If the NFC East isn’t the best division in football, it’s pretty darn close to being it. Since the NFL merger in 1970, NFC East teams have combined for 20 NFC championships and 12 super bowls, which tops any other division in the NFL. Each and every year, the teams in the NFC East rank high in pass and run defense; and you know defense wins championships. Not only is this a physical division but it carries a certain pizzazz. Show me a division that has a better quarterback line-up than the NFC East which has Tony Romo (Dallas), Eli Manning (New York), Michael Vick (Philadelphia) and rookie Robert Griffin III (Washington).
Here’s a team-by-team preview:
DALLAS COWBOYS (8-8 in 2011)
Key Losses: Terrence Newman (Corner Back); Bradie James and Keith Brooking (Linebackers); Martellus Bennett (Tight End); Laurent Robinson (Wide Receiver)
New Faces: Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne (Corner Backs); Lawrence Vickers (Full Back); (Guard); Dan Connor (Linebacker); Kyle Orton (Quarterback)
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is under extreme pressure to bring the Lombardi trophy back to Dallas. Unfortunately for him, the Cowboy receivers can’t stay on the field. Romo’s prime target, tight end Jason Witten has a lacerated spleen, wide receiver Miles Austin has had major hamstring issues and wide-out Dez Bryant has battled patellar tendonitis as well as off the field problems.
Dallas’ offensive line has been nothing but offensive. They allowed 39 sacks last season, 36 of which were on Romo. As for the defense, the Cowboys upgraded well in drafting corner back Morris Claiborne. The young rookie looks primed for the pros. However, the defensive line suffered a setback when starting defensive tackle Jay Ratliff suffered a high ankle sprain which would sideline him for four to six weeks. Cowboys fans should be thankful for All-Pro linebacker DeMarcus Ware who always holds it down.
With things looking a little suspect in Big-D, head coach Jason Garrett needs to keep things intact or else “Ol’ Jerry Boy” might pull that trigger!
NEW YORK GIANTS (9-7 in 2011, NFC East Division Champions)
Key Losses: Aaron Ross (Corner Back); Dave Tollefson (Defensive End); Kareem McKenzie (Offensive Tackle); Brandon Jacobs (Running Back); Jake Ballard (Tight End); Mario Manningham (Wide Receiver)
New Faces: Jayron Hosley (Corner Back); Keith Rivers (Linebacker); Sean Locklear (Offensive Tackle); David Wilson (Running Back); Martellus Bennett (Tight End); Rueben Randle (Wide Receiver)
During the 2011-2012 season, the New York “Football” Giants had a mediocre run game, a 9-7 record and a fan base calling for its coach’s head . Yet, head coach Tom Coughlin kept his team poised and quarterback Eli Manning delivered the goods in the playoffs.
With all the Tim Tebow talk at the other New York team’s camp, the spotlight has been off the super bowl champs. Talks of repeating will be raised, come season start, and you can never count out defending champs. However, the G-Men has some problems on both sides of its line. Defensive tackles Chris Canty, Marvin Austin and Shaun Rogers have all missed significant playing time. Rogers, who has developed blood clots in his legs might not play this season. Offensive tackle Will Beatty has struggled since coming back from injury. There are five players on the roster with back injuries including defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
With the infirmary filled with players, coach Coughlin has his work cut out for him.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (8-8 in 2011)
Key Losses: Asante Samuel (Corner Back); Jason Peters (Left Tackle)
New Faces: Fletcher Cox (Defensive Tackle); DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks (Linebackers); Mat McBriar (Punter); Nick Foles (Quarterback); O.J. Atogwe (Safety)
In 2011, a backup quarterback labeled his Eagles a “Dream Team” and we all know how that went. In 2012, Eagles starting quarterback Michael Vick stated that the Eagles have the making of a “Dynasty”. Dynasty???? That’s a pretty bold comment for a team that has yet to win a super bowl. Maybe that 100 million dollar contract Vick signed made him a bit delusional. The question is will Vick stay healthy enough to enjoy all those super bowl victories when, or if, they win them? Well at least wide receiver DeShawn Jackson is going to give it his all this season…so he says!
Philly will be good this season and there’s no reason they can’t contend for the NFC East crown. Let’s see what they do come playoff time.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (5-11 in 2011)
Key Losses: Graham Gano (Kicker); John Beck (Quarterback); LaRon Landry and O.J. Atogwe (Safety); Chris Cooley (Tight End); Jabar Gaffney (Wide Receiver)
New Faces: Cedric Griffin (Corner Back); Josh Leribeus (Guard); Robert Griffin III (Quarterback); Brandon Meriweather and Madieu Williams (Safeties); Josh Morgan and Pierre Garcon (Wide Receivers)
Robert Griffin III has brought excitement back in DC. The Redskins rookie quarterback will experience his share of growing pains but it’s safe to say that Washington has its franchise quarterback. Running back Alfred Morris has been a stud this preseason. The defensive line is aggressive but the secondary is a work in progress. The linebackers will have a lot of success this season if healthy. The biggest concern is the offensive line. They will need to be protect RGIII to be successful. Draft pick Kurt Cousins should be a formidable back up. Rex Grossman should watch his back.
By Keith Madyun