With NFL Training Camp and preseason games underway, on paper every team still has a chance to hoist the Lombardi trophy in February. While in reality, most teams will know its fate by about Week 3 or 4, there is always excitement for this time of year. Here’s why the fanbases of each NFC East team should be excited.
Finally, an offseason that had very little drama for the Cowboys. Ezekiel Elliot doesn’t have to worry about a looming suspension, there isn’t any sort of quarterback controversy, and the scuminess of Greg Hardy may finally be washed clean. Jason Garrett returns for another season to take the helm of a very different Cowboys roster. For the first time since 2002, Jason Witten will not be in camp, trading his cleats in for a microphone, replacing Jon Gruden as the color commentator on Monday Night Football. Also gone is Dez Bryant, who has yet to find a new landing spot for the next chapter in his NFL career. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick also headlines a handful of free agent departures.
That being said, this is an article on why each team’s fan base should be excited, and Dallas fans should be excited for 2018. Zeke is back, Dak Prescott has a couple new weapons in Tavon Austin and Allen Hurns, as well as what should be a stout defense. Sean Lee is back, Randy Gregory is back, the young draft picks from a year ago have another year in the system, and that’s not even mentioning 2018 first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch from Boise State. It will be tough to knock off the defending champions from atop the NFC East, but Dallas fans should be in the mix for playoff football.
Dak Prescott finds rookie Michael Gallup for the TOUCHDOWN pic.twitter.com/ORJdv4fXVw
— FlurrySports (@FlurrySports) August 10, 2018
New York Giants
Well Giants fans, there isn’t anywhere else to go but up, right? 2017 brought the worst 16-game season for the Giants in the history of the franchise. Since then, the Giants have seemed to be taking steps towards contending for the NFC East once again. If Saquon Barkley is as good as he was in college, fans will remember the 2018 draft for decades. Saquon is a beast in the backfield who will also be able to bail out Eli Manning when he can’t find OBJ. Speaking of one of the best receivers in the NFL, after all the speculation that he was on his way out of New York, he will return once again to haunt defenses with his dazzling ability to haul in anything the aging Manning puts in the same area code.
First career rush by Saquon Barkley goes for 39! pic.twitter.com/1rPBz5AT1L
— FlurrySports (@FlurrySports) August 9, 2018
The Giants also made a few moves that should help them improve from its pitiful 31st-ranked defense last year. The most notable happening just days before the start of camp, snagging Connor Barwin from the Rams, as well as both third-round draft picks Lorenzo Carter and B.J. Hill. Pat Shurmer heads his first season as the main guy after a very successful stint in Minnesota, which I believe should be enough of a spark to this team to be in contention for the NFC East once again.
Eagles fans have to be riding pretty high after last season. I really don’t think I have to tell you why you should be excited for this season. The defending champs managed to sure up the defense by adding Haloti Ngata, Michael Bennett, and Nigel Bradham. This unit only allowed 79 yards per game on the ground last year, imagine what the possibilities are for this season. Carson Wentz is set to return from the ACL injury that derailed his potential MVP season and rumors are flying that he could start in Week 1. The guy tore his ACL in December… that’s insane, but if anyone would be able to do it, it would be Carson Wentz.
The Eagles did lose long time staple Brent Celek, but grabbed Dallas Goedert in the draft, one of the top rated tight ends who has a pro comparison of teammate Zach Ertz. That could be a deadlier combination than the two-headed monster that was Gronk and Aaron Hernandez. The Eagles are without a doubt one of the favorites in the NFC, and I would fully expect them to make another run this year. Enjoy 2018, Eagles fans.
It’s a new era in Washington, kinda. Alex Smith takes over the reins from Kirk Cousins. In a lot of ways, both guys have had similar career paths, and being known for being game managers who won’t tend to lose a game for you, but isn’t on the level to single-handedly win it either. However, all indications from the early stages of camp are that Alex Smith has free reign over the offense and is slinging the ball around at will. Rumor have it Josh Norman is frustrated by the precision of Smith in practice and that the quarterback has built quiet the rapport with one Jamison Crowder, as well as rekindling his relationship with longtime 49ers teammate Vernon Davis.
Former Seahawk Paul Richardson should factor into the mix with the Redskins passing game as well, after signing a 5-year, 40 million dollar deal to come to the nation’s capital. Having a consistent aerial attack allowed the Redskins to go get Derrius Guice, who unfortunately is now lost for the season. However, Chris Thompson is almost back to full health and there’s good reports about both Rob Kelly and Samaje Perine.
Defensively, Washington will have some work to do, after having the 21st-ranked defense in 2017. To combat that, they used five of the eight draft picks on defense, including Daron Payne from Alabama with the 13th overall pick to help clog the middle. Although 2017 ended in a disappointing 7-9 third place finish in the NFC East, Alex Smith might fit in the offense better than Cousins did, and a potentially improved defense realistically could lead Washington back to the playoff picture.
Only one team will be lifting the Lombardi Trophy in Atlanta in February. Could it be your team? Let me know why you’re excited for your team in 2018.