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NFC East news: Saquon Barkley open to other options; Eagles, Commanders fill out coaching staffs

Here’s the latest news around the NFC East division.

NFL: New York Giants at Los Angeles Chargers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Saquon Barkley Offers Frank Response Regarding Possible Post-Giants Future - Ezekiel Trezevant IV, Sports Illustrated

The Giants’ star RB may not be opposed to moving on from New York.

The New York Giants are the only team running back Saquon Barkley has ever played for. And while Barkley hasn’t backed off his desire to remain Giant for life, he also understands that the feeling might not be mutual if the team doesn’t wish to sign him to a multiyear deal equivalent to his market value.

Because of that possibility, Barkley might have played his last snaps in a Giants uniform. While New York is likely to apply the franchise tag on the running back if the two sides can’t lay down the parameters of a new multiyear deal, one which general manager Joe Schoen said they’d begin discussing with Bakrley’s representation during the upcoming combine, there remains the possibility of a tag-and-trade scenario for Barkley, who has accounted for over 5,000 rushing yards for the franchise.

If he doesn’t end up back with the Giants, the star running back seemed intrigued about possibly joining the Los Angeles Chargers, a team whose new head coach, Jim Harbaugh, reportedly has an interest in obtaining him should the running back become available, according to former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf.

Barkley, appearing on the Up&Adams podcast with Kay Adams, was asked if he would consider joining the Chargers if things didn’t work out with the Giants. Carefully measuring his words, Barkley said, “I’ve got nothing but respect for Coach Harbaugh. Obviously, the success he had in the NFL before and playing against him in college.

“I’m a big fan of Justin Herbert, and I think he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. But hey, if the opportunity were able to present itself, I definitely wouldn’t be against it,” he said.

If Barkley were to land in the same backfield as quarterback Justin Herbert and, if he’s retained in free agency, running back Austin Ekeler, that trio, along with receiver Keenan Allen, would give the Chargers a formidable offense.

Washington Commanders Coaching Tracker: Former Eagles OC Brian Johnson hired to a “prominent offensive staff role” - Scott Jennings, HogsHaven.com

Washington adds another coach who last worked for a division rival.

Managing partner Josh Harris introduced Adam Peters as the Washington Commanders new GM on Tuesday, January 9th, and he spent the rest of the month searching for his new head coach. That list was slimmed down to 4 candidates after the two youngest OCs on the list decided to stay with their current teams. Cowboys DC Dan Quinn has been hired as the Commanders next head coach, and he has assessed the previous coaching staff, and started to fill out his new staff. The offensive and defensive coordinator positions were filled yesterday by Kliff Kingsbury and Joe Whitt Jr respectively. And he’ll also have to decide if special teams coordinator Nate Kaczor can survive another change at head coach.

Washington has been working to fill out their new coaching staff. They made several requests to the Dallas Cowboys after poaching two of their coaches. Dallas denied most of them, but did allow two of their defensive assistants to interview with Washington. The Commanders also made requests for assistants from the Raiders and Giants.

Washington reportedly made their first big hire under OC Kliff Kingsbury. The Commanders interviewed former Philadelphia Eagles OC Brian Johnson for their OC job, before going with Kingsbury. Johnson will still be joining Dan Quinn’s coach staff, but it will be in a “prominent offensive staff role” according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. There has been speculation that he will be the QB coach and possibly have the pass game coordinator title.

Washington also signed former Las Vegas Raiders defensive pass-game coordinator Jason Simmons to the same role with the Commanders. He will also be the DBs coach, and will work with ne DC Joe Whitt Jr. who had that same job with Dan Quinn on the Dallas Cowboys. Washington’s secondary was a mess last year, and the only coach fired along with DC Jack Del Rio during the season was DBs coach Brent Vieselmeyer.

These Eagles players should benefit the most with new coordinators in charge - Chris Franklin, NJ.com

New coordinators on both sides of the ball should help these players in particular.

Adding the right coordinators to the staff can help achieve success quickly, and the Eagles are banking that offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio are the right people to get the most out of their players.

Jim Schwartz, the former Eagles defensive coordinator who is now with the Cleveland Browns in the same role, is a prime example of how a team can quickly become a contender. Schwartz was named the AP Assistant Coach of the Year Award during Thursday’s NFL Honors after the Browns defense went from the 14th-best defense in 2022 to the best in the league, allowing only 270.2 yards per game, helping the Browns make the playoffs for the first time since the 2020 season.

QB Jalen Hurts

By using motion, Moore should help Hurts get a clear picture of what the defense is trying to do. According to ESPN’s Seth Walder, of the four teams remaining in the championship round, three were in the top 10 this season in putting a player in motion at the snap (San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions, and Baltimore Ravens). The Eagles did not use a lot of pre-snap motion in their offense last season. The Eagles were last in that category, using them on 10.6% of their snaps.

Moore should also fix the issue of picking up the blitz, which the Eagles did not handle well late in the season. Many times, the wide receivers were in the middle of their routes, and a “hot” route was not available for Hurts to get the ball to when the pressure was getting close to him, resulting in him either scrambling or getting sacked.

LB Haason Reddick & DE Josh Sweat

Offenses followed the same template last season: Get the ball out quickly to nullify the defensive line’s impact and attack the middle of the field. This formula worked well, and the Eagles defensive sack numbers suffered, finishing with 43 sacks, a substantial decrease from the 70 they had in the 2022 season. Fangio should be able to tighten up a few of those issues with tweaks to the scheme itself, which should lead to an increase in the time quarterbacks will hold the ball when scanning the field, leading to more sack opportunities.

Last season, Reddick had a team-high 11 sacks, and Sweat had 6.5. The two dropped into coverage more after former senior defensive assistant coach Matt Patricia took over the play-calling duties, but it should not nearly happen as frequently with Fangio. The increase in sacks could be very lucrative for both players, who, barring a contract extension this offseason, will be free agents after the 2024 season.

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