Ladies and gentlemen, the BEast is well on its way to being back. Of the three franchises with the best record (4-1) in the league, two are NFC East squads. With the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles at the forefront, the division sports a 12-8 combined record. The New York Giants have found their sea legs and are hot on the heels of the division co-leaders; only the Washington Redskins continue to struggle. The division is a far cry better than it was last season, and the power rankings show this. Philly is fourth, Dallas sixth, and the Giants come in at #13. Even with the lackluster Skins ranked at #26, the division has come a long way in a short period of time.
New York Giants (3-2)
Atlanta Falcons - 20
New York Giants - 30
- Giants fans were finally able to get their first look at the future when first round draft pick Odell Beckhan, Jr, made his first appearance as a professional football player last Sunday. The LSU product saw nearly 40 snaps for the Giants offense and caught four balls on five targets for 44 yards and his first career touchdown. Even when Beckham was not targeted, his speed and big play potential forced the Falcons defense to account for him, thus providing opportunities for the rest of the New York offense. If the rookie receiver can put his hamstring issues behind him, the Giants will have a formidable weapon to pair alongside Victor Cruz in the passing game.
- All the excitement in the Giants camp is not revolving around the team starting to get in the flow on offense. The G-men appear to be getting back into the swing on the defensive front as well. Against Atlanta they found their pass rush. Trailing the birds by ten points, the defensive linemen knew that they were going to have to take over the game for their team to have a chance. From that point forward, the Giants defensive front four kept Matt Ryan under pressure and kept the Falcons from gaining another first down. Coach Tom Coughlin described the performance as two complete different games. That moment was the turning point in the game.
"We just felt like we had to take over this game. We love those situations. We like having it all on the defense's back." - Giants DL Robert Ayers
- There is some attitude coming back to the team from the Big Apple, and it is being noticed around the division. Our friends over at Bleeding Green Nation are taking the Giants to task for talking a little bit too much trash this week. Remember this is Eagles-Giants week, so the banter is flying back and forth between the two teams and their respective fan bases. Still you have to love watching it, especially this one featuring former Eagle and current Giant Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara:
Hanging with The Prince of NY and @drc_two1 tonight. You already know what they think of the jersey! #GIANTS #0 #4 pic.twitter.com/zQZZewpg9b— LPG - Joe (@LicensePlateGuy) October 7, 2014
- All of this leads up to the Giants annual visit to the City of Brotherly Love on Sunday. With a win, New York will draw even with Philadelphia in the NFC East race and, depending on the results of the Cowboys contest with the World Champion Seahawks, the could also force a three way race at the top of the NFC East standings.
Washington Redskins (1-4)
Seattle Seahawks - 27
Washington Redskins - 17
- The Seahawks tried every way they could think of to hand the Monday night game to the Redskins, but the team from the nation's capitol refused to capitalize on the opportunity. For example, Seattle's Percy Harvin had not one but three touchdowns brought back due to penalties (and in the process seriously hamstringing my team's performance over at fanduel.com). Had it not been for a single-handed performance from Russell Wilson, the Skins still might have prevailed.This game could serve as the metaphor for the current state of Jay Gruden's squad and the coach knows it.
"Overall, as a group offensively, our running game's not quite good enough. Obviously our deep passing game's not quite good enough. We're not quite good enough anywhere." - Jay Gruden
- Members of the media that cover the Redskins are raising some serious questions about the commitment of the players in the locker room. Just moments after the team suffered its third consecutive loss, many of the players were witnessed laughing and joking in the locker room in the the same manner that would normally be expected of a team that had just won. Losing has become a part of the mindset in Washington, and now the beat writers are starting to call the players out on it.
In five of the past six seasons and seven of 10, the Redskins have finished last or tied for last in the NFC East. Their long run of failure has been marked by preposterous player-personnel decisions, poor management and coaching hires and too many on-field embarrassments to list. Along the way, the Redskins have become accustomed to losing. It's as much a part of who they are as burgundy-and-gold uniforms.
- The Redskins problems begin at home. Back in the day, when Washington played at old RFK Stadium, the team was supported by a loyal and boisterous group of loyal fans who passed their season tickets down through generations. It was a tough place to play. Even when the squad moved to its new digs in Landover, Maryland, home was a friendly place for the Skins. In the three seasons that they new place was known as Jack Kent Cook Stadium, the team went 15-8-1. That all ended wen the name was changed to FedEx Field. Since the change of moniker the home team is a dismal 52-63. That my friends is a 45% home winning percentage. When you can't hold serve at home in the National Football League success will be an anomaly, and that is what the Redskins recent NFC East championship was. The Skins have a long road ahead of them to return to prominence, and that road begins at home.
- The Redskins will travel to the desert this week to face the Arizona Cardinals.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-1)
St. Louis Rams - 28
Philadelphia Eagles - 34
- Even with the Eagles sitting at 4-1 on the season and the team averaging over 30 points per game, there are serious questions surrounding Chip Kelly's offense. After having a year's worth of film to study, opposing defensive coordinators are catching up with the man who was going to revolutionize the professional game. In consecutive weeks that Philly offense has faced defenses that were willing to get down and physical against the birds. Over the last two weeks the Eagles O failed to score on the San Francisco 49ers and under-performed against the St. Louis Rams. A big key to beating the Eagles is realizing that Nick Foles is not athletic enough to be successful running the read option, so the top defensive minds in the league are focusing on one man, LeSean McCoy. On passing downs, they are dialing up more pressure and getting in Foles' face and forcing him into bad choices. The 2013 Pro Bowler is looking like anything but a top QB this season. The team's recent series of misfortunes on the offensive line have only served to compound the issues.
- Shady McCoy is still not back to form, but he did put up his best numbers of the season last Sunday against St. Louis. He carried 24 times for 81 yards against the Rams. Not nearly his normal performance but it was his best of the season. Credit for that is due in part to the Eagles getting right tackle Lane Johnson back and right guard Todd Herremans returned to his natural position. As stated above, defensive coaches have made shutting down McCoy their key focus this season, and the running back has not been seeing the openings that he has taken advantage of throughout his career. McCoy knows that in the current offensive scheme this will be the new normal for him. This means that the onus is on him to improve.
"I think it starts with me. I need to break more tackles. I felt like the last game was too many save tackles, where a guy just gets my leg, stuff like that. But we're getting better." - LeSean McCoy
- During their 2013 run to the NFC East crown, Philadelphia benefited from a great run of luck against the injury bug. This season, in addition to the offensive line injuries that we have looked at over the past few weeks, they have suffered injuries on defense as well. The most critical have been a rash of ones to the inside linebackers. With the started and their key backups all missing action, Bill Davis, the defensive coordinator, has been playing musical chairs with his guys. Now the Eagles are getting guys back. DeMeco Ryans has returned to practice, and based on the improvement he has experienced this week, the leader of the Philly defense expects to take the field when the Eagles face divisional rival New York on Sunday. His presence should be a shot in the arm for the birds as the enter a key game.
- As was mentioned above, the New York Giants will pay a visit to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.