NFC east: season review

Jordan Brenner

Staff Writer

NFC East:

Dallas Cowboys – For the Cowboys, 2013 ended far too soon. For the third straight year, the Cowboys lost in a week 17, win or go home game, and finished 8-8. Many believe that had Tony Romo played in the final week of the season, the Cowboys would have made the playoffs. The reality is, the Cowboys are far from a Super Bowl contending team.

Grade for 2013: C+

New Year’s Resolution:

The Cowboys should finally make the playoffs in 2014, but here is what they have to improve upon: To start, their defense needs to improve tremendously. They gave up an average of 415 yards per game, which was good for last in the NFL. Also, after giving up of 27 points per game in 2013, the Cowboys need to improve their defensive backs and linebacking core. Other than Sean Lee, their linebackers seemed lost on the field— especially when Lee was out in week 17. The second thing they need to change is the coaching. Although Jason Garret is beloved by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, he has not proved his ability to guide the Cowboys to the playoffs. Losing three win or go home games proves that he is not the right guy in the organization. Dan Quinn, the Seattle Seahawks’s defensive coordinator, would be a great option. Seattle’s defense only allowed 14.4 points per game, the lowest in the NFL and forced a league high 39 turnovers.

New York Giants – Despite finishing 7-3 after starting 0-6, the Giants fell short of making the playoffs. The core reason the Giants missed the playoffs, was the lack of production on the offensive side of the ball. Before 2013, the Giants were a high scoring offense with a quarterback with a knack for winning in the fourth quarter. During 2013, however, the Giants scored only 18.4 points per game, 28th best in the NFL. The main difference between 2013’s offense, and previous Giants offenses is their ability to run the football. This year, they struggled tremendously, rushing for only 83.3 yards per game, ranking 29th in the NFL.

Grade for 2013: C+

New Year’s Resolution:

For the Giants to return to form, they need to draft a quality running back. They need to do so because the Giants suffered from an ineffective run game in 2013 causing an over reliance on the pass and as a consequence, teams were able to blitz, pressure, and sack Eli Manning at a much higher rate. Because of pressure, Manning rushed to throw, causing him to throw 27 interceptions. With a revamped running attack, teams would be indecisive about whether to drop back into coverage or to blitz. As many quarterbacks have said, the best pass protection is a good running game.

Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles won their division this year despite facing obstacles like a 1-3 start, a new coach, and a midseason benching of their starting quarterback. The Eagles finished the season with momentum after defeating the Cowboys in a win or go home game to make the playoffs. But, in the first round of the playoffs, they were exposed, and will face an offseason full of difficult decisions on how to address issues.

Grade for 2013: A-

New Year’s Resolution:

Since the Eagles offense is all set, the offseason should be focused on building the defensive side of the ball. The area on the defensive side of the ball most in need of help is the defensive back core. Without a cornerback taller than 6-1, the Eagles have trouble guarding some of the best wide receivers in the league. By replacing some of their short, quick corners with strong, tall defensive backs, they can guard players like Calvin Johnson.

Washington Redskins

After a stellar 2012 that resulted in a division title, the Redskins did not meet expectations. Jay Gruden is replacing Mike Shanahan as head coach as a consequence. The difference between 2012 and 2013 was the lack of explosion in the offense. After finishing in the bottom ten in points per game in 2013, it became evident that RG3 was not the same player as he was in 2012, when he won the Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Grade for 2013: D-

New Year’s Resolution:

The Redskins must forget 2013 and try to contend for a division title in 2014. To do so, their defense has to improve. The Redskins gave up an average of 29 points per game, making them second worst in the NFL. Their defense must improve across the board, but mostly at the defensive line with their pass rush. In 2013, the Redskins only had 36 total sacks as a defense. In the draft, they need to focus on drafting defensive lineman. A great fit would be Jadeveon Clowney, but they traded what would have been the second pick in this years draft for last years second pick. They used this pick on RG3. In order to get Clowney, the Redskins would have to trade up, which is very doable.