NFC East Preview

Posted: September 6, 2011 by Kodi in NFL

Are the Cowboys still America’s team?

Is Mike Vick the best thing that could have happened to the Eagles?

Can the Giants get through their Injuries?

Seriously how racist is the name Red-Skins?

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas came into the 2010 season as one of the Super Bowl favorites but started the season 1-7 and only had a better record than the Buffalo Bills through 9 weeks. Dallas finished the season 5-3 led by QB Jon Kitna and Stephen McGee after Tony Romo was lost for the season with a broken collarbone in week 7. The Cowboys decided that it wasn’t all personnel issues and that there needed to be a change in the coaching staff, so after a 45-7 ass kicking by the Green Bay Packers Owner Jerry Jones showed Wade Phillips the door. Offensive Coordinator and longtime Head Coach in training Jason Garrett took over the HC duties and that is when Dallas went on their 5-3 run. There is a lot of optimism coming from the Arlington/Dallas area again this year with the return of Garrett and Romo back for what fans hope will be the entire season, for the HC and QB.

The Cowboys offense scored the 7th most points in the NFL and had the 7th most yards, ranking 6th in passing offense and 16th in rushing offense. For the first time since Brad Johnson’s face-plant in the 2008 season the Cowboys had to start someone at QB other than Tony Romo. The back-ups did an adamant job finding its key targets and have WR Miles Austin and TE Jason Witten catch for more than 1000 yards. They also had 4 players on the team that had 5 TD receptions or more  but their rushing offense was pathetic and their backfield full of injuries. RB Felix Jones started just 7 games and finished the year with 800 rushing yards (leading the team) and just a single rushing TD, while RB Marion Barber started 10 games and had just 374 rushing yards and 4 TDs in 113 rush attempts. The Cowboys decided that they were no longer trusting Barber and cut him loose, deciding that Jones is the guy in the backfield and drafting DeMarco Murray in the 3rd round of the Draft to fill in the role of his back-up and Tashard Choice just gets to wait in the wind. The Cowboys Offensive Line is going to look dramatically different after Dallas released C Andre Gurode, G Leonard Davis and T Marc Colombo. The Cowboys went out and used the 9th overall pick on USC T Tyron Smith who will probably play with Kyle Kosier and Doug Free as replacements for the “old” Dallas O-Line.

Dallas’ defense is based around DeMarcus Ware and the LB/DE had a league leading 15.5 Sacks but the defense ranked 31st in points allowed and 23rd in total yards. The great pass-rush by Ware has taken away a lot of pressure on CBs Terrence Newman and Mike Jenkins leading to a 6th ranked pass defense with 20 INTs, 7th most in the NFL. The Cowboys however allowed 33 passing TDs which was the 2nd most in the league and they need to do a better job of buckling down in the red-zone. The rush defense ranked 12th in yards and 12th in rushing TDs allowed and was led by ILBs Bradi James and Keith Brooking. The Cowboys need some help on defense but they decided not to look for the replacement players they need in the Draft but rather focused on beefing up an already powerful offense and it could bite them in the ass.

The Cowboys play in a tough division but will definitely be battling for a title although their offense is prolific their defense is suspect and only getting older. Dallas is always going to score points but they need to be able to stop other teams from scoring on them and with the minimal moves that they made in the off-season it is only reasonable to expect more of the same. That being said their offense is good enough to win 9/10 games but if they had amped up their defense they could be a 12 win team. The Cowboys are going to end up second fiddle to the Philadelphia Eagles who also have a versatile offense but made the necessary moves on defense to ensure their place atop the NFC East. The Cowboys are going to finish 10-6, behind the Eagles and will most likely make the Playoffs as a Wild Card team but will not be making a SB run because we all know defense wins championships.

Key Arrivals: K Shayne Graham, S Abram Elam.

Key Re-Signings: S Gerald Sensabaugh, DE Jason Hatcher, DB Alan Ball, DE Marcus Spears, OG Kyle Kosier, OT Doug Free.

