32 in 32ish: NFL Preview — Washington Redskins

Over the course of 32 days (or so) I will be previewing all 32 NFL teams, followed by an overall season prediction post, leading up to the start of the 2014 season. This post is previewing the Washington Redskins.

The Redskins have been in the news a lot in recent months because of off-the-field controversy, but they were also in the news near the beginning of the offseason for firing former head coach Mike Shanahan and replacing him with Jay Gruden. After a disappointing 3-13 season in 2013, the team hopes to get closer to the 10-6 record it had in 2012 in QB Robert Griffin III’s rookie season.

Griffin had injuries that kept him out of three games and limited him in other games last season, causing his rushing numbers to go down significantly from 2012 to 2013 — from 815 yards and seven touchdowns to 489 yards and no rushing touchdowns. Last year’s passing numbers were fairly consistent with 2012’s, other than a sharp increase in interceptions from five to 12. WR Pierre Garcon was trhe quarterbacks’ favorite target last year by far, catching 113 balls for 1346 yards and five touchdowns. RB Alfred Morris led the team in rushing in his sophomore season, but he ran for 338 fewer yards and six fewer touchdowns than in 2012.

If Griffin can stay healthy through the season he should have a better year than he did last year, especially since the signing of WR DeSean Jackson gives him another weapon in the passing game to go with Garcon and TE Jordan Reed. Morris likewise needs to have a bounce-back year to get the offense back to its division-winning ways of 2012. The tough spots on the Redskins’ schedule include games against Super Bowl champion Seahawks, 49ers and Colts. With a healthy season to the key guys on offense, the Redskins will improve upon last year’s record, but the Eagles still look to be the best team in the division.

Source: http://www.redskins.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

32 in 32ish: NFL Preview — Philadelphia Eagles

Over the course of 32 days (or so) I will be previewing all 32 NFL teams, followed by an overall season prediction post, leading up to the start of the 2014 season. This post is previewing the Philadelphia Eagles.

Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense led to a 10-6 record and division title in his first season as the team’s head coach in 2013. The offense was ranked second in the league in yardage and fourth in points scored, led by a surprisingly strong performance by second-year QB Nick Foles in his 10 starts

Foles threw for nearly 2900 yards and 27 touchdowns while throwing just two interceptions in his 317 attempts after replacing veteran QB Michael Vick as the starter. RB LeSean McCoy led the league with 1607 rushing yardsa career high — and added another 539 receiving yards, giving him more than 2100 all-purpose yards, again the best in the league. The team’s leading receiver last year was WR DeSean Jackson, who signed with the division rival Redskins in the offseason. WR Riley Cooper was the team’s next leading receiver in terms of yards, with 835 yards and eight touchdowns.

Nobody expects Foles to repeat the performance he had last year — a 27:2 touchdown to interception ratio is pretty difficult to duplicate — especially with the loss of Jackson, whose departure leaves Cooper and WR Jeremy Maclinwho missed all of last season with a torn ACL — atop the depth chart. But with one of the league’s best running backs in McCoy, as long as Foles’ stats don’t take a nosedive this season, the team should have another good year. The Eagles have some tough games on their schedule against the Colts, Packers, 49ers and Seahawks, but they appear to still be the best team in the division and have a good shot at a second straight division title.

Source: http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

32 in 32ish: NFL Preview — New York Giants

Over the course of 32 days (or so) I will be previewing all 32 NFL teams, followed by an overall season prediction post, leading up to the start of the 2014 season. This post is previewing the New York Giants.

The Giants finished 2013 with a 7-9 record – their first sub-.500 record since 2004 — largely because the offense ranked 28th in the league in a season in which QB Eli Manning had a 3:2 interception to touchdown ratio and no running back had more than 500 yards rushing and the entire team had fewer rushing yards than both LeSean McCoy and Matt Forte,.

