What the NFC East Coaches Are Saying About the 2017 Season
With teams like the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys, the NFC East is a seriously tough division. The Cowboys have dominated (in terms of titles) throughout the history of the division, placing first on 22 occasions. 2016 again was a good year for the Cowboys, as they won the division and ended up with a 13 – 3 record for the season. However, historical performance doesn’t always translate to results, and we’ve seen every one of the four division teams place first in recent years.2017 is not a foregone conclusion, and here’s what the head coaches from the division have to say about the upcoming season.
Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett
The Cowboys had a strong season before their hopes came to an end with a defeat to the packers in the Divisional Playoffs. The close three-point deficit made it all the more painful. This year they are returning with head coach Jason Garrett, for what will be his seventh season as head coach. What does he have to say about the year ahead? Garett hasn’t spoken much in recent weeks, but he did talk briefly about his strategy for the minicamp last month. Talking to journalists he referred to the minicamp as “A little bit like the in-season schedule so we try to simulate a work week within that minicamp, what it would look like on a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday during the regular season. But the tempo of practice, the meetings, all that stuff will be consistent with what it’s been the last few weeks.”Some are speculating that discipline could be a problem in the Dallas camp, with linebacker Damien Wilson being arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon earlier this month. This is Wilson’s third season with the Cowboys, and it goes against the “right kind of guy” ideal that Garrett holds for the players. Some say that the team is spiraling out of control, but the facts (and recent results) would suggest otherwise.
New York Giants Head Coach Ben McAdoo
The Giants also had a relatively strong season with a 11 – 5 record, but came up second in the NFC East division. They will continue this year under the coaching of Ben McAdoo, which will be his second year with the team. With good form last year, the team are hoping to make the Playoffs and there are even murmurs of Super Bowl aspirations. There was some drama earlier this year when Odell Beckham was a no-show at mandatory training sessions. McAdoo was indirect with his criticism, but there could be something behind the words. Speaking at a press conference he told the crowd that “You want all your players here, especially your great players. It’s a time to build fundamentals and communication and chemistry and trust, so you want all your players here, especially the great ones. They facilitate a lot of those things for you, but you coach who’s here. That’s what time of year it is for us.”In other feedback in training, McAdoo singled out Darian Thompson as a promising rookie, as well as B.J. Goodson. In general, McAdoo has been positive about the young players during the offseason, which could mean that he’s going to be pushing hard to bring some of the newer players through the ranks.When pressed about the starting team for the year, McAdoo was not giving anything away, leaving the press conference with a simple “I don’t even know who the team is right now.”
Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson
Pederson is back in his second year as head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles, with the team hoping to turn around a poor 7 – 9 record, and a dead last placing in the NFC East division. Nelson Agholor, wide receiver for the Eagles, was something of a disappointment last year when he seemed to have lost some of his confidence. This year, Pederson has spoken positively about Agholor and hinted at his form for the season ahead. When speaking to ESPN, Pederson said that “Competition, man, sharpens you. And that’s what I’ve seen from Nelson. He’s done a great job already this spring.” Is this Pederson trying to put some confidence back into Agholor, or has he seen something in training that suggests Agholor will have a good year? Other news to come out recently is that the Eagles and the Miami Dolphins will share a practice session later this year. This is indicative of Pederson’s style and willingness to do things that are outside of the box. He said of the decision, “Your team has been beating on each other for a few weeks, and then you get a chance to practice against somebody else in a controlled environment. It’s good. Then you have an opportunity to play a game a couple days later.”The coach is not making any predictions regarding the season ahead, so we’ll have to wait and see if he can start to turn the team around in his second year.
Washington Redskins NFC East Head Coach Jay Gruden
The Redskins failed to qualify for the playoffs last season, and ended with an unflattering record of 8 – 7 – 1. This year they will continue with head coach Jay Gruden, for his fourth season with the team. The team is currently without a general manager, which could impact stability moving forward.Regardless of a vacant GM spot, Gruden is positive about the season ahead. When speaking earlier in the year, he quipped “I don’t know why everybody is so doom and gloom around here. We’re excited.”Gruden has also spoken positively about Kirk Cousins, a player who doesn’t have a deal with the Redskins beyond this season. Retaining Cousins would be a boost to the team, but as yet there has been no confirmation of a deal. Other teams are also actively seeking the services of Cousins for 2018. Speaking about the quarterback, Gruden said that he wasn’t concerned about the deadline. Instead, he was focused on the season ahead, saying that “I know he’ll be here this season, and that’s all I care about. Whatever happens, happens with him and his agent and our organization. I’m excited to coach Kirk for a third year in a row.”The Redskins at least have a team and an organization in place for the rest of the year, but it will be interesting to see how their season develops, and whether they can strike a deal with Cousins before the July contract deadline.