NFCE Position Rankings – Year-end Review – Offense

    1024 570 Sir Squatch

    By: Joey Esquire

    Last summer I forecasted a ranking for the various position groups for each NFCE team: Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receiver, Tight End, Offensive Line, Interior Defensive Line, Edge Defender, Off-Ball Linebacker, Cornerback, Safety, Special Teams. I checked back in mid-season to see how my rankings were faring. Now with the season over, here is a retrospective look at how each group did, and how the predictions fared.

    Quarterback
    Pre-season: 1. Redskins; 2. Eagles; 3. Cowboys; 4. Giants
    Mid-season: 1. Eagles; 2. Redsins; 3. Cowboys; 4. Giants

    End-of-season:

    1. Philadelphia Eagles
    2. Washington Redskins
    3. Dallas Cowboys
    4. New York Giants

    1. Philadelphia Eagles – It was a bit of a leap of faith when I projected the Eagles to rank second in this category before the season. Turns out I was low-balling it. Carson Wentz was an MVP candidate before getting injured, and after a rocky few games in the regular season, Nick Foles turned in a historic playoff run en route to the Super Bowl.
    2. Washington Redskins – Kirk Cousins was his Kirk Cousins self in 2017; great volume stats but I think the film shows plays left on the field. He also didn’t have much help in 2018 – no running game, bad receivers and a constantly shuffled OL.
    3. Dallas Cowboys – Major step back for Dak Prescott in 2017 versus his fantastic rookie campaign. Dak looked exceptionally average without the ultra-efficient run game he had in 2016. There were open throws that were just flat out missed, and that offense turned out to be a house of cards when Tyron Smith went down.
    4. New York Giants – I said before the season that Eli is cooked. I was right. By a number of efficiency metrics this was his worst year since his rookie year in 2004. And by almost every metric it was in the bottom three or four years in his career. For some context, the Giants had no running game, not much at wide receiver after Beckham got hurt early in the season, no offensive line and an idiot coach. Still, he’s cooked.

    Running Back
    Pre-Season: 1. Cowboys; 2. Redskins; 3. Eagles; 4. Giants
    Mid-Season: 1. Cowboys; 2. Redskins; 3. Eagles; 4. Giants
    End-of-Season:

    1. Dallas Cowboys
    2. Philadelphia Eagles
    3. Washington Redskins
    4. New York Giants

    1. Dallas Cowboys – Ezekiel Elliott is still the best RB in the division by a country mile. Despite missing six games due to suspension and carrying 15-20 extra pounds of fat, Elliott still led the division in attempts, yards and TDs. And their run game production didn’t actually fall off significantly when Elliott was suspended, with Alfred Morris filling in admirably.
    2. Philadelphia Eagles – The addition of Jay Ajayi at the trade deadline and some unexpected production from Corey Clement, particularly as a receiver, bolstered this group and helped offset the loss of Darren Sproles early in the year. One area where the Eagles perhaps unexpectedly struggled was short yardage, where LeGarrette Blount converted just 5 of 15 attempts on third/fourth down during the regular season.
    3. Washington Redskins – I liked Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine a lot before the season. Alas, Thompson got injured and Perine stunk. Between that and the injury issues on their offensive line, the Redskins rushing offense was horrible in 2017. Thompson was one of the best receiving RBs in the league before his injury.
    4. New York Giants – The Giants rushing attack has been in the bottom 10 in the NFL every season since 2012. Ouch. By the way, the Giants are going to see a whole lot of #4 rankings on this list. Sorry about that.

