Team needs – NFC East version 

Team needs – NFC East version 
Reading Time: 7 minutes.
The NFC East was one of the surprises of 2022 but what teams needs have to be fulfilled this offseason?

Three teams NFC East figured in the top four rushing attacks in the league in 2022. So there’s plenty of competition for the Eagles crown, but which team needs what to overtake them?


Team Needs based on What they Could Lose in Free Agency 

They will have 17 players hitting the free agency market. One of them is Carson Wentz who, after disappointing another franchise seems destined to wander that market for a long time. Unless he’s happy to settle for a huge pay cut, he might not be signed at all. Taylor Heinecke is also a free agent so Washington will need at least one new quarterback in the offseason. They’ve also got two centres and two guards out of contract so they might be looking to freshen up their offensive line.  

They have eight defensive players headed to free agency too. Three of them (two linebackers, one cornerback) are restricted free agents so if they match the best offers, they’ll retain them. In all, four of their linebackers out of contract. Apart from 31 year old Jon Bostic they’re all young and relatively inexpensive so it’s difficult to see the Commanders not re-singing them. 

The Commanders are currently $12 million under the salary cap so they can make moves in free agency or the draft. If Dan Snyder is willing to invest (or sell the team). 

Team Needs Based on What They Lacked Last Season

The defense was good in 2022, the offense however was a mess. With Wentz starting at quarterback, they went 2-4 in their first six games. Until Brian Robertson Jr. returned from his gunshot wound (that’s how messy it was) they were 1-3. Under Heinecke’s guidance they won five of their next six. A week 13 tie with the Giants really brought their season to a crashing end. They only won a single game after week 12.  

Defensively they were 4th in terms of the number of passing yards they allowed and 11th for rushing yards. Washington’s offense, however, was ranked 23rd for net passing yards per attempt and 28th for rush yards per attempt. What they were missing last season was big plays. If they can persuade Lamar Jackson FedEx Field is a fun place to play quarterback that would go a long way toward fixing that issue. Football Outsiders ranked the Commanders offensive line as the 23rd best overall in the league. What they need is a supporting cast to allow Terry McLaurin and Brian Roberston Jr. to flourish. They have eight draft picks, so they’re in a good position to do that. 


Team Needs Based on What They Could Lose in Free Agency 

19 of 2022’s Cowboys team will become free agents in a few days’ time. Only seven of those free agents are on the offence though. Two of those players, Jason Peters and T.Y Hilton, were only signed in the middle of last season to provide some depth. It seems unlikely they return. Backup quarterback Cooper Rush is out of contract too. After his success when Dak was injured, he may be a popular man. They’re in the odd position of having two long snapper’s hitting free agency at the same time so presumably they’ll economise by just keeping the one (unless Jerry Jones is bringing new meaning to opulence).  

Of the nine defensive players who are becoming free agents three are linebackers and three are defensive linemen. The Cowboys need to save more than $18 million so Dan Quinn will be working with some new faces up front. 

Team Needs Based on What They Lacked Last Season

The fatal flaw in Dallas last season was losing the turnover battle. Dak Prescott suffered an injury in week 1, then Cooper Rush won the next four games. After Dak returned, they gave the ball away 20 times. Nobody threw more interceptions than Prescott. Even Matt Ryan who ended the season with a 4-7-1 record only threw 13. They’re not getting a new starting quarterback any time soon. Instead they fired Kellen Moore and replaced him with Brian Schottenheimer.

Schottenheimer was the Jaguars passing game coordinator in 2022 when Trevor Lawrence threw 17 interceptions and 12 touchdowns. Schottenheimer’s other recent coaching jobs involved being the only offensive coordinator who can make Russell Wilson work. Schottenheimer was the Seahawks offensive coordinator in 2020 when they won the NFC West. That was a particularly run-heavy offence though. With Tony Pollard being franchise tagged presumably the Cowboys will cure Dak’s interception problem by not throwing passes. 

Despite the erratic quarterback play the Cowboys offence ranked 9th for passing touchdowns and 2nd for rushing touchdowns in 2022. They were ranked 14th in terms of pass yards and ninth for rushing yards so if they can correct the interception issue, they’ll be grand. 

