- By Kimberley A. Martin The Washington Post
The Washington Redskins have another reason to dislike the Philadelphia Eagles. The defending Super Bowl champions are now comfortably nestled atop the NFC East after the Eagles' epic upset of the New England Patriots Sunday in Super Bowl LII. It was a frenetic, dramatic and downright dominant performance, led by none other than backup-turned-starter Nick Foles, who out-dueled Tom Brady, while Doug Pederson out-coached Bill Belichick every step of the way.
Now, the NFC East is the only NFL division in which all four teams have won at least one Super Bowl (The Dallas Cowboys have won five titles; the Giants have four and the Redskins have three). So, what does the Eagles' Super Bowl victory mean for the rest of the division, and more importantly, the Redskins?
The Eagles were by far the best team in the division during the regular season and they'll enter 2018 training camp the same way. But all four teams have critical needs to address and big questions to answer:
There's still plenty of time for roster tinkering via free agency and the NFL draft, but Washington altered the market with its stunning trade for Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith during Super Bowl week. The acquisition, which technically isn't official until the start of the new league year in March, signaled the Redskins are in win-now mode with a veteran quarterback with postseason experience. (The trade effectively ended the Kirk Cousins era in Ashburn, Virginia, too.) The addition of Smith could pay dividends if the Redskins tinker their system to suit his strengths, if Smith plays well and if he stays healthy. Those are a lot of "ifs."
Before the Redskins can think about dethroning the Eagles in the division, they first need to focus on ways to put together a competitive and successful team in 2018. Washington needs to be active in free agency and have a strong draft in April. The team has several holes to fill on defense, doesn't have enough playmakers and still needs to improve its running game (despite all of the backs that saw playing time this year). The Redskins have to address their needs at inside linebacker, left guard, cornerback and strong safety. Plus, they need a speed threat to stretch the field.
Just two seasons ago, the Cowboys went 13-3 and reached the divisional round of the playoffs with two rookies leading the way. But without star running back Ezekiel Elliott, who served a six-game suspension in 2017 on account of domestic violence allegations made by his former girlfriend, quarterback Dak Prescott and the offense struggled to find consistency. Although Dallas finished 9-7 in 2017, they missed the playoffs for the sixth time in the past eight seasons. Even worse for ultra-competitive owner Jerry Jones: the Cowboys haven't reached the Super Bowl since 1995.
Save for some tweaks to their position coaches, Jones didn't do much tinkering to his staff because he wanted to maintain continuity. And with Elliott back in 2018, the expectations remain high in Jerry's World.
The firings of head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese signaled a new day in East Rutherford. Reese's replacement, Dave Gettleman, tabbed former Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur as his head coach. Now, Shurmur has at his disposal a former Super Bowl MVP in quarterback Eli Manning and one of the NFL's best playmakers in Odell Beckham, Jr. Oh, and the Giants have the No. 2 overall pick in the draft after finishing 3-13.
With that said, the Giants are still an unknown. One one hand, it's hard for them to be any worse, right? But Manning just turned 37; Beckham, who's known as much for his on-and-off-the-field antics as he is for his gameday play, is coming off ankle surgery and is seeking a lucrative contract extension - a sticky situation for the new front office. Not to mention the Giants have several roster holes to fill, namely at offensive line .
It's always sunny in Philadelphia. And right now, the future looks bright for head coach Doug Pederson.
The Eagles' win over the Patriots was one for the ages - a classic David vs. Goliath tale. After being the underdogs of the postseason, despite their 13-3 regular-season record, the Eagles showed the football world that, with the right system and backup quarterback in place, anything's possible. But eventually, Philly's front office will have to turn the page on this historic win and focus on all of the lingering questions heading into the 2018 season.
Carson Wentz, who suffered a season-ending knee injury with only three regular-season games to go, is still the face of the franchise. But it's unclear how long it'll take Wentz to look and feel like himself again after undergoing major surgery. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen if Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles will still be on the roster by Week 1. The Eagles, who don't have a second- or third-round pick as of now, need to stockpile draft picks. Plus, several players who played a critical role in their Super Bowl season (LeGarrette Blount, Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Chris Long) all signed one-year deals last season.