New York Giants (2-2)
New York Giants 45
Washington Redskins 14
- After a blowout victory over the Washington Redskins, there is some speculation that Big Blue is back. Granted, Eli Manning threw for five scores as the G-men defeated the Skins at FedEx Field, but it was still a victory over a 1-3 team led by its second-team quarterback. It is a little too early for anyone to make such bold statements. What the victory does mean is that the Giants are sitting one game behind the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles in the division. Now is not the time to fall asleep on New York. As they have proven time and again, the team from the Big Apple has a tendency to get on a roll at some fortuitous times. Eli Manning has two Super Bowl rings to prove that point. Right now it is too early to to call them good, but it is also too early to rule them out. Fans around the NFC East would be well served to keep a close eye on what transpires in MetLife Stadium over the next few weeks.
- Plenty of Giants hopes are riding on the potential of a Manning to Beckham tandem. So far those dreams have been about as realistic as the Cowboys visions of Mo Claiborne becoming the next Deion Sanders, but there is word that the Giants' first-round selection might actually make an appearance on Sunday. He and Eli have been working together in practice and people in the know are liking what they see.
"I hope that he can be a big weapon for us. He definitely has a little burst of energy, a burst of speed. He can be a deep threat, can win on some underneath stuff. Can get him hopefully throwing some short passes and he can break it for some big plays. We've got to just keeping working. He's still young, we've got to get on the same page and we've got to go through this a little bit. It's not that it's going to be perfect right off the bat, we have not had a whole lot of reps together on every single route that may come up." - Eli Manning
- If there was an area of concern that came out of the Thursday game in Washington, for the Giants there is a little question about their ability to generate heat on the passer. The once vaunted New York pass rush is struggling. Jason Pierre-Paul is still JPP and commands respect. The problem is that nobody else among the Giants front seven seems to be able to take advantage of the focus other teams are putting into stopping the talented defensive end. Pierre-Paul's counterpart on the opposite side of the defensive line, Mathias Kiwanuka, has been a non-factor of late. In fact, he is being outplayed by reserve Robert Ayers, who has better production but who only sees a little better than half the snaps that Kiwanuka does. You have to start wondering if the winds of change might be blowing through the defensive line's meeting room in the near future.
- Next up on the slate for the Giants will be a visit from the Atlanta Falcons. With Ben McAdoo's offense seeming to take hold for New York and an Atlanta offense that features Julio Jones and Roddy White, this weekend's meeting could be a delight for fans of high-scoring shootouts.
Washington Redskins (1-3)
New York Giants 45
Washington Redskins 14
- As you can tell from the lopsided score against the division rival Giants, the Redskins are struggling on defense. While they have a solid core of pass rushers upfront, the team's back end cannot seem to stand and deliver. The bane of the unit has been the big plays that they are giving up on a consistent bases. Over the past two weeks, Washington's defense has surrendered a total of 12 plays that went for 20 yards or more. This is nothing new, this has been a trend for the Redskins that reaches back throughout the Jim Hazlett era.
Since 2010, the Redskins have allowed 231 pass plays of 20 yards or more, third highest in the NFL over that period. If this trend doesn't change, the defense will never achieve what it hopes. - ESPN Stats & Information
- The Skins seem to have picked up exactly where they left off in 2013, with the notable exception that there is no speculation about the future of the coaching staff. The defensive secondary is struggling, the special teams play is abysmal, and there seems to be a losing culture surrounding the team. Nobody should have expected Jay Gruden to bring in a magic elixir that would heal the team's woes overnight, but there really does not seem to be any progress. The same questions persist from last year. Even the injury bug is continuing to infest the Washington locker room. While Cowboys fans will not protest too much if things continue on the same path, for Washington to get off of its downward spiral there are going to have to be numerous changes made throughout the organization.
- Our friends in the nation's capitol are not only fighting a battle with opponents on the football field, but a PR battle against pressure to change the team's nickname. Team owner Dan Snyder remains resolute in his refusal to consider other names, and as a result more and more salvos are being fired his way. While this off the field action may not be detrimental to what happens on the gridiron, it certainly cannot help. In the latest round, the FCC is considering a ban based on the use of the name Redskins. A George Washington University law professor has petitioned the FCC to not renew the broadcast license of WWXX-FM for its repeated use of the nickname. WWXX is the flagship station for the Washington Redskins and it is owned by Snyder as well. For Dallas fans this can only mean one thing: when they are bashing Danny Boy, they are leaving Jerry alone.
- Things will not get any easier for the Skins this week. On Monday night they will host the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks at FedEx field. After last week's ugliness between the Chiefs and Patriots, I will be looking for something else to watch on Monday night. Two ugly primetime games in a row is not going to cut it at the Macelli household. It does not look like Jay Gruden and his team will be getting back on track anytime soon.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-1)
Philadelphia Eagles 21
San Francisco 49ers 26
- The Eagles fell from the ranks of the unbeaten last week. On issue that played a major factor in the defeat was the decimated offensive front the Eagles are dealing with. The team started three backup linemen last Sunday: David Molk at center while Matt Tobin and Dennis Kelly got the call at the two guard slots. The starter at right guard was Todd Herremans who normally is a guard. Only Jason Peters was in his normal spot. Although this unit managed to keep the Niners defense out of the backfield for the most part, the home team was able to stifle the Chip Kelly running game. The Eagles' top two backs, LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles, gained a combined 21 yards on 11 carries against the 49ers. For perspective, Tony Romo gained that much yardage on a single scramble for the Cowboys. When an aerial artist like Romo outgains your combined backfield on a single play, there are issues.
"We couldn't get anything going up front, and it was very tough sledding for anybody in there. It wasn't like, if you put Darren in there, Darren's running up and down the field. Running the football's a cooperative deal; it's got to be everybody, and we just didn't get it done." - Chip Kelly
- Speaking of the head coach in the City of Brotherly Love, our friends over at our sister site Bleeding Green Nation are starting to see a little bit of the luster wear off from the Lord of the Smoothies. In a post reminiscent of some that have been penned in these pages over the recent past, my SBN colleague Alex Rodriguez takes Coach Kelly to task for his play-calling on Sunday. In short, Alex (and many Eagles fans on Twitter as well) are very displeased with the way their savior handled a critical red zone situation in the game's closing minutes. Ultimately, the Eagles drive would not bear fruit and that sealed the team's fate in Levi's Stadium.
- As inexplicable as it may seem to some, LeSean McCoy has gone from leading the NFL in rushing during the 2013 season to being an afterthought for teams facing the Eagles this time around. Shady is 21st in the league in rushing after four games and his 2.7 yards per carry is the worst of his career. In the division he trails DeMarco Murray, Rashad Jennings, and Alfred Morris. Hot on Shady's heels is QB Colin Kaepernick, who trails the Philly back by only five yards despite having less than half the rushing attempts. Part of the responsibility falls on the front five in Philadelphia, but they have only been banged up for a game and a half. McCoy appears to have lost something this season. Perhaps it is his vision. Left tackle Jason Peters was recently seen talking with McCoy between series about cuts that the back was missing.
- McCoy and the Eagles will get the opportunity to get their ground game going this weekend when they take on the St. Louis Rams at Lincoln Financial Field. The Rams are ranked 30th against the run and surrender yardage at a 5.1 yards per carry clip. If the Eagles can't get it going this weekend, the wonder coach that was going to revolutionize professional football might want to retreat back into his experimental laboratory and concoct a new smoothie recipe or something.