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Williamson's Look Around The League: NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles (Last year's record: 9-8)

  • The Eagles are the only NFC East team on Pittsburgh's 2022 schedule. The Steelers travel across the state in Week 8, a 1:00 start on October 30th.
  • The Eagles offense averaged just 9.7 drives per game last year. The Chiefs, Packers, and Broncos were the only offenses with less. Philadelphia's offense had just 16 turnovers all year, the fifth best. The Eagles ran the ball at the highest percentage of any team in the NFL, passing it just 50.1% of their play calls. The biggest move of the Eagles offseason came on the first day of the draft when they made a trade with Tennessee to acquire AJ Brown to team with last year's first round pick, DeVonta Smith. Philadelphia then quickly extended Brown's contract. The Eagles also used a first round pick on a wide out the year before, selecting Jalen Reagor.
  • The Eagles defense was the best in the division on a yards per play allowed basis and only six defenses in the NFL were better. But they only took the ball away 16 times all year, the fifth fewest in the league. Three of the four Eagles first draft picks were used on defensive players, including trading up for Jordan Davis in the first round. Not only did Philadelphia draft Davis, but also added Hassan Reddick and James Bradberry in free agency to really improve their pass defense. Atlanta was the only defense in the league that recorded fewer sacks than the Eagles last year.
  • The Eagles averaged half a yard more per play than they allowed, sixth best in the league. This has been a very aggressive franchise and expectations are high after getting into the playoffs last year.

Dallas Cowboys (Last year's record: 12-5)

  • The Cowboys offense averaged six yards per play. Only the 49ers and Buccaneers were better. Dallas also averaged 31.2 offensive points per game, the best in the entire league. They were one of just seven offenses to produce a touchdown on over 30% of their drives and averaged 3.24 offensive touchdowns per game, fourth best. Four of Dallas' first five draft picks were used on this side of the ball, including their first selection, Tyler Smith, to reinforce their offensive line that lost two starters in free agency.
  • The Cowboys defense surrendered 21.1 points per game, the best in the division and sixth best in the NFL. Dallas took the ball away 34 times in 2021, the best in football. Micah Parsons won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, excelling not only as an off the ball linebacker, but as a fantastic edge pass-rushing force immediately. His presence helped Dallas lead the division in sacks.
  • Dallas finished with the best point differential (+172) in the NFC. Their average game ended with the Cowboys winning by 10.1 points, second to only Buffalo in the NFL. They averaged half a yard more per play than they allowed, sixth best in the league. Dallas also finished the season with the NFL's best turnover differential. Dallas also had an excellent overall year on special teams. But one area Dallas really needs to work on is penalties. They committed the most penalties and had the most penalty yardage in the league by a wide margin. The Cowboys won the NFC East going away last year, but this recent offseason wasn't particularly kind to Dallas, who lost more than they gained. Even tough Dallas' offensive numbers were spectacular, Dak Prescott wasn't healthy for much of the year. The Cowboys have the best quarterback situation in the NFC East.

New York Giants (Last year's record: 4-13)

  • Only the Panthers averaged less yards per play than New York last year and only the Jaguars scored fewer offensive points per game. The Giants produced points on just 28.7% of their drives. Only Houston and Jacksonville were worse. New York managed to score a touchdown on just 12.7% of their drives. Not only was this the lowest in the league, but the Giants were the only team under 15%. That yielded just 1.35 offensive touchdowns per game, also lowest in the league. The Giants turned the ball over (30) more than any other team as well. At a just over 60% pass rate, the Giants threw the ball at the highest percentage of any NFC East team and the ninth most in the league. New York has used a first round pick on this side of the ball in each of the most recent six years as well as drafting Wan'Dale Robinson in the second round and Joshua Ezeudu in the third this year.
  • The Giants defense was the strength of the team last year, but because of the offensive struggles, it was asked to be on the field too much last year. Just five defenses were on the field more and only three defenses had to play more snaps per game than New York.
  • New York finished the season with the NFC's lowest point differential, allowing 158 more points than they scored. New York allowed .6 more yards per play than they produced last year. Only four teams were worse. The average Giants game ended with New York losing by 9.3 points, only four teams were worse. They also ended up with a -8 turnover differential. The Giants only gave away 39.6 yards per game via penalties, which was fourth best. New York is the only team in the NFC East with a new head coach with Brian Daboll coming over from the Bills to take the job and presumably help improve the Giants offense. The Giants were very tight on salary cap space this offseason and couldn't be very active in free agency. They also declined Daniel Jones' fifth year option. Over the last five seasons, the Giants have won just 22 games and have lost 57.

Washington Commanders (Last year's record: 7-10)

  • Washington threw the ball 55.4% of the time last year. Seven teams threw it less. They are the only team in the division that made a big move at quarterback, trading with Indianapolis for Carson Wentz, which could lead to a higher percentage of passing from the Commanders going forward. They also used the 16th pick overall on a wide receiver for Wentz in Jahan Dotson as well as extending Terry McLaurin's contract very recently. Washington also hopes to have Curtis Samuel healthy. Samuel played under 100 snaps last year. On their offensive line, Washington swapped out Brandon Scherff for former Steelers guard Trai Turner.
  • Washington allowed 5.7 yards per play last year. Just five defenses allowed more. All four of the Commanders starting defensive linemen were recently drafted by Washington in the first round, but this defense got less than 500 snaps from Chase Young and Montez Sweat because of injuries. Washington's first round selection last year, Jamin Davis, also struggled to see the field, playing under 600 snaps in his rookie season.
  • Washington allowed .6 more yards per play than they produced last year. Only four teams were worse. Washington only committed 4.8 penalties per game though, fifth best in the league.