2016 NFC East Preview

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In 2016, the Cowboys will have a healthy Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Orlando Scandrick — who played 13 of a combined 48 games a year ago because of injuries. That is better than any free agent or draft additions made by other teams in the division. The road schedule is difficult, but the ‘Boys will get back to the playoffs this season.

The Dallas Cowboys got rocked by that injury bug in 2015, which just happened to be to the superstar players. If I were a Cowboys fan, I would have cried last season when looking at the quarterback situation after Tony Romo got hurt. Their defense is still an issue though. Ezekiel Elliot was a great pick and I think he will be the next Adrian Peterson, but I thought it would have been better to go defense in the first two rounds of the draft.

Romo’s health is a concern as always, so you have to wonder if Dak Prescott is ready to jump in and start if Romo gets hurt again. Is Prescott the future after Romo? Those are my two questions at the quarterback position. To me, when healthy, Dallas is head and shoulders above the rest of the division — but I think the Redskins and Giants will compete for the NFC East crown in 2016. If the defense can take it up another level with how good the Cowboys are on the offensive side, I think Dallas can be extremely dangerous. A healthy Cowboys team could win 10 games, but in order to make noise in the playoffs, they are going to need to be better on defense.

In Washington, Kirk Cousins is a solid quarterback, but not somebody you expect to win the Super Bowl with. However, I am one of those people who DOES think Cousins can continue to prove himself and become Washington’s franchise quarterback. “You like that?!” The Redskins let go of Alfred Morris who after RGIII’s injury spree, struggled to consistently produce. He is in Dallas and I think he will form a nice 1-2 punch with rookie running back Ezekiel Elliot. Not to mention he is behind that elite Cowboy offensive line — something the Redskins don’t have.

Despite that concern, a huge addition was made with the signing of Josh Norman, who was a shutdown corner with Carolina in 2015. The ‘Skins defense is still a work in progress, but I like the talent that is on that side of the ball. Junior Galette is back on defense as a prolific pass rusher (badly needed by Washington) from an Achilles injury that tested the Redskins’ depth chart in 2015.

The Giants should make some hay against the likes of Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit. And they get a break with the Green Bay game being scheduled early in the year. But they’re still a couple of years away, and their two-game division road finish in Philadelphia and Washington doesn’t go well enough to end the playoff drought.

The New York Giants should have won 12 games last year, but they didn’t due to blowing leads late in games. Why was that? They had no defense and no consistent run game. The G-men spent a fortune on a defense, but failed to get a solid running back. Arian Foster and the Giants would be a good marriage, but nothing has been brought up about that possibility. Foster has been injury prone, but he can still give you that one yard or however many yards needed to ice a game. Foster is still a name other teams worry about and the Giants should look at him.

If New York gave Arian Foster a small role maybe they get a season out of him. Whatever the case may be, New York needs to get a running back, otherwise they will struggle to close out games once again. I think letting go of Coughlin for McAdoo was a questionable but needed move. Yes, there was a coaching change needed for a new voice, but at least go get someone with some experience being a head coach in the league. If the investment on the defense pays off, I think New York is staring likely no worse than 8-8 this season.

There is not much to say about the Eagles – except I think it was silly to move up as high in the draft as they did to get Carson Wentz. Wentz may be a good NFL quarterback down the road, but he needs at least a couple of years before becoming an every day starter. I really like the new hard-nosed coach in Doug Pederson, but he has to change everything Chip Kelly screwed up in Philly. The Eagles don’t have a legitimate number one wide receiver, have holes on the defense, and have no solution at quarterback – just a whiner and a complainer in Sam Bradford. I think it is going to be a long year in Philly – a Browns type of year.

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About Nathan Johnson

Nathan Johnson is a sports management/communications major at the University of Tennessee aspiring to be a college football insider. He grew up in Iowa having a strong passion for the Big Ten Conference.