Key Departures: DE Igor Olshansky, K Shayne Graham, C Andre Gurode,  WR Sam Hurd, DE Stephen Bowen, OG Leonard Davis, RB Marion Barber, WR Roy Williams, OT Marc Colombo.

New York Giants

The Giants were a streaky team last year but nearly made the Playoffs finishing the season 10-6. The Giants had their fate in their own hand’s when they played the Green Bay Packers in week 16 but lost 17-45 and lost their spot in the tournament to the future SB Champs. Whenever the Giants lost a game they always followed up their first loss with a second but never lost more than 2 games in a row. The Giants had a huge problem with turnovers losing the ball twice or more in 11 games. New York had a solid balance on both offense and defense but with the offense losing possession of the ball so many times the defense had too many possessions with unearned scoring opportunities.

The Giants have been a solid rushing offense for the past few years but in the last two seasons Eli Manning has thrown for over 4000 yards. Manning also completed 62 percent of his passes in both years and the Giants have a much more versatile offense now that the QB is coming into his own. It might have to do with the grooming of Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham into versatile WRs, but Manning will not have WR Steve Smith or TE Kevin Boss in 2011. New York had the 10th best pass offense and 4th most passing TDs while they still had one of the best rushing attacks in the game ranking 6th in yards and TDs and ranked 7th in points scored and 5th in total yards. Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs may have been the most productive split backfield in the league tallying a total of 523 rush attempts for 2058 yards and 17 TDs.

The Giants had a good defense last season and were led by Des Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora’s pass rush while each player recorded 11.5 Sacks. Another Defensive standout was CB Terrell Thomas who has a Sack, 5 INTs, 4 Forced Fumbles, 2 Fumble Recoveries and a team leading 81 tackles. The problem for New York is that they have been barraged with a multitude of injuries all on the defensive side of the ball. It hasn’t just been players like back-up CB Bruce Johnson who ruptured his Achilles and is out for the year but also Terrell Thomas who tore his ACL and is also out for the year. The Giants had a little bit better news when DE Umenyiora opted for knee surgery and will be out until October. The Giants still have Tuck and an up and coming star in former Southern Florida DE Jason Pierre-Paul who they selected in the 2009 Draft. The Giants made a huge splash by selecting stand-out Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara in the 2010 Draft but were deflated when he broke his foot during pre-season and his timetable for a return is unknown.

The Giants are going to struggle on defense having the plethora of injuries that they are dealing with. New York plays in a tough division with competitive teams from 1-4 and no win is a guarantee. The offenses of Dallas and Philly are going to poke holes in the Giants make-shift defensive unit and that doesn’t bode well for New York. The Giants could get CB Amukamara back but he is still a Rookie and it is unknown whether his shutdown capabilities from NCCA Football will transfer to the NFL. I think that the cards are stacked against the Giants and they will have a disappointing season finishing 7-9 and 3rd place in the NFC East.

Key Arrivals: CB Brian Williams, DT Jimmy Kennedy, OT Stacy Andrews, TE Ben Patrick, OG Chris White, C David Baas, P Steve Weatherford.

Key Re-Signings: S Deon Grant, DE Dave Tollefson, DT Rocky Bernard, WR Michael Clayton, RB Ahmad Bradshaw, DE Mathias Kiwanuka, OG Kevin Boothe.

Key Departures: WR Darius Reynaud, K Rhys Lloyd, DT Gabe Watson,  P Matt Dodge, OLB Gerris Wilkinson, WR Steve Smith, S Michael Johnson, WR Derek Hagan, TE Kevin Boss, DT Barry Cofield, C Shaun O’Hara, OT Rich Seubert, OT Shawn Andrews.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles have been one of the biggest stories in the NFL since the Green Bay Packers took what was supposed to be the Eagles franchise QB from the game, Kevin Kolb, and he was replaced with who is now definitely the franchise QB, Mike Vick. The dog murderer came back from prison and slaughtered defenses on the field like he did Pit-Bulls in the ring but we shouldn’t judge him as a person but rather a NFL player and he may be one of the best. Vick got his 2nd $100 million+ contract after leading the Eagles to their 1st NFC East title without Donovan McNabb since 1996. They shipped off Kolb to Arizona and received a dynamic CB in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and decided that they also needed to bring in Nnamdi Asomugha  and Vince Young just to balance everything out.  The Eagles did not lose two games in a row until the final two games of the season and limped into the Playoffs to lose 21-16 to the Packers in the Wild Card round of the Playoffs.

