Projecting winners of each NFC division

Who will win the NFC East?

By: Jeremy Trottier

The NFC has been an interesting conference in recent years, from the Eagles winning the Super Bowl against the dynasty that is/was the Patriots, to the Panthers making Super Bowl 50, to our current reigning champions the Buccaneers.  The conference could be looking to have new appearances both for division winners as well as Super Bowl contenders, which always makes things interesting.  In this article, I will be going over who I believe will win each NFC division, as well as why they make sense to do so.

NFC North – Green Bay Packers

To be completely fair, this division is getting closer as of late, with players like Justin Jefferson and Justin Fields being added in recent years we see improvements from the other three teams.  With that said, as long as the Packers have Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, they have a good chance to win.  They were able to lock up Aaron Jones for a few more seasons, and we should see a true debut year from A.J. Dillion at RB2 now that Jamaal Williams is gone.

Additions such as Eric Stokes, De’Vondre Campbell, Amari Rodgers, and Randall Cobb should be definitive pieces to the puzzle for Green Bay as they make another playoff push.  They have not significantly improved their team this offseason, that much is clear, but being able to retain Rodgers for another year and keep the focal points of their offense allows them a chance.

NFC East – Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys had two major issues last season that prevented them from going anywhere.  The first being lackluster QB play, which they fix with the return of Dak Prescott.  The other issue was their defense, which struggled immensely, which they have fixed by taking 8 defensive players of their 11 draft picks this year, with their first six all being defensive players.  Just to list them off, they got Micah Parsons, Kelvin Joseph, Osa Odighizuwa, Chauncey Golston, Nashon Wright, Jabril Cox, Quinton Bohanna, and Israel Mukuamu.

This influx of defensive players, as well as the return of Dak, should make this team the best in the NFC East, on top of their top tier receiving core and solid offensive line which just takes them over the top.

NFC South – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The reigning Super Bowl champions were able to retain all 22 of their starters from last year, and the last time that happened it was the Pittsburgh Steelers who went on to repeat and win another SB.  Now, will that be the case?  That is yet to be seen.  But winning the division has to come first, and they have prepared to do so with solid offseason acquisitions.

So far they have brought in players like Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, KJ Britt, Chris Wilcox, and Ladarius Hamilton.  As well as the return of O.J. Howard, Kenjon Barner, Shaq Barrett, Jack Cichy, and A.Q. Shipley from late-season IR.  

NFC West – Los Angeles Rams

Finally, we have the NFC West, which is probably the strongest division all-around in the league, never mind the conference.  With that said, the Rams are probably the most complete team of them all right now, with playmakers at every level of offense and defense.  To state the obvious first, Matt Stafford is going to drastically improve the team’s offense, and the addition of Sony Michel is one that despite losing Cam Akers should be able to create some productivity.

They obviously still have Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey on the team too, both of whom are top players at their position.  Overall the explosiveness that Stafford could bring to this offense could put this team in deep playoff contention this season.

Why the Cowboys are Super Bowl Contenders

The Cowboys are Super Bowl contenders

By: (@AdamHulseSports)

The Dallas Cowboys are a team that is a real Super Bowl contender heading into the 2021 NFL season. They have a head coach in Mike McCarthy who has already won a ring with the Green Bay Packers, one of the best offensives in the NFL lead by superstar quarterback Dak Prescott, and an improved defense with a brand new, and highly respected, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. They are the current betting odds favorite to win the NFC East Division at +135 according to the Draft Kings Sports Book and they actually have the second easiest strength of schedule ranking. There are many reasons to believe that the Cowboys can compete for a Super Bowl this season.

Dak is Back

After missing the majority of the 2020 season due to injury, Dak is back and ready to go for the 2021 NFL season. He has consistently been one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and there is no reason to believe that won’t continue as long as he is fully healthy. In his last full season in 2019, he put up the best numbers of his career including 4902 passing yards and 30 passing touchdowns, both of which were career highs. In fact, because he has consistently trended up each year in terms of production, it’s still very possible that he will be even better this coming season than ever before. The best version of Prescott may still be on it’s way and that’s a very exciting thought for the Cowboys.

Elite Offense

The Cowboys have one of the best offenses in the entire NFL. Last season, even without Prescott for eleven games, the Cowboys still ranked 14th in total offense at 371.8 yards per game and 17th in scoring offense with 24.7 points per game. This demonstrates that even with the terrible quarterback play, and a ton of injuries to the offensive line as well, their offensive weapons were still good enough to produce. Now that Prescott and the line are both healthy again, they can get back to being the dominant force that they were in 2019 or even better. That season the Cowboys ranked 1st in the NFL in total offense with 431.5 yards per game and 6th in scoring offense with 27.1 points per game.

