• Al Thompson

NFC EAST TEAM CAPSULES FOR 2020 SEASON

By MATT SANTOLERI & AL THOMPSON



Running back Ezekiel Elliott is still a major force for the Dallas Cowboys. Photo by Andy Lewis

DALLAS COWBOYS

2019 record 8-8. second place in NFC East

Head coach: Mike McCarthy - entering his first season with the Cowboys.

Key Players Lost: Robert Quinn DE (Chicago), Byron Jones CB (Miami), Jeff Heath S (Las Vegas), Maliek Collins DT (Las Vegas), Jason Witten TE (Las Vegas), and Randall Cobb WR (Houston) C Travis Frederick (retirement). 

Key Players Added: Gerald McCoy DT, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix S, Greg Zuerlein K, Dontari Poe DT, Aldon Smith DE/LB, Daryl Worley CB, WR CeeDee Lamb and Andy Dalton QB

Weaknesses: The glaring weakness on the Cowboys team is their secondary and after the loss of Byron Jones the team failed to find an adequate replacement in free agency. The loss of sack leader Robert Quinn and a failure to live up to the contract in year one for Demarcus Lawrence leaves a lot of question marks on that defensive front as well.

Strengths: While I have my concerns with their ability to stop opposing teams from scoring, the addition of rookie WR CeeDee Lamb to an already great trio of weapons in WR Amari Cooper, WR Michael Gallup, and RB Ezekiel Elliott, leads me to believe they are prepared to win shootouts with almost anyone in the NFC.

Prediction: Will contend for the NFC East title or Wildcard Playoff spot with a 10-6 record.

--Matt Santoleri



Kevin Zeitler will lead an improved Giants offensive line. Photo by Andy Lewis

NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS 2019 record 4-12 - third place in NFC East

Head coach: Joe Judge – entering his first season as a NFL coach.

Key Players Lost: Eli Manning QB (retirement), LBs Alec Ogletree and Kareem Martin (released), OL Jon Halapio, OL Mike Remmers, TE Rhett Ellison, FS Antoine Bethea, CB Janoris Jenkins.

Key players added: OL Andrew Thomas, LB Kyler Fackrell, LB Tae Crowder

Weaknesses: Second year quarterback Daniel Jones' turnovers to start. As a rookie, Jones threw 24 TDs and 12 Ints. He still finds ways to lose. Jones fumbled an absurd 18 times in 12 games.

Big Blue's offense was ranked No. 19 overall. The defense was ranked No. 30 out of 32 teams. The defense came up with ten measly interceptions.

Strengths: Big Blue upgraded its brains on offense by hiring former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett as offensive coordinator. He now gets to coach the new top running back in the NFL in Saquon Barkley, who was hurt most of the 2019 season. WR Darius Slayton was a beast as a rookie. Burned arch rival Eagles big time. He will be even better with an improved offensive line and a healthy Barkley. Placing the franchise tag on DT Leonard Williams and keeping him will help. Taking OL Andrew Thomas in the first round was a wise pick. Garrett will help Jones with the turnovers. Improved offensive line will be led by guard Kevin Zeitler, who graded out by PFF as one of the better guards in the NFL in 2019. 

Prediction: Judge is a big-time winner. As a significant assistant coach he helped his head coaches win two BCS National Championships at Alabama (2009, 2011) and three Super Bowl titles with New England (XLIX, LI, LIII), Judge will find nine wins and contend for a Wild Card spot his rookie head coaching season. – Al Thompson


Fletcher Cox leads one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. Photo by Andy Lewis

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

2019 record 9-7 NFC East Champs

Head Coach: Doug Pederson - Entering his fifth season with the Eagles

Key Players Lost: Halapoulivaati Vaitai OL (Detroit), Malcolm Jenkins S/LB, (New Orleans), Jordan Howard RB (Miami), Kamu Grugier-Hill LB (Miami), Ronald Darby CB (Washington), and Nelson Agholor WR (Las Vegas)

Key Players Added: Javon Hargrave DT, Darius Slay CB, Will Parks S, Nickell Robey-Coleman CB, Marquise Goodwin WR, and Jatavis Brown LB and WR Jalen Reagor

Weaknesses: While Jim Schwartz has turned lemons into lemonade throughout his tenure in Philadelphia, his linebacking corps, outside cornerback position opposite Darius Slay, and second safety position that the departing Malcom Jenkins has left for either newcomers or converted safety Jalen Mills to fill, are the obvious weak points on this team.

Strengths: The identity of the Philadelphia Eagles is all predicated on winning in the trenches and on both sides of the ball they should be able to do just that. Jason Peters converting to guard to fill in for the injured Brandon Brooks shouldn’t be an issue and you would be hard pressed to find a defensive tackle rotation in the NFL that is better than Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, and Malik Jackson.

Prediction: Will contend for the NFC East title or Wildcard Playoff spot with a 10-6 record. --Matt Santoleri

WASHINGTON FFOOTBALL TEAM

Former Indiana standout Wes Martin (67) could surface as a bright spot for the Washington offensive line this year. Photo by Jesse Garber

2019 record – 3-13 last place in NFC East

Head coach: Ron Rivera - entering his first season as head coach

Key Players Lost: OL Donald Penn, OL Ereck Flowers, TE Jeremy Sprinkle, FS Montar Nicholson, CB Josh Norman, Redskins

Key Players Added: Chase Young, Derrius Guice (drafted last year, never played because of injury), LB Thomas Davis, TE Richard Rogers, CB KendallFuller, FS Sean Davis.

Weaknesses: In their last season as the Redskins, Washington's offense was dead last in the NFL in overall production. Washington's defense was No. 27 overall out of 32 teams. Washington needs help everywhere.

Strengths: On offense, Rivera has Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff coming back. Second year guard Wes Martin has a chance to stand out. He played well against Fletcher Cox as a rookie. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins will have a year under his belt and should improve. The No. 1 overall pick Chase Young out of Ohio State should be a blast watching develop.

Their starting D-line is all first round picks including Montez Sweat, Da'Ron Payne, Jonathan Allen and four-time Pro Bowl DE Ryan Kerrigan.

Prediction: Rivera is a terrific coach. But the crisis in the front office, the controversy over changing the team's name might rally a team, but I just don't see it here with this franchise. The new head coach will double the number of wins from last year, but that's only six victories for a team at the bottom for many reasons.

--Al Thompson


Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii


Follow Matt Santoleri on Twitter @WickedPhilthy


Some stats from www.pro-football-reference.com & ourlads.com

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