Every NFL Team's Biggest Need: NFC East Edition
I can’t believe how close we are to the NFL season. I mean it’s August for crying out loud and the Hall of Fame game is this upcoming Saturday, Aug. 6. With all of that being said, I think it’s time I take another crack at what every NFL team biggest need is for the fifth time this summer. Now that I’m done with the AFC, it’s time to move on to the NFC and what better division to start with than the NFC East.
Dallas Cowboys: Discipline and Time Management
I know I ask the impossible when it comes to Mike McCarthy to improve his time management skills or the Cowboys to have any sort of discipline, but these are their two glaring weaknesses. This what did them in their playoff loss to San Francisco, as they committed 14 penalties for 89 yards and had one of the worst play calls in NFL Playoff history as “Dem Boyz,” ran a QB draw with no timeouts and just seconds left on the clock.
The Cowboys will have to play a lot smarter this upcoming season especially with all the talent they lost in the offseason. Most of the losses were cap casualties, such as trading Amari Cooper to the Browns for a 6th round pick, cutting La’el Collins, losing Randy Gregory to the Broncos and even Conor Williams and Cedric Wilson to the Dolphins. The Cowboys should be a solid team this season, but with the losses they’ve suffered and the cap situation they have put themselves into a cap crunch (-5.3 million for 2023).
Then there is Mike McCarthy, for his time management skills have never really been that good going back to his days in Green Bay. The difference is that now he doesn’t have a top-5 quarterback of all time to mask some of those issues and a front office that doesn’t overpay for talent (cough, cough Zeke Elliot). If McCarthy wants to prove that he is a good head coach in this league, he has to work on keeping the team disciplined and remember how to use time outs effectively in an NFL game. It’s going to be a lot tougher for Dallas to capture another NFC East title but if the team can increase their awareness in key areas, they could finally make a deep playoff run.
Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Hurts to take the next step
It was an up and down season for the Eagles to say the least. They started 2021 at 3-6, including a three-point loss at home against the Chargers in Week 9. While the first half of the year was a train wreck the second half of the season was a revelation for the Birds. They finished the year 6-2 and made the playoffs as the seven seed. While it’s hard to gauge the success of that run considering they did not beat one playoff team during their entire second half of the season, they played some inspired football lead by the defense and the dual threat ability of Jalen Hurts.
Eventually, they would get crushed by the Buccaneers in the Wild Card round and it was enough for the Philly front office to invest some money to improve the offense. Not only did they retain tight end Dallas Goedert and signed Zach Pascal out of free agency, they even added to the defense with Kyzir White, Anthony Harris and Hassan Reddick to bolster the secondary and pass rush. However, the crown jewel of the Eagles off-season was taking A.J. Brown away from the Titans in a draft day trade and followed that up by giving him a four year 100-million-dollar extension. I would easily say that was well deserved as Brown was the driving force of Tennessee’s offense while Derrick Henry was injured, racking up 869 yards, five touchdowns and 13.8 yards per catch in just 13 games. The Titans also went 11-2 in those 13 games including wins over KC, Rams and the 49ers.
With Devonta Smith, Miles Sanders and the rest of the weapons on the Eagles offense, it will come down to whether or not third year QB can break out into a franchise starter. Hurts did ok in his first season as the Eagles starting signal caller, passing for 3,144 yards 16 touchdowns while completing 61.3% of his passes. What really opened some of those passing numbers was Hurts’ amazing running ability as he ran for 784 yards (5.6 per carry) and a league leading rushing 10 touchdowns by a QB. The main concern for Hurts right now is arm strength and turnovers as he had nine interceptions and nine fumbles (only lost two of them). Hurts needs to do a better job of processing the field and working in the pocket as documented by Hall of Fame QB Kurt Warner.
The Eagles have the weapons on offense and defense to make a run at the NFC East crown, but like so many teams before, it will come down to whether the young QB can breakout into star.
Washington Commanders: Dan Snyder to sell the team
I feel like a broken record when talking about some of these teams, they all have some of the same issues. A toxic owner or GM or player that makes it impossible for me to even care about a team for not football reasons. Whether it be the leadership of the Cleveland Browns, the Urban Meyer Tenure in Jacksonville, John Gruden as coach of the Raiders and so on. However, I think that the poster child for this feeling I have comes from the Washington Red… I mean the Washington Football Tea… the Washington Commanders (stupid name should have been something else). Dan Snyder has been one of the most toxic owners in not only the NFL but all pro sports and that’s saying something when you have the likes of Jerry Jones and James Dolan. When you have an environment where you have team execs having topless photo shoots with your own team’s cheerleaders on a trip to Costa Rica in 2013 and being petty with your team’s president because of you think he’s defaming you and then putting together a lack luster remembrance of a franchise icon in Sean Taylor to make everyone forget that you and your team were accused of sexual assault and harassment.
While those are truly awful parts of this whole saga of Dan Snyder’s ownership, what really sickens me to my stomach is that, according to reports by the Washington Post, Snyder tried to intimidate and thwart witnesses from talking with investigators who were looking into Snyder based of off sexual harassment and sexual assault he had been accused of. And now, because of the NFL’s lackluster investigation, the US House of Representatives is investigating these allegations and finally got Snyder to testify to their committee for 11 hours.
Listen I would much rather be talking about how Washington needs to keep building up the offense and find ways to get Carson Wentz back to at least his form in 2019, but I can’t talk about any of that because of the cloud that hangs over this team: Daniel Snyder. The NFL has been way past due of either banning him from the league (Donald Sterling style with the Clippers) or force him to sell the team. Once he is gone, Ron Rivera and the rest of the team can truly begin rebuilding the culture of not only the team, but the franchise as a whole.
New York Giants: Stabilize the team and Develop the Young Players
The bottom dwellers of the NFC East once again, the New York Giants. They are a far cry from their Super Bowl runs during the late 2000’s/early 2010’s. Ever since the 2016 season it has been a chaotic mess for the G-Men as they have gone through four head coaches in six seasons since Tom Coughlin left. The sad part is that between Ben McAdoo, Steve Soagnuolo, Pat Shurmur and Joe Judge, McAdoo had the best record at 13-15. We are talking about a very, very low bar her for the Giants (I should know about low bars for head coaches, I watched the Bears from 2013-2017/2019-2021). The Giants have some young talent that they can really start developing for the future, especially their top two draft picks from the 2022 draft in Evan Neal and Kayvon Thibodeaux (you're welcome for Neal, signed a Bears fan). I think Brian Daboll can finally bring some stability to that locker room and allow the players to focus on football.