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Updates on the NFC East: A division with one total quarterback

Syndication: Wilmington News Journal Jerry Habraken via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Not everybody wants to learn information that doesn’t concern the LA Rams and I fully understand you. It’s no problem to feel that way or to ignore posts that intend to bring awareness to the ocean that the Rams must navigate next season.

Articles like this one are intended to describe those waters because no team sails to the Super Bowl without surviving the sea first.

Los Angeles faced all four NFC East teams in 2020, but there is only one on the schedule next season: a morning road game against the New York Giants on October 17th. Last season, the Rams went 4-0 against the NFC East, including a 17-9 victory against the Giants. But New York, and all of these teams, will look significantly different whenever it is that they next face LA.

At least one of them will make the postseason. Given the fact that little effort was put into reshuffling the deck at quarterback though, it’s hard to imagine which of these teams would be able to win a wild card spot in the NFC. And how.

There’s plenty of defensive talent, but other than the guy whose foot was pointing to Albuquerque the last time we saw him, the quarterback situation doesn’t look any less dire than it did with Carson Wentz and Alex Smith. These are some updates on the four teams in the NFC East.

NFC East

Washington Football Team - Taylor Heinicke challenging Ryan Fitzpatrick?

I have a hard time believing that Fitzpatrick is getting another chance to start. Teams that have said “Yes” and then “No” to Fitzpatrick as a starter include the Rams, Bengals, Bills, Titans, Texans, Jets, Bucs, and Dolphins. Most quarterbacks never get to hear “No” twice. Fitzpatrick has already operated as Washington’s starter since he signed in March, so make Football Team the ninth team to give him a chance.

Nine.

Most interesting veteran addition: WR Curtis Samuel

Most interesting draft pick: LB Jamin Davis

Recent Story: Washington has many position battles, hopes to be more explosive offensively

Head coach Ron Rivera worked with Samuel in Carolina, and Davis is the exact type of pick that we had come to expect from the Panthers. He might have been the best linebacker in the draft and Washington could have the best front-seven in the NFL. How many “could haves” has Fitzpatrick turned into “won’t bes” over his career? Because he’s yet to make the playoffs in any of his many dozens of campaigns.

Dallas Cowboys - Dak Prescott not yet returned to action

Prescott has made it back to the field after suffering a broken ankle in Week 5 of last season, but he’s been held out of 11-of-11 drills at OTAs.

The most important joint of Dallas’ entire year is the ankle that Dak Prescott had so badly injured early last season. We saw nothing but glowing reports from the staff about his recovery, but we’ve been led down that primrose path before.

It was all non-contact, and Prescott was held out of any 11-on-11 work as an added precaution, but he certainly looked like he was completely ready to go.

It’s hard to ignore what the Cowboys are set to have offensively: Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb.

Around those guys, center Tyler Biadasz, right tackle La’El Collins, left guard Connor Williams at least have some draft pedigree and experience and this could be a good offensive line again in front of Prescott and Elliott.

Most interesting veteran addition: LB/Rover Keanu Neal

Most interesting draft pick: LB Micah Parsons

Dallas’s first six draft picks were: LB, CB, DT, DE, CB, LB

The linebackers unit now includes Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Parsons, Neal, and Jabril Cox. How does that shake out? Some might say that Cox is “more interesting” than Parson, but I won’t do that to the difference between the third defensive player drafted and a fourth round pick. Cox was available for reasons, we’ll see how things shake out.

Recent Story: Parsons could be a designated pass rusher in his first season

New York Giants - No timetable on Saquon Barkley’s return from torn ACL

Barkley tore his ACL and did damage to his MCL and meniscus in Week 2 of last season and it’s not yet known when he will return, even as he approaches the 10-month mark since the injury. In 2019, Barkley had 217 carries for 1,003 yards and 52 catches for 438 yards over 13 games. Barkley led the NFL in yards from scrimmage as a rookie, with 2,028, and he added 15 touchdowns.

