Over the years in the NFL, the NFC East has established a reputation for having very good defensive lines and being very good at pressuring quarterbacks. Last year in 2011, 3 out of the top 5 NFC teams in sacks, were from the NFC East. RANK
The Eagles were tied for first in sacks with the Super Bowl Champ Giants at 3rd and the Cowboys 4th. Even the Redskins finished in the upper tier of the NFC coming in at 7th.
Individually, 3 out of the top 4 NFL pass rushers play on NFC East teams. Demarcus Ware (Dallas), Jason Babin (Phil.) and Jason Pierre-Paul (Giants) finished just behind Jared Allen of the Vikes.
A big part of the Giants success last year was their effective defensive line rotation which made life tough on opposing offensive lines. Must have seemed like a “Men in Black” movie with a constant bombardment of large, scary beast coming at you. And when the 4th quarter came around, a battle weary offensive line faced fresh beast coming at them.
The nightmare ended with the Giants as Super Bowl champs. Let’s face it, the formula works. In fact 4 out of the last 5 teams to win the super bowl finished in the top 3 teams in sacks.
If you are going to compete in the NFC East, your team better have a good offensive line. If not, it will be exposed.
And it’s not getting any easier next year:
Eagles- The Eagles who had 50 sacks last year and finished tied for first in the entire NFL with the Vikings, added more talent on the defensive line as if they needed it. In the NFL draft, they traded up to select Fletcher Cox who arguably was the best defensive lineman available in the draft and then later picked DE Vinny Curry who appears to have excellent pass rushing potential. The rich get richer you could say.
Cowboys- Demarcus Ware carried the load for the Cowboys last season finishing second in the NFL in sacks. The Cowboys used their 3rd round pick (second selection in the draft) to take DE Tyrone Crawford. A promising pass rush talent that plays with a good motor. Expected to get into the Cowboys rotation next season. While the Cowboys didn’t add much on the D-line in free agency, they have improved their secondary which may result in better QB pressure since the Cowboys blitz frequently in Coach Ryan’s scheme. At least that is the plan.
Having Your QBs Back:
Last year the Giants did the best job of protecting their QB in the NFC East allowing 28 sacks and 72 hits on QB. The Eagles were nearly as good at protection allowing 32 sacks and 72 hits on QB while the Cowboys and Redskins have the most improving to do. Dallas allowed 39 sacks and 89 hits on the QB and the Redskins allowed 41 sacks and an astounding 108 hits on their QBs.
By drafting RG3, the Redskins will have a QB with more “escapeability” so their numbers just may improve in those areas. However the less mobile QBs in the NFC East are going to have to rely on their O-lines to come through for them. The “Beasts in the East” refers to the defensive linemen that make life miserable for QBs.