    Wide Receiver:
    Pre-Season: 1. Giants; 2. Cowboys; 3. Eagles; 4. Redskins
    Mid-Season: 1. Eagles; 2. Cowboys; 3. Giants; 4. Redskins

    End-of-Season:

    1. Philadelphia Eagles
    2. Washington Redskins
    3. Dallas Cowboys
    4. New York Giants

    1. Philadelphia Eagles – The variance in this ranking is probably a function of how bad WR play was as a whole this year in the division. The Eagles rank first mostly by default. Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith both had years that could be characterized by missed opportunities, but both turned it on during the playoffs. And the step forward from Agholor was a huge bonus.
    2. Washington Redskins – The wide receivers for the Redskins in 2017 were an otherworldly disappointment. Ranking them second mostly reflects solid efficiency production from Ryan Grant, and decent enough volume stats from Jamison Crowder. I still think Josh Doctson can be a player, if they find a QB willing to let him make a play on jump balls. But… they have Alex Smith instead.
    3. Dallas Cowboys – Pretty much every receiver on the Cowboys was near the bottom in the NFL for efficiency metrics. They keep force-feeding the ball to Dez Bryant and it just isn’t working. Much of this ranking will reflect the inconsistency from Dak Prescott, but it’s also difficult to remember the Cowboys WRs making too many impressive plays either.
    4. New York Giants – This group was doomed as soon as Odell Beckham got hurt. Preseason I believed Brandon Marshall had something in the tank, but he didn’t. I still like Sterling Shepard a lot, but not when he is asked to be the number one receiving weapon.

    Tight End:
    Pre-Season – 1. Redskins; 2. Eagles; 3. Cowboys; 4. Giants
    Mid-Season – 1. Eagles; 2. Redskins; 3. Cowboys; 4. Giants
    End-of-Season:

    1. Philadelphia Eagles
    2. Washington Redskins
    3. New York Giants
    4. Dallas Cowboys

    1. Philadelphia Eagles – This was a pretty easy choice. Zach Ertz took the leap in 2017 and established himself as a top tight end in the NFL. The Eagles also got surprisingly strong contributions from Trey Burton. Heading into 2018 the depth at this position is a mystery; only Ertz remains on the roster from 2017.
    2. Washington Redskins – No surprise that Jordan Reed spent most of the season injured. Again. It was surprising though how ineffective he was when playing. Still, I love Vernon Davis, even at age 90 or whatever he is. Still one of the best downfield TEs in the NFL.
    3. New York Giants – I like Evan Engram and I think he has a strong future in the NFL. He was thrust into a position as one of the Giants main receiving targets thanks to some injuries to their outside WRs, and that’s a tough spot for a rookie in a bad offense. The Giants also got solid production from backup Rhett Ellison, who performed well when targeted.
    4. Dallas Cowboys – Jason Witten is cooked as a receiver. The Cowboys should stop throwing the ball to him, but they don’t have any appreciable depth to take his place. Witten was one of the least efficient starting TEs in the NFL in 2017, and his backup, James Hanna, only got 9 targets on the year. So they should definitely restructure his contract.

    Offensive Line:
    Pre-season: 1. Cowboys; 2. Redskins; 3. Eagles; 4. Giants
    Mid-season: 1. Cowboys; 2. Redskins; 3. Eagles; 4. Giants
    End-of-season:

    1. Philadelphia Eagles
    2. Dallas Cowboys
    3. Washington Redskins
    4. New York Giants

    1. Philadelphia Eagles – This was a tough group to rank. What ultimately gave the Eagles the edge is the best C-G-T combination in football on the Eagles right side, and the way the Eagles depth stepped up admirably after losing Jason Peters on the left.
    2. Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys could have ranked first on this list. Even without Elliott for 6 games they powered their way to the 2nd ranked rushing offense in football. The Eagles edged them out because where the Eagles were able to thrive despite the loss of a major contributor, the Cowboys fell apart without Tyron Smith.
    3. Washington Redskins – They would have been higher but couldn’t stay healthy. No team could weather the injuries the Redskins had up front, and as a result they Redskins suffered in both passing and rushing efficiency.
    4. New York Giants – They still stink.

    AUTHOR

    Sir Squatch

    Blurry, woods living, Scotch drinking, Mythical Creature.

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