The CeeDee Lamb Factor

In addition to Ezekiel Elliot, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup, who were all a part of the team in 2019, is the now second year wide receiver in CeeDee Lamb. He had a very impressive rookie campaign in 2020 with 74 receptions for 935 yards and 5 touchdowns in a crowded passing offense. The fact that only five of his sixteen games played were with Prescott makes his season even more impressive. Most importantly, his best games of the year were when Prescott was playing including both of his games where he eclipsed 100 receiving yards, his only game with multiple touchdowns, and his most receptions with eight in a single game. This connection between Prescott and Lamb is something to keep an eye on in the 2021 NFL season and will likely be a huge weapon for the Cowboys.

Improving Defense

The Cowboys were a disaster defensively in the 2020 season. They ranked 23rd in yards allowed with 386.4 per game and 28th in points allowed with 29.6 per game. Despite not losing much in terms of personnel, this was a huge drop-off from their solid 2019 season where they ranked 9th in yards allowed with 327 per game and 11th in points allowed with 20.1 per game. This is why defensive coordinator Mike Nolan was fired after just one season with the Cowboys. They upgraded in a big way this offseason by hiring Dan Quinn to be the new DC, who was the mastermind of the famous Legion of Boom defense in Seattle with the Seahawks. With stars like Jaylon Smith and DeMarcus Lawrence to pair with exciting newcomers like Micah Parsons, Quinn has an excellent opportunity to get Dallas back into the top ten defenses in the NFL.

Season Outlook

Playing in the NFC East division that is fairly weak compared to the rest of the NFL gives the Cowboys an excellent chance to make a postseason appearance. The Eagles are in a complete rebuilding year, the Giants are improving but don’t appear quite ready to compete yet, and the defending division champions, Washington, are a solid team but definitely beatable and not as talented as the Cowboys are as a whole. This is why the Cowboys are the favorites to win their division and make an appearance in the playoffs. If Dak Prescott can continue to improve, and Dan Quinn lives up to his expectations of greatly improving the defense, then the Cowboys will be right in the mix as a Super Bowl contender.

Why the New York Giants can contend for playoffs

New York Giants playoff bound next season?

By: Jeremy Trottier

The New York Giants have had a very impressive offseason, bringing in a lot of new members to the team and really improving it in all facets.  The Giants also only missed the playoffs last season by one game, and even though they were in a notoriously weak 2020 NFC East, they were still able to be in that position with rather lackluster receiving options and lacked depth.  In this article, I will be going over three reasons the New York Giants can return to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

Hugely Improved Roster

As I previously mentioned, the Giants have made some significant improvements to their roster and 

have really given Daniel Jones every single opportunity to succeed in the 2021-2022 season.  The most notable two additions for Jones will be Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney, who both bring some elite separation factor to the roster, granted in different ways.  Toney reminds me of almost an Alvin Kamara of sorts in terms of how insanely elusive he is, obviously not that level of playmaker yet but his shifts and lateral agility are absolutely off the charts.  Having a short-range receiver like that who can turn five yards into 25 is massive.  

Outside these two additions they also brought in players like Azeez Ojulari and Elerson Smith to help the linebacking front, Rodarius Williams for CB depth and even potential to start eventually, and OL depth in Jake Burton and Raymond Johnson III.  It is also notable that they will have a returning Xavier McKinney for a full season of play potentially and his young capabilities should sure up an already solid secondary.

Daniel Jones is Ready for the Next Step

One of the most notable things in the NFL is when quarterbacks really learn the NFL landscape and make the jump from solid to good.  Josh Allen did it last season (year three), Baker Mayfield really improved from season two to season three, even players like Ryan Tannehill improved extremely when getting more weapons around them, in his case a new system and team. 

Daniel Jones did have a relatively down year in 2020, no doubt, throwing almost as many TDs as interceptions and less than 3000 yards, however, who can blame him?  When your primary receiving threats are a not yet developed Darius Slayton, Sterling Shephard who has been mediocre and struggles with separation, and Evan Engram who despite being a Pro-Bowler last season really has trouble holding onto the ball, you are bound to have issues passing.  Also take note he did not have Saquon Barkley out of the backfield to pitch to when he was under pressure.  With that said, he has the weapons, he has a somewhat developing O-line, and a phenomenal defense to get him the ball back.  He should perform at a new high level in 2021 based on all of this.

The NFC East is…Interesting

Finally, we take a look at the surrounding teams, all of which have huge deals of question marks.  Starting with the Dallas Cowboys, who yes, should be contending for the playoffs, however, this is provided Dak Prescott is actually able to play at the high level he did previously, and the injury did not change him heavily.  Even if so, the Cowboys did go 2-3 prior to Dak’s injury last season, and one game was pure because the Atlanta Falcons had a miscue on special teams.  

