The NFC East is a division loaded with talent. Every one of the four teams have made the playoffs recently, and that’s something not many divisions can say.
Let’s take a deeper look into each team heading into the 2013 NFL season.
2012 NFC East Standings
- Washington Redskins (10-6)
- New York Giants (9-7)
- Dallas Cowboys (4-12)
- Philadelphia Eagles (4-12)
All things looked well for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012. They started the season 2-0 with one of those victories coming against the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
Two weeks later, things still looked good as the Eagles finished the first quarter of the season 3-1. But then all things went downhill in a hurry, snowballing out of control.
Philadelphia lost its next eight games and 11 of 12 to finish the season. That was the final straw for management as long time head coach Andy Reid was let go.
The 2013 offseason was one of questions on how to correct mistakes.
Vick was named the starter by new head coach Chip Kelly – a coach who will bring an extremely up-tempo offense to the field. His scheme is one you may not see ever again unless, of course, it works to perfection and is copied by other teams around the league.
A new voice in Vick’s ear could be a blessing for the veteran quarterback.
LeSean McCoy is healthy this season, and inside the new scheme, he might have a career year. McCoy’s dual threat ability will do well inside the new scheme because of the quick passes in the flat and overall trickery in the backfield. McCoy has caught as many as 78 passes in one season (2010) and has never had fewer than 40 receptions.
Now for the pathetic defense.
Philadelphia gave up 25 or more points 10 times last season including seven games where they gave up 30 or more points.
What did they do this offseason to address the downfall? Not a whole lot.
Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha is now in San Francisco, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is in Denver, and they didn’t draft an instant impact defensive player in the 2012 NFL Draft.
From the looks of it, defense will be the downfall for the Eagles once again.
Quietly, Dallas finished a dismal 4-12 in 2012. Every year we hear the same thing, “Dallas has a lot of talent, and I’m expecting their talent to shine through this year,” but it never happens.
On paper, there is a lot to like from the Cowboys. Their quarterback, Tony Romo, came 97 yards short of 5,000 passing yards in 2012. Running back DeMarco Murray is a potential young superstar if he can stay healthy. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are great weapons in the passing game, each collecting over 1,000 yards last season.
Defensively is where Dallas needs to step up its game. Rob Ryan led the Cowboys to a rank of 14 in total defense last season in a bend-but-don’t-break style of defense, but that’s not a great recipe for success because the group wears down at the end of games, allowing for game-winning 4th quarter drives.
Dallas is much better since Ryan took over three years ago, but he’s gone and there is a new man in charge and his name is Monte Kiffin.
The 73-year-old Kiffin has a great track record. Dallas is the fourth defensive coordinator job of his illustrious career.
He is the father of the Tampa 2 defense. Cornerbacks will play within five yards of wide receivers before dropping back into coverage, and this change could be the difference maker in terms of getting off the field on third downs and forcing turnovers.
There is a reason this scheme is one of the greatest created. It works.
New York Giants
The Giants had an average offense in 2013, finishing in the middle of the pack in several categories including passing yards and rushing yards per game.
They had a terrible defense, averaging 254 yards per game through the air and 129 yards on the ground per game.
Will they be THAT much better in 2012? Let’s take a look.
Running back Andre Brown broke his leg in the preseason finale so they have to fill a void in the rushing attack. David Wilson will have to pick up the load virtually by himself, and I’m not sure he’s capable of being the No. 1 guy in an offense. He only rushed for 358 yards in his rookie season.
Their rushing attack will be once again in the middle of the pack if not worse.
Eli Manning will be forced to throw the football more often due to the lack of a rushing attack, and his numbers will increase because of it. Last season, Manning passed for less than 4,000 yards for the first time since 2008.
His numbers will improve, but he’ll have to watch for the turnover bug, a bug that has harmed him in the past. Since starting all 16 games in 2005, Manning has recorded 135 interceptions.
Getting pressure on the quarterback is the ultimate defensive equalizer. If you can do it consistently, it makes your defensive backs and linebackers look great. If you can’t, it exposes every player on defense.
New York’s front four led by Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul have to get pressure on the quarterback especially in the NFC East. Michael Vick, Robert Griffin III and Tony Romo each have track records, and they will light up a defense if given the time.
They have to create pressure, and it all starts up front.
Robert Griffin III was supposed to be the savior of the Washington Redskins organization when he was drafted No. 2 in the 2011 NFL Draft.
If 2012 was any indication of him taking a step towards being a savior, he’s well on his way.
Griffin put up 3,200 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions through the air in his rookie season. But he’s not just a passer, he rushed for 815 yards and seven touchdowns in 2012.
His performance along with a team effort won the NFC East last season, and they could very well win it again in 2013.
It will all come down to one thing: Griffin’s health. He takes too many hits he has no bother taking – ones where he decides not to throw the ball away or slide.
Instead of making the smart play, he takes a beating, and running quarterbacks don’t fare well in the NFL. The Redskins would much rather have him stay as a pocket passer while exiting the pocket only when he absolutely needs to. And if he does leave the pocket, GET DOWN!
With Griffin III, Washington is a playoff team. Without him, they win five games. He has to play smart football in order to be able to take his team deep in the playoffs.