After watching the replays of most of our rivals this preseason I’ve come away with some mixed feelings on the race for the East crown. For as much issues the Giants have gone through on the field (mainly injuries) and off (Osi’s soap opera), our opponents aren’t immune to major questions marks as well. With only 2 weeks till the first game the season is right around the corner.
The Eagles who in the offseason came away as the “Dream Team” , fans booking flights to Indy for the Super Bowl, but watching their preseason games, they have lots of improvements needed before February. Yeah, Mike Vick will scramble make Sportscenter highlights every game, but his offensive line was not helping him at all. All too often Vick was getting pressured, taking major punishment thanks to his line play, like rookie center Jason Kelce. Vick’s not going to make it a full season with games similar to the one against the Browns. I think the Giants blueprint against Vick last year has been noted by the league and defenses are adjusting accordingly. We will see how Andy Reid protects his franchise quarterback and get the ball to his playmakers. The Philly defense, featuring all those high profile corners, faces major issues with their defensive line and linebacking core. Currently the Eagles started 2 rookies at linebacker and we know how difficult a transition it is for one rookie, let alone two. I’ve heard the Eagles are already looking for other options for at least the MIKE (middle linebacker) to have some insurance in case Casey Matthews is not ready yet. The Philly defensive tackles have given up too many plays up the middle and could become a liability for a running team like the Giants. Having Mike Patterson will help, but as we know you need plenty of depth on the line in the NFL. Of course the Eagles can adjust and guys can step up once the season starts, and I believe they will be a very tough team once again, but they aren’t the dream team everyone once thought they were.
The Redskins, where to begin with them? The eventual 2011 NFC East champions, according to Rex Grossman, might have too many question marks to really list in this post. Mike Shanahan is still looking at a starting quarterback between John Beck and Rex, but neither is considered a “franchise quarterback”. I will say they did get a running back in Tim Hightower from Arizona, but he’s been a mystery in his career so far. Hightower never could grab the starting job when Beanie Wells struggled and maybe a change of scenery will help. Defensive line took a major hit when Jarvis Jenkins when he tore his ACL trying to tackle Ray Rice. Jenkins, a rookie was showing promise, but will miss the season, meaning the Redskins will need the backups to step up. Overall, the Redskins haven’t added much to their team to make any type of run this season, and would be ecstatic to win 7 games.
The Cowboys are expecting a rebound season after struggling last season. Jason Garrett, the former interim, now officially the head coach takes over a team with a healthy Tony Romo as his trigger man. The Boys had to make some changes to their squad with loads of cuts in order to get under the cap still have talent. The offensive line has had a variety of injuries to Andre Gurode and Phil Costa hit them causing them to continually shuffle guys around. Also, how will So Cal rookie Tyron Smith transition to starting tackle? As seen last year, the Cowboys need to protect Tony Romo or else it could be another long season for “america’s team”. The Cowboys have seen good production from Dez Bryant, but he’s yet to fully prove he’s grown up and at any point could yet again be a distraction. Dallas will be better than last year, but their running game is going to struggle, even though Felix Jones has stepped up this year, and the corners weren’t upgraded the way Jerry Jones would love have liked. I’m expecting the Cowboys in the 8 or 9 win range this year.
The Giants still have 2 more preseason games (unless Irene has something to say) to finalize their roster and prepare for the season. We know the Giants have questions to answer, but so does everyone else in the east. I expect the Giants to once again compete for the East like last year and might have the extra motivation to get over the hump.