Then you have the Washington Football Team, who yes are also primed to make a playoff push potentially.  With that said, again, is their QB a set thing?  Ryan Fitzpatrick did do well with the Miami Dolphins, but this is a completely different offense, and many forget Fitz was not extraordinary and consistent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers not too long ago.  The WFT also are missing strength along the O-line to protect Fitz, and could definitely use some more in terms of secondary depth and potentially even another CB.  

Finally, the Philadelphia Eagles, who most have written off as the bottom team in this division right now, as they are mainly banking on Jalen Hurts and Devonta Smith to push this team forward.  With a continually aging offensive line, a relatively dismantled defense outside a few players like Fletcher Cox and Darius Slay, they really look like they will struggle unless something sparks heavily.

Is Zeke still a Top 10 RB in the NFL? ranking the Top 10 RBs

Is Zeke a Top 10 RB heading into the 2021 season?

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot had a career-low single-season performance in the 2020 season. Elliot muscled out a career-low rushing yards per game (65.3), career-low rushing yards per attempt (4.0), and a personal career-low single season rushing touchdown mark (6). It’s safe to say that Zeke’s signature “feed me” gesture wasn’t regularly used. 

Zeke will have his sights set on a stronger rushing effort next season and hope to successfully prove his six-year – 90 million contract extension signed in 2019 was worth it. Zeke should prove to be a reliable, talented RB for his Cowboys offense led by the healthy Dak Prescott at QB. However, there is a question worth pondering: will we see the 2019 Zeke (1,378 rushing yards) or a RB closer to the 2020 version? Is Zeke truly going to show he’s a Top 5 back again? 

With that being said, I’m going to outline the Top 10 RBs heading into next season and where I believe Zeke stands amid the NFL’s top RBs. 

  1. Derrick Henry 

The clear top RB in the league is 2020 Offensive Player of The Year Derrick Henry. Henry joined fellow Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson as the second Titans ball carrier to have a 2,000 yard rushing season. Henry was just recently named as ESPN’s top RB in the league. The 6’4 240 RB will not see even see fewer defenders in the box with Julio Jones at the wideout position.

  1. Christian McCaffrey

The second-best RB in the league belongs to one of the few RBs ever to have 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same season. CMAC will be healthy and seeking vengeance with his new QB in 2021.

  1. Dalvin Cook

Dalvin Cook is one of the most electric RBs to play the game in the last decade. Cook has battled nagging injuries, but that hasn’t stopped him from being one of the most productive RBs in the NFL. Cook is coming off a very impressive (1557 yds, 16 TDs), despite missing two games. 

  1. Alvin Kamara

Cook and Alvin Kamara are both coming off fantastic seasons and appear to be at the utmost prime of their careers. Kamara proved his contract right with 1,688 total yards and 21 total touchdowns last season. AK was even named ESPN’s second top RB in the league. 

  1. Saquon Barkley

ESPN had Saquon Barkley pinned as the No. one RB headed into the 2020 season, but Barkley suffered a devastating leg injury in just Week 2. Barkley fell to number sixth on ESPN’s top ten RB list heading into the 2021 season, but I believe his talent at this stage in his career is enough to keep him labeled as a top 5 back. 

  1. Nick Chubb

It doesn’t matter who Nick Chubb has next to him in the Browns backfield, he will be a very efficient RB at all times. Chubb averaged a whopping 5.6 YPC, unleashed 1,067 yards, and cranked out 12 touchdowns in 12 games last season. Chubb’s rushing success over the past few seasons is why an NFL exec boldly stated that he is the best pure runner in the league. 

  1. Josh Jacobs

I believe that Josh Jacobs is right in the prime of his career. He’s consistently hard to bring down and he doesn’t slow down when defenses adjust to make him the priority. Jacobs may not be on a sexy team, nor coveted by a season of All Pro honors, but he’s shown to be an elite, reliable talent. Jacobs is 23 years old and he’s due to unveil a career season in 2021 or 2022. 

  1. Ezekiel Elliot 

The Cowboys RB is surely a Top 10 RB headed into the 2021 season. ESPN puts Zeke at number seven, but I don’t believe he’s the same player he was and he’s capable of returning to a 1,300+ rushing yard season. The RB with 979 rushing yards last season should be around a 1,100 yard back moving forward, but I believe his prime is behind him and Dak’s return would justify him over the names mentioned above him. 

  1. Joe Mixon 

I like Joe Mixon’s pure RB ability and his outlook moving forward. Mixon should capitalize off the improved Joe Burrow in the offense. I believe the RB that missed 10 games last season but unleashed 1,100+ yards in each of the previous two seasons, should be placed in the Top 10. 

  1.  Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor and Aaron Jones are tight for this spot, but the Colts RB with 1,169 rushing yards, 5 YPC, and 11 rushing touchdowns deserves to grab a spot. Aaron Jones is a talented all-around back, but It’s very possible that the strong Colts RB ousts a 1,300 yard+ season in 2021.

