NFC East Roundup: The Hogs Are Back

Plus: Who will be the MVP of the division?

Trent Williams. (USA TODAY Sports)

Trent Williams. (USA TODAY Sports)

Let’s take a spin around the NFC East to see what’s going on with the rest of the division:

The Hogs are making a comeback in Washington, and Trent Williams wants to bring back that mentality back to the offensive line, writes Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post.

It’s common for Williams to invite Redskins players to work out with him in Texas. There’s typically position groups that will link up to train during the offseason as well, but it’s rare to see an entire offensive line gather in such a manner. Williams said he mentioned the idea a few times to his teammates during offseason practices, and he put the plan into action for them to meet at O Athletik – a brand new facility co-owned by Williams and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. The gym has an organic juice bar, hot yoga, martial arts and boxing facilities and an indoor field.

“We do have the talent that it takes to be one of the best offensive lines in the National Football League, but it’s going to take time, it’s going to take growth and it’s going to take everybody in that o-line room to get better,” Williams said. “I think this is one step closer to that goal. This is the only free time we get so for them to actually make time to come out here and work their tails off, I think that’s a huge commitment in itself as well.”

Williams was impressed by how the offensive linemen arrived in shape this week. He felt they embraced the strenuous workouts from his trainer, James Cooper. The offensive line also took part in hot yoga and integrated some of its offensive line drills on the field. The players then grabbed dinner every night to relax and connect with each other.

Was Kirk Cousins asking for too much, or did Washington lowball their offer? Rich Tandler of CSN Mid-Atlantic explores that question.

There is speculation that Cousins will take umbrage to the Redskins’ low offer, perhaps poisoning his relationship with the organization. By the same token, the Redskins could be wondering what their quarterback is thinking looking for as much money as Aaron Rodgers makes after just one year as a starter.

The reality is that it’s unlikely that either side has an issue with the other. It’s not personal, it’s business. Cousins playing 2016 on the franchise tag was inevitable from the moment he signed the tender in early March. There were offers on the table from each side that were never, ever going to be accepted. It’s just part of the negotiation game.

The Redskins made an offer they knew that Cousins wouldn’t accept because they want to see a second year of him as the full-time starter before they commit to a long-term deal. Cousins stuck to demands he knew the Redskins were never going to accept, armed with the knowledge that he had a $20 million cushion to fall back on. Neither side is likely to emerge from the negotiations, if you can call them that, with bruised feelings.

Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News lists five potential breakout candidates for the Cowboys in 2016, which includes two defensive linemen.

4.) Defensive lineman Jack Crawford

While recently talking about the eight-man rotation of pass-rushers he prefers, [Rod] Marinelli said Crawford is the “perfect guy” for his system.

“Every time he came in [last season], he impacted the game,” Marinelli said. “He had four sacks as a rotational guy. He had a lot of hits, pressure. He’s fresh. He comes in and he’s got a great motor.”

Crawford, who signed a one-year deal to remain with the Cowboys in April, has the versatility to play multiple positions along the defensive line.

When [DeMarcus] Lawrence and [Randy] Gregory are out, expect to see Crawford, 27, get more chances to rush the passer from the outside.

3.) Defensive lineman David Irving

Yes, another defensive lineman. Between the suspensions and not re-signing Greg Hardy and Jeremy Mincey, someone has to pressure the quarterback, right?

The 6-7, 285-pound Irving played in 12 games last season before fracturing his wrist in Week 16. The former undrafted rookie free agent recorded a half sack, 14 quarterback pressures and a blocked field goal in his first season.

“He’s a talented guy,” Marinelli said. “I mean obviously he’s got the length and all those things, but I’ve not really seen guys like that that can bend like that. The guy plays low and when he’s playing, he makes plays.”

Irving, 22, got first-team reps at defensive end during offseason workouts. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Irving caught his eye during some of those sessions.

Quarterback Tony Romo is predicted as the MVP of the division, opines three of the four ESPN NFC East writers.

Todd Archer, Dallas Cowboys reporter: Tony Romo. Because he has won just two playoff games in his career, he has not received a lot of appreciation among Cowboys fans. That seemed to change last year, when he missed 12 games and the Cowboys went 1-11 without him. The Cowboys went 3-1 in Romo’s four starts in 2015 and are 15-4 with him the past two seasons. He had surgery on his twice-broken left collarbone in the offseason and is now healthy. The time off has allowed him to build more strength in his back, and he is moving around better than he has in recent years. With Romo, the Cowboys are the favorites in the NFC East and could be considered one of the best teams in the conference — if he is healthy. That will be the key, because he has missed games in each of the past three seasons. Add a healthy Dez Bryant and first-round pick Ezekiel Elliott, plus the offensive line, and Romo should be poised for another huge season.

In the Big Apple, newly signed defensive tackle Damon Harrison isn’t changing who he is, even after signing a five-year, $46.25 million deal this offseason, writes Paul Schwartz of the New York Post.

Back in May, Harrison revealed he purchased a house in Lake Charles, La., for his mother, Brunella, fulfilling a lifelong dream.

“I went down there and surprised her,’’ Harrison said. “It was a house she wanted for a while and it was unexpected, so she cried and my fiancée cried as well, so everybody was emotional in the house.’’

The money, Harrison insists, will not change who he is, because he will not forget how he got here.

“The contract is nice and everything, man, but money doesn’t motivate me,’’ Harrison said in the spring. “I am not the guy who once they get the money, sits back, relax and think they made it. No, I am still scared that they will take my playbook if I don’t do right. That is a feeling that will never leave me, and that is the honest truth, that isn’t something I’m just saying to sound good. I love the game of football. I want to be successful, so I will have the free-agent mentality until I retire.’’

The Giants will be a playoff team in 2016, according to John Fennelly of

Only two of the Giants’ losses were by more than six points. That, in the business world is called “correctable”. The operation was competitive but simply did not have proper personnel to complete tasks to the fullest.

The culprit, of course, were injuries, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Theie safeties were wiped out before the season even started. They lost their playcaller and captain, MLB Jon Beason, in first month and only had DLs Jason Pierre-Paul and Johnathan Hankins for a half-season each, and not at the same time.

The offense was successful in going out and getting leads, but sputtered in the fourth quarter when it came to sustaining drives. The running game could not grind out first downs and keep the clock running.

The defense was so thin personnel-wise they needed the offense to stay on the field longer and were usually spent by the fourth quarter. The Giants went to great lengths to augment their defense with both star power and depth. The odds of them getting decimated by the amount of injuries suffered over the past few years are very slim. So, there’s that.