The easiest way for a team to make the playoffs in the NFL is handling business in its respective division. When it comes to Washington, that feat never comes easy. Division winners only twice over the past 19 seasons (since the 2000s), and with a record of 3-9 the past two seasons against the NFC East, there is no way around the fact that the Redskins must be better this year at earning division wins. So, how do they measure up against the rest of the division heading into the season?
Dallas, who is built to win right now, are the front runners
Offensively Dallas has a talented offensive line, perimeter weapons, an all-pro running back, and a serviceable quarterback to compete on that side of the football. Defensively, the Cowboys are a well-coached football team who has continuously improved upon its previous season, ranking top seven in yards and points in 2018. Even though the Redskins has not beaten the Philadelphia Eagles in two seasons, the Cowboys are the biggest threat to Washington heading into the 2019 season. The biggest hindrance to competing against the Cowboys since the beginning of the Jay Gruden era has been incompetent quarterback play. This year, the situation is no better at the position in the sense that Washington is heading into the season with unknowns at the position. In addition to the quarterback position, the receiver position has been no help on the offensive side of the football, and defensively the Redskins have simply not been able to neutralize quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliot.
Career numbers for Dak Prescott vs Washington
Career numbers for Ezekiel Elliot vs Washington
The Redskins must be more competitive in their match-ups against the Cowboys as they make their 2019 bid to become division champions.
The Eagles are next up in the current NFC East hierarchy; however, they are just as tough as the Cowboys
Coaching keeps the Eagles in contention for the division title, and legitimate contenders for the Super Bowl. Next, Carson Wentz is a play-maker at the quarterback position who allowed head coach Doug Pederson to establish the dynamic offense that the Philadelphia Eagles has in place. A down season in 2019, record-wise, that threatened their playoff hopes for a good portion of the regular season did not stop them from coming together towards the end and making an NFC Championship appearance that was nearly incredible following how the season they had endured. It is a testament to how a well-coached team can overcome injuries and still compete with the better NFL teams in a given season.
Washington is in a position where they have not defeated the Eagles in two seasons now — a stain on Jay’s head coaching resume that is contributing to the amount of pressure to win that he faces this season. Now, he heads to Lincoln Financial field in Week One to face a team that will undoubtedly be ready to face the Redskins. Gruden is 1-4 in season openers in his career. Can he turn it around this year against a team he has recently struggled against?
The Redskins have improved their front seven and their pass-rush while attempting to bolster the secondary with key veteran additions to go with the youth infusion at the cornerback position. Again, offensively, unknowns at the quarterback position are hindering the Redskins from convincing many people that they can immediately compete against these proven division foes. As the Eagles secondary continues to grow and gel together each year, there is also a need for a receiver or two to step up and develop into a go-to target for whoever ends up behind center for the Redskins.
The Giants still have a lot of work to do with their organization, but a 40-16 victory at Fedex Field in 2018 has shown what they are capable of if New York is unified
Yes, Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon are both gone now — and so is Landon Collins for that matter — but does that indicate that the team is dramatically worse off heading into 2019? No, at least not in the division.
Eli Manning is approaching his final years and has been playing mediocre football at the quarterback position for the past two seasons; that goes in the Redskins favor. His immobility makes it easy for Redskins pass-rushers to disrupt the Giants’ passing plays. However, there is always an emphasis on getting the football out of Eli’s hands quickly, and to help Eli out, the Giants have focused on improving his offensive line in addition to making running back Saquon Barkley, the featured player on the offense. The Giants still have dynamic play-makers in Barkley, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram. Last year, the Redskins defense allowed 402 yards against this Giants offense late in the season, with the majority of the yardage coming from Barkley himself. Since 2015, this is the most even divisional match-up in the NFC East, as the Redskins and Giants have a 4-4 record against one another. It is safe to assume this year can very well go the same way, but it also would not be shocking for the Redskins to sweep this re-building Giants team.
In the end, the Redskins have developed and built their roster to compete well within the division in recent years. However, it just has not materialized into victories, which is the ultimate measure of competitiveness. Heading into the season, the Redskins have the potential for second place and a wild-card spot, but that can only be accomplished with victories against both Dallas and Philadelphia, both of whom have consistently beaten the Washington since 2015. There is a slight chance here for the Redskins. Do you think they can take the steps necessary to come out on top in the East?