We made it. We freaking made it. IT is FINALLY NFL Week 1 and we are all way overdue for a heavy dose of NFL football. I will be taking my talents to the ATL this weekend to see my Eagles take on the Falcons, but before that I wanted to have a little fun with all my friends (and foe) in the NFC East.
So, I will be ranking the NFC East daily by the following positions/etc:
Today (9/7): QB
Wednesday, 9/8: RB
Thursday, 9/9: WR
Friday, 9/10: DEF
Saturday, 9/11: 2021 Overall Team Rankings
Sunday, 9/12: Future Outlooks
And with that, here we go.
*Rankings unveiled at END of article:
2021 NFC EAST RANKINGS
DAK PRESCOTT, Dallas Cowboys
First up is one of the most polarizing players in football – Dak Prescott. The former Mississippi State standout has had his share of ups and downs during his five-year NFL career – including 2019 where he finished with 30 TD and over 4,900 yards in the air.
Unfortunately for Dak and Cowboys fans alike, #4 suffered a compound right ankle fracture against the Giants in Week 5 of the 2020 season which brought his season to an early conclusion. A little less than a year later and we are now talking about Dak playing in Week 1 vs the Bucs on Thursday night, which is honestly an amazing feat in itself.
— Patrik [No C] Walker (@VoiceOfTheStar) August 31, 2021
But, Dak has been out the majority of the preseason with a lat/shoulder strain and hasn’t seen game action since that fateful day vs New York in October 2020. So, what can we expect from a guy that we haven’t seen since a near-catastrophic injury?
From a personnel perspective, most of Dak’s counterparts have stayed the same. With a strong core of Ezekiel Elliott, CeeDee Lamb, and Amari Cooper, Dak has arguably the best weapons in the division. The biggest upgrade the Cowboys made was on the defensive end, which I will discuss further, but that in itself could be a huge contributor to the overall success of Dak this season as the Cowboys’ defense ranked 28th last season and forced Dak (and later Andy Dalton/Ben DiNucci) to put up way more points than they should have had to.
With the above being said, I think Dak is an extremely talented QB. And that’s from a die-hard Eagles fan. He really does have all the traits a modern-QB needs to be successful and the weapons around him to be successful. I think 1) health and 2) coaching (I really think Mike McCarthy is holding the team back) are the two biggest factors that could limit Dak’s success this year. So, even though he’s one of my mortal enemies, I wish him a healthy season and hope to see him return to the form that earned him an MVP vote in 2019.
Prediction: 4,750 yards, 28 TDs, 15 INTs
RYAN FITZPATRICK, Washington Football Team
Ryan Fitzpatrick is the man. (Go watch/listen to his Pardon My Take interview – how can you not love this guy?) Ryan Fitzpatrick is also a very good NFL quarterback.
NFL quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick wanted to go to ASU but settled for Harvard. 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/AXIk6ZutZS
— Patrick Hayes (@ABC15Patrick) August 30, 2021
Much maligned for his turnover numbers throughout his career, Fitzpatrick has shown glimpses of what he can do when given the keys to the offense and some talent around him.
The above image shows a compilation of Fitzpatrick’s stats over the past four seasons. Out of a total of 48 games during that span, Fitzpatrick played in 38 and started only 30. If you were to average that on a per-16 game basis in where he only starts 13 of those 16 games, Fitzpatrick has the following:
3,827 Passing Yards, 64% completion percentage, 3,827 yards, and a 24/15 TD to INT ratio.
Those above statistics, factored in with an additional 3 games started, put Fitzpatrick in the top ten of almost all categories amongst NFL quarterbacks. With an offense featuring Logan Thomas, Antonio Gibson, and Terry McLaurin, Fitzpatrick could flourish and help lead the WFT to the playoffs with a chance to make some noise – especially with a menacing defense on the flip side.
Prediction: 4,100 yards, 26 TDs, 13 INTs
DANIEL JONES, New York Giants
Look at the below stats and stare at them for a few seconds. What do you notice?
- Daniel Jones 2019 season (in which he started 12 of 13 games he appeared) was a solid one for the first-rounder. BUT – and this is a BIG but – Not pictured – ~300 yds of rushing and 2 rushing TD’s, as well as 18 FUMBLES bringing his grand total to 30 turnovers (!).
- He REALLY regressed in 2020. Yes, he did lose Saquon for the entirety of the season, but to start all 14 games he appeared in and to throw less than half the TD’s as the previous season in more games is not a good sign. He also only fumbled 11 times in 2020 – a small, small step in the right direction.
So in a two-season sample size, Daniel Jones has 38 touchdowns (35 passing + 3 rushing) and 51 turnovers (22 INT’s + 29 fumbles).
38 touchdowns and 51 turnovers. Granted, the Giants were awful last season and the one prior. Losing Saquon on an offense that already lacked in talent was a stab right in the heart of that team, but there was not much that Jones was able to do to instill hope in Giants fans that he is the Quarterback of the future.
Daniel Jones' passer rating is 92.0 with Saquon Barkley in the backfield, and 78.9 without him. The offense averaged 22.5 points per game with Saquon since 2019 and just 17.5 ppg w/o him.
— Giants Alliance (@GiantsAlliance) September 5, 2021
The Giants did bring in Kenny Golladay who will surely help open up the offense for guys like Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram (when healthy) and Saquon’s return is massive, but Jones is still facing an uphill battle from the bottom of the NFC East.
Prediction: 3,200 yards, 20 TDs, 14 INTs
JALEN HURTS, Philadelphia Eagles
Is it possible that no one truly knows what Jalen Hurts is capable of? After a drama-filled rookie year in which he took over the reins at QB from then-incumbent Carson Wentz in a Week 14 vs the Saints, Hurts had a mixed bag of success and failure.
The 2020 2nd-round pick from Alabama struggled mightily with his accuracy and ability to throw the ball downfield as a rookie. While he did have success on the ground (63 rushes, 354 yards, 3 TDs) to help bring the Eagles offense to life, Hurts struggled to find and hit open receivers, which many Eagles fans are hoping can be attributed more to the injuries on the O-Line and lack of talent from the receiving corps.
With a healthy offensive line (and the hopeful continued emergence of rugby star turned NFL OL stalwart Jordan Mailata) and additions on offense like Devonta Smith and Kenny Gainwell, Hurts can be in for a season that proves he is the guy in Philly. Add in the fact that Nick Sirianni and Shane Steichen are now calling the plays instead of Doug Pederson (love ya Doug but my god our playcalling has been pitiful the past few seasons), and Jalen Hurts has the chance to be the surprise of the league.
The Eagles go as Jalen goes, and I am hoping (and praying to God), that Jalen goes in the right direction and proves himself as the guy that will develop into the franchise quarterback we’ve been waiting for since the McNabb days.
Prediction: 3,700 yards, 25 TDs, 14 INTs
So now you’ve seen the outlook and background for every NFC East quarterback. Now, it’s time to rank them. And here. we. go:
1) Ryan Fitzpatrick – WFT
2) Dak Prescott – DAL
3) Jalen Hurts – PHI
4) Daniel Jones – NYG
Now, please remember these rankings are for this season. Not next year, not 2024, 2022. Ryan Fitzpatrick is in the best position for success immediately given the talent around him and his experience, not to mention one of the top defenses in the NFL. Dak is going to have a great year if healthy, but I still think Fitzpatrick is the guy in this division in 2022.
Hurts will have a solid season but the Eagles are still a year or two away from turning decent quarterback play into wins. Daniel Jones, in my opinion, is fighting for his future in New York and will more than likely be losing his starting job in favor of a Spencer Rattler/Sam Howell-esque player in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Stay tuned for tomorrow when I go over the Running Backs and Wide Receivers in the division and comment your QB rankings!