Almost done. Two more divisions left. Last time, we covered the NFC South, which could potentially send two teams to the playoffs this year. This week, we will be covering the NFC East. The Dallas Cowboys won it last year, as Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper leading the offense, while the defense proved to be a top ten unit in all of football. They beat the Seattle Seahawks in the wild card game, and lost to the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round. Next were the Philadelphia Eagles, who snuck into a Wild Card spot, despite an injury to quarterback Carson Wentz. Philadelphia went on to beat the Chicago Bears in the wild card game, but fell to the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round. The Washington Redskins finished third, despite another injury riddled season on both sides of the ball. Lastly, we have the New York Giants. The Giants struggled again, but got great contributions from Saquon Barkley, who looks to be a sure fire top five running back for the next decade. Let's get right into the biggest questions for every team in the NFC East.
Dallas Cowboys: When Will Ezekiel Elliott Return?
This has been one of the NFL's biggest headlines this summer. Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott has been holding out, expecting a new contract. The Cowboys have yet to deliver him the new contract, despite Elliott being one of the most talented players in football. The Cowboys already handed out big bucks to star linebacker Jaylon Smith and are going to have to pay Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper as well. Reports came out yesterday that the Dallas was close on a new deal with their star tailback. However, someone close to the Cowboys refuted that report.
Without Elliott, the Cowboys are pretty thin at running back. Tony Pollard, the Cowboys fourth round pick out of Memphis, has done well in camp, as well as in the preseason. Additionally, they have have Alfred Morris, a two time pro bowler who's been with the Cowboys before. Without Elliott, these two are likely to receive a time share, with Morris getting a majority of the goal line work, while Pollard will receive passing down work. Zeke and the Cowboys are likely going to finish these contract talks soon, because they need him on the field. He's a huge difference maker, and despite other running backs having success while he's been absent, his production still trumps all of them.
Update: Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys have agreed to a contract that will make Zeke the highest paid running back in the league. Included in his contract is $50 million guaranteed, and keeps him with Dallas until 2026.
New York Giants: Will Daniel Jones See the Field This Season?
The New York Giants shocked the football world this April by taking Duke quarterback Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick. Many questioned the pick and questioned general manager Dave Gettleman's logic. Fortunately for Giants fans, Jones silenced the haters by having a monster preseason. He completed 29 of 34 passes for 416 yards and two touchdowns. That had to be a sigh of relief for Gettleman and company, who now look like they know what they're doing (Pretty rare at this point).
With Jones performing at a high level, many fans are clamoring for Jones to play over incumbent starter, and two time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning. Manning has been inconsistent for his entire career, but has played great when it's mattered the most. Many thought it was the end of Manning's tenure in 2017, when he got benched for Geno Smith. However, it was only for one week and he's been back as the starter ever since. I expect Jones to see the field at some point this season, but the question is when will that be? Hopefully for Giants fans, it will be sooner rather than later.
Philadelphia Eagles: How do the Backfield Touches Get Dispersed?
The Philadelphia Eagles have been known to mix it up with the running back position. Running backs coach Duce Staley likes to apply the hot hand strategy, giving multiple guys touches and rolling with whoever is doing the best. Last year, Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, Josh Adams and Jay Ajayi all getting significant work last season. All of them played well in their small roles, making a significant impact in the game when their number was called.
This year is no different, as the Eagles were able to bring in more guys that could potentially contribute. In the 2019 draft, they took Penn State running back Miles Sanders in the second round. Sanders was extremely impressive during the preseason and ultimately played himself into the Eagles running back rotation. In addition to Sanders, the Eagles acquired running back Jordan Howard from the Bears for a draft pick. Howard ran for 1000 yards in two of his three seasons with Chicago and makes the Eagles running back core even stronger. We expect Howard to lead the backfield, but you never know with Doug Pedersen and Stayley. They have four guys primed to make legitimate contributions and the Eagles will look to use their unique talents to try and take pressure off of Wentz, who is returning from injury.
Washington Redskins: What in the World is Going on with Trent Williams?
Trent Williams is one of the best offensive lineman in football period. He's made the pro bowl in each of the last seven seasons, despite missing some time due to a various amount of injuries. Williams wants a new contract and frankly he deserves it because he's given his all to the Redskins since he was drafted in 2010. However, the Redskins haven't budged and Williams remains without the extension that he covets. As a result, he's been holding out and didn't attend camp or play in the preseason. Williams is angry at the Redskins and either wants that new contract, or wants out completely.
The Redskins are reluctant to trade Williams, as he's incredibly talented and leads one of the better offensive lines in football. Yet, Redskins GM Bruce Allen seems hesitant to dish out the big bucks to the star offensive lineman. Why though? Williams turned 31 in July, but is still producing at a high level and will most likely continue to do so. If they decide to trade him, they might be able to get pretty good value out of him. The Miami Dolphins were able to snag two first round picks and a second round pick for a package led by tackle Laremy Tunsil. Whatever happens, I just hope that Williams gets the pay day he so rightfully deserves.