2013 Midseason All-Division Team: NFC East
Each week the staff at Pro Football Focus watches more than a combined 400 hours of football to ensure we know who the best players are. It makes us the premier outfit in player evaluation, used by NFL teams and fans alike to understand which guys are getting the job done and which guys aren’t.
It’s with this knowledge we can put out our Midseason All-Division Teams, going beyond the box scores and the highlight reel plays to see who were the best players on every play of every game.
Despite being a division with just one team with a winning record, the NFC East has featured some big performances, so let’s take a look at the best of them at the halfway stage.
Quarterback: Tony Romo, DAL (+10.0)
Despite Nick Foles’ efforts on Sunday, there was only ever going to be one choice here. He’s had his wobbles, but we’ve also seen him at his best. That game against the Broncos was truly something else, and he’s a big part of the reason why the Cowboys look to be the class of the division.
Running Back: LeSean McCoy, PHI (+14.4)
Similar to the QB position, McCoy didn’t face much competition for his spot on the team. His production has slowed in recent weeks but 39 missed tackles forced from 197 touches, and 1,098 yards from scrimmage is just too impressive to ignore.
Full Back: John Conner, NYG (+2.5)
A position that doesn’t see a lot of snaps in the NFC East, Conner has looked good in the little we’ve seen of him the past three games.
Tight End: Jordan Reed, WAS (+5.8)
It was between Reed and Dallas’ Jason Witten here, but Reed’s play over the past few weeks gave him the edge. He’s currently third among all tight ends with a Yards Per Route Run average of 2.35 thanks, in no small part, to big days against Chicago and Denver.
Wide Receivers: DeSean Jackson, PHI (+9.2) and Dez Bryant, DAL (+7.8)
A massive swing almost saw Bryant lose out to Washington’s Pierre Garcon here, with the two putting up similar numbers through the first half of the season. On the balance of their play, however, it wouldn’t be right to drop him after one bad game. Jackson has already surpassed his 2012 yardage total with 823 through nine games, with 403 yards on 11 passes of 20 yards or more alone.
Tackles: Trent Williams, WAS (+18.6) and Tyler Polumbus, WAS (+15.1)
After a strong start to the year, two poor games from the past three caused Dallas’ Doug Free to drop away here, allowing Polumbus to sweep in. With just 18 total pressures from 343 pass blocking snaps, his Pass Blocking Efficiency rating of 96.0 is the 14th highest among offensive tackles. Of course that only makes him second on the team with Williams’s 96.4 11th at the position. A fantastic year as pass blockers for the pair, and they’ve combined to commit just three penalties too.
Guards: Evan Mathis, PHI (+27.9) and Brian Waters, DAL (+2.9)
Left guard was the easy choice here, with Mathis comfortably head and shoulders above all other guards once again. Right guard however, was a much more difficult choice, with nobody really standing out. Ultimately it was only right to give the nod to Waters, who is now out for the year, with his strong play in pass protection edging him over Mathis’ teammate Todd Herremans.
Center: Jason Kelce, PHI (+5.7)
Take away his two performances against the New York Giants and Kelce would be tied for our highest graded center. You can’t just eliminate the bad performances however, and he’ll face competition for this spot in the second half of the season from Dallas’ Travis Frederick.
In the same way we do in our Team of the Week, here we’ll put forward a hybrid defense that features two edge rushers (4-3 defensive ends or 3-4 outside linebackers), three players on the “interior” of the defensive line (defensive tackles or 3-4 defensive ends) and two linebackers (all inside linebackers and 4-3 outside linebackers).
Defensive Interior – Ends: Jason Hatcher, DAL (+21.8), and Fletcher Cox, PHI (+18.7)
Though he finds himself some distance off the top spot at his position (thanks, J.J. Watt), Fletcher Cox is having a fantastic second season in the league, with 40 total quarterback disruptions and some solid play against the run. Hatcher hasn’t wowed us against the run, but his play as a pass rusher has been something to behold.
Defensive Interior – Nose: Barry Cofield, WAS (+5.9)
Our man on the nose in the NFC East hasn’t been great against the run, but three sacks, six hits, and 14 hurries from 242 pass rushing snaps are just too much to ignore.
Edge Rushers: DeMarcus Ware, DAL (+11.8), and Justin Tuck NYG (+9.6)
Despite being out of the line up since 16 snaps into the game against Washington, Ware is still our fifth-highest graded 4-3 defensive end, with solid production as a pass rusher and some really nice work against the run. Meanwhile, only four players at the position have a higher grade than Tuck.
Linebackers: Sean Lee, DAL (+10.8) and Jacquian Williams, NYG (+0.4)
There’s not much to get excited about after Lee at linebacker in the East, with Williams’ play in coverage giving him the spot. Lee has been fantastic though, grading positively against the run and in coverage as he continues to go from strength to strength.
Cornerbacks: Prince Amukamara, NYG (+3.3), Bradley Fletcher, PHI (+3.1)
You won’t find a Darrelle Revis or Richard Sherman level of player here in the NFC East, but both Amukamara and Fletcher are deserving of their spot. Fletcher has been solid all year, never grading lower than -0.5, while Amukamara owes his spot on the team to big performances against the Chiefs and Eagles.
Safeties: Will Hill, NYG (+6.0), Barry Church, DAL (+4.0)
After missing the first four games of the season through suspension, Hill is our seventh highest graded safety, with two big performances against the Eagles. Church has been a bit more up and down in his first year as a starter, but has flashed some impressive play.
Kicker: Dan Bailey, DAL (+27.0) Our third-highest graded kicker at the halfway stage, he has gone 16-for-18 on field goals, including four of five on those over 50 yards.
Punter: Steve Weatherford, NYG (+5.9) The NFC East’s highest graded punter ranks just 17th amongst all at the position, with Weatherford averaging 47.2 yards per punt.
Returner: Dwayne Harris, DAL (+5.1) A punt return for a touchdown and a kickoff return average of 34.9 yards made Harris the only logical choice here.
Special Teamer: James Casey, PHI (+4.5) With a more in-depth look at special teams here at PFF in 2013, Casey ranks eight amongst all special teamers, grading positively on punts and kickoffs.
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