Daniel Jones is the Giants long term QB

Danny Dimes is the Giants future QB

Daniel Racz @Danny___Dimes 

Introduction

The 2019 draft brings up confusing memories for most Giants fans. The expectation was that the Giants were going to put together one final attempt to win with Eli Manning. The perceived weak QB class made pass rushers like Josh Allen and Brian Burns the top targets in most mock drafts. However, the Giants’ front office shocked the world when they took Duke quarterback Daniel Jones with the sixth pick in the draft. 

Jones’ first two years in the NFL have been a series of ups and downs. His rookie year featured extreme volatility. Though he posted 26 total touchdowns, he also gave the ball away 27 times (not good!). With a depleted weapons group in Jones’ sophomore year, he cut back on the turnovers at the expense of the big plays. That said, there are numerous reasons to expect Jones to cement himself as the face of the New York Football Giants.

Tireless Work Ethic

Daniel Jones may be the subject of memes and mockery on the internet, but he does not let that phase me. Between the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Jones loaded up on muscle intending to eliminate his fumbling issues. While he coughed up the ball eight times in 2020, that is much better than the fifteen lost fumbles from 2019. 

Multiple Giants have preached about Jones’ commitment to the game. The phrase “First guy in, last guy out” is frequently repeated when those in the know within the Giants’ organization are asked about Jones. Does this work ethic mean that Jones will take a leap and assert himself as a premier quarterback? Of course not. Nonetheless, it is a positive sign for a young quarterback like Daniel Jones.

Year Over Year Improvement

Fumbling is not the only area where Jones has progressed. While Daniel Jones posted better counting statistics during his rookie season, he had a better handle of the position his sophomore year. In the pocket, Jones was less susceptible to pressure, leading to fewer turnovers. This comfort also aided Jones as a passer. Despite a putrid offensive line, Jones managed to rank as NextGenStats’ number one graded deep passer in 2020. 

Daniel Jones also established himself as a force on the ground during his sophomore season. Jones went from 279 rushing yards his rookie year to 423 in 2020 despite playing the final few games on a bum leg. Jones should be expected to take another jump in 2021 with the return of Saquon Barkley too. 

Respectable Supporting Cast

For the first time in Daniel Jones’ short career, he has a dynamic group of weapons around him. Jones’ partner in crime in the backfield, all-pro running back Saquon Barkley, returns from his ACL injury. For better or for worse, most of the 2020 offensive line is coming back. At the wide receiver position, the Giants are as stacked as they have been in nearly a decade. Possession wide receiver Kenny Golladay signed with the Giants in free agency. The Giants also added tight end Kyle Rudolph and gadget wide receiver Kadarius Toney. The Giants now have big-bodied red-zone threats in Golladay and Rudolph. Though Toney is raw as a route runner, he is a solid athlete and phenomenal in the open field. Daniel Jones played with a 1990 Toyota for his first few years, and he has just been handed a Ferrari. 

The Giants also improved their defense via the additions of pass rusher Azeez Ojulari and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson. Jones will have the chance to lead a top offense, and Big Blue’s defense will ensure that the team will be competitive in every game. 

Why Danny Dimes is safe in New York for the foreseeable future

Danny Dimes will not be kicked out of the Big Apple soon

By: Jake Rajala

Daniel Jones, who is now entering his third year in the league, has been through his fair share of ups and downs. Jones has proven to be an excellent deep passer, but he has had his moments of struggling to secure the football (36 career turnovers).

Heading into the 2021 season, Jones has been given his highest expectations thus far. Jones will be accompanied by wide receiver Kadarius Toney who was taken in the first round and prominent running back Saquon Barkley, who is coming off a season-ending injury. Undeniably, the Giants signal-caller is expected to take the next step.

There is a grand question that’s worth asking with regards to the first-round QB: Is 2021 a make-or-break season for him? I believe the answer is a clear NO. There are a few reasons why Jones is safe to be the Giants signal-caller for at least this season.

  • There are other glaring holes on the roster

Joe Judge embodies not just an old school personality, but a fundamental approach to building a football squad. Judge has made it clear that he wants to build his team the right way from day one. He’s not a fan of splash signings or draft picks, but rather building a team around a QB, vs throwing a QB in the fire (that’s the other former NY coach).

With that said, the Giants are still a couple seasons away from building a competitive roster around any talented QB. The defense still needs to improve on the DL, they could use a couple more playmaking LBs, and there aren’t any young studs in the secondary outside of Jabril Peppers.

  • Jones will be above the QBs available on the draft board

The Giants will likely unveil 6-10 wins in the 2021 season. So, the QB options in the draft will not be daunting, nor would it be worth for the team to cough up draft picks to move up the draft board. Let’s face it – Spencer Rattler and Sam Howell will be off the board when the Giants are on the clock.

