KEEP in mind, when these predictions come out, no one knows who will be drafted by which team. So this is an assessment of the team, as it is staffed by veteran players with track records.
While rookies may contribute heavily to their team, they don’t usually shake up the NFC East as a division. That being said, there’s a pretty good chance that what you see here, will be how it shakes out for the year.
If you’ve read all of the articles leading up to this, you’ll understand my conclusion. Good job! If you didn’t, you’ll likely be annoyed because YOU did a bad job of preparing. (Read the supporting articles!)
Now let’s look at 2022:
Offense, defense, special teams. Three units, multiplied times four teams, equals twelve total units in the division. Easy math, right? Out of twelve units, only three units across the division either stayed strong or got stronger. Nine units however, either stayed weak or got noticeably weaker during the free agency period. Put plainly, so far the NFC East is already weaker than it was in 2021.
Strongest Offense: DALLAS
They have all kinds of issues with their offensive line, but they have a real QB, and they have the most dangerous collection of skill players in the division. Philadelphia has a great offensive line situation, which allows for the smoke and mirrors, which they use to offset a lack of WR talent or a QB who can read a defense.
Weakest Offense: NEW YORK
Their offensive line is shit. It’s just shit! They have the least talented QB in the division. In fact, it can now be argued that he might not be as good as his new back-up (eventual replacement). Their RB clearly has his eye on the exit, and they lost their underachieving TE, and replaced him with- No. They’re about to draft a TE. They have to be. There’s no way they can be serious about going into 2022 with him as the starter.
Strongest Defense: PHILADELPHIA
This was the easiest call. In 2021 the Eagles surrendered fewer passing yards and fewer rushing yards than the Cowboys. The Cowboys allowed 21.1 points per game to the Eagles 22.6. From that, the Eagles added not just a pass rusher, but a sack artist, as well also upgrading speed at LB. The Cowboys lost a starting DE and a starting S, then replaced neither with a player of similar caliber. The other two teams aren’t even part of this conversation.
Weakest Defense: NEW YORK
New defensive coordinator, a soft secondary, and a bunch of edge players, but no real DE’s or OLB’s. This is the current state of the defensive side of the ball in New York. It’s a toolbox full of hammers and mallets, but no screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches or even a tape measure. And at some point in the next two weeks, a kid out of college will be expected to provide a spark of hope. Yikes.
Strongest Special Teams: PHILADELPHIA
Washington has the much better punting situation, but Philadelphia has a far superior kicking game. However, since punts never produce last minute wins, the edge goes to points.
Weakest Special Teams: DALLAS
New York’s punting situation isn’t “bad”, it’s more of a big question mark. The kicking situation in Dallas however, is pure comedy. This team does such an amazing job of fucking this up every year! They deserve a round of applause for the work they do. I mean c’mon, it has to be deliberate. No one is this bad, this long, without a supreme level of effort being put into it.
PROJECTED WINNER: DALLAS
You’re thinking “Philadelphia won two of these categories to Dallas’s one. So how can Dallas still be the favorite?!”
For the record I totally agree, except there’s two things nagging my mind:
The first thing is, 17 – 37, and 21 – 41. Those are the scores that Dallas has won by, in the two games Jalen Hurts started against them. Those aren’t just loses, they’re blowouts. While Dallas continues to dominate Hurts, picking the Eagles as the favorite is out of the question.
The second thing is, a two game sweep has an effective difference of four games. The make-up distance in a playoff race, between let’s say 4 – 6 vs 6 – 4, is four games. If the Cowboys sweep the Eagles again, that gap would be very hard to make up. Given that the last Eagles QB to beat Dallas was Carson Wentz, there is nothing in recent history to indicate that the Eagles will turn this around this season.
DARK HORSE WINNER: PHILADELPHIA
Overall, Philadelphia looks like the strongest team in the East. The issue is at their QB position. Which is huge. If Jalen Hurts were to take a a couple of steps forward in being able to read defenses, and utilizing his second WR, this Eagles team would sweep the division, and win it in a walk. However, until we see that for Philadelphia, QB is a huge question mark at best, and a liability at worst.
LAST year the Washington (insert name here), went 7 – 10 and finished third in the NFC East. The only thing more disgusting than the sewage that the stadium spewed on it’s fans, was the football that the team played on the field. Turns out that owner Dan Snyder was apparently not only cheating the fans, but the NFL shared revenue pool as well. Surely the Redsk- sorry, the newly named Commanders, have a lot to shake off.