Nobody really knows what Mike Vick was up to while he was in prison but it seems that the explosive running QB learned how to put some touch on his passes. Vick had career highs in passing yards, 3018, and completion percentage, 62.6 on 372 pass attempts in the 12 games he played. Vick and Kolb led the Eagles to the 9th best passing offense in the league while WRs DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin each had more than 960 receiving yards. Vick also led all QBs with 676 rushing yards and 9 TDs and had just over 400 yards less than RB LeSean McCoy in half the rushing attempts. McCoy had over 1000 yards rushing and nearly 600 yards receiving with 9 total TDs he is a dual-threat that is nearly as dangerous as Vick, but they did sign former Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown to help spell the young standout RB. The Eagles had some worry during the off-season with an undisclosed injury with WR Maclin but it seems as if there is nothing to worry about and he will be out there and ready to go week 1.

The Eagles had a mediocre defense last season ranking 21st in points allowed and 12th in total yards but too often Philadelphia allowed teams to score more than 24 points which happened 11 times. Philly knew that they needed to make moves and boy did they make some moves, trading Kolb for CB Rodgers-Cromartie immiediately improved their defensive backfield but then they came out of nowhere and signed former Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha. The Eagles still have Asante Samuels and with the addition of these two CBs Philadelphia might have one of the strongest pass defenses in the league. The Eagles ranked 14th in passing yards allowed last season but gave up 31 passing TDs which ranked 29th and Philly knew that if they wanted to get that SB ring they needed to tighten up their defense. They also brought in ex-Packers DT Cullen Jenkins and ex-Titans DE Jason Babin to help them improve their 15th ranked rush defense and through free-agency and trades the Eagles have an extremely dangerous defense to support their productive offense.

The Eagles look great on paper and we saw what their offense was capable of doing last season but they still need to get comfortable with their new players and see how well they assimilate to Andy Reid’s game plan. There is a lot of turnover from 2010 to 2011 and many of the Eagles new personnel play at important positions that need to complete understand the ins and outs of Phillies offensive and defensive scheme. That being said these are professional athletes, not Rookies, and they should be able to transition fluidly and effectively and the Eagles are undoubtedly the favorites to win the NFC East and may be a SB contender. I think that the Eagles will finish the season 11-5 but could finish 13-3 and be the best team in the NFC but unless a catastrophic injury occurs look for this team to make a run.

Key Arrivals: WR Steve Smith, DE Chris Wilson, DE Tony Hargrove, FS Jarrad Page, RB Ronnie Brown, DT Cullen Jenkins, QB Vince Young, CB Nnamdi Asomugh, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DE Jason Babin.

Key Re-Signings:  OLB Akeem Jordan, QB Michael Vick.

Key Departures: CB Joselio Hanson, OG Reggie Wells, DT Derek Landry,  DE Tony Hargrove, OT Ryan Harris, WR Johnnie Lee Higgins, TE Donald Lee, DE Chris Wilson, RB Jerome Harrison,  P Sav Rocca, DE Ricky Sapp, OG Max Jean-Gilles, CB Dimitri Patterson, OLB Ernie Sims, DT Brodrick Bunkley,  LB Stewart Bradley,  S Quintin Mikell, K David Akers, MLB Omar Gaither, QB Kevin Kolb.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins were a joke last year, mostly because of the ongoing feuds between HC and OC Mike and Kyle Shanahan and longtime NFC East veteran QB Donovan McNabb, not to mention DT Albert Haynesworth. McNabb had been picked up from the Eagles before the 2010 season and Washington faithful’s hoped he could be a stop gap at QB for a couple of seasons. That fiasco came and went while Washington traded McNabb to the Vikings this off-season and have put their franchise in the hands of Rex Grossman and John Beck. The Redskins scored more than 28 points just once in 2010 while 3 of their 6 wins came in OT. The Redskins are in a full-blown rebuilding phase and Owner Dan Snyder has put all of Hog Haven in the fate of the Shanahan’s and hopes it pans out.

