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Ranking the NFC East, 2019: Quarterbacks

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Hogs Haven looks at all four teams in the division in an effort to identify the best and the weakest of the NFC East

The draft is done, the free agents have been signed, the coaches have met their players. Now there’s not much to do but wait for training camp. While we wait, it seemed like it might be fun to evaluate and rank the NFC East position-by-position.

Last off-season, Hogs Haven published articles that focused on ranking position groups and head coaches in an effort to identify what the division would look like in 2018. This year, we’re going to look at the division again, but we’re gonna try to ramp things up a bit by adding some film review to some of the position group reviews.

Last week, we ranked the running backs.

This article has 4 sections:

  1. A very brief positional overview of where each of the 4 teams is at with the quarterback position, but with a little extra focus on the Redskins.
  2. A simple film review of 5 of the top quarterbacks in the NFC East this season: Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz, Eli Manning, Case Keenum, and Dwayne Haskins
  3. A list of the top of the depth chart (3-4 players) for each of the 4 teams in the division.
  4. Some poll questions focused on identifying the best quarterback in the division, as well as the teams with the strongest and weakest QB position group in the division.

Let’s start with the brief review.

Positional overview

There’s not much mystery about the QB position for the three teams not based in Washington, DC; all three have clear-cut starters, though the Giants offer a bit more intrigue than the other two.

Here’s a look at the stats for the past two seasons for each of the veteran starters on the four division teams.

Dak Prescott, after being drafted in the 4th round of the 2016 draft, was thrust into a starting role due to an injury to starter Tony Romo in the pre-season. Prescott never gave up the job, and now, entering his 4th season, and with no 5th year option available to the Cowboys’ front office, it’s time for him to get paid.

Carson Wentz took the more typical path to the role of “franchise quarterback” when Howie Roseman pulled off a series of trades to get into the #2 overall spot in the ‘16 draft — the same one where the Cowboys selected Prescott. Wentz was the unquestioned starter from Day One, but injuries derailed each of his past two seasons. Despite the Eagles making the playoffs (and in ‘17, winning the Superbowl), Wentz was on the sideline in the post-season, watching Nick Foles carry the team. This season, Nick Foles has gone to Jacksonville, where he finally hopes to have a team to call his own, and the Eagles, after having initally exercised the 5th year option on their franchise quarterback, have just extended Wentz, giving him a total of 6 years under contract, including this one, hoping that the bad luck that has dogged his health for the past two years is a thing of the past.

The Giants have both a clear cut starter in 38-year-old, 2-time Superbowl winning quarterback, Eli Manning, and an anointed successor in 6th overall draft pick Daniel Jones. The only question in New York is: When?

The Redskins face the muddiest situation. The team actually has 5 quarterbacks under contract: Alex Smith, Colt McCoy, Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, and Josh Woodrum. The only ones that matter right now, though, are Keenum and Haskins.

While Jay Gruden has made noises about Colt McCoy competing for the starting job in training camp, the general consensus seems to be that it is a 2-horse race for the Week 1 starting job, with Haskins the clearly designated “quarterback of the future” for Washington.

Keenum is a borderline jouneyman/starting quarterback with one great season (2017) with the Vikings. Haskins is a 22-year-old drafted rookie with one great season (2018) at Ohio State. Keenum provides a veteran presence, high floor and low ceiling, while Haskins is all pure potential.

Dwayne Haskins Passing Stats

Personally, I expect to see Case Keenum on the field behind center for the first offensive snap against the Eagles in Philly Week One, but I imagine he’ll need a repeat of his 2017 season to stay there for 16 regular season games. The fans and coaches will want to see Haskins on the field as soon as he’s ready if the Redskins aren’t competing for a division championship.


The film room - Frye’s Film breakdown

In this section, we’ll offer a look at a few of the top players in the division, with an analysis of their styles, skills and limitations written by Joshua Frye, who has volunteered to help me with this series.

As a Skins fan, Joshua says that he grew up with a team that wasn’t winning on the field, and that this lack of success made him look for something other than Superbowls to keep him connected. He focused on the draft. So, even from a young age, Josh watched college football, doing his best to evaluate players, and he read extensively — books written by coaches and personnel evaluators. Josh says that he would love to become a professional scout someday.

