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NFL Draft

Why No One Should Aspire To Win NFC (L)East In 2020

  • The Draft Network
  • October 21, 2020
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To quote the iconic comments from Herm Edwards, "you play to win the game!" I get it, I really do. But for each of the NFC East's four teams, the objective of winning the division and punching a ticket to the postseason is a slippery, dangerous slope. Because each of these four football teams inevitably feel like they're on the cusp of some pretty massive changes—and none of them should want to muddy the waters by creating false confidence in the current directions that each of the four teams are currently on.

2020 is weird in a lot of different ways, and it's going to get even weirder for fans in the NFC East. Because you should be rooting that your team doesn't win the division in 2020. Seriously. Look at each team on a case by case basis and you'll find arguably more harm than good that will come from a 2020 division title.

Dallas Cowboys (2-4, 1st place)

Things have turned so sour in Dallas that the team is starting to experience reports of malcontents within the locker room toward the team's brand new coaching staff. And you can be rest assured that a 2-4 start and the prospect of losing the team's franchise quarterback for the season isn't what Jerry Jones had in mind when he hired Mike McCarthy to commandeer head coaching duties. And yet here we are. And the Cowboys, who are a banged up, bruised bunch that desperately need an infusion of talent into the secondary, currently lead the division with twice as many losses as they have wins.

The team had quite the talented cornerback on the roster in 2019, but the team had to let Byron Jones walk in free agency due to his cost relative to the other contracts the team had given out. Not among those contracts? Dak Prescott, who will presumably be back under the franchise tag once again next year after a scorching pace as a passer that appeared to have him positioned to challenge the single-season yardage record (while on the franchise tag as Dallas continues to get cute with their negotiations with Prescott).

Prescott isn't getting any cheaper. The rest of the roster isn't getting any younger. And this coaching staff is a dumpster fire through the first six games of the season. There's little optimism from a salary cap perspective, a coaching perspective, or from a talent perspective in critical areas on the team.

So winning the NFC East would do what, exactly? Punch a ticket to the postseason that would almost assuredly end with getting shellacked and costing the team anywhere from 8-10 spots in the draft order while potentially extending the commitment to McCarthy's staff? No thank you. If Dallas is going to enter a "prove-it" year and finish with a losing record, it should signify massive, sweeping changes within the organization. A postseason berth runs the risk of diverting attention to all that is wrong with "America's Team."

Philadelphia Eagles (1-4-1, 2nd place)

The Eagles are at a fascinating intersection as a football team. Their cap forecast is slightly more forgiving than Dallas' given the fact that quarterback Carson Wentz is already under contract and the team can big to strip away some of their egregious veteran contracts this offseason (hello, Alshon Jeffery). And with a Super Bowl-winning coach in Doug Pederson, it is easy to identify the issues with the Eagles' team: they're really, really injured. But that's what happens after several seasons of pretending the salary cap is monopoly money that won't eventually come back to bite you: you lose out on depth and as the team gets older, injuries become more prevalent.

This was supposed to be a win-now franchise in 2020. But the team neglected the second level of their defense in the offseason and the team's overhaul of the skill group has been shredded by injuries, as has the offensive line. So why not win the NFC East this year? Philadelphia is a half a game behind Dallas with two head-to-head matchups left.

An NFC East title keeps the Eagles' roster construction in the here and now: but in reality this team should be leaning into a quasi-rebuild. There will be additional losses for the team as they look to shed cap and if the team continues to press for winning now because they feel they're "close" thanks to a division title, we may continue to see this team chasing its own tail for the next few years.

Because if the first six games of 2020 are any indication, the Eagles aren't close at all. They need to overhaul the linebackers, continue to transition their skill positions, add depth in the secondary, and identify several new starters on the B-level of the defense.

New York Giants (1-5, 3rd place)

Lets call a spade a spade here: anything that gives Giants general manager Dave Gettleman ammunition in an argument as to why he should continue to be in control of building New York's roster should be promptly stiff-armed. Period.

Washington Football Team (1-5, 4th place)

Washington, unlike the rest of the teams in the NFC East, has recently undergone a shift in management with the upheaval of Bruce Allen this past offseason. That's a win. But with that win comes another loss: the Washington Football Team's recent first-round investment in Dwayne Haskins appears to be sunk cost at this point. New head coach Ron Rivera has relegated Haskins to the third-string quarterback gig after presumably bragging about his stats in a loss to Baltimore.

With that report common knowledge, Washington is going to have a hell of a time getting anything in return for Haskins, which means the team is going to need all the leverage they can find in securing the draft capital to start the next era off with a new franchise quarterback that fits what Rivera is looking for. You know what isn't going to give Washington the draft capital necessary to draft a quarterback of Rivera's choice? Winning the division at 6-10 and drafting 19th.

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