With the regular season quickly approaching, here are the biggest question marks for the teams in the NFC East.
New York Giants
Is this Eli’s farewell tour? Two-time Super Bowl champion and Bill Belichick’s kryptonite, Eli Manning last season seemed to drastically digress. Questionable throws and audibles that opposing defenses sniffed out at will did not help his case to go forward as the starter. This season doesn’t look too good for Manning, especially with the Daniel Jones experiment waiting in the wings. If this team starts out 1-3 or 0-4, it will be time for the aforementioned experiment to be put to the test.
How much will no Odell hurt? Odell Beckham Jr. is now in Cleveland. To help lessen that void, the Giants brought in Golden Tate, but they won’t have his services for the first four games because due to suspension. This team and Manning will suffer drastically without Beckham.
Can opposing defenses slow down Barkley? Saquon Barkley’s rampant production was pretty much the only positive last season for this team. Without the threat of Beckham defenses will keep an extra guy or two in the box to key in on Barkley. While I think he will have a successful sophomore season, I think there will be a slight drop in his production.
When, if at all, will we see Zeke? Ezekiel Elliott still hasn’t reported as he continues to hold out for a bigger payday, which has become the norm throughout the league lately. But Elliott’s holdout may have the most damaging effect on this team, compared to say Le’Veon Bell or Melvin Gordon. If he plays, he will electrify this team, but if not….
Can Dak survive without Zeke? In the past without Elliott in the backfield, Dak Prescott has struggled to say the least. But since he’s had a full training camp and preseason without him, he should have gotten better timing down with his weapons. Amari Cooper is a top tier No. 1 receiver alongside former Packer Randall Cobb. And the biggest help for Dak is the return of tight end, Jason Witten. Witten, who hung up his microphone for his helmet and pads a year after doing the opposite, will look to add to his Hall of Fame-caliber resume.
Can the front seven mask a suspect secondary? The secondary that was susceptible to the big play last season is pretty much the same. But the play of linebackers Jaylon Smith, with his new five-year, $64 million extension, and his second-year partner in crime, Leighton Vander Esch, should mask some of that with their great awareness and tackling ability, especially in the open field.
Can Wentz survive a whole season? Nick Foles is no longer here to get this team deep into the playoffs and another ring. Carson Wentz, when healthy, has more than proven he belongs in this league. But a torn ACL ended his 2017 season (11-2 before the injury). Despite the team’s patience with him last year, his season ended in December due to a stress fracture in his back. The one thing in his favor is this division, which more than any other is filled with many question marks. A Wentz of old will just fine for this team.
Is that who we think it is? The Eagles already have the best receiving core by far in the division. Add former Eagle and fan-favorite DeSean Jackson to that group. Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery along with former Giant-killer Jackson and tight end Zach Ertz will help a healthy Wentz in the passing game for sure.
Did they add more running backs? Former Bear Jordan Howard was acquired via trade this off-season. But they still have Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, and lightning in a bottle, Darren Sproles. And, they drafted Miles Sanders in the second round out of Penn State. If they all make this roster, that could be this team’s strongest component, as each of these guys has a different style.
When will it be Haskins time? After the horrific injury suffered last season by quarterback Alex Smith and the uncertainty of when or if ever he will play again, the Redskins had no choice but to draft Dwayne Haskins 15th overall out of Ohio State. But with the only other quarterbacks on the roster being veterans Colt McCoy, who’s returning from his own injury, and Case Keenum, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Haskins in the starting spot by October.
Can you win games with this D? While this defense has a few household names in Landon Collins, Josh Norman, and Ryan Kerrigan, the unit as a whole is mediocre at best. With the uncertainty at quarterback, this side of the ball should have been more of a focal point, if, for nothing else, to keep this team in games. I just don’t see it with this group.
Will the backfield do enough? The Redskins’ running backs include Derrius Guice, Samaje Perine, future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson, and Chris Thompson. Guice missed all of last season after tearing his ACL in a preseason game. Since then, he has been recovering from that injury and three additional surgeries to clear an infection to that same knee. The team is hopeful he will be a huge part of this running game.
I believe this division is Philadelphia’s to lose, especially without Zeke for Dallas. They are leaps and bounds better than the rest of this division — as they have been for a while.