Let’s see what Joshua thinks about some of the NFC East’s top quarterbacks. He will look at 5 players, in order:

  • Dak Prescott
  • Carson Wentz
  • Case Keenum
  • Dwayne Haskins
  • Eli Manning

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys vs. Eagles Week 10 Highlights

Posted by Bill Chula on Wednesday, June 5, 2019

1st clip is 1:58 in: Dak doesn’t get the chance to step into his throw here but that doesn’t matter because the defense had it covered. He should’ve dumped the ball to Olawale (standing on the 10 yard line) instead of taking the risk that almost resulted in a pick 6.


Posted by Bill Chula on Wednesday, June 5, 2019

2nd clip is 5:46 in: Dak does a great job standing strong and stepping up in the pocket and shows excellent ball placement to Beasley to keep the momentum going.


Posted by Bill Chula on Wednesday, June 5, 2019

3rd clip is 5:55 in: You can’t really tell with the camera angle but in coaches film on game pass you can see that this is a very good read by Dak and another good throw. I’ve highlighted this with a screenshot above the video.

In short I think Dak can be very dangerous and efficient with his arm and legs which is why he has more wins than any other QB in the division since entering the league, but at times he will lock on to WRs and end up taking unnecessary risks or missing open reads.

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

Cowboys vs. Eagles Week 10 Highlights | NFL 2018 on YouTube

Posted by Bill Chula on Wednesday, June 5, 2019

1st clip is 32 seconds in: This is a 1st and 10 situation and Wentz has the underneath crossing route to Tate. He chooses to go to Ertz instead, which is usually a good connection, but gets picked off by Vander Esch. It looks like Wentz lost track of Vander Esch in coverage and took a risky shot that didn’t pay off.


Posted by Bill Chula on Wednesday, June 5, 2019

2nd clip is 6:43 in: I like this play as it shows Wentz’s toughness in the pocket and arm strength. The pocket is completely collapsing around him and he still delivers an accurate ball for the 1st down.


Posted by Bill Chula on Wednesday, June 5, 2019

3rd clip is 8:44 in: In the first clip, we saw a risky throw get intercepted. Here we see Wentz take another shot, less risky but still impressive, to his lethal TE, Ertz, for a TD. You see him look left but immediately come back to Ertz on his right to help create that window.

Carson Wentz is a big, strong QB who can make all the throws, but who, at times, can become a bit too much of a risk taker. He has excellent chemistry with his big bodied tight ends, and Alshon Jeffery. When it comes to the best QB in the division, as of right now, in my opinion, it’s Carson Wentz.


Case Keenum, Washington Redskins

Broncos vs. Chargers week 11 Highlights | NFL 2018 on YouTube

Posted by Bill Chula on Wednesday, June 5, 2019

1st clip is 3:42 in: On this play, Keenum is working with a concept we watched the Skins use frequently early on in the year with Alex Smith. Like Smith, Keenum found no success here.


Posted by Bill Chula on Wednesday, June 5, 2019

2nd clip is 6:14 in: Keenum has a nice pocket and does a nice job delivering a ball that leads Sutton, so he can get the most YAC that he’s able to. This is Keenum at his best.


Posted by Bill Chula on Wednesday, June 5, 2019

3rd clip is 7:52 in: Here Keenum is given time again in the pocket to deliver an accurate ball to Sanders and he makes the play.

Keenum isn’t going to wow you much with his arm, but, if given time in the pocket, he can show people why he and the Vikings went to the conference championship game in 2017. However, his need for a clean pocket is the main reason why I see him as more of a backup-quality QB than a regular starter. In the Redskins’ case, Keenum looks like a probable bridge QB until later in the year, when Haskins may be ready to start.

Dwayne Haskins, Washington Redskins

Posted by Bill Chula on Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Play 1 Inconsistency is a problem Haskins faced as the Ohio State quarterback last year on his deep balls, and, in part, it had to do with lack of chemistry with his WRs. In the NFL I could see him having less of these instances since he will be playing with guys like Paul Richardson, who can track the ball well in the air.


