much.

NEW YORK GIANTS

Small Pieces From a purely roster stand point there isn't a whole lot that jumps out from the Giants and screams "fix me!" They have balance, depth and talent across most positions and really have only had a couple of games where they couldn't keep up with the opponent's scoring (special teams score, bad day for Brees or injury day for Brees). The most obvious hole seems to be with TE Cornelius Ingram, who has the athletic ability to be a good tight end, however lacks the top class awareness and blocking skills for the position. He's got decent catch to make him a legitimate receiving target however the Giants may see better results with a smarter blocker who can catch all rolled into one, or someone of similar skills who can benefit from the progression system.

Final Piece Increase the teams field goal range by getting a longer kicker. Shaun Suisham is as accurate as they come but doesn't have the range to cover those stalled drives. 23/28 field goals this year suggests he struggled for range on a few shots, so he's the best bet to dredge out those few extra points that could get this Giants outfit over the line to greatness.


PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Small Pieces Better right side offensive linemen. Eric Wood is okay but too far behind the eight ball in terms of progression time, whilst Arron Sears joins the club to a greater extreme having missed the progression boat all together. LT Eric Winston may be a viable long term option on the right side (where he's playing out of position atm), but the awareness hit to make this a permanent move can't be offset by easy progression gains, so a new player for this side would be better suited.
Mark Herzlich at middle linebacker may be another upgrade opportunity if someone can be found with more speed. He did a remarkable job last season and performed above all expectations, but his numbers are back down this year and he may have been one of those one season freaks that give you hope but then never deliver again.

Final Piece A kicker with some leg power as David Akers will be done at season's end and has lost a lot of power over the years. Seems to be a theme for this division that I'm seeing some decent line ups that at best could do with a new/stronger kicker. Whilst it doesn't seem like much, a missed 50+ yard field goal gives the opposition 20+ yards better field position for their next drive, which may be the difference in stopping a score.


WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Small Pieces Stop the turnovers. 11 fumbles on carries and 7 interceptions for the year are costly and have proven the difference in some close games. I don't know how much Madden uses these turn arounds to demoralize a team but we all know as GM's how much it hurts seeing a great drive destroyed and the ball returned back the other way for great position or even a score.
A new tight end as Bobby Racine is just not up to standard, having dropped 7 balls already and is sub-bar on everything bar height, weight and strength. Martell Webb is a better athlete and can catch so could be a viable option, however if 6'8" monsters are your thing then I'd invest a lot of points in Racine's catching ability.
I'm not sure if this is an oversight, but starting Sean Wiggins is just wierd. Even veteran Rocky McIntosh or Josh Kaddu look way better in the physical and athletic department than Wiggins. Again this could be another case of size matters as his 6'5", 270lbs frame is pretty good.

Final Piece Keep DeAngelo Hall healthy. He is getting old after all so needs all the TLC he can get, but when he's in the game he gives the 'Skins secondary the boost of speed and awareness it needs. A few of the loses this season have been from big scoring done by the opponent's passing game, which Hall's ability to read and interrupt are key. The other corners are all decent in their own right and provide a range of options but they just don't combine Hall's speed, awareness and hands.
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