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.
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.
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.
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.
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.