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Eagles Should Be Competitive in a Deep NFC East

Eagles Should Be Competitive in a Deep NFC East

The Eagles had a strong preseason, where Carson Wentz was fully in command at quarterback. While the Eagles aren’t picked to win the NFC East by most outlets, there is no reason why they can’t contend for the title, or at the least for a playoff spot.

The same could be said about the rest of the NFC East, which is among the deepest divisions in the NFL.

Here is a look at the division.

Eagles

Coach: Doug Pederson (2nd year, 7-9).

Last season: 7-9 (4th NFC East).

Key returning players: QB Carson Wentz (379-607 passing, 3,782 yards, 16 TDs, 14 INTs.); S-CB Malcom Jenkins (3 INT, 69 tackles), DT Fletcher Cox (6.5 sacks, 43 tackles) OT Jason Peters (9-time Pro Bowl player).

Key newcomers: WR Alshon Jeffery (52 receptions, 821 yards, 2 TDs with Chicago); WR Torrey Smith (20 receptions, 203 yards 2 TDs with San Francisco); DE Derek Barnett (1st round pick U. of Tennessee, 33 career sacks).

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Outlook: So much depends on the progression of Wentz. If he takes the next step, the Eagles could do so as well. A concern is the cornerback position, although acquiring Ronald Darby from the Buffalo Bills gives the Eagles needed speed at corner. This should be an improved team, capable of 10 wins.

Dallas Cowboys

Coach: Jason Garrett (8th year, 58-46).

Last season: 13-3 (won the NFC East, lost 34-31 to Green Bay in NFC Divisional game).

Key returning players: WR Dez Bryant (50 receptions, 796 yards, 8 TDs); QB Dak Prescott (311-459 passing, 3,667 yards, 23 TDs, 4 INT); RB Ezekiel Elliott (1,631 yards rushing, 5.1 avg. 15 TDs); LB Sean Lee (145 tackles).

Key newcomers: DE Taco Charlton (1st round draft choice from Michigan, 9.5 sacks); CB Nolan Carroll (55 tackles, 1 INT with the Eagles); WR-KR-PR Ryan Switzer (4th round pick from North Carolina, 7 career punt return TDs).

Outlook: While the Cowboys are considered the team to beat, losing Elliott for six games due to suspension (pending his appeal) is a big blow. In addition, the defense, is still suspect and as Eagles fans know, depending on Carroll at cornerback is an iffy proposition. The Cowboys have the NFL’s best OL led by LT Tyron Smith and will need to control teams with the ground game. Prescott must take a step up as he should have more responsibility. This is a team capable of defending its NFC East title, but it will be difficult to get past 11 wins.

NY Giants

Coach: Ben McAdoo (2nd season, 11-5).

Last season: 11-5 (2nd in NFC East, lost to Green Bay, 38-13 in NFC Wild Card game).

Key returning players: QB Eli Manning (377-598 passing, 4,027 yards, 26 TDs, 16 INTs.); WR Odell Beckham (101 receptions, 1,367 yards, 10 TDs); SS Landon Collins (125 tackles, 5 INTs); CB Janoris Jenkins (49 tackles, 3 INT).

Key newcomers: WR Brandon Marshall (59 receptions, 788 yards, 3 TDs with the NY Jets); TE Evan Engram (1st round pick from Mississippi, 65 receptions, 926 yards and 8 TDs last season).

Outlook: Beckham suffered an ankle injury in preseason and if he misses time, the offense will find difficulty making up for his loss. The OL is probably the weakest in the division as is the running game, but the defense is among the best. This will be a team in the hunt for the division title, but Manning will have to cut down on turnovers and be more consistent.

 

Washington Redskins

Coach: Jay Gruden (4th season, 21-26-1).

Last season: 8-7-1 (3rd in NFC East).

Key returning players: QB Kirk Cousins (406-606 passing, 4907 yards, 25 TDs, 12 INT); LB-DE Ryan Kerrigan (11 sacks, 2 forced fumbles); TE Jordan Reed (66 receptions, 686 yards, 6 TDs in 12 games); CB Josh Norman (67 tackles, 3 INT.).

Key newcomers: WR Terrelle Pryor (77 receptions, 1007 yards, 4 TDs with Cleveland); DL Jonathan Allen (1st round pick from Alabama) WR Brian Quick (41 receptions, 564 yards, 3 TDs with the LA Rams)

Outlook: A key will be replacing WRs Desean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, who left as free agents. Second year WR Josh Doctson, a 2016 first round draft choice who missed last year due to injury, must step up. The Redskins have the ability to beat any team in the division, but a lack of depth could be costly, especially on defense. Like the rest of the teams in the NFC East, Washington should contend for a playoff spot, but is likely to fall short.


Author: Marc Narducci

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