CBS Sports ranked all eight divisions and placed the NFC East dead last. When the division produces two teams with top-four draft picks, it’s gonna struggle to get respect. Last season, the Redskins and Giants combined to win 7 games. Oof!
Honestly, it’s hard to make the case for the NFCE to be ranked any higher. Here’s what the article had to say about the division that now boasts three new head coaches with Ron Rivera, Mike McCarthy and Joe Judge:
If you need a quick refresher on how bad the division was last year, just consider this: Every team had a losing non-divisional record, no team hit double-digit wins and three of the four coaches in the division got fired. Also, Washington, a team that went 3-13, somehow tied for the second-best record in non-divisional games, going 3-7 (The Cowboys also went 3-7 while the Eagles led the division with a 4-6 record).
The article points out that the four division teams combined for an out-of-division record of 12-28. That compares to the No. 1 ranked AFC West, which compiled a 26-13-1 out-of-division record. This points to an incredible lack of competitiveness. Of course, the eventual division champion surprised no one by losing to the Seahawks in the Wildcard round to eliminate them from the playoffs.
The CBS article also points to how the effects from the COVID-19 pandemic will probably impact the teams in the NFC East more severely than other divisions, considering three of the four teams go into the 2020 season (if there is a 2020 season) with new coaches and changed offensive and defensive systems. This point has not been lost on Redskins fans, who have discussed the potential issues that come with a coaching change in a COVID affected off-season; those negative effects may be worst for Washington as the team will go into the season with the least experienced starting QB in the division. Second year player Dwayne Haskins started 9 games last season, beginning the year in Jay Gruden’s doghouse and on the bench, and ending it injured and on the bench. His experience with Ron Rivera and Scott Turner should be dramatically different, but the young signal caller faces a steep learning curve in a shortened off-season.
Based purely on last year’s performance, the bottom tier ranking from CBS is neither unfair nor surprising. The 2019 late-season “race” between the Eagles and Cowboys was less of a sprint to the finish than a slow limp. Throughout the 2019 season, the Eagles were the only team in the division to string together four consecutive wins; in fact, as noted above, two of the teams in the division didn’t manage to exceed four total wins on the season.
The question is whether the coaching changes, free agency, the draft and time will be enough for the NFC East to collectively improve enough to avoid another embarrassing season. 2020 has already been declared another two-horse race between Dallas and Philly by most NFL observers, with both New York and Washington expected to be picking in the top third of the draft in April 2021.
The chances of Ron Rivera and his team beating the odds seem to have gotten slimmer in recent weeks as the name change and, now, the sexual harassment stories have created distractions that exacerbate the challenges already presented by the pandemic. With a young roster that looks thin at a lot of positions, an almost entirely new coaching staff on offense and defense, and turmoil in the Pro Scouting department, it may be too much for Coach Rivera to field a consistently competitive team, especially early in the season.