NFL Offseason: The Good News and the Bad News for the NFC East
By Russell S. Baxter
The NFL offseason has become its own season. This past week, we saw a former number-one overall pick getting ready to pack his bags and numerous other players restructuring their contracts as teams look to get to where the need to be salary cap wise.
With free agency about a week and a half away (March 12), we continue to look back at each of the NFL’s eight divisions. After reviewing the AFC East last week, the four teams in the NFC East (which have each won the division each of the last four seasons since 2009) are on deck. And we’ll take a look at both the good and the bad as of late with this foursome.
Be it recently or historically, there’s always some interesting numbers that we all find fascinating in terms of trends, one of the many aspects that makes the National Football League the game we all love.
Washington Redskins (10-6)
The Good News: Only the Buccaneers (40) and Eagles (38) committed more turnovers than Mike Shanahan’s Washington Redskins (35) in 2011. One season later, no team in the NFL gave up the ball fewer times than the ‘Skins, who committed a league-low 14 turnovers in 16 games. Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III and fellow rookie running back Alfred Morris were both big reasons the team led the NFL in rushing yardage. Washington ran for a league-high 2,709 yards in 2012 (169.3 yards per game). That was more than 1,000 yards more (1,614) than the team totaled in 2011, when it averaged 100.9 yards per game on the ground…
The Bad News: Early-season injuries to outside linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker were costly to a defensive unit that totaled 32 sacks but gave up 31 touchdown passes, tied for the second-most in the NFL in 2012…The Redskins have now lost their last three playoff games dating back to 2005, all of those setbacks to the Seattle Seahawks. Washington’s last postseason victory came in the ’05 Wild Card Playoffs at Tampa, while their last appearance in the NFC Championship Game came way back in 1991, the year they wound up winning Super Bowl XXVI…
New York Giants (9-7)
The Good News: When the defending Super Bowl champions were on their game this past season, they were impressive. The Giants defeated 49ers (26-3), Packers (38-10) and Saints (52-27), all NFC division champions in 2011, by combined 116-40 score and in the case of San Francisco and Green Bay, those two teams repeated in 2012…Fun with numbers: Tom Coughlin’s team finished 14th in the league in total offense, 14th in the NFL in rushing offense and plus-14 in turnover differential in 2012. Unfortunately, they were also the 14thdefending Super Bowl champion to miss the playoffs the season after winning the title…
The Bad News: More like bizarre. In 2006, the Giants finished 8-8 in 2006 and earned a Wild Card berth and in 2007 finished 10-6 and won Super Bowl XLII. New York was 8-8 in 2009 and 10-6 in 2010 and missed the playoffs each season. Now fast forward to this past season, when Tom Coughlin’s team went 9-7, scored 429 points, allowed 344 points and failed to reach the playoffs. In 2011, the Giants finished 9-7, allowed six more points (400) than they scored (394) and won Super Bowl XLVI…For the third straight season and the seventh time in eight years, the Giants won at least six of their first eight games only to fall off in the second half of the season. Dating back to 2003, Big Blue is a combined 57-23 in its first eight games and just 30-50 in their final eight games of the season…
Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
The Good News: Quarterback Tony Romo bounced from a rough start in 2012 and performed much better in the second half of the season…sort of. After throwing just nine touchdown passes and 13 interceptions during the team’s 3-4 start, Romo tossed 19 scores and was picked off just six times in his final nine outings. But it’s also worth noting that three of those six interceptions came in the season-ending loss at Washington…Injuries were a big factor on the Dallas’ defense last season but outside linebacker Anthony Spencer had a big year. The former first-round draft choice totaled a team-high 95 tackles and a career-high 11.0 sacks, five more sacks than his previous best performance…
The Bad News: Jerry Jones may want to look at his lease at Cowboys Stadium because it’s hardly been a home-field advantage for his club. Including playoffs, the Pokes are just 18-15 lifetime in their newest home (dating back to 2009), including 4-4 in 2012. Last season, the Cowboys committed 20 of their 29 turnovers at home and the team was outscored a combined 125-64 in the first half of the eight contests…Since winning the NFC East in 2009 with an 11-5 record, Dallas is a combined 22-26 the last three years, finishing without a winning record each of those seasons…
Philadelphia Eagles (4-12)
The Good News: There have been very few positives as of late for a team that won 11 games in 2009 and 10 in 2010 and reached the playoffs each of those seasons. Over the last two years, the Eagles have either been very stingy or extremely generous, allowing 166 points in 12 wins (13.8 PPG) compared to a whopping 606 points in 20 losses (30.3 PPG) dating back to 2011…While injuries limited running back LeSean McCoy to just a dozen games last season, he scored five more touchdowns. In his last 42 regular-season contests dating back to 2010, McCoy has scored a total of 34 touchdowns (26 rushing, 8 receiving)…
The Bad News: One season after finishing next-to-last in the NFL with 38 turnovers in 2011, the Eagles tied for the league lead by giving up the ball 37 times. It makes for easy math as over the last two seasons, the Birds have won 12 games and committed 75 turnovers…Also worth noting is that while Philadelphia has totaled 80 sacks in 31 games dating back to 2011 (73.0 by defensive linemen), the Eagles dumped opposing quarterbacks just 30 times last season after tying for the NFL lead with 50 sacks a year earlier…The team’s 4-12 finish in 2012 was the franchise’s worst since the Birds were 3-13 in 1998, the year before Andy Reid became head coach…
Next week: The Good News and the Bad News for the AFC North
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