It has often been said that you first build your NFL team in order to win your division. Thankfully for the Dallas Cowboys the NFC East isn’t exactly rife with competition.
We are only two seasons removed from this division being won by a 7-9 Washington unit and it is arguably that the Commanders have only gotten worse since then. The New York Giants appear as if they are finally headed in the right direction, but even headed that way can be a difficult road when you are starting from rock bottom.
Every week Bleeding Green Nation’s Brandon Gowton and I discuss the state of the division on a unique podcast called the NFC East Mixtape. It just so happens that the Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles were both playoff teams last year which clearly happened because of the podcast. Make sure to subscribe to the Blogging The Boys podcast network wherever you get your podcasts so you don’t miss any of our shows. Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.
As fate would have it the Cowboys are not the only team in the division lacking an infusion of serious talent from free agency. To properly convey just how uninteresting the period has been across all four teams, let it be known that an argument can be made that the most ‘exciting’ thing to happen to the division was Washington trading for quarterback Carson Wentz.
Just because there haven’t been any new players added though doesn’t mean that there aren’t things going on with each of the Cowboys’ rivals, though.
Philadelphia Eagles: What if they don’t draft a quarterback?
The Philadelphia Eagles are armed with three picks in the first round of this year’s draft which is certainly enough to make a franchise-changing decision. Typically those center around drafting new quarterback, it was just five years ago when the Eagles moved up all the way to number two overall to select Carson Wentz who we just referenced.
This year’s quarterback class doesn’t exactly have someone worth moving heaven and earth for, so it seems like Philadelphia may try a third year of Jalen Hurts. Our friends at Bleeding Green Nation seem to think this may not exactly be a prosperous idea as they included it in a wondering whether or not their team is in a purgatory of sorts.
So the Eagles will head into the 2022 season with Hurts as their QB and, if you believe what Roseman and head coach Nick Sirianni have to say, they truly believe he can be their franchise quarterback.
Of course, any head coach is going to publicly support his quarterback, and I have no doubt that Hurts will maximize every ounce of his athletic ability, but the ceiling on that ability may be lower than we’re hoping. Nevertheless, it’s pretty clear the team is not set on him beyond 2022, even with no clear options other than Hurts on the horizon as of now.
So yes, at quarterback, the Eagles are in purgatory, and that’s OK. Finding a franchise QB is hard and every Eagles fan is hoping Hurts makes a gigantic leap forward in his passing ability and becomes the team’s long term solution. That would be the best case scenario for all moving forward, and there is a real chance that could happen.
It is never an easy road when you do not have a franchise quarterback, but an arguably more-difficult one is having a signal-caller that is just good enough to fool you into thinking that you do. Jalen Hurts has some promising traits like his ability to run with the football, but that is not exactly the hallmark of a great quarterback who is charged with, you know, actually throwing the football.
How Philly handles their first-rounders will be fascinating.
Washington Commanders: Ron Rivera is tired of the franchise being ‘an easy target’
Death, taxes, and jokes about the Washington football team (speaking generally, not literally) not being competent in the landscape of competition.
It isn’t breaking news that Washington is a bad football team (or a horrible franchise in general). They have only ‘won’ the division twice in the last decade and, not to sound like too much of a homer here, only did so primarily because the Cowboys lost their starting quarterback for huge stretches of time in both 2015 and 2020.
To make matters worse, Washington went with the name ‘Commanders’ this offseason despite that being the most predictable thing for their re-brand and one of the options that their fan base liked the least. They have taken a lot of licks from the football cognoscenti and head coach Ron Rivera is sick and tired of it.
Ron Rivera said the franchise is “an easy target… I’m tired of it but the only way to fix it is to win.”— John Keim (@john_keim) March 29, 2022
Ron Rivera is by all accounts a fantastic human being, and to be fair, he is in a really difficult spot in that he is trying to resuscitate a team that is making the process very difficult for him. But complaining like this isn’t exactly a great look for him or the team.
Talking just about the re-brand and everything leading up to it for the last two or so years, the leadership in Washington has done nothing but ignore their fans and botch things. They basically ignored all of their fans who did not want the team name to be Commanders, they seemingly used the jersey retirement of the late Sean Taylor as a PR stunt to distract from their other problems, and they got the years for their own Super Bowl-winning seasons wrong on their new team crest (something they refused to acknowledged and only changed under the guise of a different motivation). These are just some of the things that the franchise has gotten wrong.
Sure, Ron Rivera is likely tired of Washington being associated with silly things like this.
But hey, maybe don’t do silly things?
New York Giants: Joe Schoen felt it was important to clarify that he is NOT shopping Saquon Barkley
The only thing worse than taking a running back with the fourth overall pick is taking one with the second overall pick. While there have been some memorable moments for the Cowboys with their running back, there haven’t been a ton of them for Saquon Barkley and the New York Giants. After an impressive rookie campaign, Barkley has dealt with injuries and the team in general has been lackluster which has been an awful combination.
It was last summer when the Giants picked up Barkley’s fifth-year option for this season which ties them to each other at least through 2022 unless they manage to trade him. Truth be told, there probably aren’t a lot of teams willing to forfeit anything serious for a running back in a contract year with a ton of questions who carries a cap charge of $7.2M, but Washington did trade for the aforementioned Wentz so anything is possible.
New York Giants GM Joe Schoen made it very clear in Florida this week though that it might not be possible. He went out of his way to quash any sort of rumors that Barkley was on the trade block.
“That was taken a little bit out of context at the combine,” Schoen said Monday at the league meetings. “I haven’t called one team on Saquon Barkley, OK? Everybody ran with that from the combine, I said I would listen if people called on any player, so it would be irresponsible if I didn’t. That doesn’t mean I’m going to do every deal, so I haven’t called one team on Saquon Barkley. I’ve gotten calls about a few of our players and he’s one where a couple teams have reached out, but again, I’m not shopping Saquon Barkley.”
Schoen said he will pick up the phone and listen.
“It’d be irresponsible if a team calls - I think 31 other GMs would say the same thing - if somebody is going to call and offer you something ridiculous, you’re going to listen,” Schoen said. “It doesn’t mean you’re going to do any deal or you’re going to say ‘yes’ to it. We’ve got an offensive head coach (Brian Daboll). He likes to have as many weapons and toys as he can.
“I like Saquon. We’re at a little bit of an advantage here, the players are coming in in two weeks, so we’re going to get around all these guys. Again, the guy was the number two pick in the draft for a reason. He’s got a lot of talent and I’m looking forward to working with him.”
New York did spend the second overall pick on Barkley so the franchise obviously has an affinity for him; however, this seems awfully close to coddling.
Who cares if Schoen was making the calls himself? The Giants are rebuilding and have assembled an entirely new staff and front office. They should be doing anything and everything they can, looking under every single rock, to see how they can better themselves. Schoen does say this to a degree, but he makes it seem rather hypothetical so that there is no disrespect shown to a running back who has 21 more yards than Tony Pollard since Pollard entered the NFL.