As the NFL prepares to open training camp across the country and all fans have a new hope that good things will happen with their teams in 2009. I decided to take an early look at the NFC East. If you speak to the so-called experts you would think the Eagles are already booked for their trip to Super Bowl XLIV. Sound familiar Cowboys fans? These experts also say the Giants can overcome the loss of their best receiver, Oh, but a team like the Cowboys might as well pack it before the season even starts without their best receiver. As for the Redskins, well they tried hard to replace their QB who ownership thought was the man to lead them. Hard to imagine that not having an effect with the team.
Lets start with the Super Bowl favorite Philadelphia Eagles…They have been to the NFC Championship five times in the last eight seasons, losing four of them. They have lost their leader on defense in Brian Dawkins as well as Sean Considine and Lito Sheppard. They also might be without the man who controls the defense in Jim Johnson. On offense they lost two offensive linemen in Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas, but then went out and picked up Stacy Andrews and Jason Peters. The O-Line is a funny thing though. Will it take time for these two to mesh with the others and form that chemistry that a offensive line needs? McNabb does have the weapons around him, He’s got some quick receivers along with new draft pick Jeremy Maclin. And if you ask any Dallas fan about Brian Westbrook, they will cringe like they just got hit in the mouth. I don’t believe Westbrook has an off button. He seems to always make the big play. The Eagles were 9-6-1 in 2008. I think the Eagles need to get off to a good start because as they hit November and December their schedule gets very difficult.
The NY Giants…I will start with the defense like I did with the Eagles. They will be getting Osi Umenyiora back in 2009 plus they added Rocky Bernard and Chris Canty. Very good D-Line that can rotate in and out and stay fresh, but beyond that I believe their LBs are average and their secondary can be taken advantage of. They also lost their heart on defense in coordinator Steve Spagnuolo which might show some effects. On offense they have lost their top two receivers in Burress and Toomer as well as RB Derrick Ward who ran for over 1,000 yards in 2008. After losing Burress last season the Giants finished out 2008 losing 4 of their final 5 games. They have not replaced Burress and I think that will continue to effect Manning. I’m not sold on Manning to begin with. Yes, he is a good QB, but he still can very inconsistent.
The Washington Redskins…They started 2008 with a 6-2 record. This team just can’t seem to ever get over that hump. The have some play-makers on defense in DeAngelo Hall, LaRon Landry and new man Albert Haynesworth. Other than Haynesworth this will be the same defense which can be taken advantage of. That’s if Haynesworth can make it through an entire season without injury. On offense Jason Campbell has thoughts of Jay Cutler and Mark Sanchez going through his head which is not good. Knowing he is not the man in Washington will have an effect on his play and it does not help that his offensive line is aging and head coach Jim Zorn and RB Clinton Portis do not get along. If Campbell can get his act together he has the speedy Santana Moss to throw to as well as the always open Chris Cooley.
The one and only Dallas Cowboys…Did you think I would forget my Cowboys. I will try to be impartial with my comments. The Cowboys defense lost Chris Canty, but replaced him with Igor Olshansky who knows Wade Phillips defense. Phillips will also be in full charge of the defense this season which I think will make a huge difference. They have replaced the secondary’s weak link in Roy Williams with Gerald Sensabaugh and Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick will battle for the right CB spot to replace often beat Anthony Henry. Oh yea, the Cowboys also have the All World LB DeMarcus Ware and have added Keith Brooking who also knows the defense very well unlike Zach Thomas from 2008. I believe the Dallas defense can be one of the tops in the league in 2009 and I have a feeling the players believe that as well. On offense it’s a matter of staying injury free. In 2008 the Cowboys lost too many key players like Romo, Kosier, Barber, Jones, Austin, Hurd and McBriar. Others also played through injuries like Adams and Witten. I have a hard time believing this offense went from really effective in 2007 to inconsistent in 2008 because defenses figured out Jason Garrett’s scheme. Garrett had his hands tied with all of the injuries last season. If Dallas can stay injury free or close to it I believe the offense can be explosive in 2009 with all of the weapons they have. This is Romo’s team now. No more excuses. He needs to take control of the offense and take it to where he knows it can go. Miami or bust.
These are just some early thoughts on the NFC East. I don’t think any team will run away with the crown in 2009. It’s going to be a close race that might just come down to the final week of the season. Let the training camps open, let the two-a-days start. After the 2008 season ended I did not think I would be excited going into 2009, but I am excited about this Cowboys team. A new season, a new hope. Let’s get this thing started!