NFL preview: East

Cowboys have chance to make Super Bowl history

August 29, 2010|By Sam Farmer, Tribune newspapers

Cowboys

Big questions: Will the Cowboys be the first team to play in a Super Bowl at its home stadium? Can Tony Romo keep progressing after a big season? How will Doug Free do at left tackle in place of longtime starter Flozell Adams? How will they divide the carries between Felix Jones and Marion Barber? Will Dez Bryant push Roy Williams out of the receiving picture?

Big moves: Expectations are lofty for Bryant, a first-round pick who looked outstanding in camp before suffering a high ankle sprain. The team signed free agent Alex Barron, who's a capable right tackle and can hold down that spot while Marc Colombo recovers from knee surgery. Gone is left tackle Adams, who held that job for 12 seasons.

Bottom line: The Cowboys are coming off their first playoff victory in 13 years, and Romo has rounded into a reliable, top-shelf quarterback. This could be their year.

Giants

Big questions: Can a switch to Perry Fewell as defensive coordinator help the Giants return to their familiar attacking style? Can Eli Manning assemble another strong season (like the one wasted last year)? Now that he has had knee surgery, will Brandon Jacobs be the power runner he should be? Are no-name linebackers ready to form what always has been a position of strength for the franchise? Has Tom Coughlin run his course as coach, or can he get the club back on the playoff track?

Big moves: Defensive leader Antonio Pierce is gone, but the Giants picked up a couple of respectable veterans — safeties Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant — who can help on and off the field. Punter Jeff Feagles retired after 22 seasons.

Bottom line: The season hinges on defense. If the team can come around in that department, it can write off last year's collapse as a hiccup.

Redskins

Big questions: For years the Redskins have sold promise; can QB Donovan McNabb now make good on that? Will coach Mike Shanahan be able to turn around a team that has won just two playoff games in Dan Snyder's 11 years of ownership? What kind of contribution will Albert Haynesworth make after a tumultuous camp of fighting with Shanahan? Will rookie tackle Trent Williams help provide McNabb with the protection seldom afforded Jason Campbell?

Big moves: The McNabb trade was monumental, especially considering it was within the division. Smaller moves but also noteworthy were the additions of cornerback Phillip Buchanon, receivers Joey Galloway and Bobby Wade, and running back Willie Parker. The club parted ways with receiver Antwaan Randle El, tackle Chris Samuels and cornerback Fred Smoot.

Bottom line: The Redskins have made a lot of bad decisions over the past decade, sure, but at least they don't sit still. These moves could pay off.

Eagles

Big questions: Is Kevin Kolb better suited than six-time Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb for the Eagles' version of the West Coast offense? Will this group of receivers emerge as the NFL's best? Can rookie Nate Allen round into the type of impact safety the Eagles need? How will the return of middle linebacker Stewart Bradley help pull together the defense? Will the team blitz less, considering it wasn't reliably effective last season?

Big moves: Trading McNabb is as big as any move in team history, and it shows coach Andy Reid simply believes Kolb is better. The addition of linebacker Ernie Sims should help in coverage of tight ends. The team said goodbye to cornerback Sheldon Brown, among others.

Bottom line: It's sink or swim for Kolb, who has had the luxury to sit back and absorb the offense for three seasons. The Eagles play six '09 playoff teams but five of them at home.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.