Still, they were dominant for long periods, and much is expected of them in the upcoming season. They will have to hold off the Dallas Cowboys and perhaps the New York Giants in the NFC East, both of whom made the playoffs last year.
In this piece, we look at the key players who must step up in the NFC East this season.
The Eagles have talent and depth throughout their lineup, and many of the position battles involve depth players who are battling for spots on the second team.
Start with backup quarterback Marcus Mariota, who will have to perform if anything happens to MVP candidate Jalen Hurts. While Hurts has been consistent in training camp, Mariota has missed some throws in the early going.
Perhaps it’s because he is performing in a new offense after playing for the Atlanta Falcons last year, but accuracy has not been a strong suit for Mariota.
One key player who must step up is rookie defensive tackle Jalen Carter. Backup guard Sue Opeta was able to push him backward in a blocking drill, and that was a surprise. Carter was selected by the Eagles in the first round of the draft and was looked at as the best non-quarterback in the draft
NFC East Rivals: Cowboys, Giants, and Commanders Look to Challenge
The Cowboys believe their roster matches up with the Eagles quite well, but if they are going to catch and pass Philadelphia, Dak Prescott needs to step up. Prescott is coming off a turnover-plagued season. He completed 261 of 394 passes for 2,860 yards with 23 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. No quarterback threw more interceptions than Prescott, and that can’t happen again.
The Cowboys have two other skill-position players who must prove themselves in 2023. Tony Pollard is the No. 1 running back after running for 1,007 yards and 9 TDs a year ago. However, Ezekiel Elliott is no longer on the roster, and Pollard has to handle the running game responsibility himself.
Newcomer Brandin Cooks appears to be the ideal complement to CeeDee Lamb at wide receiver. Cooks has dynamic speed and playmaking ability, and he should make the downfield passing game more dangerous than it has been.
The Giants were a playoff team last year, and that was a surprise as head coach Brian Daboll got the best out of this team. Quarterback
Daniel Jones showed improvement from start to finish, but he is not in the top half of NFL quarterbacks. The Giants believe he can rise to that status after completing 317 of 472 passes for 3,205 yards with 15 TDs and 5 interceptions.
Of course, he’s a brilliant runner for the position after gaining 708 and scoring 7 touchdowns a year ago. But the Giants need him to demonstrate growth as a passer if they are going to return to the playoffs.
The Giants are hoping for significant improvement from their receivers. They ranked last in passing plays of 20 yards or more last season. The addition of star tight end Darren Waller will help, but the Giants need speedy wide receiver Parris Campbell to bring sudden-strike ability to this unit.
Cornerback Adoree Jackson is one of the most talented players at his position in the league. He needs to play to that ability and make more big plays. He has just 3 interceptions in his 6-year career, and that’s not good enough.
The Commanders have a long way to go to earn respect in the division, but there is at least the hope of improvement now that Daniel Snyder has been replaced as owner by Josh Harris. On the field, the Commanders need to find a solid starting quarterback.
The battle between Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett should last most of the summer. Howell may have a small edge, but Brissett has been quite capable during his stops in New England, Indianapolis, Miami, and Cleveland.
The team’s greatest strength is its pass rush with Daron Payne (11.5 sacks), Montez Sweat (8.0 sacks), and Jonathan Allen (7.5 sacks) doing most of the damage. However, defensive end Chase Young is the most talented of the group, and if he can stay healthy and motivated, the Commanders may play shockingly effective defense and surprise some of their division rivals.
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