Jones is surely above the QBs after the first two. More importantly, the experience of Jones will give him a huge advantage over the less sexy rookie signal callers.

  • Jones will grow in year three with the Giants offense

I confidently see Jones taking steps of growth in 2021. The rookie Toney will be a quality piece for Jones, Evan Engram remains in the offense, and Saquon Barkley will return healthy. As Pro Football Focus well stated, Jones remains an underrated QB. 

Jones should record around 32+ passing TDs and 3,500+ passing yards next season. His rookie season was impressive with an abysmal offense (24 TDs in 13 games). Expect to witness a career season out of the third-year QB with the best cast he has had. If and when Jones puts up quality numbers, it will be enough to maintain his starting position in the Big Apple for beyond 2021.

Why the Eagles won’t finish last in the division again

Jacob Keppen

Let’s not mince words. The 2020 Philadelphia Eagles were a bad team. It was hard to watch the team attempt to play football, finding new ways to disappoint fans week after week. There is hope though for 2021. A lot of fans and experts are writing the Eagles off after a horrid season last year, but there is a very good shot that this team is not nearly as bad as expected, and here are three key reasons why.

Improved Offensive Line

It is highly unlikely that the Eagles offensive line will be nearly as bad in 2021 as it was in 2020. Seen as one of the strengths of the team, the O-Line struggled mightily to stay healthy all season. The injury bug hit Philadelphia early before the season even started. Pro Bowl guard Brandon Brooks tore his Achilles in July and would miss the entire season. In the preseason, Andre Dillard tore his tricep and would also miss the entire season. Dillard was slated to take over at left tackle and prove that he could be a true building block for the team moving forward. The injuries just didn’t stop coming, with Philadelphia fielding over 13 different line combinations over the course of the season.

It is highly unlikely that Philadelphia will experience nearly the same amount of bad injury luck that they did in 2020. If this is the case and everyone stays healthy, the Eagles still look to have one of the best offensive lines in the league. Brandon Brooks is returning and will hopefully return to form as a top guard in the league. He will be a great help to Lane Johnson who struggled at times last season. Jordan Mailata looked like potentially the guy everyone hoped Dillard would be, their camp battle one of the most intriguing of the offseason. Jason Kelce is back and just in case he goes down, the Eagles added 2nd round Alabama interior lineman Lance Dickerson to the fold through the draft. On paper, the Eagles offensive line looks to be one of the team’s strengths once again.

Improved Weapons on Offense

To say the Eagles haven’t provided their quarterbacks over the past few years with great firepower on offense would be an understatement. The wide receiver position has been a rough one to watch over the past two years. While other teams have found young stars such as D.K. Metcalf and Justin Jefferson, the Eagles just haven’t seen the same productions from their youngsters, the most proficient being free agent signing Travis Fulgham last year.

This year it looks to be different. In the quest to see if Jalen Hurts is the real deal, the Eagles traded up and selected this year’s “can’t miss” receiver in Devonta Smith. Smith is one of the most dominant receivers to ever play at the collegiate level, becoming the first wide receiver to win the Heisman since Desmond Howard. He has game-changing WR1 ability that will make the offense run so much smoother. Now as a secondary option, look for last year’s 1st round pick Jalen Reagor to make a bigger impact in the offense. Reagor will be counted on to make more splash plays, rather than be an all-around receiver, and that will play more towards his skillset. Don’t forget about Travis Fulgham, who led the team in receiving yards despite starting only 8 games, and Dallas Goedert who looks to have a breakout season as the clear #1 tight end in Philly.

A Better Defense Than You Think

Philadelphia’s defense has the potential to be a lot better than most people think in 2021. Even looking back at the 2020 season, Philadelphia had one of the best pass rush units in all of football, finishing third in sacks last year with 49. Pretty much everyone on the line is being brought back, and third-round pick Milton Williams looks to make an impact as a depth piece. Look out for either Derek Barnett or Josh Sweat to take another step this year.

Philadelphia’s linebacker group looks a lot better than it did at the start of last season. Gone are the days of quarterbacks identifying Nate Gerry in coverage and making sure the ball goes to his man. Alex Singleton was a breakout player last year for the Eagles and it will be interesting to see how he will do in new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s system. Former Viking Eric Wilson looks to be the best linebacker the Eagles have had since Nigel Bradham too. While there are definitely questions regarding the Eagles secondary, the 2nd cornerback position is especially suspect, there’s a shot the Eagles have an underrated front 7 for Gannon to play with.

