NFC East Defensive Power Rankings for the 2017 NFL Season
The NFC East is one of the toughest divisions to be in, especially when considering the talent on the defensive sides of each team. The teams are closer in terms of power when compared to some of the other divisions, and, in some areas, there’s almost nothing between them. Let’s take a look at NFC East defensive power and determine their potential for the season ahead.
Washington Redskins 4th in the NFC East Defensive Power Ranking
Although they’re at the bottom of the NFC East table in defensive power ranking, they’re still at least in the top 20 of the NFL. The Redskins defensive coordinator is Greg Manusky, and he’ll be utilizing a 3 – 4 defense for the team this season.The Redskins made some good improvements last season, including increasing the speed of their defensive game. They’ve taken the off season to address their defensive line, have drafted defensive end Jonathan Allen, and signed veteran defensive end Terrell McClain from the Dallas Cowboys. At the back of the defense they’ve got Montae Nicholson and Fabian Moreau fresh from the draft, and these rookies will start to create competition in the team which should allow the whole unit to lift its game. Expect these two names to become starters at some point during the season, because they are that good.Last season showed weaknesses with the Redskins failing to stop the pass, which is being addressed this year with the movement of Su’a Cravens, allowing for Zach Brown to move in as inside linebacker.The Redskins have done the necessary by addressing their weaknesses with acquisitions and movement in the team. While it’s not doing to put them ahead of the other teams in this position, it could help them to climb in the overall NFL defensive rankings before the end of the year.
Philadelphia Eagles 3rd in the NFC East Defensive Power Ranking
The Eagles will use a 4 – 3 defense under the coordination of Jim Schwartz. Ranked by many experts just outside the top 10 defensive teams in the NFL, they sit 3rd in our power rankings for the NFC East.The team could place higher in the power rankings if they were able to develop cornerbacks and linebackers that are more consistent in their performance. They have room to improve with turnovers, sacks, and could reduce the points that they are allowing per game. Even so, they’re above the average in the NFL and if it weren’t for the power defenses of the Cowboys and Giants then they would rank higher within their own division.If you’re expecting the defense to improve in 2017, there hasn’t been much movement or acquisitions to ensure it. Anything that does improve is going to come from the defensive coordination and the players themselves, so it will be interesting to see what the Eagles can achieve this year without having any big new names to work with.
Dallas Cowboys 2nd in the NFC East Defensive Power Ranking
The Cowboys had a strong 2016 season and gave up an average of just 19 points in each game. Despite this, they’re only just knocking on the door of the top 10 spots for defensive power rankings in the NFL. The team lost some of their best free agents, and now they’re looking at their own free agent acquisitions and draft picks to improve on the areas of the defense where they are lacking.The defensive squad will be young, especially with a number of drafts like Xavier Woods, Jourdan Lewis, and Chidobe Awuzie. The team also gained Nolan Carroll from the Eagles in cornerback. Perhaps the biggest strength to the Dallas defense will be Jaylon Smith. This is a player who is clearly a superstar in the making, but his rookie year was spent off the field as he recovered from surgery to repair serious ACL and LCL injuries. As yet, he’s unproven in the NFL, but his college record has all the signs of greatness. Smith will be taking part in contact drills at the end of July, and if he can play this year then the defense could become formidable.Rod Marinelli continues as defensive coordinator in 2017, and the team will run a 4 – 3 defense.
New York Giants 1st in the NFC East Defensive Power Ranking
In 2015 the Giants had a defense that could easily be described as abysmal. At best, it was weak and ineffective. Then, just a year later, the 2016 season saw the team with one of the best defenses in the league. They ranked second best in points allowed, and their impressive defense was even able to hold back the powerful offense of the Cowboys on two occasions. There are no major changes with the defense this year, which can only be seen as a good thing. The team doesn’t need massive amounts of new talent to make their defense work, because the players they need are already in the team. The most important gains are going to come from coaching and the experience of 2016’s players. The only loss that could really impact this defense is Jonathan Hankins. He’s headed off to the Indianapolis Colts, and Dalvin Tomlinson will be in to replace him. Tomlinson has had five years’ college experience playing for Alabama Crimson Tide, and was ranked the sixth best defensive tackle in the draft, by ESPN. Although it will take some adjusting, there’s no reason to expect that he can’t slot into Hankins’ role. The fact that not much has changed, means that the Giants easily rank first in the NFC East, and they should continue to be one of the strongest defensive sides in the NFL.