Is this the season Dallas plays up to its potential? Scouts size up the Cowboys, Eagles, Giants and Washington
The NFC East is going through some transition this season with three new head coaches taking over. Defending division champion Philadelphia is the only team that's not making a change at the top, but the Eagles have shuffled up their roster in hopes of making another Super Bowl run.
Super Bowl aspirations are nothing new for Dallas and owner Jerry Jones has tasked former Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy with that mission. The man previously in that position, Jason Garrett, landed in New York. He'll serve as the Giants' offensive coordinator under rookie head coach Joe Judge, the 38-year-old who served under Bill Belichick in New England the past eight seasons.
Washington is undergoing a complete overhaul, both on and off of the field, as the team is seeking a new name as well as a fresh start with former Carolina head coach Ron Rivera at the helm. The pressure may not be on for Rivera and his team to win this season, but all eyes will be on them for other reasons.
In order to get an accurate assessment of how the NFC East looks entering the 2020 season, Athlon asked NFL scouts to talk anonymously about the Cowboys, Giants, Eagles and Washington.
Note: These scouting reports come directly from NFL scouts and do not necessarily reflect the views of Athlon's editorial staff.
"Owner Jerry Jones has put together arguably one of the league's most talented rosters, but they've constantly underperformed."
"QB Dak Prescott led an offense that was statistically impressive, but he hasn't been able to take this team deep into the playoffs, causing a stalemate over his desired $40 million annual asking price."
"Pro Bowl RB Ezekiel Elliott was once again the foundation for this offense with 1,357 yards and 12 TDs."
"Amari Cooper became the second-highest-paid WR in the NFL, and Michael Gallup emerged as a reliable No. 2 WR, but the unit got stronger with the addition of rookie WR CeeDee Lamb."
"They've had a top-three OL for years, led by All-Pros LT Tyron Smith and RG Zack Martin, but the biggest excitement came from the emergence of RT La'el Collins, who played at a Pro Bowl level. There's a big void, though, with the retirement of Pro Bowl C Travis Frederick."
"Defensively, they got stouter with the signing of DTs Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe, but they lost leading sack artist Robert Quinn."
"This is a top-three ILB unit with Pro Bowler Jaylon Smith, star Leighton Vander Esch and leader Sean Lee."
"CB Byron Jones departed to Miami and became the richest CB in the NFL, but they still have serviceable role players and drafted Trevon Diggs. They're satisfied with safety Xavier Woods, they re-signed Darian Thompson and added veteran Ha Ha Clinton-Dix."
"They're in the weakest division and need to capitalize ASAP."
"GM Dave Gettleman hired Patriots special teams coordinator Joe Judge, who has tremendous respect amongst the football fraternity."
"QB Daniel Jones showed promising attributes last season but made his fair share of rookie mistakes, with 18 fumbles. Now comes a new offensive coordinator, ex-Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett."
"They have a generational talent in RB Saquon Barkley and signed shifty veteran Dion Lewis."
"This is a scrappy WR unit led by Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard and an unanticipated emergence from 2019 fifth-round pick Darius Slayton."
"The OL got paid big money but played below average with OT Nate Solder allowing constant pressures and OG Will Hernandez looking sluggish, so they drafted OT Andrew Thomas to pair up with reliable OG Kevin Zeitler."
"They have a talented run-stuffing DL with Dalvin Tomlinson, Dexter Lawrence and B.J. Hill, so they decided to make a midseason trade for Leonard Williams to add pass rush."
They released ILB Alec Ogletree after he got outplayed by rookie Ryan Connelly and veteran David Mayo, and they added ex-Packer Blake Martinez in free agency."
"CB DeAndre Baker was most effective in run support, so they signed CB James Bradberry this offseason. They drafted Xavier McKinney, an enforcing safety, but what does this mean for the future of Jabrill Peppers? [Editor's note: Baker was placed on the commissioner's exempt list prior to the start of training camp as he is facing numerous criminal charges, including armed robbery, related to an incident that happened in Miramar, Florida, in May.]
"This will be an ‘old-school' football team, but can that mentality lead to a playoff appearance?"
"This roster was supposed to compete for a Super Bowl but instead turned into a 9–7 team that barely squeaked into the playoffs."
"Injuries to the WR corps caused a lack of rhythm between head coach/play-caller Doug Pederson and QB Carson Wentz. As a contingency plan, they drafted playmaking QB Jalen Hurts."
"RBs Miles Sanders and Boston Scott were productive playmakers, and with the departure of Jordan Howard, expect them to have bigger roles this season."
"As injuries derailed the WR room, the best TE duo — reliable Zach Ertz and emerging star Dallas Goedert — picked up the slack, combining for 1,523 yards and 11 TDs."
"This is a top-three OL unit with solid depth. Losing a leader in LT Jason Peters is never easy, but expect second-year OT Andre Dillard to develop more strength and fill that void." [Editor's note: Peters was re-signed in mid-July to replace Pro Bowl guard Brandon Brooks, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon.]
"Defensively, their strength is the DL with stud DT Fletcher Cox, DEs Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett, and with the addition of DT Javon Hargrave, this could be the most dominant front four in the NFL."
"They've had issues finding a No. 1 CB and finally made an offseason trade for Pro Bowl CB Darius Slay to pair with quality role players."
"The Eagles will be flying high after a fantastic offseason by GM Howie Roseman — as long as the injury bug doesn't bite them again."
"Washington hired a league favorite, ex-Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, and they made a trade for Panthers QB Kyle Allen, who can push second-year QB Dwayne Haskins Jr."
"Injury-prone RB Derrius Guice has briefly flashed, and the team hopes he can rebound. They signed RB Peyton Barber to supplement 35-year-old workhorse Adrian Peterson."
"The WR unit isn't flashy but has an emerging superstar in 2019 third-round pick Terry McLaurin."
"The team finally gave up on TE Jordan Reed, and with Vernon Davis retiring, they're anticipating Jeremy Sprinkle becoming a solid contributor."
"They need to keep upgrading a bottom-tier OL but did manage to re-sign top-five OG Brandon Scherff."
"New defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio was bequeathed a DL that's top five in talent and features Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis and the best player in the 2020 draft, DE Chase Young, but the rest of the defense is suspect."
"They have quality depth at ILB, and it will be a competitive battle to see who emerges."
"They added veteran CBs Ronald Darby and Kendall Fuller in free agency to complement their instinctive zone scheme."
"Safety Landon Collins is the leader of this defense, but who will be the other starter on the back end?"
"This is the worst team in the NFC, but at least Rivera will have a few seasons to get the ship turned around."