No team has repeated as NFC East champions since the 2003 and 2004 Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles have a chance to repeat, again, after a dramatic offseason in which the team lost DeSean Jackson to the rival Washington Redskins. Speaking of those Redskins, they have a new head coach and have a healthy Robert Griffin III under center. Eli Manning is also back to 100 percent, and the team armed him with new weapons via free agency and the draft. And only the Dallas Cowboys appear to be heading toward a decline next year.
Here are the top 10 burning questions for the NFC East entering 2014:
1. RGIII, candidate for Comeback Player of the Year?
With new weapons in Jackson and Andre Roberts to join up with Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed, and Alfred Morris — not to mention a new offensive scheme — Griffin has a chance to return to the form he showed when he was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Health finally won’t be a concern for RGIII in 2014.
2. Does the Giants offense rebound?
The Giants offense was atrocious in 2013. The line couldn’t block, the running game was non-existent, and Eli Manning was an interception machine. The team addressed the line and added running back depth this offseason, then drafted Odell Beckham Jr. to bolster their receiving corps.
3. Is Nick Foles the real deal?
Foles’ impressive 2013 campaign did not stop us from being skeptical about whether he could sustain that kind of success again in 2014. The Eagles quarterback would be hard-pressed to throw just two interceptions again, but perhaps he is a budding star.
4. Does DeSean Jackson make the Eagles pay?
Jackson was the Eagles’ main vertical threat in Year 1 of the Chip Kelly era, but off-the-field character concerns forced Philly to release the wideout and allowed the rival Redskins to pick him up. He has two chances to make the Eagles regret their decision. The first: Week 3.
5. Is Tony Romo healthy?
The Cowboys were reportedly on the verge of drafting Johnny Manziel; can you imagine the kind of chaos that would ensue? Coming off back surgery, Romo said he’ll be 100 percent for training camp. He has a new offensive coordinator and lost Miles Austin, plus there’s always the regular critics to contend with.
6. Will the Giants rediscover their pass rush?
New York’s fearsome front line has mustered 33 sacks in each of the past two seasons, and in no way, shape, or form has the pass rush been close to the Super Bowl form that we’ve become accustomed to under Tom Coughlin. Jason Pierre-Paul should be close to 100 percent, plus youngsters Damontre Moore and Johnathan Hankins have a chance to make names for themselves in ’14.
7. Can Jeremy Maclin stay healthy?
Maclin hasn’t been healthy for a full season since 2010, and with Jackson out of the picture, the Eagles need to find a true No. 1 wideout. Maclin is playing for a new deal and is the veteran of the bunch. He needs to succeed.
8. When will the Redskins mascot change?
In non-football-related issues, this year there has been the greatest pushback from the Native American community about the Redskins team mascot. The appeals process needs to take its course, but it seems inevitable Daniel Snyder will need to make a change.
9. Will the ‘Boys regret letting DeMarcus Ware go?
Dallas’ most dominant defensive player, arguably in team history, is no longer a member of the organization. After one down, injury-riddled year, Ware is now rushing the passer for Super Bowl-contender Denver. The Cowboys drafted DeMarcus Lawrence to take his spot, but will Lawrence ever be comparable to Ware?
10. Breakout coming for Zach Ertz or Jordan Matthews?
Two players getting major hype out of Philadelphia are second-year tight end Ertz and the rookie wideout Matthews. Both are expected to help Eagles fans forget about Jackson; how productive will each be this year?