In any case, this is what their roster looks like just 14 days before the Draft:
QB: The same Colts front office that thought they could do better than Peyton Manning (HOF), and then ran Andrew Luck out of football, has traded Carson Wentz (9 – 8, 62.4%, 27/7) to this team, after just one year with their team. Pundits are siding with the Colts (for now), but we’ll see how long that holds up.
Many question Wentz’s decision making (akaplaying “hero ball”) at times, but no one questions his talent. Posting the numbers that he did last year, given his weapons in Indy, (see above link) speaks to that. Oh, remember Wentz’s “injury prone” label? He hasn’t missed a game due to injury in 3 years now. For those keeping score, that’s 85 games played, with 8 missed to injury. Now he gets a shot to shake his “broken QB” label. Stay tuned.
Taylor Heinicke (7 – 9, 64.9%, 20/15) is an average athlete, with above average moxie. Despite having an average arm, he’s more of a gunslinger than a game manager. Translation: He’ll gamble with the football. That, more than any other reason, is why Washington felt the need to trade for Wentz. Still, there’s a ton of fight at this position. Both players have a “never say die” attitude, which could become contagious. That’s impossible to overlook. (+)
RB: Antonio Gibson (1037/4.0/7) led all NFC East RB’s in rushing yards. Unlike is rookie year, he didn’t miss a single game, and even saw incremental improvement as a receiver. He also led all NFC East RB’s in fumbles (6).
His hands and explosiveness are nowhere close to what you’d expect from a guy who played WR in college. In 16 games, he’s produced no runs longer than 27 yards. His game also seems to lack much physicality. Which might be why he continues to struggle with pass protection, and ball security.
Jaret Patterson (266/3.9/5) and J.D. MiKissic (212/4.4/2) give Washington two more backs who can catch. However, physicality, explosiveness, and creativity as runners, seem to be lacking thoughout this position. (-)
WR: Terry McLaurin (77/1053/13.7/5) is alone out there. Even with all the attention that he attracts from defenses, the next most productive players at this position, were Adam Humphries (41/383/9.3/0) gone.DeAndre Carter (24/296/12.3/3) gone. And thenCam Sims (15/211/14.1/2). You are looking at this team’s 2021 TOP four players at this position. (This is very similar to what Wentz just had in Indy.)
The Curtis Samuel (6/27/4.5/0) experiment from last season, was derailed by a groin injury. Washington has to hope that Samuel will bounce back, and 2022’s 3rd round pick Dyami Brown (12/165/13.8/0), can become a difference maker in 2022. Oh they also brought back Kelvin Harmon who spent 2019 with them, then was out of football until now. Ugh. (-)
TE: Logan Thomas (18/196/10.9/3) and John Bates (20/249/12.5/1) aren’t glamorous, but they’re stable building blocks. Thomas had his 2021 shortened by an ACL tear, but is expected back by the start of training camp. He’s not a scary receiver, but he’s reliable. He’s also a vicious blocker.
Bates saw a lot of action later in his rookie year, partly due to injuries to other players. Still, it’s valuable experience, and it gives Washington a solid knowledge base to improve the position from. Sammis Reyes is the team’s two year, lackluster experiment at TE. (+)
OT: In 2021 Washington added free agent LT Charles Leno, and he started all 17 games. On the one hand, their 2021 offensive production improved both in the run game (1,611 yards, 4.0ypc to 2,061, 4.3) and in pass protection (50 sacks to 43), from the prior season. On the other hand, letting stuff like this keep happening
shows that LT may still need some work.
Rookie Samuel Cosmi, outright won the RT job, during training camp. He however, was in and out of the line-up, due to hip and ankle injuries. Rookie Saahdiq Charles filled in during Week 8, and is all of their depth here. (-)
G: RG Brandon Scherff escaped via free agency. LG Ereck Flowers had the best year of his career, and he was still released. Jacksonville’s Andrew Norwell will fill his place, which is a laugh riot. Washington has fucked up here.
Wes Schweitzer filled in for Brandon Scherff during Weeks 3, 4, and 5. Saahdiq Charles got two starts in Scherff’s place during weeks 15 and 16. There are also a handful of young guys, but no one that the team is pushing to play. (-)
C: With Chase Roullier in the line-up, Washington averaged 230.5 passing yards per game. When he went down for the season, they averaged 177.4 passing yards per game, never once throwing for 230 during his absence.
