What you need to know about the NFC East


DeSean Jackson and Jay Gruden during minicamp. (John McDonnell / The Washington Post)

The NFC East was arguably the most disappointing division in the league last season. So much talent, so much of it  injured and struggling or battling with coaches and still struggling. (We’re looking at you, Tony Romo, Eli Manning and Robert Griffin III.) There was only so much the Philadelphia Eagles could do to uphold the division’s honor.

This year, though, nearly all that has changed.

Dallas Cowboys

Top story line – Ordinarily, the general manager of a team like this might be in trouble, but this the team run by its owner. And, besides, the Cowboys finished 8-8 somehow and nearly were in the running for a playoff berth.

Key acquisition – It’s not like the team had the salary-cap room to make splashy free agent signings, so management contented itself with passing on Johnny Manziel with the No. 16 pick in the draft (even though it upended the natural order of the universe) in order to take offensive tackle Zach Martin to help protect Romo.

Biggest lossSean Lee was lost for the season on the first day of organized team activities.

New York Giants

Top story line – Was last season an anomaly or are the Giants thisclose to a tear-down? Can Eli Manning rebound from a decidedly non-elite season or is this the beginning of the end?

Key acquisition – The offensive line was one big reason for Manning’s struggles and the team signed guard Geoff Schwartz, a free agent from Kansas City, right after the market opened. (On Monday, stalwart lineman Chris Snee retired.)

Biggest loss – The loss may turn out to be a mild one, but Justin Tuck opted to head for Oakland.

Philadelphia Eagles

Top story line – Just how smart is Coach Chip Kelly? Smart enough that the decision to allow DeSean Jackson to leave for a division rival won’t come back to haunt him badly? Can Kelly and Nick Foles — whom Kelly expects to move from “good” to “great” this season — compensate for the loss of such a talented player (who now has a chip on his shoulder for at least two key games this season)?

Key acquisition – Darren Sproles may be 31, but the Eagles love his speed and intelligence.

Biggest loss – DeSean Jackson. Period.

Washington Redskins

Top story line – While the debate over the team’s nickname continues, it feels a lot like 2012 with RGIII healthy again and looking at a smorgasbord of offensive weapons that now includes…DeSean Jackson.

Key acquisition – It’s too easy to say DeSean Jackson. The key acquisition, really, is Coach Jay Gruden. Not that replacing Mike Shanahan will be difficult after a three-win season, but, in his rookie season, Gruden has to make sure offensive coordinator Sean McVay keeps all the stars happy.

Biggest loss – For better or worse, it’s that knee brace RGIII wore last season.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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Des Bieler · July 22

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