The Redskins offense was pretty pathetic scoring just 302 points ranking 25th in the NFL and ranked 18th in total yards. The ‘Skins were ranked 8th in passing yards but that was due to always trailing in games and although they tallied a lot of yards they had just 21 passing TDs which ranked 22nd in the league. The one shining star was 31 year old WR Santana Moss who hauled in 93 receptions for 1115 yards and 6 TDs but when your best offensive player is in the final few seasons of his career there is reason to worry. Washington gave up on RB Clinton Portis after he had just 701 rushing yards, 3 TDs with 178 rushing attempts over the past two seasons. The Redskins traded for Cardinals RB Tim Hightower and drafted Nebraska RB Roy Helu to replace Portis and hope to improve on their 30th ranked rush offense. Washington doesn’t have any big names on offense that stand-out or scare you, nor do they force you to scheme defensively around a singular threat which doesn’t bode well for the Redskins offense.

The Redskins defense was absolutely pathetic ranking 21st in point allowed and 31 in total yards allowed. The Coaching staff was constantly at battle with DT Albert Haynesworth and only let him play in 8 games without starting him once. The ‘Skins relied heavily on LB London Fletcher, CB DeAngelo Hall and LB Brian Orakpo and all three players were voted to the Pro-Bowl. Orakpo led the team with 8.5 Sacks for a Redskins squad that tallied just 29 Sacks all season long, while Hall hauled in a team leading 6 INTs and Fletcher led the team with 87 tackles. The Redskins brought in help from anywhere they could get it signing players like ex-Cowboy DE Stephen Bowen, ex-Giants DT Barry Cofield, ex-Ravens CB Josh Wilson and Drafting Purdue LB/DE Ryan Kerrigan in the first round and Clemson DT Jarvis Jenkins in the second round.

The Redskins are going to be dwelling in the basement of the NFC East for the next couple of seasons as they try to rebuild their franchise yet again. Owner Dan Snyder has been an avid believer that if you have a problem you simply throw money at it but that philosophy has yet to be successful and Washington needs to realize it must rebuild from the ground up and rely on a youth movement, not a veteran carousel. Rex Grossman seems to be the “Skins starter going into week 1 but John Beck will get his opportunities behind Center, most likely you will see a new QB in Washington next year and it may be a top Draft pick from the class of 2012. The Redskins should be happy just to be competing because I don’t see them winning much in 2011. I have the Washington Redskins finishing the year 4-12 with a ceiling of 5 wins and a basement of 0/1 because they really are that bad.

Key Arrivals: TE Derek Schouman, P Sav Rocca, LB Keyaron Fox, OT Sean Locklear,  DE Stephen Bowen, OL Chris Chester, DT Barry Cofield, WR Donté Stallworth, CB Josh Wilson, WR Jabar Gaffney.

Key Re-Signings: S Reed Doughty, DE Kedric Golston, ILB Rocky McIntosh, QB Rex Grossman,  CB Phillip Buchanon, OT Jammal Brown, LB H.B. Blades, WR Santana Moss.

Key Departures: Cut QB Kellen Clemens, LB H.H. Blades, OL Artis Hicks, TE Derek Schouman, RB Keiland Williams, K Shayne Graham, DE Chris Wilson, CB Carlos Rogers, OT Stephon Heyer, DE Vonnie Holliday, OT Mike Williams, DT Albert Haynesworth,  DE Phillip Daniels, C Casey Rabach, DL Jeremy Jarmon.

 

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