The NFL is giving social media dramatic gold over the last few months. The Antonio Brown Saga, Zeke and Gordon’s holdouts and just Baker Mayfield being Baker Mayfield. While I love drama, I prefer to talk about the play of the field. I am starting my NFL previews with the top-heavy NFC East.
The Cowboys finished one game ahead of the Nick Foles lead Philadelphia Eagles last year. A lot has changed for both teams heading into the 2019 season. With Foles now taking his snaps in Jacksonville the Eagles are planning to lean solely on their injury prone Quarterback. The Cowboys have seen few actual changes, but they do have some bigger issues, that being the new contract for star running back Ezekiel Elliot as well as the new contract for the “franchise” quarterback Dak Prescott.
The Redskins did the right thing, taking Dwayne Haskins with the number 15 pick in this year’s draft. Alex Smith will not be a part of the conversation any time soon, so they had to look towards the future. Haskins will compete for a job that most likely will be going to veteran Case Keenum, but the future looks bright along with the returning Derrius Guice.
The Redskins will have a lot of offensive struggles this season. They have built a strong core for their defense with the pickup of Landon Collins. Collins will sure up the secondary while fellow first round pick defensive end Montez Sweat, first team All-American from Mississippi State will sure up a defensive line that already features All-Rookie nose tackle Da’Ron Payne
Washington should be in full rebuild mode. Jay Gruden needs to make the youth movement happen in Washington. It’s time to move on from Adrian Peterson and Case Keenum, if Washington focuses on the veterans rather than the future, they will not only suffer this year but for years to come.
New York Giants
New York’s offseason was dysfunctional. Moving on from Odell Beckham, Olivier Vernon, Landon Collins and drafting Daniel Jones were all questionable moves. Filling in for Beckham was veteran Golden Tate who began his career as a Giant with a suspension.
The Giants have last year’s offensive rookie of the year Saquon Barkley leading their offense, all they need is for Eli Manning to play mistake free football and to find a way to protect him to be successful. New York has to begin the rebuild. They have the pieces to begin the rebuild but will be far from where they need to be.
The Eagles are loaded offensively. Re-Adding DeSean Jackson gives them a deep threat that will open up the middle for Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Philly quietly added even more depth to the running game with the additions of bruiser Jordan Howard and rookie Miles Sanders joining the litany of other running backs. Fantasy owners will have inner turmoil, while Doug Pederson utilizes each running back to their strengths.
Philly has fixed their secondary issues from last season by simply getting healthy. The addition of Malik Jackson from Jacksonville should help clog up the middle allowing the elite outside pass rushers force throws. The Eagles should have advantages on both sides of the ball next year. In the end the health of Carson Wentz will determine the success of the Eagles and the division.
Dallas has built one of the best young defenses in the NFL. DeMarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch and the newly extended Jaylon Smith made Dallas a defensive force that gave the LA Rams all they could handle in last year’s playoffs. The Dallas D will be the backbone of the Cowboys team.
Jason Garrett will have a few more weapons this year. A full season of Amari Cooper, an emerging Michael Gallup and free agent Randall Cobb should make for an explosive passing game. The contract issues with Ezekiel Elliott will be huge in determining what the Dallas offense is going to look like this season. Rookie Tony Pollard has stepped up early in the preseason but potentially not having the best running back is obvious bad news. The Cowboys will be forced to rely on Dak Prescott taking the next step in his progression as a player.
The NFC East is a two-team race. The Cowboys and the Eagles will compete for superiority in the division while the Giants and the Redskins will be fighting for mediocrity. Saquon Barkley and Dwayne Haskins will be fun players to watch progress but for those teams to be successful they will need above average play from players that are not ready to play at a championship level.
Eventually it will come down to Carson Wentz versus Dak Prescott. Wentz ultimately has more talent on the offensive end to make the plays down the stretch. The inner locker room turmoil of the offseason will be too much to overcome for “America’s Team”
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Dallas Cowboys
- Washington Redskins
- New York Giants