The NFC East is one of the National Football League’s most competitive divisions. When the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, and Washington Redskins face each other, it goes beyond their respective team records. Regardless of the match-up, you’re guaranteed to see a physical game and teams that completely dislike each other.
The Eagles won 8 games total last season and finished 2nd in the NFC East, yet had the divisions’ best record with 5 wins. Many expected Philadelphia to lead the division, however, the New York Giants had other plans in mind. After winning Super Bowl XLVI, should the Giants be considered “beast of the NFC East?” With a division game week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys, both teams will indeed be tested. One of the Cowboys weaknesses was their secondary, and after adding a few players this off-season, they’re expected to defend the passing game better. Efficiently defending the pass game and having a good passing attack has become the main ingredients to forming a winner in this league. For the Washington Redskins, that criteria could explain their lack of success. Drafting Robert Griffin III 2nd overall in the 2012 NFL Draft and making changes in their secondary this off-season has brought hope and excitement in the Nation’s Capitol.
There’s not a better way to discuss a topic than to receive opposing views. So instead of speculating about the beast – that is the NFC East, I reached out to Rantsports.com’s NFC East columnist to discuss the power of NFC East:
- Jeric Griffin: Dallas Cowboys featured columnist and NFL Network Manager at Rantsports.com
- Jeff Shull: New York Giants featured columnist
- Bryn Swartz: Philadelphia Eagles featured columnist
- Ricky Allen: Washington Redskins featured columnsit
1. The NFC’s North and South divisions have both garnered praise for possibly being the best divisions in the NFL. The AFC East and North have also been in the conversation. Does the NFC East trump those divisions? If so, why?
- Jeric Griffin, Dallas Cowboys: Yes and no. Tough divisions are not only competitive, but they also produce title contenders. The Giants only finished 9-7 last year, but they won the Super Bowl. The Eagles were disappointing and will look to fix that in 2012 and the same goes for the Cowboys, who should have finished 12-4, but instead came out 8-8 thanks to four fourth-quarter collapses. Add in the Redskins’ revamped roster and the NFC East might be the toughest division in football again this year.
- Jeff Shull, New York Giants: In the past the NFC East has definitely been one of the premier divisions in the NFL, always having at least three teams in the playoff hunt late in the season. They obviously fell off a bit last season with the New York Giants being the winner at 9-7, but I feel like each team made drastic improvements in the offseason and all four teams could be competitive. This could be the best division in football once again. The AFC North and NFC North are also both very good divisions.
- Bryn Swartz, Philadelphia Eagles: I think the best division in the NFL is probably the NFC North, with the AFC North and the NFC East following closely behind. All three of those divisions have three legitimate threats to make the playoffs next season. For the NFC East to be considered the best division in football, the Washington Redskins will need to emerge as a playoff contender. That could be as early as 2013, if Robert Griffin III is as good as advertised.
- Ricky Allen, Washington Redskins: The NFC East is filled with some of the better story lines in the NFL. We have the greatest rivalry : Redskins vs. Cowboys, we have the story of redemption with Michael Vick and the Eagles, and we have the unexpected Champions the NY Giants, who stared down the New England Patriots twice in the Super Bowl and beat them into embarrassment and in convincing fashion. Add the externals: a new Redskins quarterback whose first week in the pros will be against an embattled Saints team, a Dallas team looking to stay relevant, and you’ve got a great division sure to bring excitement each week. Also consider there is no standout team in the NFC East, so each week you’re guaranteed someone different at the top.
2. The NFC East has three of the upper echelon quarterbacks in the NFL and a rookie QB with tremendous potential. Who’s the best and why?
- Jeric Griffin, Dallas Cowboys: Eli Manning is the best because he’s well-rounded. He puts up numbers (4,900 yards), he’s clutch (most fourth-quarter touchdowns in history) and he wins (two titles in five years).
- Jeff Shull, New York Giants: This shouldn’t even be a question; the best QB in the NFC East is Eli Manning. He has the numbers, he has the rings, and he is the most clutch quarterback in the game. What more could you ask for?
- Bryn Swartz, Philadelphia Eagles: Picking the best quarterback in the NFC East is not an easy task, not at all. Obviously RGIII is the worst. But I truly believe you could argue that Eli Manning, Tony Romo, or Michael Vick is the best quarterback in the division. I’ll go with Eli Manning as number one, although I don’t buy the hype that he’s as good as everybody else thinks. Romo is the second best, and Vick is the third best. But a lot could, and probably will, change this season.
- Ricky Allen, Washington Redskins: In all fairness the 2011 season has to go to Eli Manning. They turned their season around and beat the New England Patriots twice in the Super Bowl. Very few can say they stared down Tom Brady in a shootout and won.
3. Robert Griffin III is entering the NFC East with a ton of hype surrounded around him. What are your thoughts on Washington’s young quarterback and do you believe he’s ready for the beast – known as the NFC East? (This was a question for Washington’s rivals)
- Jeric Griffin, Dallas Cowboys: Personally, I don’t think he’s ready. I don’t even think he’s the second-best QB in this year’s draft class, but I’ve been wrong like everyone else before. I also think Robert Griffin would be better suited with a different team and certainly a different coach. If Mike Shanahan keeps his mouth shut, Griffin might make some noise, but don’t hold your breath.
- Jeff Shull, New York Giants: I definitely think there will be some growing pains for RGIII, but he makes Washington a much better team. They were anemic offensively last year and RGIII is one of the most prolific quarterbacks, in terms of a combo runner/passer we’ve ever seen. They already have a good defense, and if the offense can generate more than they did last year, it could start adding wins to their total.
- Bryn Swartz, Philadelphia Eagles: I think Robert Griffin III will have a rookie season a lot like Michael Vick in 2002 or Vince Young in 2006. There will be a lot of highs, mostly in the running game, but there will also be some ugly performances. That being said, I think he’ll need at least a year before he’s ready to make the Redskins a playoff contender. Let’s just say that I’m definitely scared for the future though.
4. In your opinion, which team will win the division in 2012?
- Jeric Griffin, Dallas Cowboys: This is extremely hard to say. The Giants, Eagles and Cowboys all have an equal shot, but the Redskins could come out of nowhere if Griffin is as good as Washington thinks he is. If I have to pick, I’ll say New York, but I’m certainly not confident in that bet.
- Jeff Shull, New York Giants: This will be a close race between the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys, but I have the Eagles winning the division and the Giants taking a wild card spot. The Eagles made vast improvements on defense which was what held them back most of last year. As long as Vick stays healthy, they could win 12-13 games. With the Giants getting key players back from injury and adding some impact rookies on offense through the draft, they should be able to hold off the Cowboys for one of the NFC wild card spots, with the other likely going to either the Bears, Packers or Lions.
- Bryn Swartz, Philadelphia Eagles: I honestly think the Philadelphia Eagles will win the division in 2012. As bad as everything was for the team in 2011, they still finished with a .500 record and a point differential of plus 68. Their offseason was fantastic and their head coach and quarterback are both playing for their job in 2012. Now I’m not saying I necessarily think they’ll go the deepest in the playoffs. The Cowboys are also a huge threat in 2012 and the Giants have twice shown their ability to win the Super Bowl with a mediocre regular season. But for the division? Yeah, it’ll be the Eagles.
- Ricky Allen, Washington Redskins: As far as the division goes, the Redskins (yes) because of the dramatic overall sans RG3 have to look at the entire body of work. The Hogs have done the best job in getting valuable free agents and building a team around the rookie QB.