Let’s poke holes in Gil Brandt’s recent prediction article that the Cowboys will win the NFC East

Gil Brandt of NFL.com put out an article yesterday predicting that the Cowboys would win the division. On my first pass through his piece (skimming it), I thought there were some relevant points that he made. However, after his article seemed to get a lot of play, I took a closer look and although I respect the hell out of Gil Brandt, I realized that it was actually a pretty poor argument. I’ve been burnt by ripping these kinds of predictions in the past, but alas, here we go again.

Brandt had 10 bullet points on why the Cowboys would be better than they were last year. Here are the points he made (in quotes) that don’t pass the smell test:

Kiffin has a long history of success, but one of the most important things he’ll bring to the table in Dallas is a familiarity with college offenses. The long-time coaching veteran’s most recent career stop before this one was at USC, where he certainly got a taste of both the increasingly popular pistol offense and the hurry-up, no-huddle offense that new Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly ran at Oregon.

Here’s what Oregon did to Kiffin’s defenses the last 3 years:

Kiffin

So yeah, I’d say Kiffin “got a taste” of Kelly’s no-huddle offense.

In Gavin Escobar, the Cowboys have another pass-catching tight end to run out there with Witten, expanding the matchup strategies available to the Dallas offense. Also, with his size (6-foot-6, 254 pounds), Escobar promises to be a threat in the red zone.

Terrance Williams, meanwhile, can be productive on the outside, which could allow Austin to switch to the slot position. I think Austin is a stronger receiver between the hashes; that is, after all, where he’s had most of his NFL success.

Many questioned the Cowboys’ decision to draft Wisconsin center Travis Frederick in the first round, but as I said last week, I think that pick will pay off. As a rookie, Frederick will solidify the interior of Dallas’ offensive line, which was one of the team’s biggest problems last season.

With fifth-round draft pick Joseph Randle in the fold, the Cowboys finally have two legitimate runners/receivers in the backfield. Randle and incumbent starter DeMarco Murray are very much alike in terms of size, running style and ability to catch the football; they’re really two peas in a pod.

The above was actually 3 of Brandt’s 10 bullet points, and they all talk about rookies. The analysis is fine and good, however, the same argument about rookie contributors can be made for all 32 teams. And frankly, in my opinion, a better argument for rookie contributors can be made in most cases for the other teams around the league.

Because they’ll be playing in the Hall of Fame Game, the Cowboys will get an extra week of time in training camp, which has the potential to be an important advantage. If you get more time to get ready as a team — and if you know what you’re doing — you’re able to use that to get better.

If the Cowboys need an extra preseason game to get their act together, they’re already toast. There’s also a point to be made here that the extra preseason game could lead to more injuries.

Dallas has a fine young kicker in Dan Bailey, who converted 93.5 percent of the field goals he attempted in 2012, tied for second-best in the NFL. That’s a necessity in this league, what with how many close games there are.

The theme of Brandt’s entire piece is how the team will improve over their 2012 version. He notes Bailey, who hit 93.5% of his attempts last year. Isn’t it more likely that his accuracy will go down?

The relationship between a quarterback and his center can be important, and Frederick should have an easy “in” with Romo. The town he grew up in, Sharon, Wis., is just about 50 minutes by car from Romo’s hometown of Burlington, Wis. I would expect Romo to take a special interest in his fellow Wisconsinite and help give his career a jump-start.

Come on, Gil.

The Cowboys may very well win the NFC East next year, but I just don’t see much in Brandt’s analysis that has me all that convinced that they’re a significantly better team.

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26 Comments

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  4. Solomon says:

    Doesn’t Gil Brandt say the same thing every year? I’m fairly certain he’s just copying and pasting his articles from the previous year and just changing it to make it more current.

  5. begatts6174 says:

    Yeah Jimmy, a lot of what Brandt writes in that article is mostly grasping at straws. Touting the ‘Boys backfield due to a 5th round rookie?!? Suggesting that Romo and the rookie Center will mesh well because they grew up close to one another’s home town?! What type of analysis is that?? Hey the Cowboys may very well win the NFCE (I don’t think that will happen, but…). However, Gil uses some pretty weak arguments to prove his point.

