NFL offenses are powered by the play of their quarterbacks, running backs and receivers.
That’s why it’s important to have strong talent at all three positions. If an offense has a talented trio filling out each spot, the unit can be very effective.
NFL.com deputy editor Ali Bhanpuri recently did a countdown of the top offensive triplets in the league.
He ranked the Giants trio of Eli Manning, Sterling Shepard and Saquon Barkley as the No. 28 set of triplets in the NFL.
“As good as Barkley is (and he’s awesome!), he can only do so much to help the Giants overcome their deficiencies and uncertainties in other offensive areas. As of now, New York will open the 2019 campaign with two WR2s (but no WR1) and a legitimate QB battle between Manning and Daniel Jones. How many teams in the past decade have started a season with a competition under center and still made the playoffs? I’ll wait. Third-year tight end Evan Engram is perhaps deserving of the team’s top pass-catcher honor after a strong finish to last season, but he’s been inconsistent and hampered by injury (14 drops in 26 total games) for chunks of his young career. Not sold on either the 38-year-old Manning or the rookie out of Duke to be a positive difference-maker for this team in 2019, so it might not matter who receives the majority of snaps under center this season.”
The Jets, who house the trio of Sam Darnold, Le’Veon Bell and Robby Anderson, were ranked as the No. 21 unit.
“I have Darnold as the 21st-best QB in the league, but he’ll likely rank higher by season’s end. I’m counting on the former third overall pick building on his strong finish to last year (he posted a 6:1 TD-to-INT ratio and a 99.1 passer rating in the final four weeks of the season). Bell’s arrival should help Darnold’s development and provide balance to the Jets’ offense. I had a tough time ranking Bell in this exercise, because I’m not sure what to expect from the former All-Pro after he sat out the entire 2018 season rather than sign his franchise tender. Is he rusty? Is he rejuvenated? Is he recording a new mixtape? I had him as the second-best back in the NFL going into last season, but he drops a few spots now because of the emergence of guys like Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey. Anderson is perhaps a few spots higher than his performance calls for, but he could be poised for a breakout if Darnold delivers in Year 2.”
Finally, the Eagles stacked up as the No. 15 set of triplets. Unlike with the Jets and Giants, the tight end position was used as the third entity in the trio. The Philadelphia triplets on the countdown were Carson Wentz, Jordan Howard and Zach Ertz.
“If Kirk Cousins is the QB facing the most pressure this season, Wentz might be the guy with the most to prove — a crazy thing to say for a passer with a career 70:28 TD-to-INT ratio and an MVP-caliber season under his belt. Whether it’s fair or not, Wentz’s durability (he’s gone on IR the last two seasons for knee and back injuries, respectively) has led to questions about his overall value, especially after Nick Foles stepped up in relief to go 4-1 in the postseason and lead the franchise to its first-ever Super Bowl title. Clearly the Eagles’ decision-makers don’t harbor those same concerns, as they recently locked up their young signal-caller on a four-year extension that includes $66 million fully guaranteed. I’m a bit less convinced, which is why a top-10 talent like Wentz sits just outside of that elite group to start the season. Ertz has established himself as a complete tight end and the ultimate security blanket for Eagles passers. Perhaps he should be ranked higher after his 116-reception season, but defensive coordinators are more apt to let Ertz gobble up passes underneath than they are to let T.Y. Hilton (ranked 13th) or Brandin Cooks (11th) flip the field in a moment’s notice. Howard posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons to begin his career before seeing his production suffer in Year 3, after Matt Nagy’s arrival in Chicago. Although I do think Howard can still be an effective runner in the NFL, he doesn’t pose much of a threat in the passing game, which hurts his overall ranking. Still, picking up a quality young player like Howard for a conditional 2020 sixth-round pick was yet another savvy move by general manager Howie Roseman.”
It’s worth noting that the Giants’ trio has actually played together, unlike the Jets and Eagles’ triplets. Bell and Howard are new additions for the Jets and Eagles, respectively. While the Giants ranked last among the three teams, their established chemistry could benefit them this season.
As for the top 10 in the ranking:
Mike Kaye may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye. Find NJ.com on Facebook.