The NFL’s Comedy Club: The NFC East


Nicola Veltri, Staff

When the NFL’s 2019 regular season came to an end, there seemed to be an endless amount of questions about the direction of the league. Are Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson the bright young faces of professional football? Is a high-powered, lightning-speed offense going to become the latest style around the league? Can Tom Brady and Bill Belichick make one more championship run together? Among all these questions, there was an entire division of teams left behind; the NFC East.

The Philadelphia Eagles secured a playoff appearance after winning a close race for the 2019 NFC East crown. Nine wins, seven losses, and a four-game win streak to end the season did the job, but the rest of the league had trouble containing their laughter. In week 14, just three weeks before the season finale, every team in the East division of the NFC had a losing record. With the New York Giants and Washington Football Team fighting for last place, it was the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles (both 6-7) racing to be the best team in the worst division. The Eagles ended up with a crucial victory over Dallas in week 16, giving them a one game advantage. Dallas went on to finish 8-8, cementing the 2019 NFC East division as one of the worst divisions of the decade. One team had a winning record, by only one game, and NFL fans surely thought they had seen the worst of the division.

We are now over the halfway point in the 2020 regular season, and teams in the NFC East have truly outdone themselves. Forget a winning record, these teams are focused on getting the win/loss columns evened out. Currently, the injury-ridden Eagles are limping at the top of the division with a 3-4-1 record. However, the remaining teams aren’t far behind, as they all have two wins each. It may be a close race, but that does not mean the NFC East is as competitive as it should be. As of today, the total record of the NFC East is 9-24-1, and that record turns into an abysmal 2-17 when playing teams outside of the division.

This leaves most of us wondering why the NFC East is so bad. A frequent argument is three out of four teams have new coaches. I don’t buy this argument because these are not inexperienced coaches and they have good rosters. Philly’s Doug Pederson and Dallas’s Mike McCarthy each have a Super Bowl ring to show off. Washington’s Ron Rivera is no rookie either, as he has a Super Bowl appearance as a head coach. Giants coach, Joe Judge, may be a first-year head coach, but he was on the Patriots coaching staff for three Super Bowl wins.

What else could it be? This season, injuries are certainly a factor. The Eagles cannot shake the injury bug and have a handful out each week. The Giants and Cowboys have lost star players, Saquon Barkley and Dak Prescott, to season-ending injuries.

As fans, it would be criminal to ignore the role each team’s front office and ownership has on the current state of the NFC East. The Eagles have been relatively lucky in this area when compared to their division rivals. Let’s start with the worst of the worst; dusty old Dave Gettleman of the New York Giants. Since his hiring in December of 2017, the Giants are 11-30 under his reign. That is a league worst, despite the Cleveland Browns finishing the 2017 season at 0-16.

Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, has developed an interesting stubbornness in his old age. At 78, Jones refuses to hire a General Manager, believing he is more than capable of doing the job himself. In the last few years, the league has shifted, and it’s clear the Cowboys need a GM.

The Washington Football Team has its own issues. The franchise hasn’t been able to keep a GM, but Dan Snyder’s lack of initiative and understanding as an owner speaks for itself. The franchise recently decided to move on from the “Redskins” name but only after receiving serious pressure from shareholders and investors.

It’s hard to believe the Eagles won it all just two years ago. Today, the four storied franchises, totaling 13 Super Bowl wins, continue to play hot potato with the division crown as the ship sinks deeper and deeper. Meanwhile, the rest of the league moves forward.

Maybe there’s a much simpler reason. Perhaps it’s just strange luck that we’re all witnessing such an atrocious group of football teams. Maybe the football gods knew we would need a good laugh during such a difficult year. I’d like to think it’s a little bit of both, for the sake of the NFC East.