How things are going to play out in the NFC East will be anyone's guess, but the one sure thing is that it is not progressing the way that Dallas Cowboys fans had anticipated. Injuries, production issues, unanticipated success, and perhaps bad personnel decisions have combined to make the 2015 season interesting to say the least. Current trends may or may not continue, but for now the division remains wide open and ready for any of the four teams to stake a claim.
New York Giants (2-2)
New York Giants - 24
Buffalo Bills - 10
Next Up: San Francisco 49ers
- The Giants are making their move, they don't have a lot of big-name talent on defense but they are playing as a unit. A bunch of blue-collar guys with sweaty uniforms are rolling up their sleeves and going to work. Steve Spagnuolo is getting effort out of every man in his meeting rooms and the players are playing with pride, and that has proven to be enough for them to start meeting with some success. Big names like Jason Pierre-Paul may be missing, but the New York defense is finding a way to uphold their end of the bargain.
"It's been done before, no-name defense. We've got some journeymen, some guys who've been around. But we're just buying into a mentality spearheaded by our defensive coordinator and our position coaches, and guys are doing it collectively." - Jon Beason
- The biggest thing that has changed for the G-Men is that they are now focused on finishing the fight. After becoming the first team in NFL history to start 0-2 after having a double-digit lead to start the fourth quarter in each game, the squad was challenged by its head coach to start closing things out at the end. It has made all the difference for his charges.
"Coach (Tom) Coughlin did a great job challenging us to start winning the fourth quarter and elevating our play in the fourth quarter. I think we did that. It was looking grim there for a little bit, but the defense had some great stops on some drives."
"And we're elevating our play in the fourth quarter to give us a chance and an opportunity to win those games." - Eli Manning
- The other crucial factor in what the Giants are doing is they have a different passer this season. Good Eli has once again replaced Bad as the starter. Against the Bills he threw three touchdowns against only one interception. It was the first pick thrown by Manning this season. Not only is he taking better care of the ball and being more efficient in 2015, Eli is making some clutch plays for his team. When Manning is playing at the level he is currently, the Giants will always give themselves a fighting chance.
Washington Redskins (2-2)
Philadelphia Eagles - 20
Washington Redskins - 23
Next Up: @ Atlanta Falcons
- We may not want to admit it but progress is being made in Washington, at least on the football field. The Skins sit tied for the division lead and they look far better than the team has since the rookie season of that high-priced quarterback that their owner had to have. Coach Jay Gruden has returned the team to some basic fundamentals and it is paying off. Washington has come a long way thanks to playing sound defense and physical play, particularly in their running game. The team is still a work in progress, but it is fair to say that Gruden has the team trending in the right direction.
- One thing that seems to have changed is there is an attitude around the Redskins that nothing is given, positions must be earned. This is a far cry from when the aforementioned quarterback was "entitled" to start and Mike Shanahan was allegedly prohibited from benching him. It seems Gruden is being given full authority to make on the field decisions and to set the line up. Nothing is given, and nothing is dictated from above in this edition of the Washington Redskins.
"That's the only way it should be in pro football, and I don't think this is the only place that handles it like that. I think every football team, every baseball team, basketball team does the same thing. It's a performance-based business. In order to keep your job, you have got to perform at a high level. That's what we're expecting from all our guys." - Jay Gruden
- Washington, and quarterback Kirk Cousins, DeSean Jackson has returned to practice,.He has been out since week one with a soft tissue injury and Jackson is still limited as to what he can do, but the veteran intends to test himself over the next two days to see if he can return to the line up. His presence on the field will further open up the offense for Cousins and if he can impact the game, it should also create more opportunities for the Washington running backs as well.
Philadelphia Eagles (1-3)
Philadelphia Eagles - 20
Washington Redskins - 23
Next Up: New Orleans Saints
- I don't know of anyone here at Blogging The Boys who does not like to see a good jab at our friends from Philly or the genius who is tabbed with trying to lead the team to its first Lombardi Trophy, so here is one that comes our way courtesy of our old friend Jimmy Kempski. Former NFL coach turned broadcaster Brian Billick gave his thoughts on the Eagles situation and why Chip Kelly is the problem. It is a bit long, but I have quoted the whole piece since it explains why successful coaches in college do not transition well to the professional ranks.
"There is no place to go because it's one-stop shopping. This is it, and it's not just play-calling. Anytime -- and I know this first hand -- anytime, you know, you're vulnerable as a head coach certainly, when you're a head coach calling plays, multiply that ten-fold because now, not only are you not performing as the head coach, but now we have serious questions about your ability to call a game, or to orchestrate a game. It's a difficult double whammy, and he is the end-all, be-all. He made all the orchestrated change in the front office in terms of the players.This thing is a powder keg ready to blow up, because as you guys know, you talk to the players, I've done their games, even when they're 10-6 the last two years, the players aren't real fond of the way they do business and the way they practice. They feel like they're being treated like college players.
When you're winning 10 games, you're not going to rock the boat. But if this continues, much like the players that have gone, we're going to start hearing the chipping away from within with the players, and unfortunately it'll be under the 'anonymous' tag to begin with. But some of the things, whether it be the way they don't get a day off or the practice structure, or how they eat, they way they're micromanaged the way Chip Kelly does it, this was going to be the new way. So this starts to begin to unravel.
It's a transition coaching the pro players. It's why a lot of coaches don't make that transition. It doesn't mean they're not good coaches, but whether it's a Steve Spurrier, whether it's a Nick Saban, whether it's a Bobby Petrino, they find out that dealing with the pro player is a different mentality and it's going to test Chip Kelly." - Brian Billick
- One of Kelly's questionable decisions during the off-season was Sam Bradford, and it is hard to argue on Chip's side thus far. His performance this season is not good enough to justify the Eagles signing him to a long-term agreement but neither have they been bad enough to justify the team saying "Hey, we made a mistake here". Bradford has been "Meh" for Philadelphia and that just makes all the decisions harder for the team. Here is what he has done for the team this season: He is still an unanswered question but Philly is running out of time to find the answer.
The Eagles are 1-3 in Bradford's four starts. Bradford has completed 88 of 145 passes (60.7 percent) for 948 yards. He has thrown six touchdown passes and four interceptions. His passer rating is 82.2.
Bradford is 17th in the league in passing yards, 30th in passer rating, and tied for 13th in touchdown passes.
- Bradford's job is also being made harder by the woes of his offensive line. Starters Lane Johnson at right tackle, Jason Peters at the other bookend, and left guard Allen Barbre are dealing with injuries that are limiting their effectiveness. Starting right guard Andrew Gardner is already on injured reserve for the rest of the season. Only Jason Kelse appears to be healthy, but the Eagles are out of options due to Kelly's "revamping" of the OL and his choice to get reserves from the NFL scrap heap. This was done while Dallas, New York, and Washington have been investing in their offensive lines and it is beginning to show the foolish effects of poor planning. Johnson summed up the attitude that the five starters are being forced to take as they battle through what is limiting their productivity.
"We're 1-3 right now. We don't have nobody else. It's either step up or sit down. I'm going to go until I can't." - Lane Johnson
That is the state of affairs in the NFC East right now. New York has the best opportunity to take the driver's seat, but in the fickle division everything is subject to change. Stay tuned, certainly the tide will shift a couple more times this season.