Hawk’s 2015 NFL Preview: NFC East Edition

 

Hawk’s NFL Preview NFC East Edition, which The Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles. 

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Dallas Cowboys
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Last season Dallas went 12-4 and won a playoff game for only the second time in the Tony Romo era, before losing the next round to the Packers in the years most controversial call:

Cowboys fans are back to their cocky, over confident selves again, but they have reason to be optimistic. Romo had the best year of his career, leading the league in completion percentage (69.9) and passer rating (113.2), running back DeMarco Murray led the league in rushing yards…. handily with 1845, the next highest was Le’Veon Bell at 1361, damn near 500 yards less, which is unheard of.
Oh wait, they let Murray go which means injury prone Darren McFadden, who for the most part has underachieved his entire career will most likely get the start. Him, Lance Dunbar or Joseph Randle, who aren’t exactly household names.
Pundits are quick to say that because Dallas has the best offensive line in the league, their running game will be just fine. I’m here to tell you that won’t necessarily be the case. These are significant downgrades at the position. I don’t care how good your line is you still have to have a back that has enough strength and vision to succeed. Murray had it but I don’t know about the guys on the current roster.
 
Other issues that will face this team will most certainly be a questionable pass defense and having a roster that is chock full of trouble makers. Aside from being notoriously immature and whiny Dez Bryant was at one point accused of assaulting his mom and Pro Bowl D Lineman Greg Hardy was involved in one of the most sickening domestic abuse scandals in NFL history. Dallas also signed Undrafted rookie OT La’el Collins, who was projected as a first round pick before becoming a suspect in the murder of his pregnant ex girlfriend, but obviously he was not convicted.
It doesn’t stop there though. LB Rolando McClain was arrested for resisting arrest, Joseph Randle was arrested twice in 4 months. Once for shoplifting and once for drug charges. He was also investigated for domestic abuse.
Unless Darren McFadden explodes this year and Dallas has one of the best counselors in the world on their staff all signs point to a down year for them. Sorry Cowboys faithful but I expect another 8-8 year.

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New York Giants
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QB Eli Manning had a terrible 2013, throwing for 3818 yards, 19 Tds, and 27 INTs, for a QB rating of 69.4. But bounced back in a big way in 2014, He Threw for 4410 yards, 6th highest of all QBs, 30 TDs and 14 INT’s for a QB rating of 92.1 and seems to have started to master his new West Coast style offense.
Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. impressed the entire league last year leading his team with 91 catches, 1305 yards and 12 TD’s  and had what many believe to be the the best catch of the year. These are impressive stats for anyone, let alone a rookie who missed the first 4 games of the year do to injury.
Alongside Beckham should be a healthy Victor Cruz who many forgot about because of the play of Beckham and the fact that Cruz missed the last 10 games of the year after tearing his patella tendon.
Running the ball will be the duo of Andre Williams and Rashad Jennings who together combined for 1,360 yards and 11 Tds. Additionally the Giants signed running back Shane Vereen from the Patriots. Vereen had 52 catches for 447 yards and 3 Td’s. Expect Vereen to be another weapon for Eli in this offense and possibly catch for as many yards as he rushes for,similar to that of Darren Sproles of the Eagles. If all falls in place this will become one of the best offenses in the league.
Defensively, like seemingly every team in the NFC EAST for years now, this team needs work and must improve from being ranked 29th in total defense. Adding coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and using 5 of their 6 draft picks on defense should help.  One of their stars  is DE Jason Pierre-Paul, who lead the team in sacks with 12.5 and ranked 8th in the league but in one of the most bizarre stories of the offseason, had a finger amputated after a fireworks incident. This will no doubt harm his ability to perform at a position which requires as much leverage as you can get with your hands.
I expect the Giants to be much improved this year and push to take back the NFC EAST crown.Hawks-NFL-Preview-NFC-East

Philadelphia Eagles

I think it is safe to say Chip Kelly and the Eagles had the strangest offseason of any team in the league. They traded starting quarterback Nick Foles to the Rams in exchange for Rams projected QB starter Sam Bradford who has missed 2 straight years do to the same ACL tear. They also traded RB Lesean McCoy to Buffalo for Kiko Alonso. McCoy has been consistently one of the best backs in the league for several years now. So this was a very puzzling move to many. Including this guy.
After letting McCoy go they brought over DeMarco Murray. Murray blew up last year and lead the league in rushing yards with 1845, and had a decent 2013 as well rushing for over 1121 yards but in the years prior was very injury prone so this is a bit of a risk.
If those two moves weren’t risky enough they also let Jeremy Maclin go to the Chiefs and he was their leading receiver last season catching 85 balls for 1318 yards and 10 Tds, and they signed quarterback Tim Tebow (cut). I wish he made the team. Coulda “Tebow Time” back because that shit was hilarious. I have never seen a QB with numbers so bad just find ways to win over and over again like he did at Denver. It was highly entertaining.
Why did Chip Kelly make so many moves on offense when last year the broke multiple franchise records? I have no idea but I think he finally figured out that you have to play defense in this league too.
Kiko Alonso missed the 2014 season with a torn ACL but in 2013 was a beast. His 159 tackles were 3rd overall in the league and netted him defensive rookie of the year honors. If he can play like that he will be a huge upgrade to this shoddy defense. Philly also made big moves to fix a pass defense that ranked 31st in the league by signing former Seahawks “Legion of Boom” cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Byron Maxwell and drafting Eric Rowe, another cornerback 2nd overall.
This division is up for grabs and should be a closely contested battle all year round. All the new moves on offense could pay dividends for this team or it could blow up in their faces, but if they improve their defense regardless, they could be front runners.

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Washington Redskins
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Washington was so riddled with injuries and incompetence at the quarterback position last year that Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, and Colt McCoy all started in games at some point, and to tell you the truth none of them stood out in a horrible 4-12 2014 season.
This is a terrible problem to have to start the year. I assume Griffin will get to start (Kirk Cousins named starter) because they drafted him 2nd overall in the 2012 draft and invested a lot of money in him, but the dude is constantly injured. If he takes too many more shots, I hate to say it, but his career might be over. And its very possible he will because he still isn’t good at sliding to avoid the hit.
One of the few bright spots on this team in the Griffin era is definitely that of running back Alfred Morris, who has rushed for over 1000 yards in his first 3 seasons. Unfortunately his total yards have gone down every year as well.
Receiver Desean Jackson is an electric player that is one of the fastest in the NFL, but he is small in stature which makes him an injury risk, and who is going to throw him the ball? Over all with the exception of Morris and Jackson this team doesn’t really have any playmakers on offense.
Defensively they are a little better. LB Ryan Kerrigan had a breakout year with 13.5 sacks and 5 forced fumbles and they are hoping signing Terrance “Pot Roast” from Denver will improved a solid run defense that was 12th best in the league. Their passing defense struggled, Something they addressed by signing free agents Chris Culliver from the 49ers, Dashon Goldson from the Buc’s and Jeron Johnson from the Seahawks.
I don’t expect much from this team in 2015 because the quarterback situation is a mess. Maybe their defense improves enough to keep them in games but I think they are looking at another last place NFC EAST finish.

 

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