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The Weekly BEast Report: The NFC East Is A Wide Open Division Edition

After the Cowboys resounding thud last week the division is a four horse (pony?) race.

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Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Te Dallas Cowboys entered Sunday with an opportunity to make a bold statement that they are the class of the NFC East in 2015 and that they have enough talent on the roster to overcome even the loss of a pair of superstars on offense. For a while it looked like it would happen but then the bottom fell out and the team returned to earth, There are still 13 games remaining to be played and it is now anyone's race.

New York Giants (1-2)

Last Week:

Washington Redskins - 21

New York Giants - 32

Next Up: @ Buffalo Bills

  • The Giants entered the fourth quarter of the Thursday night game in a familiar position, with a seemingly significant lead. In their two previous games they had found ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against Dallas and Atlanta, but they finally found a way to close out the game. This time the team had resolved to step up their efforts in the closing period of the contest rather than attempting to cruise home with a win. You may have noticed the raised forefingers of the players on the sidelines. That was the symbol of their commitment to each other to raise the intensity during the final quarter.

"You can’t dread the fourth quarter. Coach Coughlin challenged us to be excited about the opportunity. And to win it." - Eli Manning

  • The Giants have pulled themselves back into the thick of the race, and now they are looking for an opportunity to take the next step. They team took a look at former member Hakeem Nicks along with Wes Welker, and former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley. The Giants habitually work out players every Tuesday, but the names involved this time and the positions they play are most significant.
  • Those potential combinations could be interesting to the rest of the NFC East, but what should be a concern is that New York has found a way to generate pressure on the passer without Jason Pierre-Paul. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo got creative with his blitz packages and was bringing the heat from unexpected sources. The defensive front was dropping into pass coverage while the linebackers and DBs were getting in to the face of Kirk Cousins.

"Anytime you drop a defensive lineman in coverage, it's something they have to deal with post-snap, so it makes it extremely hard to deal with because you can't necessarily anticipate that based on what we're doing on the back end. Fire zone packages are extremely tough for any quarterback."  - Jon Beason

  • The Giants may have fought their way back in to contention for the NFC East crown, but does that mean that they are a contender? A good question, and ESPN's Dan Graziano, who covers the Giants, gives us his honest take on the situation.  Their chances look decent, but it is not of the team's doing.

The idea that the New York Giants might be able to contend in a wobbly NFC East is based entirely on the deficiencies of other teams. Dallas has lost Tony Romo and Dez Bryant to major injuries. Philadelphia looks all wrong. Washington remains the Giants' one reliable punching bag. The Giants' out-of-division schedule doesn't scare you too much, what with all that San Francisco and Tampa Bay and New Orleans in there.

Washington Redskins

Last Week:

Washington Redskins - 21

New York Giants -32

Next Up: Philadelphia Eagles

  • After week two of the season, the Redskins were in second place in the division and they faced a staggering Giants team with the opportunity to stake a claim that these were not the Skins of recent years. They delivered more of the same old Washington instead; three turnovers, costly penalties at the worst possible times, and a blocked punt that turned into a safety. The performance of Kirk Cousins against the Giants also brought the Washington QB controversy back to life, although head coach Jay Gruden is sticking with his man, for now.

"We’ve just got to have some patience, understand that there are going to be some rough times with a young quarterback. He has also got to understand he can’t put his team at risk and protect the ball a little bit better." - Jay Gruden

  • The loss was costly for the Redskins in ways other than just their position in the standings. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall has been lost for three to four weeks with a sprained toe. The loss of Hall is the latest event in the depleting of the Redskins secondary, which was a cause for concern at the start of the season. ESPN's Redskins reporter John Keim gets us up to speed on the Washington losses.

They lost starting strong safety Duke Ihenacho to a season-ending injury in Week 1 and released former second-round cornerback David Amerson earlier this week. Nickelback Justin Rogers has missed the past two games with a foot injury.

  • The Redskins also lost left guard Shawn Lauvao to injured reserve this week. The majority of the running success of Alfred Morris and Matt Jones had come behind Lauvao and left tackle Trent Williams this season. His backup, Josh LeRibeus, was also injured in last week's contest. The news is devastating for a Washington offense that is still trying to find its way in the world that is the NFL. Lauvao was well on his way to joining the list of Bill Callahan success stories as an offensive lineman.

Philadelphia Eagles

Last Week:

Philadelphia Eagles - 24

New York Jets - 17

Next Up: @ Washington Redskins

  • Yes they won the game, but Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News thinks that the Eagles,QB in particular, looked worse against the New York Jets than he did against the Dallas Cowboys.  His take is that a few individual efforts and some improvement upfront made the difference in the outcome, Considering the Jets mistakes on Sunday and the efforts of Darren Sproles on special teams, I have to lend credence to Bowen's opinion.

Bradford was actually worse Sunday at the Jets than the previous week against Dallas, it's just that the offensive line was better, the defense forced four turnovers, and Darren Sproles ran a punt back for a touchdown.

  • That improved offensive line play suffered a blow in the game. Guard Andrew Gardner was placed on injured reserve this week after a season ending foot injury suffered against the Jets. Gardner was one of the two men tapped to replace Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans in Chip Kelly's attempt to rebuild the Eagles in his image. Linebacker Kiko Alonzo will also be out for the Eagles. He underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee earlier this week and will be able to play again this season. According to reports, Alonzo's knee was not a severe as first though, so the team anticipates having him back for the closing stretch of the season.
  • Kiko was a key force in the defense that had been propelling the Eagles while the offense was struggling. Take out the first half of the week one game against Atlanta and Philly's defense has been carrying its share of the load. They have surrendered 36 points over the last ten quarters and are #1 in the league against the run, allowing just 3.1 yards per carry. The secondary has made the biggest strides, they are now giving up yardage at a meager 6.7 yards per pass. That ranks them in the top ten.

The division is now up for grabs. Dallas still has the opportunity to control its own fate, but every man on the field, and on the coaching staff will have to step up his game. The potential is there for any of the other three teams to knock the Cowboys off their perch, but each has fatal flaws of their own. It will be interesting to watch this one play out.


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