2015 NFL Projections: The NFC East

ChipKelly1Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys finally began to figure things out last year. Jason Garrett stopped asking Tony Romo to do too much, and designed an offense around DeMarco Murray that controlled the clock and helped Romo limit his mistakes. They were able to keep a questionable defense off of the field, and came one questionable call away from advancing to the NFC Championship Game.

That same approach may not be possible in 2015. Murray departed for the Eagles in free agency, and Dallas was only able to bring in Darren McFadden to address the position. McFadden will rotate with Joseph Randle until one of the two establishes themselves as a top running back, though neither is a particularly appealing option.

Tony Romo may be forced to do all of the heavy lifting for the Cowboys, and although he’s got supreme weapons in Dez Bryant, Terrence Williams, and Jason Witten, he’s also been dealing with significant back problems over the last couple of years that could become more of an issue moving forward. If Romo were to miss any amount of time, it’d be a crippling blow to Dallas.

The Cowboys have the league’s best offensive line, and received a gift after the draft when they were able to add La’el Collins, who could have been a top-five pick.

The best things that Dallas did in this off-season however, were the upgrades on the defensive side of the ball. The team spent their first-round pick on cornerback Byron Jones, and came back in round two to get pass rusher Randy Gregory. They also went out and signed Greg Hardy away from Carolina, and they expect Sean Lee back healthy to bolster their linebackers.

This is potentially a much more capable defense than what they were able to field a year ago.

With the exception of running back, the Cowboys appear poised to come back a stronger team in a lot of areas. If Romo’s health holds up, this team should be a lock for double-digit wins and a return to the playoffs.

Projected Finish: 10-6, 1st Place

Philadelphia Eagles

Chip Kelly and the Eagles were anything but conventional this off-season, purging the Eagles of all of their top talent from a year ago, removing Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, Evan Mathis, Todd Herremans, Trent Cole, and Brandon Boykin from the picture and bringing in Sam Bradford, DeMarco Murray, Ryan Matthews, Byron Maxwell, and Kiko Alonso.

Before the preseason, I was very concerned about this team. I thought that it would take some time for all of the new players to mesh with one another that could potentially lead to a slow start, but based on what I’ve seen in the preseason, I don’t think that’s going to be an issue anymore.

However, I’m also not getting too caught up in what the team has done in very limited action. I hear people call for this team to go 12-4 and reach the NFC Championship Game or even the Super Bowl, and I think that talk is still overly optimistic.

There are still a lot of question marks surrounding this team, and to expect a 12-win season and a deep playoff run is asking for quite a lot in the first year of Chip Kelly’s overhaul.

Can Sam Bradford stay on the field for all 16 games? Plain and simple, history says no.

Have the issues in the secondary truly been fixed? Maybe. Byron Maxwell brings a lot of swagger and ability to the defensive backfield, but he’s going to have his hands full shadowing a number of elite receivers. Nolan Carroll has had an excellent training camp, but he’s still a guy that’s been nothing more than a career-backup until now.

Most important of all, can Chip Kelly finally start beating some quality opponents? Kelly went just 2-5 against teams with winning records last year, and his vaunted offense was much less effective when stronger clubs came into the picture. Its one thing to be able to run up the score against teams like the Panthers, Titans, and Giants, but its another to fold and go 1-3 in the month of December.

These are all very real questions that could have an impact on the coming season.

I think the Eagles may in fact be on the right path, but they ultimately may need one more off-season before they can be thought of as any kind of significant contender.

Projected Finish: 9-7, 2nd Place

New York Giants

Tom Coughlin has been in this position before. With his team coming off of a couple of rough seasons, the old head coach is once again on the hot seat facing a do-or-die season.

The last two times Coughlin has been here, he’s rallied his team and won Super Bowls. Can he do it a third time?

Coughlin brought back Steve Spagnulo to be his defensive coordinator. Spags famously coordinated the team’s defense during their Super Bowl year in 2007, shutting down the undefeated Patriots.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham provided much-needed energy to this team once he returned from a hamstring injury, and went on a dominating run where he went over 100 yards in nine of his final 12 games, finishing with 91 grabs for 1,300 yards and 12 scores. He’s become Eli Manning’s favorite target, and defenses could find it harder to limit what he can do with New York welcoming Victor Cruz back healthy to join him.

While New York has a lot of explosive talent, they’re also lacking in several areas. The offensive line still has concerns, and the defense may have lost top pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul and still has issues at linebacker and the safety position.

