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NFC East roundup: The 'beaten down' Cowboys D

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NFC East roundup: The 'beaten down' Cowboys D

Year one of the Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator did not go as hoped in Big D. Rex's brother said as much in a recent interview with ESPN Dallas, coping to poor play calls and heaping to much of the playbook onto his new players.However, he does not regret repeatedly publicly touting his players as the most talented defense in the NFL even though statistical evidence (16th in points allowed) suggested something closer tomiddle of the pack. Oh, and the lack of remorse has nothing to with him being a Ryan boy and that's what Buddy Ryan's kids do. Rob said his beleaguered.troops needed positivity."Those guys had been beaten down so much that, in my opinion, I don't think they had the confidence to go forward," Ryan said.Osi no longer a Giant distractionNow that defensive lineman Osi Umenyiora has agreed to a one-year contract, the New York Giants have put to bed their one lingering off the field issue. We dont have to answer questions about it, Eli Manning said at a charity event Tuesday night. We dont have to worry about it. We just have to worry about playing football.Part of the imposing defensive line that combined with the Manning and the passing game to take the Giants on a magical Super Bowl-winning ride, the 30-year-old Umenyiora finished with nine sacks last season. He tacked on 3.5 more in the postseason. Now thatOsi is sticking around, Giants corner Antrel Rolle says more havoc is to come.We have an outstanding defensive line without Osi, but with Osi there it makes it that much better, Rolle said a charity event on Tuesday.I think we have a great team all the way around, not just the defensive line. Were stacked right now at each and every position.

As long as guys stay healthy its going to be a great run.DRC tackling Eagles outside corner roleDominique Rodgers-Cromartie's first year with the Eagles was fine - but it could have been better. Getting to square off against Philadelphia's dynamicreceivers like Jeremy Maclin should help, especially now that Rodgers-Cromartie is shifting back outside after a a season spent in the slot.Acquired from the Cardinals before the 2011 season, Rodgers-Cromartie was expected to be part of a dymanic cornerback group with Nnamdi Asomugha and Asante Samuel. Instead the Eagles collective secondary allowed 27 touchdown passes and numerous red zone completions. Oh, the trio also whiffed on plenty oftackles, 27in all by one estimate.You really can't just work on that during the off-season, as far as just getting the form of tackling down, said Rodgers-Cromartie, who takes over the spot opposite Asomugha now that the team cut ties with Samuel. You can get stronger in the weight room and just go from there. The main thing is getting my feet back under me and focus on covering now.

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Making the Pro Bowl case for Tress Way, D.J. Swearinger

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Making the Pro Bowl case for Tress Way, D.J. Swearinger

Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Williams will represent the Redskins in the Pro Bowl next month, which is great news for the team. Combined the two players have 11 Pro Bowl selections and are deserving of their status as stars around the league.

For Redskins fans, two other players generated a lot of Pro Bowl support in punter Tress Way and safety D.J. Swearinger. The good news is both Way and Swearinger got named Pro Bowl alternates, but the bad news is neither man got the Pro Bowl selection. 

Well, do they deserve it? It's easy to make the case. 

In Swearinger's situation, it doesn't require making much of a case. Giants safety Landon Collins made the Pro Bowl team, but he was placed on the injured reserve earlier this month after undergoing shoulder surgery. A pending free agent, it's very hard to see a scenario where Collins plays in the Pro Bowl. 

Swearinger should replace Collins on the Pro Bowl team. Pro Football Focus ranks Swearinger the 8th-best safety in the NFL, and he has the numbers too. The sixth-year safety has started each game for Washington this season and has logged four interceptions and three forced fumbles to go with 48 tackles. He's deserving of the Pro Bowl spot. 

With the safety issue settled, it's time to focus on the punter. 

Let's be clear, Seattle's Mike Dickson has been really good this year. Tress Way deserves to be in the Pro Bowl, but Dickson is a good choice too. 

Here's what separates Way from Dickson: Touchbacks. 

Way has punted 72 times this season with zero touchbacks. He's placed the ball inside the 20 an astounding 39 times and never once has the ball gotten into the end zone. 

Dickson has punted 68 times this season with four touchbacks. He's placed the ball inside the 20 a respectable 29 times, 10 fewer than Way. 

Boil that down: Dickson has 10 fewer punts inside the 20 than Way, and Dickson has four more touchbacks. Fewer times inside the 20, and more touchbacks. 

It's worth pointing out Dickson has a ridiculous 44.2-yard net punting average. That's crazy good. Way's net punting average is 41.2.

What the stats don't show is that Way has been a critical part of the Redskins success this season. When things were going well for Washington, field position was a vital part of the team's winning formula. Way's ability to drop the ball inside the 20-yard-line, if not the 10 or 5-yard-line, played a huge role in that formula. 

Dickson is very good, but Way has been better. 

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Redskins get Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan into Pro Bowl and another 5 to alternate team

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Redskins get Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan into Pro Bowl and another 5 to alternate team

The Redskins landed two players on the Pro Bowl roster in left tackle Trent Williams and outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. This marks the seventh and fourth Pro Bowl honors for the players, respectively. 

Williams has been named to the past seven Pro Bowls, a remarkable feat, and joins Ken Houston as the only Washington players to make seven straight Pro Bowls. He trails only Charley Taylor (8) and Chris Hanburger (9) in total Pro Bowl selections.

After a two-sack performance last Sunday in Jacksonville moved him into second all-time on the Redskins sack list, Kerrigan got named to his fourth Pro Bowl and third straight selection. He has 11 sacks on the season, his third straight year with double-digit sacks. 

Beyond Kerrigan and Williams, five other Redskins players were named alternates to the Pro Bowl: D.J. Swearinger, Josh Norman, Jordan Reed, Tress Way, and Adrian Peterson. 

Many thought Swearinger or Way would make the Pro Bowl for the first time in their careers, but both players came up just short. Things look good for Swearinger to make it to Orlando, as Giants safety Landon Collins made the Pro Bowl squad but will miss the game with an injury. 

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