Signing DeMarco Murray is the biggest reason the Eagles will win the division — losing him will sink the Cowboys!
By Barbara Harrison
The Eagles still have one more meaningless exo to play tomorrow night against the Jets, and the regular season doesn’t start until the Birds go to Atlanta for Monday Night Football in 12 days, but:
We have seen enough of every team in the NFC East to declare that the Eagles will win the division, as they did two seasons ago, win at least playoff game, and then everything else is up to the football gods!
Chip Kelly got rid of LeSean McCoy, Nick Foles,Jeremy Maclin, Evan Mathis, Todd Herremans, Trent Cole, Cary Williams and other players who helped the Eagles win 20 games in Kelly’s first two seasons. Sam Bradford came over from St. Louis and appears healthy after two ACL operations on the same knee forced him to miss the past 25 games. He led the offense to a touchdown in each of his four series in two preseason games.
The biggest improvement for Philly is the defense. Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond bolster a secondary that was awful the past two seasons, and Kiko Alonso fortifies a solid front seven.
DeMarco Murray’s success last season wasn’t the only reason the Cowboys beat out the Birds in the standings. A vastly improved defense led by coordinator Rod Marinelli was a major factor. The addition of DE Greg Hardy should help once he’s reinstated after serving a four-game suspension. And linebacker Sean Lee is back from a knee injury. But cornerback Orlando Scandrick (knee) is lost for the season, and linebacker Rolando McClain is suspended for four games. With Murray gone, the offense might have to rely more on Romo’s arm. The 35-year-old QB still seems capable of carrying the load. He bounced back from back surgery and had an outstanding season in 2014, and now seems healthier than he’s been in years.
The most important offseason move the Giants made was hiring defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who was in charge when Big Blue beat Tom Brady and the undefeated Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl. Spagnuolo has a tough task ahead with a depleted unit. End Jason Pierre-Paul’s status is uncertain, LB Jon Beason is injured again, and safeties Bennett Jackson, Mykkele Thompson and Justin Currie were lost for the season. Manning and Co. might have to win shootouts if the defense doesn’t improve drastically. Rueben Randle filled in nicely after Victor Cruz was injured to give Manning a formidable 1-2 punch at wideout.
Kirk Cousins beat out Robert Griffin III for the starting QB job, a move that could signal the end of RG3’s tumultuous tenure in Washington. The 2012 offensive rookie of the year has been plagued by injuries since leading the Redskins to a division title and tearing knee ligaments in a playoff loss in January 2013. Cousins is 2-7 as a starter in three seasons playing behind Griffin. He’ll probably throw a lot to DeSean Jackson and hand off even more to Alfred Morris. The Redskins lost tight ends Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen for the season. The defense also suffered blows in the preseason with season-ending injuries to linebackers Junior Galette and Adam Hayward.