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Division Links: Rival blogs focus on running backs and the near-certainty that the Cowboys won’t win the NFCE in 2022

Bleeding Green Nation

Why hasn’t the NFC East had a repeat champion in 17 years?

This has to be the NFL’s most bizarre streak going.

There are some streaks/records in sports that are simply unexplainable.

From May of 1992 to July of 1993, Mets starting pitcher Anthony Young started his career with 27 consecutive losing decisions, an incredible stretch made even more incredible in that, during the streak, he put together a 23-inning scoreless streak. Notre Dame once won 43 straight games over Navy in college football. In January of 2020, Clemson’s college basketball team finally beat North Carolina on its home court for the first time ever, snapping an incomprehensible 0-59 run. Big league pitcher Johnny Van Der Meer remains the only pitcher in MLB history to throw two straight no-hitters.

The NFC East’s streak of 17 straight seasons without a repeat champion may not be quite as crazy, but it’s wild nonetheless.

The last team to repeat was, of course, the Eagles, who won four straight division titles during the height of the Andy Reid era, from 2001-2004. What’s happened since then?

Injury issues that have played a part, but mostly, off-field issues and the lack of a true, difference-making quarterback for any team in the division is to blame. Let’s take a year-by-year look at just how this insane streak has come to pass.

Big Blue View

Giants’ 90-man roster: Will we see the old Saquon Barkley in 2022?

It’s been a long time since we have seen Barkley at his best

Barkley said back in April that he had been able to spend the offseason training the way he wanted to rather than rehabbing his surgically-repaired knee.

“I definitely feel a lot different, a lot better. I feel like myself again,” Barkley said.

“I’m not rehabbing the knee. That’s one. I’m not out there thinking anymore. At the time, you’re like, ‘I’m not even thinking about it,’ but then when you replace yourself and look back a year later you’re like, ‘Oh my God, it’s two completely different things.’

“Getting stronger, getting back to how I like to train, my training résumé. Also adding the new things to keep me healthy – mobility-wise, stability-wise, all those little things. It’s not just the now. I want to play this game for a long time. I don’t want to have a short career. That comes with taking care of your body. That’s really the biggest difference I’m doing, training hard and pushing my body, but also training smart.”

There are, of course, other changes. Joe Judge and Dave Gettleman are gone, and with them Jason Garrett and Freddie Kitchens. The offense, with Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka at the controls, should be more versatile. The offensive line should be better.

That means that Barkley, and the Giants other playmakers, should have a better chance of success.

Blogging the Boys

Another argument for Tony Pollard to receive the majority of the touches over Ezekiel Elliott

Pass the torch, Cowboys.

The Dallas Cowboys have a decision to make about Ezekiel Elliott. It’s not the one about releasing him after the 2022 season because of his contract numbers. They have an out after 2022 and they just might use it to get some cap relief and quit paying top dollar to a position that doesn’t really deserve top dollar. But that’s about a year away.

The other decision they have to make about Elliott comes this fall when they must decide how much playing time to give him this season, and how much they should give to Tony Pollard.

The Cowboys have been slowly working Pollard into more of the running game over the last few years. Probably a little too slowly for many fans tastes, but they are making strides having the carries be more even. In 2019, Elliott had roughly 78% of the touches, in 2020 he had 70%. Last year Elliott was at 62% of carries so the trendline is going in the right direction if you want Pollard to get more touches.

Barnwell argues that Pollard should be in the lead role but notes that it’s unlikely the Cowboys will do that. With the money they are paying Elliott, along with their belief that his pass-blocking ability is a key factor, the Cowboys will likely keep going with Zeke as the main option. They rarely admit that they made a mistake in a contract signing.

Even so, Barnwell predicts a year where Zeke is used less than ever.

Projection for 2022: 180 carries for 802 yards and 8 TDs; 39 catches (58 targets) for 253 yards and 1 TD