Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Debate time: Best NFC East WR tandems
By Dan Graziano
This came up in the chat Tuesday, and I figured it was worth a post in which you guys could bat it around and argue with each other: Who's got the best wide receivers in the NFC East at the moment? There is a poll over here in which you can vote on which team has the best starting duo.
We did this a couple of years ago, I remember, and I picked the Giants' guys over the Eagles' guys and got some heat for it. I think at the time I was still projecting Steve Smith as the No. 2 in New York behind Hakeem Nicks. So while I think the past two years have supported my pick, I admit I didn't see Victor Cruz factoring into this debate to the extent that he has.
At this point, with Jackson and Maclin having failed to live up to those 2011 expectations, I think the Cowboys' tandem is the Giants' chief competition. The way Dez Bryant came on last year makes you think he might be about to live up to his incredible potential and become one of the dominant receivers in the league. This would make Miles Austin as good a No. 2 receiver as there is anywhere in the league, except in East Rutherford, where Cruz is a ridiculously productive No. 2 when Nicks is healthy.
And that's the crux of it, right? If Nicks were healthy, I'd still vote for him and Cruz over Bryant and Austin, though I say it's close and Bryant right now is the best of the four. Nicks was not healthy last season, and has not shown much of an ability to stay healthy for a full season. So you have to downgrade him a little bit, which tightens the competition. I believe he's a more complete wide receiver (again, when healthy) than Bryant is at this point in their careers, but I think Bryant's game-breaking ability and the mismatches he creates in the secondary offer him the opportunity to be the better player long-term. Whether he cashes in on that opportunity, obviously, remains to be seen.
The Redskins are here too, of course, though I struggle to tell you for certain which of their wideouts is the No. 2 behind Pierre Garcon. In the poll, I went with Josh Morgan, though it could have been Leonard Hankerson or even Santana Moss, who's more of a slot receiver. I think the questions about No. 2, and the questions about the health of Garcon's foot, push them to fourth in this debate, even behind the Eagles' guys. But obviously, based on last season, you'd take Garcon over Jackson or Maclin.
So fire away. Duke it out. Have at it. These tend to be fun.