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Rob Weintraub's 2020 All-NFC East Team

New York Giants RB Wayne Gallman
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

The first goal every NFL team sets is to win its division. How those eight fratricidal battles shake out usually determines team success in any given season. Yet postseason laurels are broken down by conference, if at all. That never made sense to me—even college football selects all-conference teams. Why don't the pros anoint the best each division has to offer?

Well, now they do. The All-Division teams continue with the NFC East, a squad that if combined still might not win a playoff game…

OFFENSE

QB: Dak Prescott, DAL

Ordinarily playing just five games would disqualify a quarterback for the All-Div slot, but that's how bad the horror show passing was in the NFC East in 2020. Prescott still finished 19th in the cumulative stat DYAR, an incredible achievement in context. Dak's replacement, Andy Dalton, was 29th in DYAR, a full 10 spots below Prescott, but Red was easily the second-best passer in the division. Alex Smith was a fantastic comeback story but even worse than Dwayne Haskins by DYAR; Taylor Heinicke, a one-game postseason wonder; Daniel Jones, a disaster; Jalen Hurts, mediocre; Nate Sudfeld, a coach-killer. Meanwhile, Carson Wentz was horrific—by far the lowest-ranked qualifying quarterback by DYAR in the league. It might not be much of a salve for missing the majority of the season, but Dak should use this All-Div nod as a bargaining chip in his fraught contract negotiations.

RB: Antonio Gibson, WAS
RB: Wayne Gallman, NYG

A pair of unheralded backs make the NFC East squad, and it wasn't just a lack of competition—Gibson and Gallman were eighth and 12th, respectively, in the NFL in DYAR. Ezekiel Elliott didn't threaten to make the team—he finished behind backfield mate Tony Pollard in both DYAR and DVOA.

WR: Amari Cooper, DAL
WR: CeeDee Lamb, DAL
WR: Terry McLaurin, WAS
TE: Dallas Goedert, PHI

The quarterbacking disaster in the division took its toll on the pass-catchers, with only Cooper (21st) among the top 39 receivers by DYAR. The highest-ranking Giants wideout, Stering Shepard, was 66th; the top Washington wideout, McLaurin, was 69th. Meanwhile, the two least efficient of all qualifying tight ends were Evan Engram and Zach Ertz, a far cry from their prior status.

OT: Cameron Fleming, NYG
OT: Morgan Moses, WAS
OG: Brandon Scherff, WAS
OG: Zack Martin, DAL
C: Chase Roullier, WAS

The "Other Chase" in D.C. anchors the line, along with teammates Scherff and Moses. Martin only played 10 games but was charted with just two blown blocks in that span. Scrap-heap signee Fleming had 13 fewer blown blocks than the first-round pick on the other end of the Giants line, Andrew Thomas.

DEFENSE

ER: DeMarcus Lawrence, DAL
ER: Montez Sweat, WAS
DL: Jonathan Allen, WAS
DL: Fletcher Cox, PHI

Aldon Smith had an excellent comeback season (36 pressures, eighth in the league, to go with his five sacks) rushing the quarterback after off-field issues had kept him sidelined since 2015, but his teammate Lawrence had a better all-around campaign. Sweat was a beast, actually racking up more sacks, pressures, and tackles than the defensive rookie of the year, Chase Young, and his six passes defensed offset Young's four forced fumbles. Meanwhile, Leonard Williams in New York and Brandon Graham in Philly also had strong candidacies in a great season for rush lines in the division. There was also plenty of strong interior line play in the NFC East, with Giants Dalvin Tomlinson and Dexter Lawrence and Daron Payne of Washington knocking on the door of the All-Div team.

LB: Jaylon Smith, DAL
LB: Blake Martinez, NYG
LB: Jonathan Bostic, WAS

In a division of exceptional front lines, the linebackers were far less special, though with blockers occupied Smith and Martinez were second and third in the league in tackles, respectively (Bostic was top-20).

CB: James Bradberry, NYG
CB: Ronald Darby, WAS
CB: Kendall Fuller, WAS
S: Kamren Curl, WAS
S: Jalen Mills, PHI

Secondary play was also wanting in the East in 2020, outside of the stellar Bradberry. Mills was the best tackler of the eligible safeties, charted with just 10 missed ones on the season.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K: Graham Gano, NYG
P: Tress Way, WAS
RET: Tony Pollard, DAL

Gano made his return to the NFC East memorable, pacing the Giants to a tie atop the placekicking chart with Seattle and Jason Myers. Similarly, Tress (This Is The) Way was the league's second-best punter after New England's Jake Bailey.

Comments

5 comments, Last at 09 Mar 2021, 5:19pm

1 You Might Want to Ask Aaron...

...to check your math.  I am pretty sure neither in DVOA nor in DYAR calculations does “his six passes defensed offset Young's four forced fumbles”.  I mean, this is an analytics site, right?

3 Gotta commend your choices…

Gotta commend your choices. As a Giants fan, I watched a lot of the NFC East this year (I know) and pretty much concur with your selections. If you had asked me which Giants should have made it off the top of my head, I'd've said, in order, Bradberry, Martinez, L Williams, Tomlinson, and Lawrence, and they all got at least honorable mention. Gallman was decent, too, which I guess was good enough. 

4  It might not be much of a…

 It might not be much of a salve for missing the majority of the season, but Dak should use this All-Div nod as a bargaining chip in his fraught contract negotiations

 Mission accomplished for Dak. Chip used effectively, contract should prove quite the effective salve.

5 no Chase Young?

With all due respect to Montez Sweat, Chase Young is Da Man.  

But sure.  Tipping passes is just as important as forcing fumbles.  

Amazed that you included 12 WFTs but not the best player on the team.