In theory, the Giants could have a good offense, but that entirely depends on a myriad of unknowns:

  • Will Daniel Jones ever be good, with or without a good supporting cast?
  • First round pick Kadarius Toney is a rookie
  • Kenny Golladay is a first-time Giant and missed 11 games last season
  • Andrew Thomas, selected ahead of Jedrick Wills, Mekhi Becton, and Tristan Wirfs, has so far been the worst first round tackle of 2020
  • Kyle Rudolph is in a similar position to Golladay
  • Will Barkley recover and stay healthy?
  • Will Sterling Shepard recover from an underwhelming second season?
  • Is Jason Garrett the right offensive coordinator?

Lots of potential, also a lot of questions.

Most interesting free agent addition: Golladay

Most interesting draft pick: OLB Azeez Ojulari

I’m a fan of Toney, but his start thus far has been described as “clunky” and he’s not likely to beat out Golladay and Slayton for one of the top-two receiver jobs. In fact, he might also not beat Sterling Shepard.

People were surprised to see Ojulari available at pick 50, but most importantly, he has an opportunity to get on the field immediately as a pass rusher. The Rams are among the teams who are well aware of how good New York’s defense was last season, but other than Leonard Williams, nobody on the defense had more than four sacks. Toney could become the team’s best receiver eventually, but Ojulari could be the team’s best edge immediately.

Recent Story: Daniel Jones is progressing and other things learned at OTAs

Philadelphia Eagles - Jalen Hurts, Joe Flacco are Eagles only two quarterbacks

There is not much separating us from an NFC East that features Dak Prescott, Mike Glennon, Joe Flacco, and Kyle Allen. Or Dak, Jones, Jalen Hurts, and Taylor Heinicke. I mean, other than Dak Prescott, what exactly are we doing here?

Assuming that Hurts wins the starting job, he’ll be throwing to DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward, and JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Maybe. He’ll have Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert too, while the offensive line might actually be among the best in the NFL.

Over the last three seasons, Flacco has started nine games for the Ravens and then got benched for Lamar Jackson; started eight games for the Denver Broncos and made way for Drew Lock; started four games for the Jets, who’ve moved onto Zach Wilson. Now he’s almost certain, I think, to start some games for Philadelphia.

As a rookie, Hurts made four starts and the Eagles went 1-3: 52% completions, 6 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 7.2 Y/A, 77.6 rating, 41 QBR, 63 carries for 354 yards, nine fumbles.

What exactly are we doing here?

Most interesting free agent addition: S Anthony Harris

Most interesting draft pick: WR DeVonta Smith

I’ll also bring up center Landon Dickerson — because I know that one stings for some of you — but Dickerson is still recovering from a torn ACL. If the Rams had picked him, a team often criticized for draft players when picking players who have an injury history, that’s also where he’d be at right now: recovering.

The Eagles have the luxury to not play Dickerson all year, but Smith should immediately become Hurts’ safety blanket. Reagor was disappointing as a rookie and that was compounded by the success of his wide receiver peers. When Hurts was playing, Reagor caught only 12 of 21 targets for 174 yards. Smith was drafted as high as he was because he should be “NFL ready” and capable of creating yards and separation on his own.

Harris really stayed under the radar and I didn’t remember that he had signed with the Eagles, even though he was one of my favorite pending free agents of 2020. The Vikings gave him the franchise tag then, but all he got in free agency this year was a one-season pact for $4 million. Harris had six interceptions in 2019, but zero in 2020.

The Eagles have some all-pro talent but they also have some potential holes on the roster that look no different than the weakest links that caused them to go 4-11-1 last season.

Recent Story: Brian Johnson extremely pleased with Jalen Hurts and other notes from OTAs

Poll

Who wins the NFC East?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    Cowboys
    (110 votes)
  • 6%
    Eagles
    (16 votes)
  • 39%
    Football Team
    (95 votes)
  • 8%
    Giants
    (21 votes)
242 votes total Vote Now