Good News/Bad News (2013 NFC East)

By Russell S. Baxter

Pro Football Guru

And down the stretch we come.

It may technically still be the offseason, but there’s never a bad time when it comes to reminiscing NFL-style.

Here’s the seventh of our eight divisional reviews of the 2013 season, in which we look at the positives and negatives for all 32 teams, with a twinge of recent history and trends as well. We’ve already taken a look at the NFC West, the AFC West, the NFC South, the AFC South, the NFC North and the AFC North.

Ahead is the division that has been won by a team with 10 wins or less four consecutive seasons: the NFC East.

Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)

Good News: After finishing near the middle of the NFL pack in rushing offense during head coach Andy Reid’s final season with the team, the Eagles led the league in yards gained on the ground in Chip Kelly’s debut season in the City of Brotherly Love. The team was paced by Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy, who gained an NFL-high 1,607 yards rushing and also amassed a league-high 2,146 yards from scrimmage. The Eagles, Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots were the only teams to rank in the Top 10 of the NFL in total offense, rushing yards and passing yards this past season…

Thanks in part to second-year quarterback Nick Foles and his astounding showing, the Eagles turned around their turnovers issues. The previous two seasons (2011-12), the Birds had coughed up the ball an astounding 75 times in 32 games and forged a 12-20 record. In the first year of the Kelly Era, Philadelphia committed only 19 turnovers in their 10-6 campaign. And Foles was simply amazing, throwing for 27 scores, running for three touchdowns and committing a mere four turnovers--equally divided between interceptions and lost fumbles…

Bad News: It is worth noting that dating back to realignment in 2002 the Eagles are one of five franchises to win at least six division titles. Philadelphia trails only the New England Patriots (10), Indianapolis Colts (8) and Green Bay Packers (7) and is tied with the Seattle Seahawks (6) in this department. However, it is also worth noting that the Eagles are the only team on this list not to win a Super Bowl over this time span…

Despite winning their final four regular-season home games this past season, the Eagles still wound up with just a 4-4 mark on their own field and subsequently lost to the visiting New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card Playoffs. It marked the fourth consecutive year that the Birds failed to manage a winning record at Lincoln Financial Field. Dating back to 2010 and including a pair of playoff losses to the Packers (2010) and Saints, the Eagles are a mere 13-21 in their own building…

Dallas Cowboys (8-8)

Good News: Quarterback Tony Romo continues to put up big numbers in terms of touchdown passes in Dallas’ aerial-oriented attack and for the most part, they’ve been pretty impressive. In 47 regular-season games dating back to 2011, the former undrafted free agent has thrown 90 touchdown passes compared to just 39 interceptions. What’s interesting is that Romo’s miscues seem to come in bunch, with 23 of those picks coming in eight games. Still, Dallas is just 24-23 in those 47 contests, which tells you more about the other aspects of the team…

While Jason Garrett’s club had its shortcomings last season, it did improve on its ability to take away the football…to a point. After forcing a mere 16 turnovers in as many games in 2012, the Cowboys totaled 28 takeaways this past season. Of course, it’s also worth noting that Garrett’s team accumulated three-quarters of their opponent’s miscues (21) in the team’s first nine games…

Bad News: Isn’t 8-8 enough? Since winning the NFC East in 2009 with an 11-5 record, Dallas is a combined 30-34 the last four years, finishing without a winning record each of those campaigns. The Cowboys have also finished at exactly .500 each of the last three seasons and also have the distinction of being able to win a division title on the final regular-season Sunday each of those years, only to fall short each time…

A year after finishing next-to-last in the NFL in rushing offense in 2012, Dallas “improved” to 24th this past season. The lack of offensive balance remained an issue for Garrett’s club. All told, the Cowboys were limited to fewer than 100 yards rushing in 11 games and less than 20 rushing attempts in eight of their 16 contests…

No team in the league gave up more total yards than the Cowboys in 2013. It was a defensive unit plagued by injuries, most notably to middle linebacker Sean Lee and defensive end DeMarcus Ware, the latter missing games (3) for the first time in his nine-year NFL career. Dallas was 27th in the NFL in rushing defense and only two clubs in the league gave up more yards through the air. And a pass rush that generated 13 sacks in the team’s first three outings got to the quarterback just 21 times in its final 13 games…

New York Giants (7-9)

Good News: One season after giving up the second-most yards in the league and finishing in the bottom fourth of the NFL against both the run (25th) and the pass (28th), Tom Coughlin’s club rebounded by finishing eighth in the NFL in total defense in 2013. All told, the Giants did give up 383 points but allowed just 33 offensive touchdowns in 16 contests. Meanwhile, New York’s offense and special teams surrendered nine touchdowns this past season…

It was a bounce back year for defensive end Justin Tuck, who led the Giants with 11.0 sacks in ’13. Make that a bounce back stretch run as the former two-time Pro Bowler totaled 9.5 sacks in the final six games of the season. In Tuck’s previous 37 games dating back to the start of 2011, he totaled just 10. 5 sacks…

Bad News: For the second time in four seasons, Coughlin’s team led the NFL with 44 turnovers, 29 of those miscues courtesy of quarterback Eli Manning. The 10-year veteran served up a league-high 27 interceptions and lost two of his seven fumbles. All told, the Giants committed three or more turnovers in 10 outings this past season and gave up the football at least once in each of their 16 contests in 2013…

Further proof of what an odd season it was indeed for Big Blue. In 2013, the Giants lost their first six games for the first time since 1976, the first season in which the franchise called since-demolished Giants Stadium their home. Coughlin’s club wound up with a 2-6 record in their first eight contests before finishing 5-3 during the second half of ’13. From 2003-12, the Giants were a combined 57-23 in their first eight games and just 30-50 in their final eight games of the season…

Washington Redskins (3-13)

Good News: Although the franchise followed up an NFC East title with three wins and a season-ending eight-game losing streak, there were a few things for the franchise to hang its helmet on. Wideout Pierre Garcon led the National Football League with a career-high 113 receptions, the first Redskins’ player to pace the NFL in catches since Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Monk totaled 106 catches for Joe Gibbs’ team in 1984…

Two years into his NFL career and running back Alfred Morris has established himself as one of the game’s more consistent performers at his position. While he didn’t put up the numbers that he did as a rookie when he finished second in the league with 1,613 yards rushing, the 173rd overall pick in the ’12 draft ran for 1,275 yards and averaged 4.6 yards per carry for the disappointing ‘Skins in 2013. In two seasons, Morris has started 32 games, rushed for 2,888 yards and 20 scores…

Bad News: One year after committing a league-low 14 turnovers and finishing third in the league with a plus-17 takeaway/giveaway differential, the Redskins finished with a minus-8 turnover margin and coughed up the football 34 times. Second-year quarterback Robert Griffin III, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012, just wasn’t his sensational self this past season for numerous reasons. After committing just seven turnovers in 15 regular-season outings in his debut campaign, the second overall pick in ’12 gave up the ball 16 times in just 13 games in 2013…

The Redskins have now finished last in the NFC East five of the last six seasons dating back to 2008, with a division title in 2012 the lone exception of that trend. A year ago, the team also looked like it had turned the corner in terms of keeping pace with their divisional brethren. However, one season after finishing a combined 5-1 vs. the Giants (1-1), Eagles (2-0) and Cowboys (2-0), Washington was 0-6 vs. those three teams, the only team in the NFL to go winless within their division in 2013…