In this article, I'll be taking a look at the NFC East (NFC Least if you just look at last year). I'll be talking about where the squad is at as of now and what the main question marks are going into next year. After last season, it's safe to say there are question marks lingering over all of these teams. For example, two teams have Quarterback changes going into this year (three if you include Dak being back), and three have quarterbacks who are not the franchise QBs at this point in time.
Well...let's get right in.
New York Giants
Dave Gettleman and Daniel Jones enter the 2021 season on the hot seat. If they have a losing record yet again, then it's probably "sayonara" to both of them. The Giants' record from the Gettleman era (and before that too) has been abysmal, to say the least.
15-33 in 3 years... gross.
Gettleman knows this is his last chance for the Giants to succeed so they filled a few holes on the roster and make moves quickly.
Some of the moves they made include:
Signed Kenny Golladay
Signed Adoree' Jackson
Handed out an extension to Leonard Williams
Drafted Kadarius Toney in the 1st round of the NFL Draft
Drafted Azeez Ojulari in the 2nd round
But the question remains, will Daniel Jones take the next step?
This leads to this question: "What would the next step look like?"
Well, he’s actually never been bad as a deep ball passer from a clean pocket. In fact, he is rated one of the highest QBs in this category according to PFF grades. The problem is he almost never has a clean pocket. The blame for that may fall at the feet of the o-line, but at the end of the day, Jones needs to be able to perform when the pocket collapses and he is on the run from the defense. It’s a part of the game. He consistently makes poor choices when under pressure and has issues with ball security from it too. The turnovers need to stop, or at least significantly decrease, and if that happens, then he will succeed.
(Photo Credit: Dylan Buell / Getty Images)
Jones now has the weapons around him now to succeed. Golladay is the alpha receiver he needs and hopefully can rely on. Josh Allen made the jump when Diggs came to town, and Eli himself benefited greatly when the Giants brought on Plaxico Buress back in 2005, so it’s definitely possible. The other receivers like Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton are solid as 2nd and 3rd options and should complement Golladay well. Golladay is a deep threat where Shepard is a slot guy and Slayton can be a bit more of the X (not the X receiver though, that’s more Toney). Saquon should be back to full health this season and is a beast when healthy. They drafted Kadarius Toney, who looked good his senior year of college, so we’ll see how that translates. Toney could become their X receiver and could carve out a nice role in the offense if that happens.
If Jones can’t succeed with that, then he’s not the franchise QB and will be leaving town shortly. If he’s gone, Gettleman most likely as well.
Washington Football Team
For the first time in a while, this team looks ready to compete for a playoff spot. Their defense is stellar and they have a solid defensive line that ranks number 2 in the league by many analysts heading into 2021. They have a star receiver with Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel as a decent WR2. They have Antonio Gibson, who’s poised for a breakout year after finishing as the RB12 in half PPR (an RB1 finish in his rookie season is great). They also have JD McKissic who is coming off a season with 110 targets.
The team signed Ryan Fitzpatrick, a long-standing journeyman in the NFL, to a 1-year deal. With his experience and ability that he’s already shown in the NFL in the past, he could easily lead the team to the playoffs and maybe even the Super Bowl if they’re lucky. That is if he shows the Fitzmagic side of him this year. There’s also the Fitztragic side of him as well. The side that gets himself benched and let go in the offseason. In the last 2 years, he looked solid for the Dolphins when he played which includes the 2019 season when they were a bottom 5 team in the league. Fitzpatrick now has the surrounding offensive pieces to make a deep playoff run. They have the chance to win the division and get a home game in the playoffs. Only the future will tell.
With Dak back, the team looks poised to make a run for the division yet again. On paper, they look good. Just like last year, when on paper, they looked good. And yet again they were in fact not good. It became more obvious how bad they were when Dak went down and their offense ground to a halt, but their defense was bad all year. It’s almost a joke that the Cowboys came close to beating the Giants, and the Eagles came close to beating the WFT, and if both of those happened they would’ve been in the playoffs as a 6-10 team. They ended the season with a 5-11 record losing to the Giants in the end.
(Photo Credit: Inside The Star)
They added pieces to the defense during the offseason, and as mentioned before, Dak is back baby. There is a reason for hope. If more practice is what they needed, then now they have another year under their belt in the new system with the new head coach.
They have Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Zeke, and Tony Pollard in the backfield. This offense is good. It’s just a matter of if the defense can take a step forward. If this happens, and Dak stays healthy, then they can win the division at the very least.
This team was the worst team in the worst division of the league in 2020. They were the reigning divisional champions from the year before as well, making their finish in dead last a bit ironic. Injuries and opt-outs hurt the entire team the whole year.
This Eagles team looks pretty different nowadays. Carson Wentz is gone and Jalen Hurts is the starter. Just 2 years ago Wentz signed a huge extension. Then they drafted a QB in the second round of the 2020 draft and Wentz took a nosedive on the field. They could’ve drafted the QB since Wentz has had issues with injuries in the past and maybe they thought they might have to move on because of that. Little did they know that he would suck for an entire season and then get benched.
Now they have a mobile QB that loves to run the ball. They also drafted Devonta Smith, a highly touted prospect (even if a bit on the small side for a receiver), in the 1st round, and still have Miles Sanders, their top running back. DeSean Jackson is gone but they still have Jalen Reagor from the 2020 draft (who was picked over Justin Jefferson but that’s another story).
When the Eagles switched to Hurts, the entire team looked better. They seemed to click. They did only go 1-3 over the 4 games Hurts started, but it looked like an improvement over what was trotted out all last season.
I can’t say how this team will be. It all centers on if the offense can jive with Hurts under center. They showed some flashes last year, so it’s definitely possible. The organization seems to have destroyed Wentz while he was there though, so there’s no telling if Hurts survives now. Only time will tell.
I think that the teams most likely to win the division are the Cowboys and the WFT, and this is reflected in the betting odds right now. The QB question that remains for the Giants and the Eagles make it less likely they win it all. If there's a dark horse in this race, it's the Giants, as there's the chance Daniel Jones takes the next step and can lead this team far and win the division. My standing prediction is as follows:
How do you see it in 2021?
(Cover Photo Credit: NFL & Couch Guy Sports / Yahoo Sports)