For every team, in every season, there’s a new guy that can make a huge difference. Here are my picks to change the fortunes of all thirty-two teams. Today we focus on the NFC East.
Impact Addition: Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb
Dallas Arrival: Draft, 1st Round- Pick 17
For Dallas, and for Dak Prescott, it’s time to put up or shut up. Dallas muddled through another ho-hum 8-8 season in 2019, despite Prescott’s statistical success. The trouble is that we all know that the Cowboys will lean heavily on Ezekiel Elliot and so do opposing defenses. B
ut, and I’m just spit-balling here…What if they didn’t?
Dallas brought back Amari Cooper and he’ll now be paired in the receiving corps with a receiver who never should have been on the board at pick number seventeen, Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb. Lots of folks had Lamb as the first receiver off the board this year, and it’s easy to see why. Lamb amassed over 1,300 yards and 14 TDs in his final year at Oklahoma, averaging an eye-popping 21.4 yards per reception. The pairing of Lamb with Amari Cooper should force defenses to hang back just a bit, meaning life will get much, much easier for Zeke Elliot. If that happens, the Cowboys offense will strike fear into the rest of the NFC again.
New York Giants
Impact Addition: Cornerback James Bradberry
New York Arrival: Free Agency- Carolina Panthers
In 2019, the Giants sported one of the most porous pass defenses in the league. Allowing almost 4,500 yards and a whopping 12.1 yards per reception. Both good for fifth worst in the entire NFL.
It is not good when your defense allows, on average, a first down per completion. It was a young and inexperienced secondary group with no real anchor. That should change with the acquisition of James Bradberry from Carolina. The veteran defender has been both effective and durable in his career, missing only one game over the past three seasons. Bradberry has fared well against the league’s top receiving talent over the past few years and he’ll immediately become the lynchpin of this young pass defense. I’m not sure if the addition is going to make the Giants a contender in the NFC East, but for $45 million over three years, Bradberry has got to make a BIG impact.
Impact Addition: Quarterback Jalen Hurts
Philadelphia Arrival: Draft, 2nd Round- Pick 53
I can hear the cheesesteak bits flying as Philly fans scream at their computer screens.
“Are you crazy?? The Eagles have a quarterback!!! How can the most important addition be a backup???”
Calm down everyone.
My response is this: I know, we’re all excited that Carson Wentz made it through last season more or less unscathed, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The young quarterback has made it through an NFL season only twice since 2016, so it’s essentially a coin flip as to whether he’ll make it through any given year. Having a fully functional backup is an absolute necessity for Philly. But that’s only part of the reason I think Hurts can help the Eagles right off the bat.
To decrease the wear and tear on Wentz and inject some spice into the offensive playbook, don’t be surprised to see the Eagles use Hurts the same way the Saints use Taysom Hill. As a legitimate dual threat that comes into play every weekend. I love the idea of Philly running the Philly Special 2.0 on teams with Hurts as a decoy/receiver. I love the idea of Carson Wentz staying healthier for longer. I love the idea of defenses having to restructure their base front five or six times per game when Hurts trots out from the sideline.
Doesn’t sound so crazy now, does it?
Impact Addition: A New Name
Washington Arrival: Finally
The most important addition in Washington isn’t a player.
It’s a reckoning with an outdated slur that offended fans everywhere.
We’re so excited to see how Washington enters this new era. Will the team keep their decades old color scheme in a nod to history? Or will Washington go for a full-on rebrand that will make the team’s image pop going forward?
Will the new team name evoke the political structure of the nation’s capital (Senators, Statesmen, Generals)?
Or will a more intriguing team name come forward?
Personally, I’m a big proponent of a huge rebrand with flashy new colors and a non-traditional team name like we frequently see in soccer. I’m personally pulling for the Washington Whizz or the Washington Whoosh, or the Washington Wildcats…but then again, I’m a sucker for alliteration.
More interestingly from a fan perspective, will the team offer throwback gear with the new name and logo? I have a feeling that rocking that mid-eighties Doug Williams jersey isn’t going to be cool, all of a sudden.
If you must know who will impact Washington’s on the field chances in 2020 and beyond, it’s a crystal-clear no-brainer. Defensive end Chase Young who was picked second overall is your guy. He’s a quarterback devouring monster who hasn’t begun to scratch the surface of his potential despite his absurd 2019 season at Ohio State that saw him record 16.5 sacks in twelve games. He won literally every defensive award that the NCAA gives out and was a rare unanimous All-American. And he’s just getting started. I can’t wait to see the guy in the silver and neon green leopard print jersey of the Washington Wildcats!
For more thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.
Image Source: USA Today