How Cowboys can win NFC East

Dallas needs a smooth adjustment on defense and Romo to excel

Originally Published: June 7, 2013
By Field Yates | ESPN Insider

Tony RomoMatthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsTony Romo got a big contract this offseason. Now he needs to prove he's worth the money.

The tempo has picked up at Philadelphia Eagles practices since the hiring of former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, and optimism has followed. Hope rests in Kelly's ability to kick-start an offense with incumbent talent, albeit one that underperformed last season. A string of strong drafting, highlighted by the acquisition of Robert Griffin III in 2012, has the Washington Redskins primed to compete for division titles for years to come, and the New York Giants are just a year removed from a Super Bowl victory.

In Dallas, however, this offseason has been one of transition for the Cowboys, as defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was let go in favor of Monte Kiffin -- the two run decisively different systems -- and tight salary-cap restrictions limited the Boys as spenders on the open market. (The latest drama in Big D revolves around who will be calling plays on offense; the answer appears to vary based on whom you ask.)

The most notable offseason transaction for Dallas, though, was re-signing quarterback Tony Romo to a massive extension that makes him among the game's highest-paid players. Romo was due to become a free agent after this season (and his contract prevented the Cowboys from using the franchise tag), putting a premium on an extension this offseason (which also created short-term cap relief).

In a division that figures to be closely contested again in 2013 (the Eagles may not challenge for the playoffs, but a record closer to .500 is well within reach), what chances do the Cowboys have to win the NFC East?


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Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.