[Note by JasonB, 05/20/11 9:29 PM EDT ] MidwesternEaglesFan has another interesting post here checking out the state of our rivals in the NFC East.
Washington Redskins- Still a long way to go to get to the level that is expected when you hire Mike Shannahan. They made the switch to the 3-4 last year and took the best DT in the game and turned him into the best headache in the game. Shannahan also called out Donovan McNabb for being out of shape and pulled him with 2 minutes left to againist the Lions in a tight game. Then they followed that by giving McNabb a phony yet monster long term deal that no one expects to survive this offseason. Sometimes I think Coach Shannahan likes to mess with people just to see how they react.
The Quarterback position looks to be a two-horse er two-jackass race between John Beck who hasn't made a start since 2007, and Rex friggin Grossman. John Beck claims he is ready to be a starter while Grossman says he is in his prime and has "Superbowl experience". Wow, Redskins fans might be the one fanbase rooting for a long lockout.
The offense isnt in much better shape. The offensive line has one bright spot with Trent Williams at left tackle but not much else. The cut Clinton Portis and drafted Roy Helu. RB is alwasy the position in Shannahan's offense that doesn't have to be great, he turns mediocre runners into 1,000 yards studs. The Skins still have 32 year old wideout Santana Moss but they did draft 3 promising you WR's in Lance Hankerson, Niles Paul and Aldrick Robinson. Overall the offense has more depth going into free agency than they did last year, but they don't have anyone that really scares you.
The defense is really starting to take shape in year 2 or the 3-4. The front 3 is very underrated but very big with Adam Carriker, Maake Kemoeautu and Kedric Golston. They drafted Ryan Kerrigan to be their edge rusher oppostie of Brian Orakpo which has the potential to be scary. They signed BGN legend Oshiomogho Atogwe to play FS and team up with SS LaRon Landry. They still need to find a suitable corner oppostie of DeAngelo Hall, but there are plenty of options. We all expect Dan Snyder to offer a record breaking deal to Nnamdi Asomugha.
Overall I think the defense will be let down and forced to be on the field too much be a horrible offense. I don't see how this team wins any more than 6 or 7 games, especially in a very competitive division.
Dallas Cowboys- Very interesting 2010 season. The coaching staff was riddled with dysfunction until Wade Phillips was finally put out of his misery by his biggest fan, Jerry Jones. Tony Romo broke his collarbone and missed 10 games last year but Jon Kitna actuallly did a good job in relief. Now that the interim tag has been removed and replaced with the head coach position for Jason Garrett, the expectations are back to that unrealistic level we are used to the boys being in.
Jon Kitna may have had a solid 2010 season after taking over for injured Romo, their will be no qb contravisory because of the fact that Jon Kitna is turning 39 this year and the coaching staff has the utmost confidence in his ability.
The rest of the offense appears to still be in good shape. Tyron Smith appears to be a future All-Pro tackle, and should give Romo more protection than he and Kitna recieved(or didn't recieve) last year. Marion Barber appears on his way out and he will be replaced with rookie DeMarcco Murray along with current RB's Felix Jones and Michael Vick's biggest fan Tashard Choice. Dez Bryant will look to take the next step as a elite wideout while already taking the next step as a distraction. The one player on this offense that no one is talking about but should is tight end John Phillips. A Jason Whitten clone at TE but younger, hungrier and a little more athletic. He is coming off a ACL injury from last August.
The defense has always been the backbone of this team but they are in a little bit of a transition right now. With Wade Phillips out as head coach, they needed to find a new man to run their 3-4. They hired my least favorite Buddy Ryan son in Rob Ryan to be their defensive cordinator. Marcus Spears is out and Anthony Spencer is probably pretty close as well. It's unclear who will replace Marcus Spears as they didn't draft a DL in the entire draft, although it won't be hard to match his limited production. They did draft a future replacement for Spencer with OLB from UNC Bruce Carter. Carter is still recovering from a torn ACL from last November and probably won't be anywhere near 100% until 2012. The secondary has some serious concerns. Mike Jenkins took a major step back last year and Terrance Newman is already showing signs of age.
Overall the Cowboys are a mystery. The defense has some serious questions and the offense still has yet to find their identity. They are built for the run but alwasy seem more interested in passing it 30-40 times. Can Tony Romo get it done in the playoffs? Will the O-line be better in 2011? Will the running game suffer without Marion Barber? How long until Dez Bryant becomes a major headache? Only time and a new CBA will tell. For the people reading this who think the Cowboys will sign Nnamdi or another big free agent, the have the most money comitted towards the 2011 cap with 134 mil with the salary cap expected to be right around 140 million.
