NFL’s biggest offseason moves: NFC East
By Staff Writer Gabe Salgado:
This is part two of my NFL offseason divisional roundup. My previous story focused on the big offseason moves made within the AFC Eastern Division.
Here is my roundup on the NFC Eastern Division……
The Dallas Cowboys (12-4) were the surprise in last year’s NFC East. The defied the odds, quieted the naysayers and dominated in winning their first division crown since 2009.
Running back DeMarco Murray –who had injury issues in the past but was largely ignored by the offense when active- was healthy and the Cowboys finally gave him the keys to the truck as he rushed for an NFL, and career best, 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Quarterback Tony Romo had one of his more consistent seasons as he threw for 3,705 yards, 34 touchdowns (two shy of his career high 36 in 2007), had a 69.9 completion percentage and only committed 12 turnovers.
The Cowboy defense dealt with injuries and was inconsistent, but they did just enough to help their team win.
The Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) progressed in year two under head coach Chip Kelly. When Nick Foles went down with a broken collar bone in Week 9, many felt the wheels would come off the bus.
Thankfully, backup Mark Sanchez stepped up and thrived for the most part in Kelly’s “Oregon Offense” -64.1 completion percentage, 2,418 passing yards, 14 touchdowns- which he had never played in before.
LeSean McCoy –as mentioned in my previous story- carried the ground game which kept Philly competitive. Unfortunately losing both games to Dallas and going just .500 against the rest of the NFC (6-6) kept them out of the playoffs.
The New York Giants (6-10) however have continued to regress since winning Super Bowl 46. They have missed the playoffs for three consecutive seasons and head coach Tom Coughlin is on the hot seat.
Not helping matters is the inconsistency from Eli Manning, a lack of energy on defense, numerous injuries and not much of a running game. After David Wilson was forced into retirement because of a career-ending series of neck injuries, the “G-Men” went to a running back by committee (Andre Williams, Orleans Darkwa, Chris Ogbonnaya).
The end result was just 1,312 team rushing yards. Their inefficiency on offense contributed to their seven-game losing streak during October and November.
Then finally we have Washington (I also disapprove of the name). Their reasons for finishing dead last (4-12) in 2014 are as follows; Robert Griffin III continued to struggle in his recovery from ACL surgery following his rookie season, the team has failed to find an identity under Jay Gruden, and injuries decimated their once slightly-powerful defense.
The Cowboys are looking to continue their momentum, the Eagles want to takedown the Cowboys, the Giants just want to be good again, while the team from our nations capital is trying to put itself back together.
How they shape out their rosters for this coming season will go a long way in deciding how that all works out. With that being said, here are the biggest offseason moves made in the NFC East so far…..
Bryant stands to make $12.8 million if he signs the tender and stays with the team. He wants a long-term deal to say in Valley Ranch, and he makes a good case for it.
He’s caught for at least 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns in each of his last three seasons. But keeping him under the franchise tag guarantee’s that he won’t be able to leave without owner Jerry Jones failing to match another team’s offer.
Plus, it guarantees him a roster spot (for now). Now that Dallas finally realizes that they have a fully capable running back in Murray, giving him a long-term deal is key to their future success. He just needs to stay healthy.
Aside from trading LeSean McCoy, the Eagles also made a change under center. They traded Nick Foles (and two draft picks) to the St. Louis Rams in exchange for their quarterback Sam Bradford and a fifth round pick in this year’s draft.
Now considering Foles has thrown for 5,054 yards and 40 touchdowns in last two seasons combined, and considering Bradford’s injury riddled history, the Eagles did not make this decision lightly.
Since they offered Mark Sanchez a new contract, it seems that he will be the starter moving forward. Unless of course, Chip Kelly makes a move to draft last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, and former Oregon quarterback, Marcus Mariota. Stay tuned…..
If the Giants want to get their running game right then they are already headed in the right direction. On the first day of free agency this week, the football Giants pulled Shane Vereen away from the New England Patriots.
Vereen would fit the Giants offense perfectly. Playing in New England did him no favors as he never got to showcase his skills. In his four seasons with the Pats’ Vereen has only accumulated 2,030 total yards and 14 total touchdowns.
This is because Bill Belichick historically uses multiple halfbacks in his offense as opposed to one featured back. Vereen will finally get a chance to take over the offense in The Big Apple.
Worst case scenario is that his speed and quickness could compliment the power style of Andre Williams.
In D.C.; they haven’t been too active in free agency just yet, but they did sign former Chicago Bears defensive tackle Stephen Paea. The 53rd overall pick in the 2011 draft had a productive career in the windy city with 12 career sacks and 94 career tackles.
While there is no doubt that he’ll be a great edition to the Washington defensive line, the question is will he start in D.C. like he did in Chicago? He will definitely have his chance as Washington is rebuilding the defense under new coordinator Joe Barry.
Will the power balance in the NFC East shift in 2015? We will find out soon enough. Follow me on Twitter @GabeSalgado82