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A Look Around The NFC East - The Race For The NFC East Title Begins

It was not the most pleasant of weekends in the division. Even the Eagles, the one team to emerge from week 9 with a win, suffered some serious losses.

Thomas B. Shea

New York Giants (3-5)

Indianapolis Colts - 40
New York Giants - 24

The New York Giants continue to feel the impact of the injury bug this season. On Monday night it was second-round draft pick Weston Richburg, an offensive lineman, and the team's top defensive back, Prince Amukamara, who fell victim to the tolls of playing in the National Football League. Richburg was carted off the playing surface with what appeared to be a serious injury to his ankle, and Amukamara has been lost for the season due to a torn biceps muscle. The Giants roster has been decimated by injuries this season, and that has had an impact on how the team has performed.

Over the first half of the season, the Giants have seen season-ending injuries to Victor Cruz (knee), Walter Thurmond III (pectoral) and Jon Beason (foot) already. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is playing through pain and rotated reps against the Colts. That doesn't include injuries to one of their best offensive lineman, Geoff Schwartz, and running back Rashad Jennings, who has yet to return from an MCL sprain.

I said it last season, and I will say it again now. There are some divisions within the Giants locker room. Antrel Rolle is openly questioning the desire of his teammates. This type of dissension is nothing new, several times I touched on the subject in last season's editions of the BEast Report. While I have no way of knowing if Rolle's opinion is accurate or shared by many in the locker room, I do realize that the fact that he is putting it out there speaks to deeper issues within the team, and until those issues are resolved, the Giants will not move forward.

"We're 3-5. There's a lot to be worried about. We're not winning the games. We're not capitalizing on opportunities. We have to fight harder. We have to get dirty. We have to get nasty sometims in this game. There's times where I've felt like we can play as good as any team in this league and there's times where I think we can play as bad as any team in this league. ... I feel like we're so inconsistent. We're so up and down. You don't know what you're gonna get coming Sunday. You don't know if you're gonna get the good Giants, the bad Giants, the flat Giants, the Giants that play with energy. You never know what you're gonna get. We have to find a way to understand that this is the NFL, man. This is the league. This is where we've always wanted to be. You have to be passionate about this game. If you lose, you lose with a fight. You literally lose with a fight. You go out there and you fight and scratch and claw. You try to do whatever you can to get a win. Right now, it's just not happening." - Antrel Rolle

There is a general feeling around the New York organization that the final eight games of the 2014 season are really an audition for players to prove that they want to be a part of the organization moving forward. The same thing applies to the coaches as well. Jerry Reese invested heavily in the off-season to jump-start the franchise and it is not working. Changes have to be made somewhere, and nobody, not Tom Coughlin; not Eli Manning, should consider themselves safe. It may be difficult to imagine the Giants without either man, but if wholesale changes are in order, a new coach and/or quarterback would be a logical place to start.

The final eight games of this Giants season will be about finding out who's part of the solution and who isn't. The Giants began a rebuilding project last spring, and as they brace for the extreme likelihood of missing the playoffs for the fifth time in the past six years, they must carefully evaluate the ability, desire and fit of every player they have. They need to know what they have that's worth building on.

The Giants will invade CenturyLink Field to visit the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday afternoon.

Washington Redskins (3-6)

Washington Redskins - 26
Minnesota Vikings - 29

Amid reports from various sources (for a summary click here) that he is the cause of a rift in the Washington locker room, Robert Griffin has stated that he believes that he is the one to lead the Redskins forward. Head coach Jay Gruden has stated that he is looking to use the closing weeks of the 2014 season to determine if RGIII is the man to lead the team forward or not. This spring the coach, along with the front office, will face the task of deciding if Griffin's efforts merit exercising the club's fifth year option on the quarterback. Given his history since turning professional, the choice will be a tough one to make.