Why Jalen Hurts can be the next great dual threat QB

Jalen Hurts is ready to take the next step in Philadelphia

By: Jeremy Trottier

The 2020 NFL Draft brought in quite a new scene of quarterbacks, such as Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa, Jordan Love, and many more.  However, only one of the quarterbacks taken outside the first round in this class so far has been given the reigns to start for his team, that being Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles.  He is also probably the most intriguing quarterback from this class in terms of the situation he was put in as well as how he performed barring potentially Tua.  As of now the Philadelphia have not made any major moves at the position to replace him, bringing in Joe Flacco as a veteran backup and Nick Mullens as a backup plan likely.  

With this in mind, it seems that Hurts is set to start for now in Philly, and depending on his performance, for the remainder of the 2021-2022 season.  In the 2020-2021 season he was able to accrue four starts, and really did not look to bad in them.  For reference, here are some of his major stats:

  • 77 completions on 148 attempts (52.0%)
  • 1061 passing yards, 6 passing touchdowns, and 4 interceptions
  • 63 rushes for 354 yards and 3 touchdowns

In this article, I will be going over three reasons as to why Hurts could become the next great/elite dual-threat quarterback in the league.

Offensive Weapons

One of the biggest reasons Hurts could have success at the NFL level is that Philadelphia is really trying to put weapons around him.  The most notable being first round WR Devonta Smith who they drafted at pick number ten.  A Heisman Trophy winner last season, and likely a top three receiver in this draft class, Devonta Smith is really a viable weapon for Hurts.  Phenomenal route running, solid speed, and very good hands highlight the strong points in Smith’s game, and if he proves to be the prospect Philly is banking on him being, he should easily be WR1 on the Eagles.

The Eagles also have a plethora of other weapons who are all varying levels of talent and at different points in their career.  For those who do not remember, the last time Zach Ertz played a full season, he put up an 1163-yard season and was widely considered a top five tight end in the league at the time.  If he can come back in 2021 and keep a clean bill of health while also returning to the number of targets he has had in the past, he could definitely still be viable.  The Eagles also have Dallas Goedert, the next potential full-time starter at the TE position, Jalen Reagor, who has a lot to prove but was not too bad last year, and Miles Sanders, an explosive young running back with a huge ceiling.  

New Coaching Staff

Looking at how the Eagles coaching staff has changed from last season to now, it is quite impressive how they have completely overhauled the biggest coaching positions.  Starting with head coach, going from Doug Peterson to Nick Sirianni, which I think is easily the biggest move of their staff overhaul.  Sirianni is a huge 12 personnel coach, he has used it all of his career, and with two big time tight ends in Ertz and Goedert, they can easily do this with no issues.  He also loves getting running backs involved in the passing game, which is great news for Miles Sanders as it will expand his opportunities while also giving him a chance to prove himself as a versatile player on the field.

The Eagles also brought in an actual offensive coordinator, rather than letting Doug Peterson do both HC and OC.  The new OC is Shane Steichen, who has really worked his way up the ranks in a span of ten years, and realistically is a great option at coordinator.  Spending last season as the OC of the Los Angeles Chargers, he really proved his worth in utilizing Justin Herbert correctly, so taking another QB from the 2020 class and igniting their career could be in store.  The Eagles also moved on from DC Jim Schwartz, bringing in another coach from the Indianapolis Colts coaching tree in Jonathan Gannon.  Spending 2018-2020 as the Colts cornerbacks coach, he may be able to really bring the best out of Darius Slay while developing other CBs on the roster such as rookie Zach McPhearson, Avonte Maddox, or K’Von Wallace.  

2020 Campaign

If anything is going to prove how good of a dual-threat player Hurts is, it was his first game starting in the NFL, against the New Orleans Saints.  Watching this game live as a Saints fan was absolutely wild to see and proved to me that Hurts is ready for the NFL level.  A Saints defensive front-seven that had not given up a 100-yard rusher for 55 games (November 19th, 2017) got torched by Hurts, when he rushed for 106 yards by himself in that game, while also allowing Miles Sanders to rush for 115.  This was quite the feat, as up to that point the Saints front-seven was a brick wall, and very rarely gave up big plays.  

Being able to rip apart a defense flat out such as the Saints’ on the ground shows some true skill, especially in your first ever NFL start.  Did the lack of film on Hurts at the NFL level give him the advantage of surprise?  Potentially.  But they had his college film to work with, and have faced mobile QBs such as Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson, and many others, but very rarely are they left scrambling to stop the run by a QB.  This at the very least shows to me his prowess as a rusher, and his passing that game was not horrible at all either.  17/30 passing (57% approximately) for 167 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions is reasonable in your rookie debut and was pretty impressive given he did not have a true WR1 yet.  Reagor was still developing, and is much better in a Z WR position, or even slot.  

Why Washington Football Team should look to trade for Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota trade to WFT?

