Last week, we conducted a team by team breakdown of the NFC South. This week, we turn our attention to the NFC East. In the last four seasons, the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles have been the front runners. Entering 2020 this appears to be the case yet again as the other two teams continue to rebuild. In this article, we’ll look at each team and breakdown its strengths and weaknesses. Without further adieu, here is the NFC East team by team breakdown.
NFC East Team By Team Breakdown
In the world of sports, continuity is of crucial importance. And for the Cowboys, their offense (which led the NFL in yards last year) returns mostly the same. First off, the big three of Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and Ezekiel Elliott were all brought back. Secondly, outside of a big loss in Travis Frederick, the offensive line is in-tact. And although the line may not be as big of a strength as it once was, its still one of the best in the NFL. The only other loss came when Jason Witten signed with the Oakland Raiders. Witten is the best tight end in Cowboys history, but Blake Jarwin is ready to take over. Finally, the addition of CeeDee Lamb in the draft gives Dallas one of the best receiver groups in the NFL. This team should be dynamic on offense in 2020, but their defense is good too.
On defense, the Cowboys undoubtedly got worse when Byron Jones and Robert Quinn didn’t re-sign. However, there is still a lot of talent on this defense, and they’re aided by a highly praised draft class. Despite playing a step slower last, Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch are still an elite tandem at linebacker. More help is coming for the pass rush in the form of Gerald McCoy. And Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is one of the most underrated signings of free agency. For the Cowboys to get over the hump, they’ll be banking on their secondary exceeding expectations, and new head coach Mike McCarthy to steady the ship.
Entering this offseason, the Eagles were in a unique spot. Only two years removed from winning the Super Bowl, a lot of the players from that team were still there. But the roster had fallen from contention. So, the Eagles will look a little bit different in 2020, but look to reclaim their status as contenders. For starters, drafting Jalen Hurts surprised everyone, but the Eagles will be looking to use him in creative ways. Next, changes were needed at wide receiver, and changes were made. The Eagles reunited with speedster DeSean Jackson, and drafted Jalen Reagor. In addition to those players, the Eagles still have one of the best tight end tandems in the NFL, and a potential star in Miles Sanders. The two questions on offense will be if they can stay healthy and if Andre Dillard can replace Jason Peters at left tackle.
The defense of the Eagles looks much improved over their 2019 unit despite losing safety Malcolm Jenkins. Trading for Darius Slay gives them a reliable number one option at cornerback. Nickell Robey-Coleman is also a good addition in the secondary, and because of these signings, it allows Jalen Mills to move to safety. Admittedly the linebacker group of the Eagles could use another veteran. But the defensive line is still menacing and will make up for that weakness. By adding Javon Hargrave in free agency, the rich just got richer. The defensive line is still anchored by stars Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham. For the Eagles to become contenders again, the defense as a unit needs to play great, and everyone needs to stay healthy unlike in 2019.
We go from two playoff level teams with similar makeups to two rebuilding teams. But through this team by team breakdown, there are bright spots to be found. Starting with the Washington Redskins, it all starts with Dwayne Haskins. Next year’s NFL draft will have Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields as top prospects. This means Haskins has to show Redskins brass why he should be the quarterback of the future this year. Unfortunately for Haskins, the Redskins didn’t give him much help to throw to. This year, Haskins will have rookie sensation, Terry McLaurin, and running back Derrius Guice as his top playmakers. Seeing how the Redskins use all four running backs of Adrian Peterson, Guice, Antonio Gibson, and Bryce Love will be fascinating. And although the team got rid of standout left tackle Trent Williams, the offensive line is capable of holding their own.
Despite not adding much help for Haskins, the team did focus on revamping their defense. In the draft, they used the second overall pick on generational edge rusher Chase Young. If Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen, and Da’Ron Payne can stay healthy and develop, that unit has the potential to be good. Signing Thomas Davis is good for the locker room, and his pre-existing relationship with new head coach Ron Rivera should help ease in the transition some. Plus he can help starter from last year, Cole Holcomb, develop more. In the secondary, the Redskins lost top corner Quinton Dunbar but added Kendall Fuller to help with the loss. They also signed Sean Davis who can play next to Landon Collins at safety. There’s a lot of youth and potential on this defense, but Rivera is the right coach to get the most out of it.
New York Giants
Much like the Haskins situation in Washington, the New York Giants‘ top priority is seeing how Daniel Jones performs in 2020. After his fair share of ups and downs last year, Jones has a chance at cementing his spot in the Giants future. Surrounding him is mostly the same crew from last season. The offense will still run through the dynamic Saquon Barkley, but Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, and Evan Engram are all going to contribute. Engram specifically is expected to be a breakout star this year. The Giants drafted Andrew Thomas with their first-round choice to play right tackle. But, improvement by Nate Solder at left tackle is badly needed after a poor season. It should also be noted that their new offensive coordinator is Jason Garrett.
Again like the Redskins, the Giants focused heavily on improving the defense. The three big additions through free agency were James Bradberry, Kyler Fackrell, and Blake Martinez. All three players are expected to start from day one and be positive additions to the team. In addition to Bradberry, the Giants are hoping Deandre Baker and Sam Beal step up and man the other corner positions. Although, the Giants do have options if Baker and Beal struggle, including rookies Julian Love and Xavier McKinney. The defensive line is also riding on second-year pro-Dexter Lawrence and franchise-tagged Leonard Williams to show something. Although they’re in rebuilding mode, the Giants are expected to make some progress.
Team By Team Breakdown Shows Another Eagles-Cowboys Race
Through conducting this NFC East team by team breakdown, it appears the division will be awarded to either the Cowboys or Eagles again. But the Giants and Redskins aren’t going to necessarily be pushovers. Washington especially defensively has enough talent they can slow down the high powered offense of Dallas and the creativity of Philadelphia. In the past, we’ve seen the NFC East come down to the very end of the season, and we could be gearing up for the same thing this year.
Main Photo : Embed from Getty Images