"I understand everybody has a criticism, but you have to prove yourself every day in this league. I take that mindset toward it, but when it comes to being the franchise guy ... I believe that I am. I believe this organization knows that I am and I know those guys in the locker room believe that I am. I don't ever step onto the field trying to make a claim saying, 'I'm the guy.' No, it's not like that." - Robert Griffin,III

The Redskins defense continued its Jekyll and Hyde pattern on Sunday. A defense that was the bane of the Dallas Cowboys existence on Monday night  had no answers for the Minnesota Vikings just six days later. A team that spent the whole game in Tony Romo's face barely introduced themselves to Teddy Bridgewater on Sunday, especially as the game wound down to crunch time.

The Redskins sacked Romo five times, and hit him another four times. The pass rush was spotty at best against Bridgewater (two sacks, five hits). Bridgewater is more elusive than Romo, but the pressure was almost non-existent in the second half. Bridgewater completed 9 of 14 second-half passes and was clutch on third downs.

One interesting tidbit coming out of Washington is that the Redskins don't seem to think they are getting what they paid for when they signed Jason Hatcher. Jason has been solid up front, and he leads all Washington defensive linemen with four sacks, but Coach Gruden expected more for the $27.5 million dollar investment. Washington wants more of what Hatch did in 2013, but he is turning in a performance that is more on par with the bulk of his career. Looks like the Dallas front office made a wise move not to re-sign the aging veteran.

"He is not playing at the dominant level we need him to play. When we have third down and five and six and seven, we need him to get pressure in the quarterback's face consistently and that hasn't been the case. That is not to say that he has been playing poorly, it's just we need him at a dominant level, that's why we brought him here from Dallas." - Jay Gruden

The Redskins will have a bye this weekend.

Philadelphia Eagles (6-2)

Philadelphia Eagles - 31

Houston Texans - 21

Starting at quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles....Mark Sanchez. Prior to suffering a collarbone injury that could sideline him for the rest of the season, Nick Foles was not having the kind of season that was expected after his performance last year. Even so, he was far superior to his back-up, former New York Jets whipping boy Mark Sanchez. So far the Eagles have turned the ball over 21 times in eight games. It will be interesting to see what impact that Sanchez has on that statistic as the season rolls on. He is off to a solid start with two interceptions in three quarters against the Texans last Sunday. While Chip Kelly is saying that he has confidence in his QB, you have to wonder how prophetic his post game comments were when he addressed the turnover issue his team is facing.

"It's going to be tough to survive, living on the edge like that." - Chip Kelly

The Eagles defense took a serious blow when linebacker DeMeco Ryans suffered a torn Achilles tendon in his right leg. Ryans had just picked off Houston QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and was attempting to return the ball when he went down and fumbled the ball. While both sides scrambled after the loose football, Ryans remained on the turf. This is the second Achilles tear of his career, the first coming as a member of the Texans in 2010. The loss of his services will leave a big hole in the middle of the Philadelphia defense for the remainder of the season. Casey Matthews and Emmanuel Acho will fill the position, but neither brings the leadership of the 11 year veteran.

"He's the true leader of our defense. ... He's Mufasa. He's our guy. When a warrior goes down, you pick up his shield and you go play in honor of him, and I think that's what our guys did. - Chip Kelly

One thing that is looking up for the Eagles, LeSean McCoy is starting to look like the Shady of old. With the return of some of his blockers up front, primarily the suspended Lane Johnson at right tackle, McCoy has went over 80 yards in four consecutive games. That is the longest such streak of his career. He has also eclipsed the 100-yard barrier in two of his last three outings. If Philly is going to go places with Sanchez at QB, then Shady is going to have to be the man who gets them there. For him to find success, it will all have to start up front, and he knows it.

"The guys up front played tremendous against very, very tough assignments and blocked well. Sanchez made some pretty good calls and was able to keep them honest for the most part. We just played smash mouth. Just ran at them." - LeSean McCoy

Next up for Philadelphia is a date with the Carolina Panthers at home on Monday night.

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