Outside Pitch Sports Network published their first set of division breakdowns on Saturday morning starting with the AFC East. We’re flipping the script in the unveiling of our positions breakdown, starting with the NFC East.
The grades are based on last season’s numbers and the projections for the upcoming season and in the future.
Quarterbacks: Philadelphia Eagles (Nick Foles)
For reasons un-be-known to me, some pundits and experts still aren’t sold on whether Nick Foles can be the star quarterback. The loss of DeSean Jackson going over to the rival Washington Redskins might be good enough for some to take Foles down a notch and anoint Robert Griffin III No. 1.
Based off last season, while RG3 has plenty of upside moving forward, so does Foles. It’s hard to ignore the 27 touchdown and two interception numbers he displayed last season. It’s also hard to ignore the rough campaign Griffin had after coming back from his ACL tear.
The Eagles made the playoffs last season and showed they were by far the best team in the NFC East. It shows when a quarterback turns into a leader and that’s exactly what Foles has done.
The Eagles top the list again. This time with their running backs.
McCoy is considered widely the best running back in football not named Adrian Peterson. The Eagles tailback rushed for 1,607 yards and nine touchdowns last season; by far his career high in yardage. He’s just as confident that he’ll obtain another great season as he’s entering into his prime in 2014.
Another reason McCoy is so confident is the presence of Darren Sproles, who was acquired in a trade with the New Orleans Saints earlier this offseason. Sproles will provide depth at the running back position, plus can be utilized as a receiver that allows defenses to play honest against him and McCoy. As a result, the Eagles offense can be even more dangerous than we all thought; even with the departure of DeSean Jackson.
Wide Receivers: Washington Redskins (DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon)
The Redskins finished with an abysmal three wins last season. Their defense was middle of the pact. Their offense wasn’t the same as 2012 when they won the division. The unexpected addition of DeSean Jackson should help the Redskins improve from the middle of the pact in receiving to one of the better corps in the NFC.
Garcon had 1,346 yards receiving last year and Jackson accumulated 1,332. Combined between the two, the Redskins should have the most dynamic receiving duo in the NFC East.
Offensive Line: Dallas Cowboys
Who would have thought?
The Cowboys gave up the third fewest sacks in the NFC last season (35). They just gave one of the core members of the offensive line, Tyron Smith, a long-term contract. They added to their depth in May’s NFL Draft by adding first round talent Zack Martin. They nailed their first round pick of last year, center Travis Frederick.
If only the Cowboys knew they could actually run the ball to help their pass protection. Their offensive line would improve even more with better play calling, Jason Garrett.
Defensive Line: Philadelphia Eagles
Picking between these four defensive lines was like choosing between Italian, Mexican or Hibachi food.
By a nose, the Philadelphia Eagles make it to the top of the list. Fletcher Cox will need to establish that he can accumulate sacks. He only registered three last season. But he’s got a load of potential. I also like Bennie Logan and Cedric Thornton with Vinny Curry among others as reserves.
I also expect the offense to help the Eagles defensively. With the explosive offense, they should be able to obtain leads into the fourth quarter, allowing for their defensive line to get one-on-one opportunities and find the quarterback. They have the most upside moving forward.
Linebackers: Philadelphia Eagles
Again picking a team definitively wasn’t easy. However, I go on upside and how they can make their team better. That’s been the theme for the Eagles.
Mychal Kendricks has the potential to be a pro bowl linebacker as he accumulated 106 tackles, four sacks, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. Of course DeMeco Ryans registered 127 tackles and intercepted the ball twice.
The Cowboys lost their best linebacker, Sean Lee, for the entire season as he once again suffered a season-ending knee injury. Jon Beason, while a veteran solid linebacker, is an injury liability for the Giants. The Redskins were the closest to the top out of the other NFC East teams, but they will have to prove their upside this season.
Secondary: New York Giants
Let’s start with cornerbacks.
The top two are Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara. There aren’t really any true shutdown corners in the NFC East. So I’m not grading on that level. However, they’re the only team in the division that has two respected established starters on the outside. They also have Walter Thurmond, who could be a starter at some point during the season. This alone gives them the upper-hand on anybody else in the NFC East.
For safeties, Antrel Rolle is an established veteran who once again should make a positive impact on the defense. The X-factor is Stevie Brown. Brown, who missed the entire 2013 season with a torn ACL, entered into the starting safety role early in the 2012 season. It seemed as if he recorded an interception every game as he finished with eight in 11 starts. It’s either a knack for being in the right place in the right time, or a ball hawk.
Special Teams: Philadelphia Eagles
Alex Henery is one of the better kickers in all of the league, making 82 percent of his opportunities last season. Donnie Jones is regarded one of the best punters in the league because of his accuracy and pinning the ball inside the 20 yard line.
Comment below your thoughts on my projections. We are about a month away from the regular season!