Posted by Bill Chula on Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Play 2 On this play, Haskins is late to his target in the window against this Cover 2 look. Haskins can become too patient and lack anticipation while he is processing what is actually happening.


Posted by Bill Chula on Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Play 3 This is another example of Haskins taking too long, but this time he misses on a timing route, resulting in an interception. The DB Savage does an excellent job here, reading Haskins and making a play.


Posted by Bill Chula on Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Play 4 This is a concept Redskins fans should be used to seeing. Very nice throw here; Haskins can be very good with the short quick routes, which is why some believe he makes a good fit in Jay Gruden’s West Coast offense.


Posted by Bill Chula on Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Play 5 I really like this play because it shows Haskins’ ability to escape the pocket with what little speed he has, and his ability to make a purely arm throw for a first down.

In short, it’s clear Dwayne Haskins has the tools to be an excellent pocket passer in the league: a strong arm and big build. Like any rookie QB and one-year starter, he has his flaws, but it seems that his are fixable.


Eli Manning, New York Giants

Buccaneers vs. Giants Week 11 Highlights | NFL 2018 YouTube

Posted by Bill Chula on Wednesday, June 5, 2019

1st play is 0:20 in: this is a similar throw to the one we saw Haskins miss against Maryland. Here Eli sees OBJ get a clean release and drops it in nicely to the receiver.


Posted by Bill Chula on Wednesday, June 5, 2019

2nd play is 4:24 in: Here, Eli already has a rush behind him and he still is able to get it to Shepherd. It’s a good throw by Manning for the 1st down, but you see that ball is just hanging up there; it just seems like he’s lost some zip on his throws.


Posted by Bill Chula on Thursday, June 6, 2019

3rd play is 9:39 in: This is another example of Eli reading the defense and hitting the window — this time for a TD — but, again, you can see there’s still some more to be desired on his throw.

I think Eli is your classic savvy veteran who knows how to manipulate defenses with his eyes, and he doesn’t make a lot of mental errors. But he has lost some arm strength, which has led to inconsistent accuracy. I think Eli can help the Giants bridge a year or two while they groom Daniel Jones.

A look at the top of the depth chart for each team

Of course, no position group consists of just one star player. In a sport that is as physically demanding as football, one in which player injuries are common, the unit depth is as important a factor as the skill of the star players.

Here, we’ll take a look at the top of the depth chart for each team — the pool of players from which the ones on the final 53 seem likely to be chosen. Not all the players listed will make the team, and I might easily miss — especially for the Redskins’ division rivals — players who will make the Week 1 roster, but this list should give some idea of the relative depth of the four positional groups.

Cowboys

  • Dak Prescott
  • Cooper Rush
  • Mike White

Eagles

  • Carson Wentz
  • Nate Sudfeld
  • Cody Kessler
  • Clayton Thorson

Giants

  • Eli Manning
  • Daniel Jones
  • Kyle Lauletta

Redskins

  • Case Keenum
  • Dwayne Haskins
  • Colt McCoy
  • (Alex Smith - injured; will not play in 2019)

Poll

Who is the best quarterback in the NFC East?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Dak Prescott
    (230 votes)
  • 57%
    Carson Wentz
    (1005 votes)
  • 19%
    Eli Manning
    (334 votes)
  • 3%
    Daniel Jones
    (68 votes)
  • 0%
    Case Keenum
    (17 votes)
  • 4%
    Dwayne Haskins
    (84 votes)
1738 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which NFC East team has the BEST quarterback group (taking backups into account) in the division?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Cowboys
    (96 votes)
  • 31%
    Eagles
    (482 votes)
  • 31%
    Giants
    (485 votes)
  • 30%
    Redskins
    (474 votes)
1537 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which NFC East team has the WEAKEST quarterback group (taking backups into account) in the division?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    Cowboys
    (596 votes)
  • 5%
    Eagles
    (78 votes)
  • 35%
    Giants
    (532 votes)
  • 19%
    Redskins
    (301 votes)
1507 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which Redskins QB will start Week 1 against the Eagles in Philly?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Colt McCoy
    (92 votes)
  • 74%
    Case Keenum
    (1083 votes)
  • 18%
    Dwayne Haskins
    (275 votes)
1450 votes total Vote Now