By: Jeremy Trottier

The Washington Football Team has one of the more interesting quarterback rooms in the league as of right now, and not really for a good reason, at least long term.  They currently have Ryan Fitzpatrick who will be a good bridge quarterback while they find another option.  They also re-signed Taylor Heinicke to a two-year deal this offseason, who flashed in the WFT’s one playoff game in the 2020-2021 season.  Neither of these options is seemingly long term though, as Fitz is higher up on the NFL age scale now and Heinicke is relatively unproven so far.

One of the QBs who has been on and off the trade block seemingly as of late is Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Marcus Mariota.  A former Heisman Trophy winner in 2014, and the starter for the Tennessee Titans for a period of time.  Currently he is locked behind Derek Carr as a backup QB to fill in if Carr misses time, as we saw for a game last season.  However, in this article I will be going over three reasons as to why the Washington Football Team should target Mariota in a trade, and why he could be a good QB option for them.

Development Behind Veteran QB & Premier Coach

One of the most promising aspects of Marcus Mariota becoming a potential starter again is he now has a year under his belt learning from Derek Carr and Jon Gruden.  Starting with Carr, Derek has experienced quite a bit in the NFL and is a pretty exceptional quarterback for what he has had to work with in Las Vegas and previously Oakland.  Getting experience from an accurate and bigger armed QB like Carr will let him learn more about the NFL and about passing effectively, while being more safe with the ball.

He has also had time under Jon Gruden, who seems to follow the belief that quarterbacks do not need to do everything on the field.  I agree with this point to an extent, but Jon takes it to the level where rushing is extremely important for his teams and defensive aggressiveness and competitive toughness of his players is most important.  Mariota could stand to learn this mentality to an extent, as he was just thrown into a starting role with Tennessee and never given a chance to learn that he does not have to do all the work like he did with the Oregon Ducks in college.  Getting a year to sit behind Carr and learn about what his strengths and weaknesses are and learning how to cater to them in his own way is huge.  

Potential Scheme Fit in Washington

An interesting point to be made is how he would fit into the WFT quarterback room, as well as into their offensive scheme.  The two teams Mariota has played for so far are relatively high rush/smash mouth offenses, which makes sense as Tennessee has Derrick Henry and Las Vegas has Josh Jacobs.  However he seemingly would benefit from a team with a more high-flying intermediate to deep passing game offense.  Even though he does not have to do everything as a QB, his improvising abilities would allow for him to create yards where there are none if the pocket collapses.

Another thing to note is Washington has some fantastic weapons around the QB position right now which fit perfectly with this type of offense.  Terry McLaurin is a YAC machine and has really turned out to be a great WR1 in the league.  Curtis Samuel is another great fit, and should be a good WR2 to work with, Antonio Gibson had a great rookie season and was great at receiving out of the backfield, catching 81.8% of his targets during last season.  Logan Thomas is a great vertical threat for a more redzone and goalline style passing, and can really rip off some yards at times.  Finally Dyami Brown who Washington drafted this year is seemingly the slot receiver for the WFT offense, and his raw speed should make QBs jobs easy as he will separate from DBs quickly.

Relatively Low Trade Price

As I mentioned previously, Marcus Mariota is a backup to Derek Carr right now, and the Raiders also signed back another backup QB of theirs Nathan Peterman, who may not be great but should do the job for now.  With this info in hand, there is a good chance Mariota would only cost Washington at most a 2nd round pick, and realistically a mid-round pick, whether it be 2022 or 2023.  Getting a 27-year-old quarterback who’s biggest need development wise is to just settle down in the pocket and think before throwing is a no brainer for that cheap, especially with their need for the position. 

The worst that happens is they have a bridge quarterback for next season, and they can draft one in 2022 to take over after a few weeks.  The best-case scenario is having a potential starter for the foreseeable future who fits into your scheme pretty well, and really can improvise situations to keep your offense alive.  The other reason he may be cheap is who knows when Derek Carr is going to either retire or leave the Raiders, so holding on to a quarterback in the prime years of his career would be a pretty bad idea, considering you can get something more useful in a trade for him like picks.  

Mariota does not hold much value right now presumably to the Raiders front office because he has not performed exceptionally well to this point in his career.  He underperformed his early first round price tag in the beginning of his career and is pretty much just a decent backup at this point in time as he likely will not jump Carr for the starting role anytime soon.  However, this would be a great fit for the WFT as their other options for the next season or two are minimal at this position, and a cheap option is worth trying out.  

3 underrated offseason moves by the New York Giants

Underrated Giants offseason moves in 2021

By: Daniel Racz

Introduction 

The New York Giants are entering a make-or-break year for many within the organization. Quarterback Daniel Jones is entering the vaunted third year leading the franchise, and many are doubting whether he will earn a second contract. This offseason general manager Dave Gettleman, who himself is on the hot seat, gave Jones a supporting cast through the offseason and draft. Big Blue broke the bank to add ex-Lion wideout Kenny Golladay and spent the 20th pick in the draft, acquired from Chicago in Dave’s first trade-down, on Florida playmaker Kadarius Toney. During free agency, the Giants also added tight end, Kyle Rudolph, on a two-year contract. The Giants decided to not add to their offensive line, instead choosing to rely on past investments.

