This is the NFC East Post Week 6 Report! Believe it or not, we are a third of the way through the 2022/23 NFL season. Up to this point, there is likely no more surprising division than the NFC East. They currently have the most teams in a division above .500. I bet you didn’t see that coming from the NFC “Least.”
Let me lay it out for you. This division is led by the Philadelphia Eagles and Jalen Hurts, who’s looking like a franchise quarterback, at 6-0. Brian Daboll showing he’s the real deal as he’s helped Daniel Jones and the offense to a 5-1 start. The Cooper Rush-led, not Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys are 4-2. Then rounding it out, the Washington Commanders at 2-4 are literally dragging multiple new injured players along each week of the season.
Let’s dive into the four teams and see what is going well and bad for these teams!
Philadelphia Eagles (6-0)
Offensive Rankings: No. 4 Overall, No. 13 Passing, No. 5 Rushing
Defensive Rankings: No. 4 Overall, No. 6 Passing, No. 15 Rushing
Jalen Hurts… the Franchise Quarterback?
One of the Philadelphia Eagles’ main goals in the offseason was to build around Jalen Hurts offensively. They wanted to make sure he had no excuses when they made the huge decision of whether or not to move forward with him as their franchise quarterback.
The addition of A.J. Brown has turned out to be huge. Brown currently ranks top 10 in the NFL in receiving yards. And the smaller addition of a guy like Zach Pascal has quietly paid dividends as well as Pascal ranks No. 13 in run blocking. The Eagles are the No. 4 ranked offense including No. 13 in passing at 238.5 yards per game. This is a huge step up from the No. 21 ranked Passing offense led by Jalen Hurts last season which averaged 202.7 yards per game.
Through six weeks, Jalen Hurts has a career-high 66.8-percent completion percentage and a career-best 1.1-percent interception rate. Not to mention, he’s also posted career bests in yards per attempt and yards per game. Hurts also continues to rush the ball 12.8 times per game for 48.8 yards per game with six total touchdowns on the ground.
There is still lots of season to go, but Jalen Hurts has shown improvement in many of the right places. Howie Roseman currently has a very interesting decision to make. Eagles fans won’t complain though!
Digging Deep in the Trenches
It’s no secret that Howie Roseman prioritizes his offensive line and front four defensive linemen. In the last 12 months the Eagles have made the following moves: Josh Sweat extension, Jordan Mailata extension, signed Haason Reddick, and drafted Jordan Davis and Cam Jurgens. The offensive line has been one of the best for a couple of seasons now, but the defensive line was generally disappointing last season.
On the defensive side, the Eagles have forced a league-leading 14 turnovers. They have forced nine interceptions and have recovered five fumbles. Haason Reddick has three forced fumbles, Brandon Graham one, and Fletcher Cox one. They are also No. 8 in quarterback knockdowns, No. 7 in sacks, and No. 6 in pressures. This front four has dominated games and has been a driving force behind a couple of the wins.
The Eagles’ offensive line is also performing extremely well. They have allowed the third-lowest pressures and second-lowest number of sacks. And as stated above, this rushing attack isn’t ranking in the top five solely because of Miles Sanders and Jalen Hurts. This offensive line paves the way for big rushes and opens up rushing lanes in their sleep.
Dallas Cowboys (4-2)
Offensive Rankings: No. 27 Overall, No. 27 Passing, No. 16 Rushing
Defensive Rankings: No. 8 Overall, No. 4 Passing, No. 19 Rushing
If Jerry Jones can crack jokes about a quarterback controversy, so can I! Dak Prescott fractured his thumb in Week 1, and Cooper Rush has taken over for the last four weeks. Rush is currently 5-1 when starting a game including 4-1 this season. He lost his first game to the now 6-0 Philadelphia Eagles.
In all reality though, the offense really hasn’t been good. They rank No. 23 in points for, No. 27 in yards for, and No. 28 in first downs. Cooper Rush has been playing smart and limiting turnovers. The Cowboys’ offense ranks No. 3 in turnovers with only five all season, and one of them was a Dak Prescott interception. Rush threw his first interceptions, three of them, against a tough Philadelphia Eagles defense while completing 57.7-percent of his passes.
It may not be pretty, but he does enough to get just the right amount of points on the board for wins. The Cowboys’ four wins were all by seven points or less. Dak Prescott started throwing last week and is back in action now. This is a much-needed boost for the Cowboys’ offense.
Micah Parsons – Defensive Player of the year already?
One thing is clear from last year and the early going of the 2022 season. The Dallas Cowboys nailed the Micah Parsons pick. The former No. 12 overall pick has become the core of a scary front four that ranks among the top five in the NFL.
The Dallas Cowboys are tied for third in hurries per dropback at 11.3-percent. They rank No. 4 in quarterback knockdowns per dropback at 13.3-percent. Plus they rank No. 1 in total sacks with 24 and are tops in the league in pressures per dropback at 32.4-percent.
Micah Parsons, through six games, is No. 1 in total pressures with 31, tied for No. 7 in quarterback hits with seven, and tied for the league lead in sacks with six. He is on pace for another monster season in a follow-up to his 2021 defensive rookie of the year showing. Across from Parsons, Demarcus Lawerance has three sacks and ranks tied for No. 8 among edge rushers with 25 total pressures. Dorance Armstrong also has 17 pressures and five sacks, which ties him for No. 10 among edge rushers.
