NFC Players Needing to Breakout
May 27, 2014 in NFC East
Here are the players on each NFC East team broken down on each side of the ball that each team needs to breakout most this season:
Offense – Zach Ertz:
Last year Riley Cooper broke out in Chip Kelly’s offense and he now will face a lot of pressure to once again step up his game after letting DeSean Jackson go. Jeremy Maclin returns but he is coming off an ACL injury so you have to be cautious when it comes to optimism on him. One guy who could breakout under Kelly is the 2nd year tight end Ertz. With Cooper needed in a larger role the potential for Ertz to take over some of the medium range game Cooper thrived in last season is very possible. Although the loss of Jackson going over the top could hurt Ertz’s opportunities also.
Defense – Mychal Kendricks:
I am not a huge fan of what the Eagles got on the defensive side of the ball. Fletcher Cox broke out last season though and became a Pro Bowl level player. Cole and Barwin are solid vets and I am not a huge fan of the secondary. If anyone could step up their game I think its Kendricks. Last season he went from potential draft bust to solid performer for the Eagles. This season they will need that play again from him if they want to get better on the defensive side of the ball.
New York Giants
Offense – Ruben Randle:
Randle should get a full time opportunity now that Hakeem Nicks is gone. Even though the Giants spent a high pick on another LSU wideout I still think Randle could become as big of a target of Eli Manning as Victor Cruz will be in 2014. Odell Beckham will be expected to come in and contribute quickly but rookie receivers often take time. Randle could end up being a bum when given more opportunity but let’s wait and see.
Defense - Prince Amukamara:
The Giants used free agency to bring in a lot of veterans on the defensive side as well as retaining Jon Beason. Prince is a former first rounder who has shown signs but now is his time to step up. New York picked up his 5th year option so they expect him to contribute in a division which could have three strong passing attacks. DRC was brought in at big dollars to make a difference but I think it is Amukamara who needs to change the NY defense.
Offense – Terrance Williams:
I don’t find this much of a surprise. I could have said Romo here or that Murray needs to continue good health or Dez be more consistent. But gonna go with Williams in Big D. He was a very effective rookie, more so than most probably expected. Now Miles Austin is gone and at some point Jason Witten’s play has to drop some. Williams will be needed to fill that second option role as the Cowboys may need to score 40+ with the questions still on defense.
Defense – Morris Claiborne:
Claiborne looked like a draft day future star lock when the Cowboys traded up and used a top ten pick to get him. So far it has not been pretty as he has struggled much like the Cowboys defense. Too much was spent by Dallas for him not to be an impact guy. Much like Prince he will have to face a lot of top pass catchers this season so his play must go up to at least solid starter level.
Offense – Robert Griffin III:
All of the guys mentioned before were not Rookie of the Year but Griffin was and he needs to get back to that level. Last season was a tough one coming off the injury but for the Redskins to have a huge turnaround a lot will depend on what Griffin does this season. The Skins got him DeSean Jackson and added pieces to the offensive line so it is on Griffin to become the player he once was before the Ngata hit and the Seattle debacle.
Defense – Philip Thomas:
Going on a complete flyer as most non-Redskins are probably saying, who? Thomas missed all of his rookie year with a foot injury so we have nothing to go on. The Redskins secondary is still a huge question mark and they will need Thomas to step up quick. ESPN’s Ryan Clark and Brandon Merriweather are in DC but both are far from the level of player they were in the past. Thomas needs to be able to step in and contribute in 2014 or we could see another Jim Haslett defense in the 20s of the league.