New York Giants- This team was about 7:30 minutes away from being NFC East champs and never really recovered after "The Miracle at the New Meadownlands". I'm going to make a very unpopular prediction right now, the Giants will beat the Eagles at least once in 2011. They were extremley close twice last year and will find a way to get it done. Having said that I still believe this is the second best team in the division.
Eli Manning had a great fantasy season in 2010, but the turnovers were just under 30 for the season. He still threw for over 4,000 yards and 31 TD. Turnovers were the biggest problem for this team last year and it all starts with Eli. A healthy Steve Smith would go along way in committing less turnovers but bad recievers don't cause interceptions, bad passes cause interceptions.
The rest of the offense looks solid. Ahmad Bradshaw ran for over 1200 yards and Hakeem Nicks took the next step in his 2nd year with 1000+ yards and 11 TD. The offensive line is still a solid group that has played together for a long time and James Brewer appears to be a potential future starting tackle.
Defense is built around a fierce rotation of guys on the DL like JPP, Osi, and Justin Tuck but the real strength might be the secondary now. They bring back corners Cory Webster and Terrell Thomas who are both very underrated but were able to add Prince Amukamara to add depth and potential for the future along with Aaron Ross. The safties look solid with Kenny Phillips and Antrell Rolle who both cover well and hit hard.
Overall this is at least a wildcard team in 2011. The offense is capable and the defense is more than capable. Biggest questions for this team will be- How will the running game look? Will they limit their turnovers? Will the offensive line show signs of age? How much of an achilles heel will the linebacker core be? Will they every beat the Eagles again and do they want to play them in the New Meadowlands ever again?
Philadelphia Eagles- Defending division champs who have now been bounced from the 1st round of the playoffs 2 years in row after winning at least one playoff game in each playoff appearance in the previous years under Andy Reid. Clearly both this team and their fanbase is not willing to settle for anything short of a Superbowl victory. They added two of the best position coaches in the game with DL coach Jim Washburn and OL coach Howard Mudd. They also made a surprising but genius move promoting OL coach Juan Castillo to defensive cordinator. Anybody who used to get asked advice on the upcoming defensive gameplan from legend Jim Johnson has a bright future as a defensive coach.
Hopefully the quarterback position is finally set and there won't be any switch-a-ro's in 2011. Micheal Vick is our guy, Kevin Kolb will get a nice return via the Cardinals or Seahawks and Mike Kafka is a nice reserve. Very likely the Eagles sign a veteran to backup Vick, likely just a 1 year deal. Most people think Michael Vick will shatter into a million pieces after the first big hit of the 2011 season but I think he is more durable than he gets credit for. He played through a lot of pain in 2010 and only missed team after the rib-crushing hit againist the skins in week 4 last year. He proved he can be a complete quarterback, now he must prove he can be a champion quarterback.
Offense should post even better numbers in 2011 with a much much improved offensive line. Danny Watkins will be a major improvment over lap-band success story Max Jean-Gilles(good riddance) and Winston Justice appears to have the confidence of coach Mudd and his knee should be at 100% when the season starts. Better offensive line means more time for Michael Vick and less of a need for Celek to stay in to block which means his numbers will be back where they should. DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy all should be even better as neither player has reached their prime yet.
Defense is a whole nother story. The pass rush fizzled in the second half last year. The redzone defense was historyically bad. Quitin Mikell is likely gone. The DL scheme will look very different from 2010. Juan Castillo has said he wants to simplify the D, which makes a ton of sense with such a young unit. Just because you makes things simple, doesn't mean we will be easy to figure out. We will be starting a 2nd year man at FS in Nate Allen and a rookie at SS in Jaiquawn Jarrett. There are postion battles all over the front 7. Mike Patterson and Broderick Bunkley are the verts at DT but Trevor Laws and Antonio Dixon appear to be the favorites in my mind to start. At LB, there are about 6 or 7 possible combinations that could start the year including Brian Rolle, Jamar Chaney and Steward Bradley. The biggest question now on this defense will be at RCB. Nnamdi Asomugha is the popular choice, with the Eagles having the money and probably the best situation for him to win and cash in at the same time. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a very real possibility as well in a Kevin Kolb trade. Trevard Lindley is the dark horse as he looked great in limited opportunites in 2010.
Overall this team already looks like the favorties in the East and they will have about 25 million to spend of free agent after everyone is signed and resigned that needs to be. Signing Nnamdi would put the Eagles in the best situation to win the Superbowl since 2004.