Welcome to the NFC East — dwelling to the groups that engender essentially the most yelling on Twitter and, not unrelated to that, the place the whole division final season completed a mixed 17 video games beneath .500.
This division was a shame in 2020, with loads of followers suggesting the East ought to forfeit their spot within the playoffs as a result of proliferation of unhealthy soccer by everybody concerned. The East can be higher this season, however that doesn’t imply they’ll be good.
Let’s begin with the Dallas Cowboys, for my cash essentially the most constantly overrated staff within the NFL. The final time the Cowboys made it to the playoffs was in 2018, and the final time they received the Tremendous Bowl was in 1995. And but! Each season, we nonetheless have a number of too-tan guys with silver hair whose whole wardrobe consists of golfwear yelling all preseason about how this is the Cowboys’ 12 months! Positive it’s, Skip or Scott or Chet or no matter your identify is.
And look, I perceive the way it occurs. Let’s discuss this 12 months. Quarterback Dak Prescott is again, after exiting for the season in Week 5 in 2020, after he was carted off following a grotesque ankle harm. Operating again Ezekiel Elliott got here into camp lighter than he’s regarded in a great whereas, and the Cowboys have an excellent offensive line (although guard Zack Martin will probably miss Week 1, having examined optimistic for COVID) and possibly the most effective receiving corps within the NFL. When wholesome, their downside isn’t on the offensive facet of the ball. On paper, they look like they need to win the division simply.
However Dallas can by no means appear to get out of its personal manner, or develop on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball on the identical time. In 2020, the Cowboys’ protection completed twenty seventh in factors allowed, twenty second in passing yards allowed per sport, and wound up solely forward of the Texans in dashing yards allowed per sport. That’s the explanation Dan Quinn was introduced in because the staff’s new defensive coordinator, however whether or not he can simplify a scheme sufficient to make it efficient for Dallas throughout the board stays to be seen. To not point out the inside of the defensive position, which is… lower than good. The excellent news for Quinn is that his staff performs within the NFC East, a division the 6-10 Giants nonetheless had a shot at profitable in Week 16 final 12 months.
We’ll get to the Giants in a second, but when anybody will be capable of problem the Cowboys for the division, it’s the nonetheless mascotless Washington Soccer Group (not that I’m complaining; mascotless is manner higher than what they’d occurring earlier than). The WFT received the division final 12 months with a 7-9 document, and boasts in all probability the most effective protection (and positively the most effective defensive position) within the NFL, led by Chase Younger, Montez Sweat, and Jonathan Allen. In the event you’re in search of a protection that may cling with a Dallas offense working on all cylinders, that is the one.
The excellent query for Ron Rivera and firm is whether or not they can seize Fitzmagic in a bottle. After a season of alternating Dwayne Haskins and Alex Smith, the WFT went out and acquired none apart from everybody’s favourite journeyman quarterback in aviator shades, Ryan Fitzpatrick. An improve beneath heart, to make certain, however it’s price mentioning that Fitzpatrick has by no means gone to the playoffs in his profession, and a shaky offensive line received’t assist a QB who is way much less cellular than he was once. What’s worse for Fitzpatrick is that his beginning left deal with is Charles Leno, well-known to followers within the NFC North as wishy-washy on the road. All of that apart, it seems like Washington is headed in the appropriate route. For now.
In the meantime, in New York…
The Giants are nonetheless making an attempt to determine what they’ve in third-year quarterback Daniel Jones, who must make important strides this season. The excellent news for everybody within the group (to not point out the NFL) is that operating again Saquon Barkley is reportedly on-track to play in Week 1, albeit with a restricted work load, after tearing his ACL final October. The Giants picked up vast receiver Kenny Golladay from the Lions within the low season, which ought to assist give Jones some engaging targets, particularly contemplating TE Evan Engram has been sluggish to recuperate from a preseason calf harm. The query for head coach Joe Choose is whether or not the offensive line may give Jones the cross safety he must undergo his progressions, make good decisions, and develop some much-needed confidence because the QB1.
However regardless of which manner the season turns for the Giants, they’ll probably nonetheless be higher than the NFC East’s greatest practice wreck, the Philadelphia Eagles. Full disclosure: I’m pulling for quarterback Jalen Hurts. I feel we’re all pulling for Jalen Hurts. He acquired a uncooked deal on the finish of final season, when he was changed with Nate Sudfield for causes I’m unsure anybody has ascertained — and now, when he’s lastly confirmed to the entrance workplace that he’s the QB1, the Eagles exit and commerce for Gardner Minshew. Did I point out the elite Joe Flacco can also be someplace within the combine? GM Howie Roseman says he needs a “quarterback manufacturing unit,” however how that manufacturing unit is meant to profit the offense, or the quarterbacks in it, has but to be seen. Roseman would have been much better off concentrating on shorting up Philly’s oft-injured offensive line.
It in all probability speaks to the chaos surrounding the Eagles (are you able to imagine this staff received a Tremendous Bowl simply three years in the past?) that we’re simply now attending to their new head coach, Nick Sirianni, who wasn’t on anybody’s brief record of head teaching candidates within the offseason. Sirianni, who was beforehand the offensive coordinator for Indianapolis, plans to name his personal performs, which, as Bears head coach Matt Nagy can inform you, is certainly the way in which to go. Maintain onto that playbook, Nick. Don’t let anybody take it away. It’s not that there’s no expertise on the Eagles’ roster, as a result of there may be. Fletcher Cox and the defensive position trigger chaos in opposing offenses, and the addition of cornerback Steven Nelson helps out Darius Slay within the secondary tremendously. However the mixture of an unproven head coach and Roseman mucking up every part from the manager suites is prone to be an excessive amount of for the gamers on the sphere to beat.