On the defensive side of the football, the Giants did not make any super splashy moves. The team re-signed defensive lineman Leonard Williams while letting interior presence Dalvin Tomlinson sign with the Vikings. The Giants added a collection of bodies to their front seven with the hope to remain an above-average defense. In regards to their secondary, the Giants drafted UCF cornerback Aaron Robinson in round three and gave a three-year, 39-million-dollar contract to Adoree’ Jackson. The Giants made waves when they signed Jackson, Golladay, and Rudolph, but other moves deserve recognition. 

Gaining future capital

Before the draft, media personalities were saying “There will be right turns in NASCAR before Dave Gettleman trades back.” In his first seven drafts for the Giants and Panthers, Gettleman had never traded back. However, within the first two rounds of the 2021 draft, Gettleman moved back twice. Some even started calling him “Trader Dave” given his newfound affinity for defraying risk through moving down the draft board and acquiring 2022 draft picks. The Giants were rumored to be in love with Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith. However, when the Eagles traded up ahead of the Giants for Smith, the Giants pivoted.

The Giants moved down from pick 11 to pick 20, acquiring a 2021 5th round pick and 2022 1st & 4th round picks in the process. 

During the second round of the draft, the Giants were on the clock at 42. First-round caliber pass rusher Azeez Ojulari was on the board, yet the Giants moved down to 50, taking Miami’s 2022 3rd round pick to do so. At 50, Ojulari was still on the board, so the Giants rushed their card in to make him a Giant. 

The Giants exited the draft with extra first, third, and fourth-round picks in the 2022 draft. Gettleman managed to add players that can help the Giants compete for a 2021 playoff spot while also having sustained success. If the Giants do not have a winning record in 2021, Gettleman (and possibly Daniel Jones) will be out of a job, but the team will have plenty of assets to move up the board in 2022. Quarterbacks like Sam Howell, Spencer Rattler, Carson Strong, and Malik Willis will be in play for the Giants if Jones does not pan out, and that extra first-round pick will come in handy. 

Trusting their in-house offensive lineman

The New York Giants offensive line has been putrid for the better half of a decade. When Dave Gettleman took over, he promised that he would fix the offensive line. The results have not been promising. Will Hernandez, a 2018 second-round pick, is in the final year of his rookie contract. Nate Solder is a free agent after the 2021 season following a re-working of his contract. New York brings back another lineman Andrew Thomas, Nick Gates, Matt Peart, and Shane Lemieux. Their group did not play well in 2020, but there are plenty of excuses that can be made. The team came off a limited offseason and had to learn offensive coordinator Jason Garrett’s new scheme. During the year, Joe Judge fired their offensive line coach. Once Judge relieved Marc Colombo of his role with the franchise, the group played better.

The Giants hired former Louisiana offensive coordinator and line coach Rob Sale to mentor their hog mollies. Sale has gotten rave reviews from the Giants camp so far this offseason, giving fans a reason to expect improvement. The Giants have reiterated that they have confidence in their young unit. While the group has not come together yet, this will be their first complete offseason together in the Judge regime. If the young, affordable unit plays at a close to league average level, it could catapult the team into the playoffs.

Adding front seven depth

The New York Giants’ 2020 defense was a revelation. The success came from new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham and his innovative multiple schemes. Graham’s scheme relies on moving defensive lineman, disguising blitzes, and man defense. Last season Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence were the top two pass rushers on Big Blue’s defense. While both return and likely retain their roles as the key disruptors, there are now a plethora of players around them. 

Edge rushers Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines both return from injuries that cost them the majority of their 2020 seasons. The Giants also added Georgia pass rusher Azeez Ojulari and Northern Iowa edge player Ellerson Smith during rounds two and four of the draft, respectively. In free agency, the Giants signed depth rushers Ifeadi Odenigbo and Ryan Anderson to round out the group.  On the interior, the Giants brought back Austin Johnson and added nose tackle, Danny Shelton. To stabilize their linebacker group, the Giants signed Reggie Ragland. None of these individual moves likely move the needle, but the collection will make an impact. The Giants’ edge presence was lacking last year, mainly due to the absence of Carter and Ximines.

The Giants defense was a top ten unit last season, and to improve the unit the Giants quietly added a handful of players that will see meaningful snaps during the season. The edge rush presence will allow Pat Graham to drop more players into coverage when necessary and still feel confident that his group will pressure the quarterback enough. The Giants’ defense does not have to be a top three-unit, but if they want to sniff the playoffs they must have an above-average group.

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