IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN KIDDIES!!!
GENERALLY when I talk football, it’s about my 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 ensures that Eagles fans ARE actually the best informed, and most knowledgeable fans, in the NFL. (Provided you visit this site often.) These updates will come out three times during the season: After Weeks 3, 9, and 15.
NOTE: Given that there were playoff seeding implications for 3 of the 4 teams, I delayed this article until everything shook out. From now on, I’ll think I’ll stick with this format (Weeks 3, 9 and 17), instead of the 3, 9, 15. It’s just smarter.
This is where we left off PART 2
This is where things are today:
New York giants: 5 – 10, 4th in the NFC East
Last season they finished 3 – 13 and fourth in the division. On defense they allowed 24.2 points per game in 2017. In 2018 that number swelled to 25.8. Yet, all the talk is about either replacing QB Eli Manning, or shoring up his god-awful offensive line.
With a RB (Saquon Barkley) who amassed 2,000 yards from scrimmage this season (1,307 rushing, 721 receiving), a WR (Odell Beckham) who caught for 1,052 yards in just 12 games, and a QB who threw for 4,299 yards, this should be a scary team. The problem is their inability to stop opponents.
DE Olivier Vernon led the team with 7 sacks, which is what he averages as a giant. He also missed 5 games this year. In fact, his games played and production has dropped each year since he joined the team. What’s worse, is that their GM seems bent on not getting the man any legitimate help. Put in perspective, Eagles DE Chris Long started no games, yet had 6.5 sacks.
Given pressure from fans, and a voracious New York media, odds are strong that the giants will either be goaded into drafting yet another shiny offensive toy, or over-drafting a RT to pair with the LT they over-paid for, from Free Agency this last offseason.
Washington Redskins: 7 – 9, 3rd in the NFC East
Same exact finish as 2017. Well sort of. In 2017 the ‘skins finished 16th in scoring (21.4ppg). In 2018 they finished 29th (17.6 ppg). They improved on defense, but not enough to carry their flaccid offense.
It might be legitimate for the ‘skins to point to injuries (24 players on Injured Reserve), as the reason that their team stalled out. They were leading the NFC East at 6 – 4, when their starting QB Alex Smith, had his leg broken grotesquely by the Texans.
Over the course of their final six games, they were forced to start 3 QB’s for a combined record of 1 – 5. The scoring dropped from 19.7 points per game over the first 10 games, to just 14.0 points per game over the final 6 games. So even before they lost their starter, they were already worse off than they were a year ago.
Given the fact that their starting QB won’t be ready for next season (if he doesn’t retire), they may have to turn to their back-up QB, (who had his leg broken by the Eagles). That’s if they don’t draft a QB, or chase Eagles back-up QB Nick Foles, in hopes that he can be their savior.
Dallas Cowboys: 10 – 6, 1st place in the NFC East
Having won the division it’s easy to say that Dallas is better now than they were a year ago. The defense took a major step forward for most of the season. On the year they’re only allowing 20.2 points per game. However, over the last 4 weeks, they’ve been surrendering an average of 25.2. Despite going 3 – 1 over those weeks, it indicates that perhaps teams have found a chink in the armor.
No matter. A football team has both a defense AND an offense. Lucky for this team that their offense can now take off, since QB Dak Prescott has found a #1 WR in Amari Cooper, who- Wait. Did they find a true #1?
After being traded from Oakland after Week 6, Cooper found an amazing run during Weeks 12, 13 and 14. Putting up 26 catches, 473 yards, and 5 TD’s, while averaging 18.1 per grab during that span. However, his Week 14 performance (10 catches, 217 yards, 3 TD’s and 21.7 per grab) was against a Philadelphia Secondary which included 3 starters who began the year as back-ups (some third stringers), or not even on the active roster. Cooper followed up that performance (closing out the season) with three games where he totaled 13 catches for 83 yards, no scores and a 6.3 yard per catch average. In none of those games did he exceed 32 yards or catch a pass longer than 11 yards.
Prescott threw his customary 22 touchdowns again, despite starting and finishing all 16 games. (Unlike QB Carson Wentz who threw 21, yet only played in 11 games. With no real run game.) Based on this season, the Cowboys are about to sink a huge amount of money into a handful of players, (two of whom I just mentioned). It led to a playoff berth this year, but it does raise the question of whether or not this season’s success is at the expense of their future.
So that’s the state of our division rivals as your Eagles head into the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs.