Going into the 2013 NFL season, the NFC East remains one of the most evenly divided divisions in football. Each year the battles within this division feature some of the most hard-hitting, nail-biting action the National Football League has to offer. As with just about any other division, the fates of the Cowboys, Eagles, Giants, and Redskins lie in the hands of their quarterbacks. The QB rankings rest a great deal on the knee of Washington Redskin’s QB Robert Griffin III. As he showed last year, Griffin is undoubtedly one of the most feared players in the NFL when healthy.
1.) Eli Manning (New York Giants):
Until another team in this division proves to have a QB capable of taking them to the Super Bowl, Manning will likely remain the top dog. His calm demeanor and knack for 4th quarter comebacks define what it means to be a franchise quarterback. Eli struggled somewhat last season due to the lack of a reliable running game, but Coach Tom Coughlin is sure to emphasize a balanced attack this season which will allow Eli more open throwing lanes. The experience and mental acuity Manning brings to the table, along with his accuracy and poise under pressure makes him a coach’s dream in the playoffs. The key to Manning’s success rests on the right hand of WR Victor Cruz, as the Giants and their key offensive weapon have yet to come to terms on a contract extension. Finally, the fact that Manning is an ironman on the gridiron goes somewhat unnoticed. While RGIII and Michael Vick struggle to remain on the field and Romo deals with off-the-field distraction issues, Eli Manning simply goes about his business each and every Sunday.
2.) Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins):
Undoubtedly the most electrifying quarterback in the division, Robert Griffin III will take the Redskins as far as his knees allow him to. After his breakout rookie campaign in 2012, many fans are interested to see how things will go this season. The now infamous read-option offense run by Griffin and the Redskins cause nightmares for defensive coordinators, but the question now becomes will the QB be healthy enough to run consistently (or for that matter, will Shanahan let him). The addition of 3rd round draft pick Jordan Reed (TE, Florida) and the return of oft-injured TE Fred Davis will give Griffin legitimate deep threats down the middle of the field that can benefit from the read-option scheme. Outside of the young quarterback’s health, the key question will be to see how defenses have adjusted to the Redskin’s offensive scheme, and whether or not RGIII can adjust accordingly.
3.) Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys):
Tony Romo has long been known as a great regular-season quarterback who just cannot seem to figure it out in the clutch moments of the playoffs or late season games. This stigma continued in 2012 as the Cowboy’s QB threw a late pick against the Redskins in the final game of the year which ultimately determined the division winner. There is no doubt that Romo is a strong quarterback who has excellent weapons around him (Bryant, Witter, and Austin), however last year he struggled at times due to the Cowboys lack of a running game. When healthy, RB DeMarco Murray provides a legitimate threat out of the backfield that balances the Cowboy’s offense out; however injuries have plagued him recently. With the addition of draft pick Joseph Randle, the Cowboys hope to provide Romo with some help in the running game. Until Tony Romo proves he can win playoff games and come through in the clutch, he will remain the poor man’s Eli Manning.
4.) Michael Vick/Nick Foles (Philadelphia Eagles):
Last season Vick and Foles split time due in large part to the injuries and struggles of Vick early in the season. With new head coach Chip Kelly brining his up-tempo offense into the mix, it is likely that Vick will be the starter out of camp. The combination of Vick’s inability to stay healthy and his lack of accuracy is certainly a remaining cause for concern for the Eagles. Kelly’s system is certain to take advantage of explosive players like DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and LeSean McCoy, but does he have the gunslinger that is capable of getting them the ball?