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The Weekly BEast Report: NFC East Battles Heating Up

The Cowboys and Eagles continue to share a perch at the top of the division (and the NFL) while the Giants and Redskins look to get on a roll as the second half of the season approaches.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants (3-3)

New York Giants - 0
Philadelphia Eagles - 27

For the New York Giants this past Sunday was a nightmare of epic proportions. With an opportunity to challenge the two division co-leaders in consecutive weeks the G-men rode into Philadelphia with the chance to prove that their recent wave of success was sustainable. Almost from the coin toss things went wrong for the team and they looked like the squad that opened the season 0-2  rather than the one that had gone 3-0 from that point forward.

  • Many of the Giants problems began up front. Giants offensive tackle Justin Pugh serves as a perfect example of the struggles the team suffered in Philly.The fifth-rated tackle in the league coming in to the game, Pugh surrendered a strip-sack to start the game and the flood gates were opened. Giants passers were sacked eight times (four charged to Pugh). Playing behind that blue sieve, Eli Manning and the Big Blue offense were never able to find a rhythm or the end zone.

"I let it snowball. It was more mental than anything. I think I let it get to me. You can't do that -- you can't let things snowball, you gotta forget it and drive on. And that's something I'm gonna do this week."  - Justin Pugh

  • In spite of being shut out by the Philadelphia Eagles, the Giants worst loss of the weekend would be the injury sustained by top wide receiver Victor Cruz, who suffered a torn patella tendon. The New York wide receiver will not be able to return until early next season at the earliest. His primary backup, Jerrel Jernigan, has also been lost for the season and the Giants have now signed former Dallas Cowboys receiver Kevin Ogletree to fill the role.
  • The injury to Cruz is compounded by the sprained MCL that Rashad Jennings suffered in the victory over Atlanta in week five. With their leading rusher out the Giants have struggled to maintain their momentum. Jennings will not return for this weekend's contest with the Cowboys so rookie Andre Williams and veteran journeyman Peyton Hillis will attempt to provide the ground attack for Tom Coughlin's team. The drop off in the running game is one of the reasons that the Giants regressed to their early season form.
  • The walking-wounded Giants will pay a visit to the "stadium that Eli autographed" this weekend to face the front-running Cowboys. In addition to their losses on offense, they come into north Texas with a defense that is struggling. A franchise that has been carried to a pair of recent Super Bowls by its defense is now finding its strong suit to be a liability. The Giants are 18th against the run and 24th against the pass this season; Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray waiting to cash in.

Washington Redskins (1-5)

Washington Redskins - 20
Arizona Cardinals - 30

The Redskins continue to ride the wave of despair that has dominated the Dan Snyder era in Washington. They have now lost 13 of their last 14 games, and things don't look to get any better soon. Before Washington can even think about returning to consistent relevance in the NFC East, Jay Gruden and his team are going to have to learn to quit beating themselves on Sundays. Until their opponents are the only team they have to worry about, the Redskins will not see sustained success.

  • Washington actually had placed themselves in a position to win over the Arizona Cardinals last week, but the self inflicted wounds came back to haunt them. Sunday saw Washington turn the ball over four times in the fourth quarter. When it was not a turnover crippling an offensive drive, the Washington defense was taking unnecessary penalties to help out the Cardinals. You cannot beat yourself in the NFL and then hope to achieve success.

"I told our team this game is not that hard to figure out. The team that makes plays usually wins. The team that doesn't turn the ball over usually wins. We are not doing anything. It is a broken record every time I stand up here." - Jay Gruden

  • With the team mired in the NFL's lowest echelon, coach Gruden's biggest challenge remaining for the 2014 season is going to be making a decision about which quarterback, if either one, is going to be capable of leading his team into the future. Robert Griffin, III is going to need to prove himself capable of being a NFL level pocket passer if he wants to be Gruden's man. If that does not happen, Kirk Cousins is going to need to step up and prove that he is more than a backup passer who is capable of making an occasional spot start. At this point there is little reason to believe that either man is going to fill the bill. Even though the team invested a total of five draft picks in their two passers, it may be time for Washington to draft a quarterback.
  • If the Redskins have any hope of salvaging something out of their season, the stage is set for the rebound to begin. Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson and defensive lineman Stephen Bowen return from the PUP list this week. Washington now has 21 days to make decisions on what to do with the two players. The 'Skins could use the assistance of both. Hankerson would help primarily in the short yardage and red zone offense while Bowen would enhance the struggling pass rush.

"I think they're both on track. They both looked good. obviously, stamina will be an issue. We'll see how they do getting more reps throughout the week, but it was a good first week, first day for both of them. Very impressive for both of them." - Jay Gruden

  • The 2-4 Tennessee Titans will pay a visit to FedEx Field this weekend to face the 1-5 Redskins. Tennessee barely scratched out a narrow win over Jacksonville last week so either squad could emerge from this game with a victory.

Philadelphia Eagles (5-1)

New York Giants - 0
Philadelphia Eagles - 27

The Eagles proved to be an inhospitable host to their division rivals from the Big Apple. They dominated the Giants in impressive fashion, in the process creating the question "Are the Eagles that good, or were the Giants that bad?" The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. The Eagles still have issues that will need to be answered before we know the true nature of the team.

  • What a difference a week makes; one week ago Chip Kelly's defense almost cost the Eagles their second defeat at the hands of the St. Louis Rams. On Sunday night the same squad DOMINATED a New York offense that had been firing on all cylinders. On Sunday, Bill Davis' defense turned in the best performance that they have put on the field during his tenure as the Eagles defensive coordinator. The Eagles offensive minded head coach has taken note of what his D is capable of doing.

"I've seen us get better. That's one positive where we are right now. We weren't in this situation last year, but I saw us get better. We were 7-1 down the stretch [and] we were a better football team at the end of the year than we were at the beginning of the year. I hope that holds true now, because I think we're moving in a positive direction right now."  - Chip Kelly

  • One of Philadelphia's keys to success this season has been the play of the Eagles special teams unit. So far they have gotten plays for several guys including Darren Sproles and Chris Polk, both of whom have returned kicks for touchdowns in 2014. Chris Maragos has also contributed a blocked kick that led to another Philadelphia score. According to Maragos, it is the attitude that Kelly fosters that has led to special teams success.

"Coach [Chip] Kelly really emphasizes the culture or mindset of the guys he brings in. So when you have a culture of guys who believe in what they do and are willing to be about the team and not about themselves, then you have a cohesion that allows things to come together really really well."  - Chris Maragos

  • Six weeks into the season, LeSean McCoy finally got going for the Eagles. Shady turned in his best outing of the season as he gashed the Giants for 149 yards on 22 carries. True, the Giants struggle to stop the run, but McCoy was also running wild. It remains to be seen if McCoy will return to the form that allowed him to lead the league in rushing last season, but the upcoming bye week will allow more time for his blockers to get healthy and that could spell trouble for the Eagles upcoming opponents. With fellow running back Darren Sproles suffering an injury to his knee, Philadelphia will need Shady healthy as they progress through the season.
  • With the above mentioned injury to Sproles and an offensive line that has been beat up, the bye week could not not come at a better time for Philadelphia. If Chip Kelly and the coaching staff can use the off week to correct some issues the team is experiencing and they can get some guys healthy, the Eagles could have the opportunity to make a statement to the league.

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