2022 NFL Season Preview: NFC East
By: Logan Lepiscopo
It’s your year! Or so it seems for Cowboys fans over the last 26 years, will 2022 be any different. In free agency the Cowboys traded away Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns and brought in James Washington as a new WR on the depth chart. The Cowboys mostly stuck to keeping the team together resigning 12 players including Dalton Schultz and Michael Gallup. The Cowboys shocked many draft analyzers when offensive tackle Tyler Smith’s name was called night one of the draft. But the Cowboys backed it up with some picks I really liked; Sam Williams, Jalen Tolbert, and Matt Waletzko are a few worth mentioning.
Strengths: Running backs are the biggest strength for the Cowboys; Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard are one of the best duos in the league and despite Elliott slowing down production year after year he is still an X-factor for the offense. Dak Prescott is the man that keeps this team a playoff contender and favorites for the NFC East title. Defensively there are a small handful of good players, DeMarcus Lawrence, Micah Parsons, and Trevon Diggs. Diggs is very overrated in my eyes, he may have led the league in interceptions and seemed to be a ball magnet, but he also gave up the most receiving yards of all cornerbacks in 2021.
Weaknesses: The secondary, safeties and cornerbacks are weak. Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker are the starting safeties in Dallas, neither playing a full season of games and in 11 combined seasons (206 regular season games) they started just 65 combined. The cornerback group is no better, surrounding Diggs is Anthony Brown, Kelvin Joseph, and Jourdan Lewis. Diggs had the most allowed yards on completions of any defensive player, Anthony Brown ranked fourth out of all defensive players. Kelvin Joseph started just two games, and Jourdan Lewis allowed 686 yards on completed passes which ranked him 16th among all defensive players. The Cowboys offense is going to need to take a big step up despite losing Amari Cooper and La’el Collins, because this defense may allow 24-28 points per game.
Fly Eagles Fly! This offseason for Philadelphia has been one of the best among all NFL teams in 2022. Signing Hasson Reddick, James Bradberry, and re-signing Fletcher Cox and Anthony Harris. But the boom of the Eagles offseason was none other than the man by the name of A.J. Brown. The Eagles gave up the 18th overall pick and 101st overall pick in the 2022 draft, and by all means I would consider that well worth it for the Eagles. Speaking of the draft the Eagles did a perfect job, Jordan Davis and Cameron Jurgens drafted with the first two picks to work behind long time veterans Fletcher Cox and Cameron Jurgens. One of the steals of the draft, considered the best linebacker in the draft class putting his health conditions to the side.
Strengths: Offensive line is the best in the league, there is a perfect mix of veterans and young players on the Eagles starting offensive line. Defensively the line is tremendous and will remain as one of the best in the league, Hasson Reddick as the strongside linebacker will also give the pass rush and ability to contain the run that much better. Jalen Hurts may not be the greatest passer but his ability to run the football opens up this offense and makes him one of the strengths for this Eagles team. Dallas Goedert will remain a top target in the offense despite the addition of A.J. Brown. Devonta Smith and A.J. Brown is one of the better WR duos in the league and Quez Watkins is just a fine WR3 for Jalen Hurts and this offense.
Weaknesses: The running back position is not necessarily weak, but the fact the Eagles are not able to successfully establish a running game is a weakness. Hurts should not beat the leading rusher of this team with talent like Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell. I am not necessarily worried about the cornerback position because of how well Darius Slay played in 2021, but James Bradberry is coming off a weak season and the depth after those two is not ideal. Outside of Hasson Reddick I would also say that the linebacker position is incredibly weak for Philadelphia and will be their biggest issue this 2022 season. The Eagles will win the NFC East, this team is full of talent, and I think is better than the Dallas Cowboys and could perhaps win a playoff game.
It’s official, Washington has their team name for the future! Will Carson Wentz be the answer at quarterback? In free agency the Commanders added Charles Leno Jr., Andrew Norwell, Cornelius Lucas, and Trai Turner to help with the offensive line. The Commanders brought back J.D. McKissic after almost losing him to the Bills. The Commanders draft class was… unexpected to say the least. Washington held the number 11 overall pick and traded back to number 16 overall, taking Jahan Dotson when Jameson Williams, Chris Olave, and Treylon Burks were all still on the board. The Commanders had a few good late round picks, Cole Turner, Sam Howell, and Tulsa offensive guard Chris Paul.
Strengths: The Commanders defensive front is the biggest strength of this roster; Chase Young, Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, and Montez Sweat are one the youngest and most powerful fronts in the NFL. The starting three wide receivers represent the Big 10 well, Terry McLaurin just got paid, Curtis Samuel should be fully healthy, and Jahan Dotson was a first-round pick for a reason.
Weaknesses: The cornerback position is one to monitor for the Commanders, the team allowed 266 passing yards per game last season and 2 passing touchdowns per game. The team made no big changes to their corners and the safety position, Kendall Fuller was the third highest graded cornerback in the NFL last season but had no support outside of that. The linebacker position is another weakness for the Commanders, Cole Holcomb, David Mayo and second year player Jamin Davis were not good last season. In fact they are ranked in the bottom 10 linebacker groups according to PFF.
New York Giants
G-men nation, perhaps this could be the season you get back into the mix of an average NFL team. During free agency, the Giants brought in Mark Glowinski for the offensive line, Tyrod Taylor to compete with Daniel Jones, and a ton of other players that will provide good depth for the team. The Giants couldn’t have had a better first two picks in the 2022 draft picking Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal. Wan’Dale Robinsons was not my favorite pick, but he should be good as a fourth or fifth string wide receiver. The rest of the picks were alright and will more than likely all be slated as a backup or practice squad player.
Strengths: This might seem crazy, but I think that the Giants offensive line could be one of its strengths come week one of the 2022 NFL season. Andrew Thomas improved a ton from his rookie to sophomore year and will look to continue to improve in year three. Evan Neal was regarded as the best tackle in this year’s draft, and Mark Glowinski came from a highly respected Colts offensive line. A healthy Saquon Barkley behind this offensive line is another strength for the Giants. Saquon has not been of anything relevant since his rookie season, but this is the year for his comeback.
Weaknesses: Defense. Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, and Blake Martinez are the only three players I can comfortably say will produce for the Giants defense. The cornerback room is atrocious, Adoree’ Jackson shows some promise after a solid 2021 season but after him is a third-round rookie Cordale Flott, and Rodarius Williams… Williams played in just five games for the Giants last season and had one solo tackle. Xavier McKinney is a bright spot for the defense and has shown that over his first two seasons, but will his counterpart Julian Love be able to build off his 2021 season with seven pass deflections? Jihad Ward has not had a good NFL career, starting just 15 games in seven years and slated to be the starting left end for the Giants will not be beneficial. The Giants tight end position also is terrible; Ricky Seals-Jones as the starter with Jordan Akins as his backup… Expect Barkley to have a full workload this season.