Manning had his worst season since 2008 with 3818 passing yards while his 18 touchdowns were his fewest since becoming the full-time starter in 2005 and his 27 interceptions were the most in his career and the most among all quarterbacks on the season. RB Peyton Hillis is the only returning running back from 2013; number two on this year’s depth chart at the position, he played in just seven games with the team last year, one start, running for 247 yards and two touchdowns. Last year’s top pass-catcher, WR Victor Cruz, returns this season after just missing the 1000-yard receiving mark in 2013. But WR Hakeem Nicks, who had the second-most receiving yards last year, is on the Colts this season.

If the Giants want to improve on last season’s record, Manning has to have a much better season than he did last year. The team is counting on newly signed RB Rashad Jennings — who has started a total of 17 games in his first five seasons in the league — to lead the running game while WR Rueben Randle is being asked to step into the role of the number two wide receiver to replace Nicks; he has 60 career catches for 909 yards in his first two seasons. The team’s schedule starts on the road against the offense-heavy Lions and includes back-to-back-to-back November games against playoff teams — including last year’s participants in the NFC Championship game, the Seahawks and 49ers.

Source: http://www.giants.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

32 in 32ish: NFL Preview — Dallas Cowboys

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Over the course of 32 days (or so) I will be previewing all 32 NFL teams, followed by an overall season prediction post, leading up to the start of the 2014 season. This post is previewing the Dallas Cowboys.

The Cowboys have finished each of the last three seasons with an 8-8 record, but if their defense is as bad as people think it might be this season, they might not reach the .500 mark this year. The team has never had a winning record under head coach Jason Garrett and another bad season could mean the end of his tenure in Dallas.

The Cowboys’ offense scored the fifth-most points in the league last year, but the defense gave up the seventh-most points, causing the team to lose some high-scoring games including a 51-48 loss against the Broncos. QB Tony Romo had a decent season with 3828 passing yards and 31 touchdowns despite missing week 17 with a back injury. His favorite targets are WR Dez Bryant and TE Jason Witten, who combined to catch 166 balls for over 2000 yards and 21 touchdowns. Rookie WR Terrance Williams had over 700 receiving yards and five touchdowns in just eight starts last year. RB DeMarco Murray ran for more than 1100 yards and nine touchdowns,

Romo is coming off offseason back surgery but is expected to be fully recovered by the start of the season. If he can stay healthy he should have another good year, especially if Williams has a breakout year in his second season, as you might expect him to have after the good numbers he put up last season when he started just half the team’s games. But the defense, which is expected to be even worse than last year, will probably hurt the Cowboys’ win-loss record again this year. The nondivisional games on the schedule that appear to be the toughest for the Cowboys include an opening game against the 49ers, a road game at Seattle, and home games against the Saints and Colts. The offense should be able to put points on the scoreboard, but if the defense is as bad as it could be the Cowboys may be hard-pressed to match their 8-8 records of the last couple years.

Source: http://www.dallascowboys.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

32 in 32ish: NFL Preview — New York Jets

Over the course of 32 days (or so) I will be previewing all 32 NFL teams, followed by an overall season prediction post, leading up to the start of the 2014 season. This post is previewing the New York Jets.

It’s been more than 40 years since the Jets last made the Super Bowl, and with an and an offense that ranked near the bottom of the league last year, it’s not looking like they’ll make it anytime soon without big improvements to the team. QB Geno Smith didn’t have a good year as a rookie in 2013, but if he doesn’t see much improvement this year, the team has a viable backup behind him that they can turn to in veteran QB Michael Vick. It’ll be up to head coach Rex Ryan to manage them in the way that best benefits the team.

Smith ranked 21st in the league last year with 3046 passing yards and his 12 touchdown passes put him 28th in the league, behind quarterbacks like Sam Bradford and Josh McCown who started just seven and five games, respectively; Smith started all 16 for the Jets. Meanwhile, Smith’s 21 interceptions were the fourth worst in the league. Smith’s receiving core wasn’t that good either. The team’s top pass catcher, WR Jeremy Kerley, had just 43 catches for 523 yards and three touchdowns. RB Bilal Powell got the most starts at the position but he finished second on the team in rushing yards to Chris Ivory’s 833. The offseason signing of former Titans RB Chris Johnson — who has never had fewer than 1000 rushing yards in a season — could shake up the position in 2014.