Defensively they were excellent against the pass, only seven teams gave up fewer pass yards. The 20.1 points per game they allowed was the fifth fewest in 2022 but they struggled against the run. They were ranked 22nd after allowing 2198 yards on the ground. The Cowboys traded for run stopper Johnathan Haskins from the Raiders in October, but he only played in four regular season games once he arrived in Dallas. He featured in just 34% of the Cowboys snaps. 

They are currently $18.9 million over the salary cap but they have nine draft picks. If they want to dip into the free agent market, they will have to rework some contracts. 


Team Needs Based on What They Could Lose in Free Agency 

The Eagles have 21 players out of contract this offseason and only Tyree Jackson is a restricted free agent. Jackson is one of eight offensive players headed to free agency and four of those are offensive linemen. Jason Kelce is the biggest name and he’s going to be expensive. Philadelphia are effectively $1.4 million over the cap at the moment so they need to rework some contracts. Jalen Hurts will be happy to help there. Two running backs, Boston Scott and Miles Sanders are out of contract too, it’ll be tricky to keep them both. They still have Kenneth Gainwell and Trey Sermon so they may decide to allow both leave and draft a cheaper backup option instead. 

Their biggest problem is that six defensive linemen will all hit free agency next week and it will be impossible to keep all of them. Thos six were responsible for 30.5 of the team’s 70 sacks last season. Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph were mid-season signings to cover for injuries and are 36 and 34 respectively so it’s unlikely they will return. They only made 1.5 sacks between them though, so the Eagles defense still seem set to lose a lot of productivity. 

Philadelphia have two first round draft picks and an additional four picks so they’ll probably use those to address the linemen they seem set to lose. 

Team Needs Based on What They Lacked Last Season 

They made the Super Bowl, so they weren’t really lacking much in 2022. Football Outsiders ranked their offensive line seventh in the NFL. The only statistical categories they might be slightly concerned about is the number of rushing yards they allowed per attempt, 4.6 was ranked 24th and the score percentage their defense allowed. 32.4% of their opponents drives ended with a score and that was 27th in the league. They have a new defensive coordinator though. Jonathan Gannon left to become the Cardinals head coach after a meeting last year (no, seriously), that might fix things. 


Team Needs Based on What They Could Lose in Free Agency 

There are just 16 free agents in the blue half of New York this week. Seven of them play on the offence. Four of them are wide receivers (which is why they’ll be at Odell Beckham’s workout in Arizona). They effectively have $13 million to spend before they reach the salary cap. It is possible they could afford to re-sign all of them. Marcus Johnson only caught nine passes in 2022 though and Sterling Shepherd may not be fully healthy before training camp begins. They will be desperate to retain Sheperd’s services though. Brian Daboll said, “he’s a tremendous person” and “I really feel for him” when Shepherd suffered the brutal knee injury in September. Centre Jon Feliciano played 85% of the Giants offensive snaps in 2022. He’s a very important part of their offence so they’ll want to keep him too. 

Tony Jefferson is one of seven defensive players who are out of contract, but he only played nine games last season. He started in just one of those games, so it seems unlikely he will return. At the other end of the spectrum Julian Love started all 16 games. Love led the team in tackles so they’ll want to re-sign him. Fabian Moreau also hits free agency, and he was fourth on the list of tackles made in 2022. He only started 11 games too so they may re-sign him too.  

Team Needs Based on What They Lacked Last Season

The Giants didn’t really have a particular area of weakness last season. They were ranked 24th for their number of passing touchdowns they scored but that was because they were ranked 4th for their number of rushing touchdowns. There’s really only two areas they could improve, are either the balance of their offence. Failing that they could really focus on becoming the number one rushing offence. 

The Giants offensive line was ranked 24th overall by Football Outsiders but that was partly down to the number of sacks they allowed. If they want to improve their run blocking they need become more successful at the second level like the Eagles run blockers are (especially Jason Kelce). Their run blocking in the open field was worth just 0.9 yards and that was 21st in the league. Even though they were ranked 4th for rushing touchdowns they were 11 behind the league leading Eagles and the third best team in the NFC East. 

Defensively the Giants struggled to stop the run. They were ranked 31st allowing on average 5.2 yards per attempt. That’s partly a by-product of having to play the Eagles and Cowboys twice. Only one team made fewer interceptions than the Giants in 2022 so expect them to draft a defensive back or two. They could even re-sign James Bradberry. 

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