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The Weekly BEast Report: Bye Week Musings On The Rest Of The NFC East

Seven wins at the mid-season break...there was a time when that seemed like a stretch for Dallas. Now we look around and take stock of what the Cowboys must do to separate themselves from everyone else in the East.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants     (3-6)

New York Giants - 17
Seattle Seahawks - 38

At one point the Giants looked poised to make the NFC East a three-way battle, but since that point the team from the Big Apple as taken a tremendous nose dive. The revamped offense has been the cause of more than its share of the problem, but the overriding share of the blame should be directed at the Giants defense. Once the cornerstone of a pair of Super Bowl winning squads, the New York D is now a shadow of its former self. More and more it is looking like defensive coordinator Perry Fewell is going to be the one held accountable for the team's demise, as well he should. The references now being used to describe the current edition of the Giants defense should sound familiar to fans of the Dallas Cowboys.

Because the defense under Perry Fewell is definitely broken, and that - more so than the struggling offense - is the reason this season is getting flushed away. The Giants' once-proud defense isn't just bad, it's historically bad. After its hideous performance in Seattle on Sunday, it's ranked dead last in the 32-team NFL.

The one bright spot on the horizon for the G-men is the pending return of running back Rashad Jennings. While he may not be quite the weapon that division mates DeMarco Murray and LeSean McCoy are, Jennings' efforts have provided a spark of life for the Giants offense when he was healthy. The same cannot be said for his backup, Andre Williams. The only question is how much help will he provide the struggling organization? NBC New York brought up that issue recently.

Is Jennings single-handedly going to save the Giants' season? Not unless he can also play defensive tackle, linebacker and cornerback, thus helping a defense that is now ranked last in the NFL.

The Giants will have an opportunity to begin a rebound this weekend when the San Francisco 49ers pay a visit to MetLife Stadium. A New York defense that allowed 350 yards on the ground to the Seahawks will try to stop the two-headed rushing attack of Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore. Unless their once vaunted defensive line can conjure up its former self, this weekend could turn into another long and embarrassing outing for the Giants.

Washington Redskins     (3-6)


One thing that I have highlighted in previous editions of the BEast Report has been the lack of a winning culture in Washington. From my point of view, there were issues left over from the Mike Shanahan era that had not found a resolution thus far in the Jay Gruden regime. On of these was a lack of veteran leadership in the locker room. I somewhat thought that Jason Hatcher would step up and provide that for his new team, but that does not seem to be the case. That role is being filled from an unexpected source. It is former Philly WR DeSean Jackson, a player who is normally the type who leads with his performance, who is speaking up and becoming vocal behind closed doors. With his experience in the league, DJax knows that locker room chemistry can make or destroy any team, and he felt that the time had come for him to exert some influence on the younger guys on his team.

"I just felt it was needed. Silence is sometimes a good thing, but if you have an opinion on a topic or a certain situation, then it needs to be spoken, and that's what I felt. You have to understand the importance of supporting one another. We're in this locker room together. We work so hard. We compete and do all them great things. But if everyone's not on one page, it's hard to get the benefit of the doubt." - DeSean Jackson

At the center of much of the debate is Robert Griffin, III. Head coach Jay Gruden is now defending RGIII in the media. Sure a starting QB should have the confidence of his coach, but I wonder if the fact that the coach has to go to bat for the passer is a good thing or not. After reading Gruden's comments, it is more what he did not say that has me wondering if the team is getting closer to admitting that the RGIII trade was a bad move for the organization. Not once did I hear the coach say that his quarterback is the cornerstone of his plan for growing the team. His comments sounded more like Garrett-talk than anything else.

"I don't think anybody is liked by everybody. Heck, I'm not liked by everybody I don't think. It's not about being liked. It's about performing at a consistent high level at that position. I know there's great quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. If you look at them, I don't think everybody liked them in their locker room, but they all respected and they knew that come game time, crunch time, he was going to make a play. That's what it boils down to. He has to get the most out of everybody around him. They all have to want to play their best for the quarterback." - Jay Gruden

The 3-6 Skins will have an opportunity to move ahead of the 3-6 Giants this weekend. Washington will play host to the hapless 1-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers this weekend. Tampa invested in quite a bit of talent to help Lovie Smith jumpstart the franchise, but as of yet, they have not gelled. This is one of the few games where Washington is clearly the better team. Of course, I felt the same way prior to their meeting with Minnesota two weeks ago. The Skins managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in that contest.

Philadelphia Eagles (7-2)

Carolina Panthers - 21
Philadelphia Eagles - 45

Mark Sanchez looked like a NFL quarterback in his first Lincoln Financial Field appearance as Chip Kelly's signal-caller. For Eagles fans, that fact had to be somewhat of a relief. No doubt they had the same feelings that Cowboys had when we realized that Brandon Weeden was going to start in Tony Romo's stead. Sanchez faced lesser competition than did Weeden, but regardless of that he stood and delivered. The difference is that he will have to continue to perform for Kelly. That is what should still have Eagles fans on edge. We have seen good games from Sanchez before. His issue has been putting together a series of such games. Philly's hopes will ride on his ability to do that over the next 6-8 weeks. Sanchez' own words tell the tale of his inconsistency. Everyone wonders what is next.

"I've been through a lot of this stuff before. I've been through some tough times, been through some great times. I've just got to keep a level head and stay calm and rely on the guys around me, and man, did they come through, big time." - Mark Sanchez

As much as anything, it was the Philadelphia defense that came through in the dominating Monday night effort against Carolina. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis designed an excellent gameplan to force Panther's QB Cam Newton to play to his own weaknesses. Everything was designed to take away the outside and force Newton to play in the middle of the field and become a pocket passer. It worked to perfection for the Eagles. He spent the entire contest trying to force the action, and that played into Philly's hands.

"The plan was to really try to keep him in the middle and make him throw out of the pocket. Superior athlete like that, he gets out of the pocket, he makes [stuff] happen. We just had to keep him in the pocket and make him force throws. That was a nice thing, man." - Vinny Curry

Philadelphia will face a challenge this weekend when they travel to Lambeau Field to face Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. The Eagles are a .500 road team this season, while the Pack have held serve all season long at home. Offensively the two teams are evenly matched, but the Pack looks to have a little better at stopping their opponents. As a result, Green Bay will enter the contest with a slight edge. Cowboys fans hope that it will be enough to keep the Eagles from taking a full game lead in the division.

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