Today's question: The run game in Washington will be extra important this season (if the offseason talk is to be believed). The Washington Redskins have gotten bigger and, they hope, will have a stronger power game. How will your respective teams be at stopping the run?
Todd Archer, Dallas Cowboys: John is buying into the power of Bill Callahan here. Hard to argue since they took Brandon Scherff early in the first round. Callahan had a good run with the Cowboys that was made better when the team added first rounders in Travis Frederick and Zack Martin in his tenure. The Cowboys have been OK in stopping the run with Rod Marinelli's fly-to-the-ball approach. It's more about attitude than scheme. The Cowboys will benefit from the return of Sean Lee, who missed last year with a knee injury, a full offseason for Rolando McClain, the addition of Greg Hardy and the development of DeMarcus Lawrence. Will the Cowboys be a top-five run defense? Probably not, but they will be good enough to force teams to beat them through the air. And if the Cowboys' offense can produce points the way it did last year, then that will also help the run defense.
Dan Graziano, New York Giants: The Giants ranked 30th in the league against the run in 2014, so ... I guess they have to be better? I'm just not sure their offseason was as effective as they wanted it to be in terms of improving in that area. They set out in free agency to try to find a run-stuffing defensive tackle, inquiring about Dan Williams and others at the beginning of the market, but they had to settle for Kenrick Ellis. They moved up in the second round of the draft to take safety Landon Collins, who should help against the run, and their third-round pick, defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa, is said to be strong in that area as well. Jason Pierre-Paul is quite a good run-stopping defensive end, in addition to (some might say at the expense of) his pass-rushing abilities. But events of the past week cast doubt on how much Pierre-Paul will even to be able to play this year. And even in the best-case Pierre-Paul scenarios, a lot depends on the linebackers and the health of Jon Beason, which is always in question. I don't think run defense is likely to be a Giants strength in 2015.
Phil Sheridan, Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles have been solid against the run and their front seven should be as good or better, with the addition of linebacker Kiko Alonso to the mix. Of course, the Eagles have been so bad against the pass that teams often don't waste a lot of time and energy trying to run against them. Their secondary will be different in 2015 and has a chance to be better, too. Ideally, that will eliminate some of the deep throws that plagued the Eagles last season and force opponents to establish some kind of running game. If Washington plans to concede that point and voluntarily accentuate the running game, that is something the Eagles will welcome. It wasn't 5-yard runs that killed the Eagles in 2014. It was 50-yard passes.