They have absolutely dominated offensive lines that they should be dominating. This has played a major factor in helping the defense be successful and keep opponents to a third lowest 16.3 points per game. Their defensive line has been crucial to keeping them afloat while the Dak-less offense puts up the No. 10 lowest points per game at 18.3.
New York Giants (5-1)
Offensive Rankings: No. 25 Overall, No. 31 Passing, No. 4 Rushing
Defensive Rankings: No. 14 Overall, No. 8 Passing, No. 28 Rushing
Brian Daboll the Real Deal?
The New York Giants cleaned house of their coaching staff and front office in the offseason. They moved two key pieces from the Buffalo Bills ever so slightly South, current GM Joe Schoen, and head coach Brian Daboll.
Joe Schoen had to make some difficult decisions to cut some expensive contracts and repair the Giants’ roster. Brian Daboll looks to have things heading in the right direction before Schoen even gets to start putting his stamp on the roster. The Giants are currently 5-1, despite a very disappointing passing game and a porous rushing defense. While the Giants may not be getting a clear answer to their question of whether or not Daniel Jones is their franchise quarterback, they definitely have some pieces in place that have them ahead of schedule in their rebuild.
Brian Daboll has leaned on Saquon Barkley to make the offense run, literally. The Bills rank No. 4 in rush attempts per game with 32.6, No. 4 in rushing yards per game, and No. 8 in yards per attempt. The rushing attack is also responsible for eight of the 13 offensive touchdowns. It has also been a huge helper in controlling the time of possession with a No. 5 ranked average time of possession per game, 31:14.
In a pass-friendly NFL, the Giants have some major issues in the passing game. This includes Daniel Jones who has an average to above-average accuracy profile, especially with a clean pocket. However, Jones is being hindered by a struggling group of pass catchers. Jones’ receiver yards after the catch per target is No. 32 among QBs. While his receiver target separation ranks dead last among quarterbacks.
A Defense saved by Time of Possession?
With a strong rushing game, comes a solid control of the time of possession. This means a defense that sees less time on the field. The Giants’ offensive opponent’s average time of possession ranks No. 5 lowest at 28:45. The Giants’ defense has been good against the pass, but it is also seeing the No. 6 lowest pass attempts per game by opponents at 31. They get bonus points though because they are only allowing a 58.06-percent completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks which is good for No. 6 lowest in the NFL. They finally forced their first interceptions last week against Lamar Jackson.
Something seems off about this passing defense and their success. A schedule that includes: Cooper Rush, Ryan Tannehill, Baker Mayfield and Justin Fields can help skew numbers a bit. All four of those quarterback teams rank in the bottom six in passing offenses. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers have the No. 16 lowest passing offense in the league. While Lamar Jackson, and the Baltimore Ravens, have the No. 24 lowest passing offense in the league.
This shouldn’t be used to discount the unexpected success of the New York Giants. They didn’t make their schedule, of course. Brian Daboll is playing to his quarterback and the team’s offensive strengths, which has been huge to their success. Defensively, they have a lot of pieces to fill in, but it’s a major plus they can find success against offenses they should be able to do well against.
Washington Commanders (2-4)
Offensive Rankings: No. 24 Overall, No. 17 Passing, No. 24 Rushing
Defensive Rankings: No. 18 Overall, No. 16 Passing, No. 25 Rushing
Injuries, injuries & More Injuries
The Washington Commanders have been obliterated by injuries this year. It would explain their largely middle-of-the-pack presence in the majority of statistical categories.
Offensively, first-round pick Jahan Dotson has missed the last two weeks after garnering 12 receptions for 152 yards and four touchdowns in the first four weeks. Starting right tackle Sam Cosmi has missed the last two games as well. Despite allowing five sacks, he has been efficient given that he has played over 45 passing blocking snaps in all four games started.
Tight end Logan Thomas, coming off a torn ACL in Week 13 last season, is now dealing with a calf strain that has cost him two games as well. He had 13 receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown. Lastly, we can’t forget starting quarterback Carson Wentz will now miss 4 to 6 weeks with a fractured ring finger.
On the defensive side. They have been without star pass rusher Chase Young who is recovering from a torn ACL suffered in week 10 last season. They lost their 2022 2nd-round pick, defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis to a meniscus tear. Former starting outside cornerback, William Jackson III, while not injured, has become disgruntled, requested a trade, and has been benched by Ron Rivera.
Top defensive line?
Most people know by now the Washington Commanders have been building something special across the front four of the defensive line. The trio of Da’Ron Payne, Jonathan Allen, and Montez Sweat have looked scary in the early going. And this is without Chase Young, who is expected to be the core piece of this defensive line!
Payne and Allen, both rank in the top 10 among defensive tackles for pressures. Payne is tied for No. 5 with 21. Allen is right behind him in as he ranks No. 9 with 20. In the sack department, they rank No. 2 and No. 3 among defensive tackles, Allen has five sacks and Payne has four. This duo of tackles is a vital reason why through six weeks despite injuries and poor play across most of the team. These two average a pressure percentage of 29.3-percent. This is good for No. 3 in the NFL.
They also rank No. 1 among defenses in quarterback knockdowns (37) and Knockdown percentage (19.5-percent). Enter defensive edge Montez Sweat who has 10 quarterback knockdowns, himself. His previous career high was 11. Sweat also has 26 pressures, which is good for No. 5 among defensive edges.
We can expect all these categories to continue to remain high and get even better when Chase Young returns. The Washington Commanders are heading in the right direction on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately, the question of quarterback remains a sticking point.