Once Roullier was lost for the season, Tyler Larsen took over for a couple of games before being injured for two weeks during Week 11. At this point Wes Schweitzer took over. Aaand was hurt and put on I.R. in Week 12. Keith Ismael took over in Week 13. Then BEHOLD! Larsen is back to start Week 14, before being injured during that game, and lost for the year. Ismael would go on to finish the last four games as a starter. At least there’s depth. (+)
In a Nutshell: There is a ‘no quit’ vibe coming from the entire QB position. Washington had that last year, but they seriously upgraded their talent there. The interior of their line has been utterly decimated, and the edges aren’t very good. Making matters worse, most of their weapons don’t scare anyone. (-)
DE: Chase Young played just nine games before going on I.R. with a torn ACL. Up to that point however, he really wasn’t all that effective. With just 1.5 sacks, and 4 QB hits, he was on pace to achieve half of his rookie numbers. Worse still, with him in the line-up, Washington allowed 29 or more points, five times. With him on I.R. that only happened just once. Washington went 3 – 6 with him, 4 – 4 without him. Montez Sweat started off on a tear, but he ended up missing seven games, during which the team went 5 – 2. With him in the line up they were 2 – 8.
Behind Young and Sweat, Washington has Casey Toohill and James Smith-Williams. Laugh if you want, but when they both started in 2021, Washington was 4 – 0 and never allowed more than 21 points in a game. Might have something to do with Toohill and Smith-Williams playing the End position fully, and not just “pass rusher”.
In any case, Young and Sweat will be the starters for 2022. So the pass rushers will replace the Ends, and this defense will be less than it should be, leaving their fans scratching their heads over why it’s happening. Again. (-)
DT: While Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne “only” accumulated 13.5 sacks as interior linemen, they are responsible for 45 QB hits in 2021. Forty-five. As interior linemen! This is a two man wrecking crew. Provided they don’t wreck each other first.
That said, with the losses of Tim Settle and Matt Iaonnidis, Washington has gone from having top shelf starters and rock solid depth, to great starters and no depth. Seriously, the jersey numbers for the other two players are 64R and 68R. Camp bodies. The starters are All-Pro, but with no depth, they’ll wear down early in the year. (-)
OLB: Cole Holcomb played 1,021 snaps and had 142 tackles, with 2 picks last year. He’s not spectacular, but he’s a very solid player, who never comes off the field. Due to playing Landon Collins in a hybrid role, no other player saw much many snaps at this position. With Collins now gone, there is zero depth here. They are one Holcomb injury away from a complete disaster. (-)
ILB: Due to injury in 2021, Jamin Davis started 8 games, eventually fell out of favor and ended up behind David Mayo, who contributed 28 tackles. This position is doesn’t have players, it has staff members. (-)
S: Landon Collins was released because he wouldn’t take a pay cut, so that the team could afford Carson Wentz. In 2021,Kamren Curl saw 14 starts at SS, and allowed 59% of passes thrown his way to be completed, vs 73% in his rookie year.
The FS spot was manned by free agent addition Bobby McCain. McCain picked off 4 passes, defensing 9, and notched 63 tackles. All of which were career-highs. If Washington liked him enough to sign him in 2021, they will likely re-sign him for 2022. The starters (Curl and McCain) are decent and may even get better with time. (+)
CB: Kendall Fuller is the top player at this position, and he was essentially a scratching post for the first half of last season. He surrendered 60 yards or more in four of the first eight games, and allowed over 100 yards, in two of them. Things got better down the stretch, as he only allowed 60+ yards in two of the last nine.
On the other side, William Jackson gave up a touchdown pass in five straight games. He only played in 12 games. In reserve, Washington has a guy named Corn Elder, which is an absolutely terrifying name. It sounds like rape in an outhouse. (-)
In A Nutshell: Last year (during the preseason), everyone expected the defense to carry this team to the top of the NFC East. What happened instead, was that it completely collapsed. Like this.
The line has talent, but everywhere else is just loaded with depth issues, or starters who shouldn’t be. This however, is what Washington has to work with. At least for now. (-)
K: This should be Joey Slye’s job. He went 12/12 on field goals with a long of 55, and was 9/10 on extra points. Brian Johnson is also on the roster, but c’mon. Even Washington can’t cock this up. (+)
P: Tress Way averaged 48.5 yards, with no blocks in 60 boots, surrendering 9.0 yards per punt return. Not stellar, but far from bad. (+)
In A Nutshell: It’s not glamorous, but it should do. Slye gives them what looks like accuracy and range. The only question is can he do it over a longer sample period. (+)
As things stand right now, this offense is in trouble. As their QB gets to know his team, six times a year they get to go against teams that already know him. Two of those times, he goes against the team that built him. So there’s rough sledding ahead.
Defensively the coaching staff is basically the same, and we’ve already seen every trick that Washington knows. We saw it in 2020 to the tune of a 7 – 9 record. We saw it again it in 2021, to the tune of 7 – 10. In 2022, expect opposing receivers to be 7 – 11, and Washington to be 8 – 9.