NFC Notes: Cowboys, Eagles, Giants, Washington



  • Per USA Today’s Jori Epstein, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he underestimated how challenging it would be to shift to DC Mike Nolan‘s scheme without the benefit of true OTAs or training camp: “I really missed it relative to how important it might be to stay fixed with the same overall philosophy. You look at a defense that gives up big plays (and go) directly to the word in the dictionary called ‘discipline’ of doing your assignment.”
  • Nolan abandoned his scheme midway through the season and the team was able to shift its turnover margin. It’s doubtful Nolan will be back in 2021 but HC Mike McCarthy said the focus on turnovers will remain: “My No. 1 priority, and it’s always been that way as a football team, is to win the turnover differential. The history speaks for itself. Our last four weeks, especially, we’ve done a tremendous job of taking the ball away. So we have the first part in order and with that we took a huge step defensively.”
  • Jones also expects the Cowboys to be better in 2021 once they get players like QB Dak Prescott, OT Tyron Smith, G Zack Martin and OT La’el Collins back to full health. But they still have to put it together on the field like this year proved: “On paper, it looks pretty good. But that’s on paper, so it’s up to us to go out (and act). Obviously, there’s been a lot of talk about what we can do. It’s time to put that into action and actually do it consistently over a whole season.”


  • ESPN’s Adam Schefter said in a radio interview on 97.5 The Fanatic that his opinion is the Eagles will ultimately have to move on from QB Carson Wentz, adding that his sense is the team wouldn’t get a first-round pick back in a trade. (Brandon Lee Gowton)


  • Per Fansided’s Matt Lombardo, Giants owner John Mara said in his end of year press conference that the team was thrilled with the hire of HC Joe Judge: “We’re very pleased with the selection we made at head coach, look what he was asked to deal with, a pandemic, no offseason, minicamps, virtual meetings and losing his best player, he showed real leadership, grit and determination.”
  • Mara noted that Judge and GM Dave Gettleman agreed on virtually everything this year. (Dan Salamone)
  • He confirmed that the plan is to bring Gettleman back for another year in 2021: “I didn’t think making a change at this point in time would be beneficial.” (Zack Rosenblatt)
  • There isn’t a win total Mara wants to see from the team to secure Gettleman’s status next year but he wants to see continued progress: “I’d like to see we’ve taken another significant step forward.” (Ralph Vacchiano)
  • As for the idea that he could retire, the soon-to-be-70-year-old Gettleman dismissed that idea for now: “It is really dependent on the Lord how long I stick around. I feel fine. I feel excited. I just want to keep going. I don’t know where this retirement stuff came from. At the end of the day, I feel great.” (Zack Rosenblatt)
  • He added he’s been told by his doctor he’s “as healthy as a horse.” (Rosenblatt)
  • Mara also believes that Giants QB Daniel Jones “has what it takes” to be New York’s franchise quarterback. (Vacchiano)
  • Gettleman believes Jones showed signs of progress in 2020: “He’s done a lot of really good stuff. He’s made of the right stuff mentally and physically. We have complete confidence in him moving forward.” (Vacchiano)
  • Mara thinks the team is trending up and he’s trying to invest in that: “There’s a different feeling in the building now than there has been in a number of years. That’s why I’m optimistic.” (Art Stapleton)
  • Mara is hopeful Giants fans won’t have to wait too much longer for a winning season: “Hopefully not too much longer, because I can’t wait too much longer, quite frankly. I’m tired of sitting up here explaining why I’m optimistic about the future. I want to do it after a winning season.” (Vacchiano)
  • Mara identified the offense as a problem spot the team will focus resources on this offseason: “There’s no question we need to help our offense going forward.” (Salamone)
  • Gettleman says the goal this offseason is to add “playmakers” to the team. (Jordan Raanan)
  • Giants RB Saquon Barkley was highlighted by Mara as a building block going forward. He’ll be eligible for an extension for the first time this offseason: “I’m so happy we have Saquon. He is going to come back stronger than ever and be a big part of the team this year. I certainly expect him to be a Giant for a very, very long time.” (Ryan Dunleavy)
  • Gettleman didn’t want to talk specifics of contract negotiations but did say he was “ecstatic” DL Leonard Williams had a breakout, 11.5 sack season: “Like I tell players ‘I want you to be successful and I want you to make me cry in negotiations.’” (Vacchiano)
  • Mara acknowledged the pandemic had a dramatic impact on their finances: “It was a huge financial hit this year. We suffered some pretty significant financial losses. But it’s not going to affect our decision to be active in free agency.” (Vacchiano


  • The Athletic’s Ben Standig says any candidates being linked to Washington’s general manager vacancy are premature. 
  • Standig said Washington HC Ron Rivera won’t drill down into options for the front office until the season is over. There are obvious candidates that have ties to Rivera and Washington could still add other executives in addition to a general manager. 
  • Washington QB Taylor Heinicke took first-team reps during the portion of practice open to the media. (Nicki Jhabvala)
  • Washington QB Alex Smith was limited and said his participation Thursday would be the biggest determining factor for his availability Saturday night: “Tomorrow is going to be a telling day.” (NFL Media)
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