NFC East Preview
2007 Record: 13-3
Key Additions: LB Zach Thomas, CB Pacman Jones
Lost: RB Julius Jones, CB Jacques Reeves, CB Nathan Jones
Drafted: Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas, Mike Jenkins, CB, USF, Martellus Bennett, TE, Texas A&M, Tashard Choice, RB, Gtech
Outlook for ’08: Regardless of what the team’s regular season record is, Tony Romo might fall out of favor quickly in Dallas if the team fails to show up in the post-season again. Still, Romo and Terrell Owens have great chemistry together and should continue to give opposing defensive coordinators nightmares. The addition of Zach Thomas gives the defense a veteran leader in the middle, and he might be old, but he is still a tackling machine. If Pacman Jones is reinstated by the league, the Cowboy's cornerback tandem could be one of the best. Even if Jones can’t play this year, rookie Mike Jenkins could have an immediate impact. Strong cornerback play will be important for the Cowboys if Roy Williams continues to be such a liability in pass-coverage. It looked like Marion Barber was going to be the team’s feature-back after they let Julius Jones go, but after picking up Felix Jones and Tashard Choice in the draft, Dallas will have too much talent in the backfield to just give the ball to one guy.
New York Giants-
2007 Record: 10-6
Key Additions: S Sammy Knight, QB David Carr, LB Danny Clark
Lost: S Gibril Wilson, LB Kawika Mitchell, LB Reggie Torbor
Drafted: Kenny Phillips, S, Miami, Terrell Thomas, CB, USC, Mario Manningham, WR, Michigan, Bryan Kehl, LB, BYU, Jonathan Goff, LB, Vanderbilt, Andre Woodson, QB, Kentucky
Outlook for ’08: The biggest question surrounding the Giants is whether Michael Strahan will retire. He is an unquestioned team leader and the attention he commands from the offensive game plan is a big reason for the success of the defensive line and the defense as a whole. Eli Manning should have a lot more confidence after winning a Super Bowl, and people might start viewing him as the leader of an offense that has the potential to be very good. They have a deep stable of runningbacks, and Mario Manningham gives them a vertical speedster on the outside to compliment Plaxico Burress. Although a few players from their championship roster are on different teams, the Giants did a good job of addressing those needs in the draft and free agency. Gibril Wilson was probably their biggest loss, and they replaced him by signing veteran Sammy Knight and selecting the best safety in the draft, Miami's Kenny Phillips.
2007 Record: 9-7
Key Additions: None
Lost: QB Mark Brunell, WR Brandon Lloyd
Drafted: Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State, Fred Davis, TE, USC, Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma, Chad Rinehart, T, Northern Iowa, Justin Tryon, CB, Arizona State, Colt Brennan, QB, Hawaii
Outlook for ’08: As the former quarterbacks coach of the Seahawks, new head coach Jim Zorn should be the right guy to develop Jason Campbell and realize his potential. Campbell will remain the starter and will get his opportunity to run the offense, but it didn’t help that reserve Todd Collins stepped in and led the team into the playoffs when he got hurt. Clinton Portis is entering his 7th year in the league, but is still one of the top running backs in the league and should still be in his prime as he will only be 27 years old by the time the season starts. The organization did a good job of instilling the offense with young talent, and the Redskins top three picks (receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly and tight end Fred Davis) could each see a fair-share of passes thrown their way. The size that Thomas and Kelly will provide on the outside is something Washington's offense has lacked for quite some time. It will be interesting to see if new defensive coordinator Greg Blache can keep the defense playing at a high level and match the success he had as the director of Chicago's defense in the early 2000's. LaRon Landry could be one of the best safeties in the NFL and could take over right where the late Sean Taylor left off.
Redskin's QB Jason Campbell will get a chance to flourish with a new offensive-minded head coach and a young receiving corps.
Getty Images/Matthew Stockman
2007 Record: 8-8
Key Additions: CB Asante Samuel, DE Chris Clemons, RB Lorenzo Booker
Lost: DE Jevon Kearse, CB William James, LB Takeo Spikes
Drafted: Trevor Laws, DT, Notre Dame, DeSean Jackson, WR, Cal, Bryan Smith, DE, McNeese State, Matt McGlynn, T, Pitt, Quintin Demps, S, UTEP
Outlook for '08: Injuries really hurt the team's potential last year, and the offense will look much better if they start the season with a healthy quarterback. With one of his favorite targets, tight end L.J. Smith, back in the lineup and a strong rushing attack to support him, Donovan McNabb could be poised for a Pro Bowl season if he proves to be durable enough. The addition of Asante Samuel gives the Eagles one of, if not the best, secondaries in the league, and the defense as a whole should make more plays with all of the speed and youth the team added to that side of the ball. DeSean Jackson will give the team a threat in the return game for the first time in years.
Andrew Pluta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org