NFC East NFL Preview
In preparation for the upcoming 2013 NFL season, Just A Guy has decided to put together a team-by-team analysis with a run down of every division along with the staff’s picks for how they believe the division will shake out. In this article we highlight the NFC East.
RGIII. It is as simple as that when it comes down to the Washington Redskins. Last year’s number 2 overall pick and reigning offensive rookie of the year, (which he deserved over Luck and Wilson), tore his ACL for the second time in his playing career. After that, the Skins blew a playoff lead over the Seahawks and their season was over. Word is that Griffin is recovering at a miraculous rate, a la Adrian Peterson last year. We shall see. He will sit out all preseason, which makes it tough to gauge how effective he will be until week 1, assuming he suits up. In the backfield with him is second year man Alfred Morris, who shocked the league last year by being a 6th round pick out of Florida International, only to be second in the league with 1600 yards rushing. If Griffin does indeed suit up early on, look for the offense to be heavy doses of these two, but with less running from Griffin, who needs to protect himself more. The problem then becomes the receiving corps. Pierre Garcon looked great when healthy last year. The only problem was, that was one game, and he was riddled throughout the entire season after the opener. After him it’s underachievers and journeymen. Lance Hendrickson, who has shown promise, but also a bad case of the dropsies, Aldrick Robinson, and tight end Fred Davis, who is coming off a major injury last year. Don’t forget wily veteran Santana Moss. But he isn’t getting any younger, and is but a fraction of his former self. His best days are long behind him.
As for the defense, they were absolutely atrocious last year. Outside of veteran London Fletcher, there weren’t any bright spots. Brian Orakpo was hurt all year, but he’s back to full strength, which is huge. Deangelo Hall has never regained his once solid form. The secondary was amongst the worst in all of the NFL. That’s why the Skins addressed this glaring need via the draft. They picked up safety Phillip Thomas out of Fresno State. Look for him to come in and compete for a starting gig immediately. The kid has skills. Secondly, the Redskins STOLE hard hitting Bacarri Rambo in the 6th round. Awesome name aside, Rambo was a safety at Georgia, largely overshadowed by big named teammates Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree, and fellow safety Shawn Williams. But, he holds the Georgia record for career interceptions with 16. He was an All American in 2011. If not for drug and off field issues these last 2 years, he was regarded as a second to third round pick. I was hoping the Rams would snag him, but Washington capitalized. This kid has a nose for the ball. He’s a playmaker. He could use fundamental work, but who wouldn’t want a safety named Rambo decking receivers? He could sneak into the starting lineup eventually if he works hard and stays out of trouble. That’s how slim the talent is at safety here. But the kid will certainly see the field rotational wise from the get go. Watch out for him.
If Griffin starts the season and remains healthy, I see the Redskins in a dogfight with the Giants for the division. I don’t trust the new look Eagles to rise to the top immediately, and the Cowboys are always overrated. I’ll say they finish second, and possibly grab a wild card berth.
The Eagles have a new head coach for the first since 1997. Chip Kelly takes over for the departed Andy Reid and Eagles fans have to be excited and uncertain about the team at the same time. Kelly had great success in college with his high octane Oregon offense. But will it work in the NFL? First up for Chip, deciding on his opening day QB- Vick? Foles? Rookie Matt Barkley? Vick seems to be the favorite to begin the season, but nothing is set in stone- not to mention his injury history playing a role. The running game should get plenty of work in this offense with both LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown getting plenty of touches. The passing game took a hit with the loss of Jeremy Maclin to a torn ACL and then there is Riley Cooper’s big “oops” moment of the off season. DeSean Jackson is still there to burn DB’s and Jason Avant is a solid possession WR. Tight End is looking solid with the signing of James Casey, drafting Zach Ertz and they still have Brent Celek. The defense on the other hand doesn’t seem to have as much optimism. After the dud in signing Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominick Rodgers Cromartie didnt pan out much better, the Eagles have a whole new secondary for 2013. Carey Williams, Patrick Chung, and Kenny Phillips highlight those new faces and the Eagles hope it is an improvement. The defensive front will also showcase a new look in the form of a 3-4 defense. Players such as Trent Cole, DeMeco Ryans, and Conor Barwin have to make the adjustment to this new D and prove their worth in the transition. The offense will be where the excitement is with the Eagles and also potentially the most scrutinized if the college style offense fails. Don’t expect to see the Eagles in January this year, but there’s some hope for the future Philly fans.
I have no idea what the Cowboys are doing, which is fine, because apparently no one on the staff knows either. Jerry Jones spent this off-season giving Tony Romo Super Bowl money (despite one career playoff win), undercutting his head coach and not upgrading the offensive line. Despite all of that, this team has the potential to make some noise. Dez Bryant is primed to have a monster season. Bryant, along with Miles Austin and Jason Witten still give Romo plenty of options to throw to if his line can hold up. It bears mentioning that the Cowboys were third in the league last season in passing yards, but also 31st in rushing. The offense is too imbalanced to carry this team deep into the playoffs, while a slightly below average defense can’t be expected to carry the team. Another 8-8 year isn’t out of the question.
New York Giants
The Giants are only two years removed from winning their last Super Bowl, but the team didn’t even make the playoffs last year. That goes to show just how tough the NFL can be. Now going 9-7 isn’t the worst thing that could happen, but it is quite the tumble from the top. They had some key losses to their team including: leading rusher Ahmad Bradshaw to the Colts, starting tight end and 2nd leading receiver Martelius Bennett to Da Bears, defensive end Osi Umenyiora to the Falcons who was half a sack from leading the team in the category, as well as two of their top three leading tacklers, Michael Boley and Chase Blackburn. That equates to a lot of lost production, but that’s not to say this team will fall apart.
They have a knack for creating big names from unknowns in years past (see Cruz, Victor) and that has a lot to do with coach Tom Coughlin. The tandem of David Wilson and Andre Brown will be adequate at running back, the passing game is still lead by Eli Manning with Cruz and Hakeem Nicks at receiver, the offensive line is a solid group and the defensive line is quite talented. The biggest questions are on defense at the corner and linebacker positions. This could mean big shootouts with high scores, which could provide for some nice stat lines for members of the passing game and the d-line. They have a good shot at winning the division and if that happens anything is possible in the playoffs.