Season Takeaways For All 32 NFL Teams, NFC East Edition

Season Takeaways For All 32 NFL Teams: NFC East Edition

How did your favorite team perform in the 2018-19 season and what are the biggest questions that need to be addressed this offseason and beyond? This week, I'll be reviewing the four teams in the NFC East.

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It's been another exciting season in the NFL. At the beginning of each year, each team/fanbase has a slue of expectations for their team whether you're in the middle of a rebuild, seeing how rookie talent pans out or plotting for contention in the playoffs. Regardless of the team, expectations always change. Injuries, free agency and coaching changes all play a role in how a team re-evaluates their priorities, and there's never a shortage of any of those three in this league. Here's how the NFC East faired this season.

1. Dallas Cowboys - Maybe Amari Cooper was actually worth a 1st round pick

When the Dallas Cowboys dropped a first round pick to acquire wide receiver Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders, the sports world was shocked, to say the least. Cooper was hardly considered a WR1 with notorious up-and-down performances. His ceiling was high, as he was selected to two consecutive Pro Bowls in 2015 and 2016, but he was hardly a standout receiver in such a competitive landscape.

But I don't hesitate to say that Cooper single-handedly turned the Cowboys' season around. Once traded in Week 7, the Cowboys went 7-2 to make it into the Wild Card round and beat the Seahawks. During that time period, Cooper scored six touchdowns and 725 yards in only nine games. The Cowboys were missing that star receiver, or at least someone with more skill than Cole Beasley and Michael Gallup, and have found their man in Amari Cooper. It'll be interesting to see how the Cowboys perform in the 2019-20 season with a well-rounded offense.

2. Philadelphia Eagles - The QB situation is complicated

Philadelphia was another one of those teams that a lot of people considered dead in the water by the middle of the season. Injuries plagued this team all year long, as Carson Wentz began the season on the bench as he wrapped up rehabilitation on his ACL injury. Jay Ajayi's season ended after Week 5 with a torn ACL. Following a Super Bowl victory last season, expectations were somewhat up in the air for the Eagles.

Following Week 14, the Eagles were 6-7 and Carson Wentz ends up back on the IR with a back injury. So, in what feels like a replication from last year, Nick Foles takes over to win the remaining three games of the season to take the Eagles into the Wild Card game. He performed amicably in the playoffs once again, barely losing to the Saints in the Divisional Round.

Nick Foles is entering free agency this offseason, and there are definitely plenty of teams who are in need of a competent quarterback. Carson Wentz has yet to complete a season without serious injury. It'll be an interesting offseason for the Eagles to say the least, especially with regards to Foles' future in the City of Brotherly Love.

3. Washington Redskins - Waiting for the Alex Smith rehab

Nothing can derail the progress of an athlete, and more ostensively a franchise, than a serious injury and Alex Smith suffered from one of the worst I've ever seen this season. In a pileup behind the offensive line, an opponent linebacker fell on Smith's leg, breaking it and causing extensive damage.

By all metrics, the Redskins were ready to roll with Smith for the foreseeable future, and the trajectory of their season at the time of his injury indicated that their bet was paying off. Smith was injured in a Week 11 loss to the Texans. The Redskins then went on to only win one of their last six games, missed the playoffs and finished the season 7-9.

For the time being, all eyes within the Redskins' organization will be watching Smith's rehab closely. There's a chance that Smith never plays for the Redskins again, or that he'll ever play football again. Regardless, there are huge cap space implications based on how Smith's contract is structured that could come into play when it's time for the Redskins to look at the free agent market.

4. New York Giants - Eli just doesn't fit with their young offense

Things were looking up for the New York Giants heading into this season. The team was plagued with injury, most notably to star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and dealing with a tumultuous locker room caused mostly by former head coach Ben McAdoo. The silver lining, however was that a lot of their young talent was able to earn reps and they eventually earned the second overall pick in the 2018 draft. That pick turned into running back Saquon Barkley who filled a role the Giants had been missing for a while, made the Pro Bowl and won Offensive Rookie Of The Year.

This season just didn't turn out the way the Giants expected it to. They ended their season 5-11 but had only won one game before their Week 9 bye. Lots of questions arose surrounding the Giants structure and whether or not it was time to begin planning a future without Eli Manning. The Giants secured the sixth pick in this year's draft and many mock drafts project the Giants to take former Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins. Even if the Giants don't immediately shift to a rookie QB, it's in their best interest to beginning planning for that future.

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn't sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It's obvious your calling wasn't coaching and you weren't meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn't have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn't your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that's how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “It's not what you say, its how you say it."

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won't even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don't hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That's the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she's the reason I continued to play."

I don't blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn't working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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Will The Seahawks Extend Bobby Wagner?

The star veteran linebacker will turn 29 in June.

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The Seattle Seahawks have made a few notable moves so far in the 2019 NFL offseason. They traded star pass rusher Frank Clark to the Kansas City Chiefs for significant draft capital and made quarterback Russell Wilson the highest-paid player in NFL history after his self-imposed April 15 deadline for a contract extension. In addition, they selected Ohio State wide receiver D.K. Metcalf in the 2019 NFL Draft after he surprisingly fell to the 64th overall pick at the end of the second round. However, there are still a few questions to be answered. Most notably, will the Seahawks extend veteran linebacker Bobby Wagner?

Seattle drafted two linebackers in Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven in this year's draft. However, Wagner has been one of the NFL's top linebackers throughout his seven-year career and is considered by many to be the best along with Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly. Although a versatile player, he is perhaps most known for his elite tackling ability and efficiency in that department. In the 2018 season, he missed only one tackle out of 139 attempts and was given a 139.0 tackling efficiency score from Pro Football Focus, more than double the score of runner-up Jon Bostic. However, he is entering a contract year and approaching his 29th birthday, so Seattle must make a decision on his long-term future.

Wagner is expected to become the highest-paid linebacker in the NFL after being overtaken by five other players of his position since he signed his initial four-year, $43 million contract extension on August 2, 2015. He has been one of the most consistent linebackers in the league and has stayed relatively healthy throughout his career with few character concerns. After Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley set the market for the position with his five-year, $85 million contract, the Seahawks will have to offer a significant amount of dough to their star to keep him. Wagner has stated that he will play the 2019 season as if it is his last in the Emerald City and reports say that he is not keen on taking a hometown discount to stay with the team.

The Seahawks were in a similar situation with veteran safety Earl Thomas last offseason when he held out for a contract extension that paid him his perceived value. We all know how that turned out. Could the same scenario happen with Wagner? All we know for sure is that Seattle has another large decision to make for another veteran star player.

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