The New York Giants are coming off an average regular season with just nine wins, but it was enough to get them in to the post season, leading to another incredible Super Bowl run that no one saw coming. But are the reigning champs the favorites to win the NFC East next season? After a move the Philadelphia Eagles just made, the answer is no.
The move immediately elevates the Eagles to the favorites to win the division in 2012, if they weren’t already. The Giants hated division rivals were expected to do great things in 2011, but bad team chemistry and a horrible start led to an 8-8 finish.
A big part of the problem was the defense blowing leads in the fourth quarter, and overall the middle of the defense was never very good. They tried multiple solutions for middle linebacker, including 2011 fourth round pick Casey Matthews, but nothing seemed to work.
The defense actually did play well down the stretch, which led to a four game win streak to end the season and has given the Eagles momentum heading in to 2012.
The move comes on the heels of the Eagles taking care of their top free agent priorities; they re-signed DeSean Jackson to a long term deal (after franchising him) and did the same for offensive guard Evan Mathis. They also extended the contract of top pass rusher Trent Cole.
After a 2011 off season that saw the Eagles make multiple blockbuster moves, they are continuing to improve their team in an effort to bring Philly their first Super Bowl.
Ryans not only established himself as a dominant force when the Texans ran the 4-3 defense prior to 2011, but was the unquestioned leader of that defense. The move gives the Eagles a strong voice on the field, one that will help second year defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.
It also frees up the Eagles to take the best player available when it comes to their 15th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Many have speculated they would have taken Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, but that doesn’t seem to be the case any longer.
If I were the Eagles, I would take Dontari Poe or Michael Brockers, two defensive tackles that would both shore up their run defense even more. Judging the needs of the top 14 teams, one or both of these players would be available at No. 15.
It is scary to think how good the Eagles will be if they finally put together a top defense with Michael Vick running the offense. In the short term, they are definitely the favorites to win the division in 2012. Long term? They could be setting up a dynasty with a potential top 10 defense.