Smith has been named the starter to begin the season but Vick will likely take over the job by season’s end. A team probably doesn’t sign a player like Vick to have him hold a clipboard while Smith plays. The situation at running back should also be interesting. Does Johnson eventually start over the returning guys? The Jets’ schedule is front-loaded with tough games, playing five of their first 10 games against teams that made the playoffs last year before easing a bit after their bye.

Source: http://www.newyorkjets.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

32 in 32ish: NFL Preview — New England Patriots

Over the course of 32 days (or so) I will be previewing all 32 NFL teams, followed by an overall season prediction post, leading up to the start of the 2014 season. This post is previewing the New England Patriots.

The Patriots have been the model of consistency since the turn of the century, making the playoffs 11 times since 2001, including three Super Bowl championships. With head coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady still at the helm of the team, you should expect another successful season for the team. The Patriots have won 12 games each of the last two seasons and a third straight season is definitely possible. If everything goes right for the team, more than a dozen wins isn’t out of the question, especially since their division is a fairly easy one.

Some people considered Brady’s 2013 season to be a disappointment, but his 4343 passing yards put him sixth in the league in that category and his 25 touchdown passes had him missing the top 10 by one. Most teams would probably like to have a quarterback put up those kinds of numbers. Brady’s numbers look even more impressive when you consider that his top target, TE Rob Gronkowski, played only seven games — six starts — and caught just 39 balls. WR Julian Edelman led the team in receptions, with 105 for 1056 yards. The drop-off to the second-most receptions was significant; WR Danny Amendola had 54 catches in just six starts. No running back started more than seven games for the Pats, and that was LaGarrette Blount, who is with the Steelers this season. The team’s returning running backs, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen combined for just shy of 1000 yards in seven total starts.

If guys like Gronk and Amendola can stay healthy — a big “if” considering their injury histories the last couple of seasons — this offense should be able to compete with any other team in the league. The Pats play a couple tough defenses in the first few weeks of the season, with back-to-back primetime games against the Chiefs and Bengals, who ranked fifth and sixth in defense, respectively, last season. Other obstacles on the schedule include a likely shootout at home against the Broncos before the Pats’ bye. After the bye, they face three games that could be tough: at the Colts, home against the Lions and at the Packers. The Pats finish the season with three divisional games, one against each of their in-division rivals. Again, the AFC East should be the Pats’ to lose if they play anywhere near their expectations.

Source: http://www.patriots.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

32 in 32ish: NFL Preview — Miami Dolphins

 

Over the course of 32 days (or so) I will be previewing all 32 NFL teams, followed by an overall season prediction post, leading up to the start of the 2014 season. This post is previewing the Miami Dolphins.

2013 was not a good season for the Dolphins. The team finished with a .500 record, but that’s not what people are going to remember about the season. What people will remember is the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying scandal that dominated the headlines for much of the season and led to both players leaving the team.

On the field, the offense ranked in the bottom third of the league. QB Ryan Tannehill had decent numbers, throwing for 3913 yards and 24 touchdowns. WRs Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline both had good years. Wallace caught 73 passes for 930 yards and five scores while Hartline caught 76 ballsPatriots for 1016 yards and four touchdowns. TE Charles Clay added another 69 for 759 and found the endzone six times. RB Lamar Miller got most of the running duties, starting 15 games with just over 700 yards and two touchdowns while the number two RB Daniel Thomas ran for 406 yards and four scores.

Looking ahead, with the core of the offense returning from last season — for better or worse — you probably can’t expect much of an improvement over last season’s 8-8 record because the players’ talent is what it is. It looks like the Dolphins should expect to play in a few shootouts with games against teams with strong offensive attacks, such the Packers, Bears, Lions, Broncos and of course two after the division-rival Patriots. It’s looking like a six- to eight-win season for the Joe Philbin-led team.

Source: http://www.miamidolphins.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com