The Washington Redskins find themselves in the belly of the beast or the NFC East for those who prefer simpler terms. The NFC East has been a strong division for the last few years and looks promised to be one of the better divisions once again in the 2009-2010 season. The Philadelphia Eagles finished one quarter shy of their second Super Bowl appearance in five years and the New York Giants were a bullet away from transforming a dominant regular season into strong finish to close the year. Every sportswriter’s preseason favorite, the Dallas Cowboys, saw their season go up in smoke but still return a roster as talented as any team in the league.
The Eagles are being penciled in as one of the powerhouses expected to make major noise in not just the NFC East but the league as a whole. Philadelphia has been the clear winner of the most productive offseason award, fortifying their offensive line with the additions of two top shelf tackles in Jason Peters and Stacy Andrews. A strong draft saw them reel in some major offensive talent, snagging arguably the second best wideout in the draft in Jeremy Maclin, a dangerous runner in LeSean McCoy and a tight end in Cornelius Ingram who may have been drafted in the first two rounds if not for a knee injury that forced him to the sidelines in his last year of school. They’re also in line with the Giants for possible trade destinations that may land them Anquan Boldin or Braylon Edwards to pair with their long tenured but much criticized All-Pro quarterback Donovan McNabb. Although they lost some talent on the defensive end, their mastermind disguised as a defensive coordinator Jim Johnson is sure to field a strong unit.
The New York football Giants are just two years removed from a championship trophy and although they parted ways with receiver Plaxico Burress due to his legal woes, they’re still extremely talented in every other phase of their team. Eli Manning is one of the premier signal callers in the league, the running game is bruising with the burly Brandon Jacobs, their secondary is stock filled with young and athletic playmakers and they may have the best combination of stout offensive/defensive lines in the league. While they’re still waiting in the wings on a favorable trade that may net them a top wideout in their own right, they’re confident that even without a deal, the young talent in their receiving corps should be enough for them to coast through another regular season. In somewhat strange fashion, both the Eagles and Giants Super Bowl aspirations may hinge on which front office can pull off a major trade first. While the Eagles may have the slight edge on the Giants as it stands now in terms of talent acquired this offseason, whichever team can land Boldin or Edwards as rumored, will immediately shift gears into Super Bowl Favorites.
When it rains it pours. Everything that could go wrong went wrong in Dallas last year. A team littered with talent everywhere was expected to cruise through the regular season and put owner Jerry Jones back in the famous title pose. In-house bickering, poor play calling and lack of leadership knocked the Cowboys down for the count as they held on for dear life all the way through the massacre that was their final game of 09 in Philadelphia. Jones saw it fit to rid the team and himself of the previous year’s biggest headaches by parting ways with Terrell Owens, Tank Johnson and Adam Jones. A little addition by subtraction might be just what this team needs to focus on football again. Owens’ release allows the team to focus more on the run game, which better suits their massive offensive line and stable of talented backs. Releasing Owens also takes the pressure off getting him the ball and allows the team to spread the ball around, getting the ball out of turnover prone Tony Romo’s hands. Jones release allows two promising second year men to step into the secondary in Orlando Scandrick and first round pick Mike Jenkins which should better suit the defense as Jones was anything but spectacular in his return from a year and a half suspension. The Cowboys are still packed with talent, if they can cut down on the off field shenanigans and refocus on football, expect a solid season and maybe more from this bunch.
So maybe the 2009-2010 won’t exactly be a cakewalk for the Washington Redskins. The Redskins may be the least talented in a division full of blue chippers. The one thing Washington does have going for them though is continuity. While the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants all have to adjust to either major additions or subtractions to their rosters, the Redskins lost no one of major importance and return pretty much the same starters as last year’s team that started off strong but faded down the stretch. With a few major additions on a defense that finished fourth in the league and another year under Jason Campbell’s belt, the Redskins are hoping returning the majority of their starters from last year will be enough for them to get a jump start on the competition while their NFC East brothers are stuck in neutral trying to get acclimated to their new teammates.