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Insider

Can Cowboys still make the playoffs?

12/12/2012

Adam Schefter answers reader questions in his mailbag on Wednesdays during the NFL season. Got a query of your own? Submit it here.


Q: Adam, is there any chance that Andy Reid will return for the 2013 football season with the Philadelphia Eagles?

-- Adam (Nevada)

A: It's always possible, Adam, but I just don't see it happening. When the Eagles lost eight straight games, most people around the league believe it sealed Reid's fate. Now, maybe Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie will look around, determine there's not a coach out there who is as good as Reid -- and there aren't many, if any, that's for sure -- and reconsider. But most people believe this is Reid's last hurrah in Philadelphia, his final three games for the organization. Reid has served there 14 years and is the longest-tenured coach in the NFL today. Some say it's good to shake up things every decade or so. But something tells me Philadelphia will miss Reid more than it realizes now and that Reid will have plenty of other opportunities, starting this offseason.

Q: With a huge comeback win over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Dallas Cowboys are suddenly in the playoff picture. What are the chances they make the playoffs if Dez Bryant is out?

-- Darren (California)

A: Not as good if Dez is out, Darren. He has been dominant recently. Since Week 10, Bryant has seven touchdown receptions -- two more than any other player in the league. From this point on, Dallas is going to have to win out to make the playoffs. It plays Pittsburgh and New Orleans at home before finishing the season in Washington. The Cowboys have not been consistent enough to convince most people they can rip off three straight wins. They are talented enough to do it -- not as talented without Bryant -- but haven't been consistent enough. And if they don't make the playoffs, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is going to have a more difficult decision than ever to make on whether to keep coach Jason Garrett.

Q: With the Washington Redskins being in such a tough spot financially next year due to the cap penalty, what are some of the options they have to maximize the cap space they do have? Also, who are some reasonably priced free agents that would fill a need? Thanks!

-- Glendon (Virginia)

A: We're still a little early on this, Glendon, but let's address the first part. This past offseason, the Redskins found out they were losing $36 million worth of salary-cap space a mere 24 hours before free agency began. Needless to say, the organization wasn't pleased. This time, the Redskins have a lot more time to prepare. But keep in mind, they still have been appealing that cap loss, and there are some who believe Washington has a credible argument and a chance to get back some of that cap space. The Redskins have to operate as if they won't get it back, but once the offseason arrives, whether or not they have that space, this team has to address its defense. The offense can make do as is. However, the Redskins need more defensive backs and defensive linemen -- and there usually aren't very many bargains out there at those spots. But Washington will be on the prowl, and we'll have more specific names in a few weeks, closer to the end of the regular season.


Q: It seems like the Baltimore Ravens are fading down the stretch with two straight losses and now the dismissal of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. What is the biggest concern for that team right now?

-- George (Alabama)

A: A little of everything, George. Baltimore's defense has not been as strong as it had been in recent seasons. Its run defense has been susceptible, and the Ravens' linebackers, Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis, have not been the players they once were due to injury and age. Even though the offense is ninth in the league in points scored with 25.5 per game, it has not been as consistent as the Ravens would like and Baltimore still needs to get the ball to Ray Rice more. But there's a core of talent here that makes the Ravens formidable. This is the first time they've lost back-to-back games since 2009 -- there's a reason for that. This is a proud franchise, with talent, and it still has the chance to make this a memorable season. But there is work to do, and there are improvements to make.


Q: After another tough loss, what are the chances that Chan Gailey is back next year in Buffalo?

-- Leon (Oklahoma)

A: That's a tough one, Leon. First and foremost, let's see how the Bills finish out the season against the Seahawks, Dolphins and Jets. If the Bills do not play well in the final three games, it's going to make it more difficult to bring back the current regime. When a team spends the money the Bills did this past offseason and doesn't get the intended results, someone is going to be in trouble. And usually the coach takes the brunt of the blame.