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  7. Gil Brandt may have a point, but Jerry Jones still looks like a scrotum sack.

  8. Joe D says:

    No team in the NFC E strikes me as head n shoulders above the rest… Any of the 3 teams Skins, Boys or Giants could win it by a small margin. SOrry to my birds, but I thiink they have a year before they can contend

  9. NYG_Slater says:

    Kudos to KC Joyner.

  10. Invictus XI says:

    Any reasoning you have for one team winning a division because of their (non-QB) rookies is piss poor.

    In fact, any argument you can make about one team that you can use for other teams is piss poor.

    1. Bob says:

      You could make arguments based upon numbers of high picks, as those are likely to get more early playing time. E.g. the Vikings will probably get an above average rookie contribution this year. But in this case, yes, it is a very poor argument.

  11. SteveH says:

    But… but… Jimmy, they’re both from Wisconsin.

  12. Mick says:

    Your more serious tone in this one makes me disappoint. The 2011 Giants rip job was classic… in fact, you should do another Giants hit piece. The time is right.

  13. Hope For the Best says:

    Even though I am a Cowboy fan I can accept your opinions on them whether good or bad but I find this article to be more of an attempt just to drive traffic up on your website.

    Having not read the article and only seeing what you posted I assume Gil never said Kiffin had success at USC against Chip Kelly’s offense just that he has experience with it. He could be working under the assumption that with superior athletes on defense than he had in college he could now be better suited to go against Chip.

    You’re right other teams rookies could be more helpful but perhaps he compared all the rookies drafted by Dallas and decide those three will help more than the teams they face this season.

    I really don’t know what you were going for when you questioned Bailey’s percentage is more likely to go down. it seemed like you were just reaching for something to say here. his percentage could go down it could go up but if the kid is as good as most Cowboy fans believe he will continue to be consistent.

    As for the rest of the points he listed they seemed to be reaches as well, what an extra preseason game will do for the Cowboys is peer speculation and Romo and Fred having close hometowns is useless information as well.

    1. Hope For the Best says:

      should be pure speculation

    2. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… Cowboys articles on this site typically get the least amount of traffic, on average.

      1. cuz we are all at BtB….feel like you need to be somewhere other than here?….

        jk Jimmy…keep up your good work covering all the teams…hard to believe an Eagles fan covers the Cowboy’s with more honesty than BSPN writers that are supposed to….

  14. skinsaholic says:

    If Gil told me that a D with all the pieces for a solid 3-4 would improve while switching to a 4-3 under Kiffin, I would tell him he is crazy. When the skins switched from 4-3 to 3-4, i can remember how bad that first year was without the correct pieces…

    1. problem with your argument is that we didn’t have the pieces for a “solid” 3-4…We may have said that we were a 3-4 team and the positions were labeled as such but in truth and scheme we have always been a 4-3 “under” team and teams have played us as such instead of how they would scheme against a true 3-4 such as Pittsburgh…

      1. skinsaholic says:

        Potatoe/Potatoe, the under is basically a 3-4, save for a few minor differences. The tackles in a 4-3 base will still have to learn the 2-3 technique instead of the 0, olb’s will now have to put a hand in the dirt, etc. There will differences, whcih could potentially make the transaction difficult, that was my only point.

        1. gotpong says:

          Potatoe/Potatoe = 1 Potatoe and possibly 1 Potato

  15. Bob says:

    That piece you did on the Giants prior to 2011. With the benefit of hindsight, an absolute classic.

  16. Mandmeisterx says:

    As a Cowboy fan, I have a ton of respect for what Gil did for the organization, but the dude fell off his rocker years ago.

    1. my name is says:

      U a fake Cowboy fan, Cowboys win the NFC East w/Ease!

      1. horatius says:

        Clap harder and believe bitches!!!!

        1. skinsaholic says:

          Please refrain from using this language on a familey blog.

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