IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN KIDDIES!!!
GENERALLY when I talk football, it’s about our Eagles. I tend to keep mum about our rivals, unless we have a game coming up against one of them. Otherwise I’ve reserved most talk about them for my Pre-Draft Preview which drops each April. (Look for it.)
In 2017 however, I decided to try something new, and give our fan base a running commentary of what the division is doing around us. This (along with other local sources) helps ensure that Eagles fans ARE the best informed and most knowledgeable fans in the NFL, and not just laying a bullshit claim to it. These updates will come out three times during the season: After Weeks 3, 9, and 15.
*This wasn’t the announced 2017 format, but I was inventing this as I went. Here in 2017, this last one is coming out after the season ends.
This is where we left off: PART 2 of 3
This is where things are today:
New York Giants: 3 – 13, 4th in the NFC East
Things got so out of hand on this team, that they fired their coach Ben McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese, during the season. The giants hadn’t made a move like that since the 1970’s. That’s how bad the ownership thought this mess was. Before McAdoo left the building however, he managed to leave a lasting scar on the giants history by benching QB Eli Manning and breaking his streak of 210 consecutive starts. Seemingly just because he could.
The giants leave 2017 in a state of total disarray. Offensively, they’re 31st in scoring (15.4ppg), 21st in yards (314.2ypg), 19th in passing (217.4), and 26th in rushing (96.8). Defensively, they’ll close the year hurting across the board, as they’re 28th in points allowed (24.2), 31st in yards allowed (373.2), 31st in passing yards allowed (252.4), and 28th in rushing yards allowed (120.8). There is nothing in New York that isn’t broken at this point.
Luckily for the giants, they’ll have the #2 overall pick in the 2018 Draft. While there are a number of areas to address on the team, they have to do something about the LT spot on their line. Ereck Flowers is over-matched pretty much week in and week out. Until they can stabilize their offensive line woes, there will be a repeat of 2017 just waiting to happen.
Washington Redskins: 7 – 9, 3rd in the NFC East
In April of 2017, I said this was a 6 win team. As you can see, I was clearly way off the mark. The Redskins are a team that is rotting from the inside because of their front office’s approach the concept of team-building. I mean that in every possible facet, that it can possibly be meant in. From how to spot a player who can help, to how to build depth, to how to get guys to rally together, the ‘skins suck at all of it. Just ALL of it.
Thanks to QB Kirk Cousins, for whom they have no appreciation, the ‘skins offense was 16th in scoring (21.4ppg), 16th in yards (324.9ypg), and 12th in passing (234.4ypg), despite him dragging around a 28th ranked rushing attack (90.5ypg). Their poorly conceived defense, did exactly what poorly conceived things tend to do. It fell apart. That left them ranking 27th in points allowed (24.2), 21st in yards allowed (347.9), 9th in passing yards allowed (213.8), and DEAD LAST at 32nd in rush yards allowed (134.1).
While the option to stick a third consecutive franchise tag on Cousins does exist, it would be the same sort of poor team-building that this team had been guilty of for the last (how long has Dan Snyder owned the team?) many years. The pass defense improving from 25th in 2016, to 9th in 2017 may fool the Redskins into thinking they can apply their 13th overall Draft pick elsewhere, but the truth is they need a Strong Safety.
Dallas Cowboys: 9 – 7, 2nd in the NFC East
In April of 2017 I picked the Cowboys to be the second best team in the division. How ‘bout them predictions?! Cowboys fans will want to blame the team’s record on the 6 game suspension of RB Ezekiel Elliott, but that’s just ignoring some pretty damning facts:
First: Over the six games without Elliott, Dallas averaged 121.3 rushing yards per game. Dallas ran the ball 152 times for 728 yards and a 4.7 yard per carry average. Elliott himself only averaged 98.3 yards per game this year and 4.1 per carry.
Second: Elliott averaged 26.8 touches per game this year. Projected over 16 games, that works out to a whopping 428 touches. This would have been after a 354 touch rookie year. He’s young, but dammit, the kid is still human! This suspension may have very well helped saved him from Dallas overusing him, and burning him out young. Ask Larry Johnson, Natrone Means and Barry Foster what 400 touches can do to a RB’s relevant longevity.
Third: Dallas’s ground game was anything but unreliable during those six weeks. Dallas ran the ball effectively in every game. What they couldn’t do well (even after Elliott returned), was pass effectively.
The numbers on offense? They were 14th in scoring (22.1), 14th in yards (331.9), 26th in passing (196.3) and 2nd in rushing (135.6) Defensively, they finished 13th in points allowed (20.8), 8th in yards allowed (318.1), 11th in passing yards allowed (214.1) and 8th in rushing yards allowed (104.0). All respectable, middle of the pack numbers.
You can point to pretty much any area of this team and say that the 19th overall Draft pick would be well-spent there. Others may say that TE Jason Witten needs an heir, or that Dallas could use a shutdown Cornerback. I’m going to say the The defense is Jekyll and Hyde based on the presence of LB Sean Lee and he has a tendency to miss games. If he were to be lost during 2018’s preseason, you could basically write the season off. That’s why they need to draft an OLB whose eyes are faster than his feet.
So, that’s the state of our division rivals as your Eagles gear up for our Divisional playoff game. Just a quick run-down of who does what well, and why they’re at home watching us play this weekend. Cheers!