CHICAGO, July 10, 2013 — The NFL season is still awhile away, but with most minicamps and workouts due to start any day now, the majority of teams have already made the major personnel moves that fans demand every year (if they’re going to).
The NFC East surprises us every year, whether we see a mediocre Giants team inexplicably turn it on during the postseason (are you paying attention, Atlanta?) and go all the way or a superstar rookie like Robert Griffin III rip the league in half. Sadly, not every team can make the playoffs, and a couple teams in this division shouldn’t even expect to.
The success of this team is entirely dependent on RGIII’s bum knee. Last year, the rookie’s superstar breakout cleverly hid the fact that only about five Redskins starters would start for other teams. This team was in a rebuilding year in 2012, but Griffin and sixth-round rookie running back Alfred Morris (1613 yards) blasted them into the postseason anyway.
There’s no reason to think they can’t do it again, especially when you notice the Skins won the last seven games of last season.
Mike Shanahan knows how to get the most out of almost any running back, so it might be a mistake to consider Morris a superstar, but it wouldn’t be a mistake to think he can replicate his success. RGIII didn’t have a single 700-yard receiver last season, and Lance Lewis, Dont’e Stallworth and Devery Henderson won’t get him much more help.
The defense should be seeing some upgrades, though, patching — or trying to — the biggest hole on this team. Drafting CB David Amerson and finding LB Brandon Jenkins late were great moves, but RGIII needs to play smarter if he wants his body to carry him through 16 regular season games and some bone-crunching playoffs. Assuming he can miraculously make it back for Week 1.
Chip Kelly has only ever done good things on a football field, and no roster fits the Oregon system the way the Eagles will. He’ll have the fastest quarterback in Michael Vick throwing to the fastest receiver in DeSean Jackson, and one of the faster running backs in LeSean McCoy.
With a new voice in this locker room, this team should finally win more games than they lose. It just won’t be enough to make the playoffs.
Bradley Fletcher and Kenny Phillips were great pickups; the team hopes they’ll help clean-up the mess in the secondary that Nnamdi Asomugha left (Patrick Chung and Cary Williams shouldn’t hurt, either). Connor Marwin and James Casey should also help shore up a perennially disappointing defense.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to put much stock in journeyman Billy Davis’ job as defensive coordinator with these new pieces. Add that to Coach Kelly’s adjustment pains, and Philly’s looking at something of a mediocre season. Still, it’s better than the 4-12 stink bomb they dropped last year.
Dallas is so confident Tony Romo is their guy that shortly after the Super Bowl, they inked him to a six-year, $108 million extension. For the record, this is the man who fumbled away countless playoff games and hasn’t even been to the Pro Bowl, where excellent regular season players go, since 2009.
Maybe the Dallas Cowboys see something we don’t.
Last year, the Cowboys offensive line and essentially their entire defense were doing their best impressions of a rusty screen door, so it’s hard to get too mad at Romo for carrying the team to an 8-8 season.
Changing up the coaching staff was a good decision, though in Dallas, it seems more like a problem with the ownership than anything else. Jerry Jones’ constant involvement with the roster (which didn’t adequately address any needs this offseason) and a cushy home field make the players feel special, when they aren’t even a mediocre team anymore. Sticking Bill Belichick on those guys would scare them into performing in two hours, but no one in Dallas has shown an ability to motivate players in a long time. Tony Romo, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray can’t do everything themselves.
Maybe this is the year Dallas snaps out of its apparent conceit, grinds its teeth and battles into the postseason.
New York Giants
Want to know something crazy? Eli Manning is 32 years old. The Giants haven’t won double-digit games in the regular season in three years, and they haven’t done much to improve their roster.
As sad as it may be for Tom Coughlin, this team may struggle without a new voice holding the clipboard.
The Giants haven’t looked like they cared about the regular season in years, and their core is only getting older. Locking up Victor Cruz was essential, but that’s that much less money New York has to upgrade its secondary, its offensive line, and any skill position outside of quarterback and wide receiver.
This team has been coasting for years, but this is the year it will blow up in their faces. It may be a bold prediction, but the Giants will be in the cellar of the NFC East this year if they don’t find a spark.
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