New York should be capable of moving the ball and putting up points, but they don’t have the defensive backbone to shut down or even limit opposing teams.

Projected Finish: 7-9, 3rd Place

Washington Redskins

The laughingstock of the NFC East, the Washington Redskins continue to occupy the basement of this division.

Dysfunction and chaos reign supreme annually in Washington, as the franchise continues to make puzzling decisions under Daniel Synder’s leadership.

It’s amazing that both quarterback Robert Griffin and head coach Jay Gruden return to start the season. The two clearly showed they were not capable of coexisting with each other, with Gruden giving Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins every opportunity to win the starting job.

Griffin didn’t even make it to Week 1 as the starter, and its bizarre that he’s even on the team at this point.

Alfred Morris is one of the few reliable elements of this football team. He’s not an elite running back, but he’s as solid and sturdy as they come, and he’s a lock for over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns. Third-round pick Matt Jones could take some snaps away from Morris on passing downs.

DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon make for a solid receiving tandem, with Jackson serving as the home-one threat and Garcon being a guy that can rack up receptions and yards after the catch. Durability will always be a concern for these two, however.

The team tried to upgrade their secondary by acquiring former 49ers Chris Culliver and DaShon Goldson. Ryan Kerrigan is the anchor of the defense, coming off of a 13.5 sack effort a year ago. Brian Orakpo departed in free agency.

The Redskins have taken some steps forward in several areas on paper, but the larger problems are still in place and always place a low ceiling on what this franchise can do. The tension between quarterback and head coach is one that will derail yet another season, and could result in the team moving on from both at year’s end.

Projected Finish: 5-11, 4th place

9 thoughts on “2015 NFL Projections: The NFC East

  1. G..no mention of Teflon bill Davis ? That to me is irresponsible ,coming,from your defensive perspective .Why does this guy always fly under a proverbial radar in a town known for shooting them down and asking questions afterwards .

  2. NFC East

    Cowboys got 3 1st Round Talents in this Draft (B Jones, R Gregory & L Collins who was not a Top 5 Pick as Denny alluded to, but probably a Mid 1st Rounder and very Talented never the less
    The Cowboys also added DE Greg Hardy and get back LB Sean Lee so their Defense should be much improved in the their Front 7
    I don’t believe the loss of RB D Murray is going to be as important as many other posters think, the Cowboys OL is one of the best in all the NFL in rush blocking that it won’t really matter on who carries the ball for them, the key is their Play-Calling by Scott Linehan going to remain as consistent as last year and really rely on the running game or do they revert to their old ways and put the game in Tony Romo’s arm.. It’s easier to call running plays when you have a clear #1 RB like Murray was as opposed y a Running Game by Committee like they will have in 2015 between Randle,McFadden and newly acquired Christian Michael who is a 220lb load once he gets rolling..
    The other key to the Cowboys Offense is the emergence of Slot WR Cole Beasley who is like an Edelman,Amedola & Welker and thrives on 3rd Down Conversions and the other target is Receiving TE Gavin Escobar who is more athletic and poses more matchup issues than Witten does so on paper, the Cowboys appear to be a better Team than they were last Season and I see them with 10-11 Wins and the NFC East Crown will most likely come down to the head to head Games between the Eagles & Cowboys.. A 2-0 Sweep by either Team almost seals a Division Winner between the Two Teams as the Giants/Redskins are not very good Teams

    As of Today based on Schedules I have the NFC East as Follows
    1) Cowboys 11-5
    2) EAGLES 10-6 (Wild Card)
    3) Giants 7-9
    4) Redskins 5-11

  3. I’m unimpressed by both the Giants and Cowboys

    Yes its the 1st game of the year for both clubs but neither are showing any dominance on either side of the ball

    I’m not scared of either team here…

    We’re only hours away from our Eagles taking the field on Monday night

    Amped Amped Amped!!!

  4. Denny,
    You trying to hard to not be a homer or come from some far away reasoning of why the eagles will only win 9 damn games. you are better than this. i dont even want to type anymore. just horrible

  5. Dennys is entitled to his option.. Even if it’s not a really good one. The idea that the Eagles will actually lose more games this year is just ridiculous. Our back field is better, our Qb is better, our secondary is better. And we lose more games? Birds and Cowboys fight for the top spot.. Birds win it. 11 or more wins.

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