Opening Drive 2019: NFC East
Each team has one burning question that encompasses their 2019 season, and it's being asked here. Projected finish is in presentation order.
Is Carson Wentz the Philadelphia Eagles franchise cornerstone? The Eagles front office have paid Wentz like he is, and has played well when he's started. And the $128 million contract extension both parties agreed to this spring ensures security for both team and player. Now, the onus will be on Wentz to deliver where he has yet to tread: the postseason. Despite his winning percentage the last two years, debilitating injuries have cut those campaigns short. Nick Foles was available off the bench to drive the Eagles to a Super Bowl title in 2017 and the divisional round in 2018. Now, Foles is in Jacksonville, which leaves Wentz without an experienced backup if the injury bug bites him again. The offense promises to remain dynamic, especially with the acquisition of RB Jordan Howard from Chicago to give Philly a legit first & second down back. The defense will remain aggressive under coordinator Jim Schwartz, as former Minnesota safety Andrew Sendejo was signed to improve the secondary. While many of the same players remain since their championship season, it would be reasonable to believe that the Brotherly Shove Birds are right smack in the middle of their title window. It will be up to Wentz to get them back to the summit of the sport.
Will the Dallas Cowboys be able to develop Dak Prescott into a complete quarterback? Entering his fourth year, there is no doubt about Prescott's role as the offensive leader of the Cowboys. One only need to read owner Jerry Jones' desire to extend the young signal caller's contract to ensure his place in the organization. But in this day and age of the NFL, grit and determination alone will not translate into championships, which is the sole measure of greatness for fans of America's Team. Prescott will need to possess the capability to beat teams with his arm. Don't get it twisted; as long as RB Ezekiel Elliott wears a blue star on the sides of his helmet, he will be the focal point of the offense. In fairness to Prescott, his receiving corps over his first three years were underwhelming. That began to change with the trade that brought in Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders at last year's trade deadline, then was bolstered with Randall Cobb coming over from Green Bay. The questionable moves were signing TE Jason Witten after a year away & the departure of WR Cole Beasley to Buffalo, as the Cowboys let Prescott's security blanket walk while bringing in a long in the tooth vet who was already at prime retirement age. But regardless of the pieces in place, it will be up to rookie offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to add that passing dimension to Prescott's game. Moore exhibited high intelligence during his college and pro careers, so he has the faculties to excel, but it remains to be seen if he can make that translate as a mentor to by all accounts an eager student. Expect the Cowboys to be on the inside track for a wild card berth, with plenty of room to go up or down depending on Prescott's development.
Who the hell are the Washington Redskins, the team that started 2018 6-3 or the one going 1-6 to end it? No other team in the NFC went through a roller coaster campaign like the Redskins. From September through to early November, Washington was the most surprising division leader. The Eagles lost some of their mojo from a season prior and the Cowboys were stuck in neutral. But from November to December, it all fell apart, with injuries playing a significant factor in their swoon. Quarterbacks took the worst of them, as Alex Smith suffered multiple leg fractures and a post operation infection that cost him the balance of 2018 and quite possibly 2019 as well, and Colt McCoy also sustaining a broken leg (though not as severe) that landed him on season ending IR. This left them with guys off the street, and quite literally with exiled QB's Mark Sanchez & Josh Johnson. As one could imagine, the offense ground to a screeching halt. Now, the quarterback has a different look. With Smith's future in doubt and McCoy returning, Redskins vice president Bruce Allen pulled the trigger on a trade with the Denver Broncos to bring in Case Keenum, then spent a first round draft pick on collegian Dwayne Haskins from Ohio State. Barring what happens in training camp, Keenum will probably be tapped to start the season, with Haskins getting the reins upon Washington's season slipping away to gain game time experience. But if the presence of stability at quarterback puts the pieces into place, the Redskins could surprise people. But 2018 will more than likely go down as a squandered opportunity for Washington and 2019 will be a year of regression with the immediate future afterward much brighter
Do the New York Giants move on from Eli Manning this year or next? Call it denial or controlled spin, the Giants are rebuilding their roster in the vision of general manager Dave Gettleman. He has traded off key players that were under previous head coaches Tom Coughlin and Bob McAdoo to give current head coach Pat Shurmer a fresh set of troops to lead into the new decade. With all this turnover on the roster, it leads to the inevitable question about the future of Eli Manning. He will be entering his 16th pro season, and despite owner John Mara's affinity for the career Giant, the franchise will need to move on from Manning if he is not the best option available. Gettleman took a public browbeating for his drafting of Duke University QB Daniel Jones, as conventional intelligencia
projected Jones to be a second day pick at best. So if one were to speculate, the quarterback situation will transition over a two year window. Manning will start in 2019 and Jones will essentially redshirt his rookie year, barring injury, with Jones ostensibly taking over in 2020. There will be only the expectation of improvement for Big Blue this season as they are amidst a transitional phase (Beats rebuilding, amirite?)