The NFL season is just two weeks old, but already things are shaping up to be an unusual season. For example, when was the last time that the Browns, Buccaneers, Redskins, Raiders, and Jaguars all won in the same week? I half expected to tune in to ESPN and hear Rod Serling doing a voiceover before the week's highlights were shown. The NFC East has not been immune to the unusual happenings taking place in the parallel universe that is professional football.
New York Giants (0-2)
New York Giants 20
Fans in New York are now trying to convince themselves that they are a legitimate contender in the NFC East. There is some logic behind the thought process. For the next two months there will be no Tony Romo in Dallas, the once heralded savior in Washington, Robert Griffin III, has been relegated to third string and a role as safety on the scout team, and Philadelphia is being led by Sam Bradford. Some feel that this leaves New York with the best option as a passer.
The minute he stops showing up on Sundays or Thursday nights as Bad Comedian Eli Manning, Tom Coughlin will own the best quarterback in the division, and it isn't close. It means the Big Blue Sky hasn't fallen on the Giants season, yet.It means opportunity knocks. Answer the damn door.
If the Giants are going to overtake the Cowboys and win the NFC East it will have to happen on defense, not the right arm of Eli Manning. Coughlin's two Super Bowl rings came courtesy of his defense not the quarterback. The Big Blue defense under returning coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is a shadow of its former self. That is why Spagnuolo was brought back to the Big Apple. With what he currently has in place the defensive guru of the Giants is handcuffed. Things do not look promising for his short term goals. New York does not appear to be ready to stop anyone, which will place the quarterback in a situation where he will have to be "Good Eli" all the time. His past performance tells us that this is highly unlikely to happen.
"It's definitely limited now, I will tell you that, just because I want to let them play, and that is the focus. Whether we get to add the other things or not depends on who's in there, how healthy we stay. I'm going to have to decide that as we go." - Steve Spagnuolo
New York is not getting any help on the injury front either. Jon Beason, the middle linebacker, will likely make his 2015 debut on Thursday, but the Giants will still be missing several other important pieces. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Victor Cruz have been ruled out for the game as have tight end Jerome Cunningham defensive tackle Markus Kuhn and defensive end Owa Odighizuwa. Tackle Ereck Flowers and defensive end Robert Ayers are also unlikely to participate in the game. The losses on the defensive front are likely to be critical with the progress that Bill Callahan has made with the Redskins offensive line.
Washington Redskins (1-1)
Washington Redskins 24
@ New York Giants
Dallas Cowboys fans know just what Bill Callahan is capable of doing with an offensive line. That is why many were disappointed to see his move to Washington. We know what is coming if Danny Boy and the Redskins front office will give him the time and talent he needs. In just two weeks the effort is paying off, just ask Jeff Fisher. From the above cited 'fantasy' piece about the Giants winning the division we also get this dose of the reality the G-men will face Thursday night.
The Redskins so pounded the Rams' Fearsome Foursome with running backs Alfred Morris (18 carries, 59 yards rushing) and 231-pound rookie Matt Jones (123 rushing yards, two touchdowns) that Rams coach Jeff Fisher was moved to sing the praises of former Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan.
"Coach Callahan has done a great job with that offensive line. It's Dallas all over again." - Jeff Fisher
Don't look now, but 'quarterback whisperer" Jay Gruden has the second place Redskins riding the wave of a running attack. Yes, you heard me correctly; a Gruden offense that is built around the run. There is a little attitude working in that equation as well. Right now the Washington offensive front is daring people to stop them and so far nobody has been able to. I like it, or at least I would if it were not coming from a divisional rival.
"For us, we have an attitude right now like nobody is going to stop our run. The running backs were running their tails off, getting big runs and making people miss. It does a lot for team morale when you can bust some things.
"We're off to a good start, but some teams will challenge our run. We'll get loaded boxes, and we have to answer. The good thing for us is that all our runs are clicking right now. If we can keep that up it's going to be a fun year." - Kory Lichtensteiger
It is not just on the offensive front where the Skins are winning the battle. The defensive line is getting the job done as well. Led by former Dallas defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, the defense is getting plenty of pressure on opposing passers. The are doing it by just bringing four men, which is a far cry from what Washington used to do under former defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, who loved to use multiple blitz packages. What they are doing is working, and there seems to be no plan to go away from it.
"I thought we did a lot of good things man, but we have a lot to work on. We applied great pressure in big situations. We just need to continue to disrupt and dominate the man in front of you, be relentless in the pass rush." - Jason Hatcher
Dallas Cowboys 20
Philadelphia Eagles 10
Sometimes as a writer another pundit beats you to the punch with one of those phrases that you wish you had come up with. That is the case with what Jenny Vrentas wrote for Monday Morning Quarterback. I love the quote and it bears repeating. It sums up the budding dumpster fire in Philadelphia perfectly.
After Kelly's overhaul of the roster, starting with the Sam Bradford-for-Nick Foles swap, there was going to be no middle ground—especially after Kelly failed to take the Eagles past the wild-card round in either of his first two seasons. He remade this franchise in a vision that only he saw clearly, setting himself up to be deemed either a genius or a fraud.
Sam Bradford has looked like the Sam Bradford of old despite the change in uniforms. When teams bring pressure he gets rattled. DeMarco Murray, last seasons NFL rushing leader, is threatening to average in inches what he used to average in yards. Clearly there is something seriously amiss in the fast paced offense that was supposed to revolutionize professional football. Perhaps that something is not just on the field; it might also be a problem in the locker room as well. From one Eagles player comes a pair of comments that seem to suggest that the players are starting to question themselves and their coach
"We're in a daze right now."
"Maybe it comes down to scheme, but I think with their success they had today, it just comes down to execution." - Lane Johnson
It is not just the players who are beginning to feel a little disgruntled. Philadelphia fans are nothing if not vocal to say the least. One fan, Eric Emanuele, better known as "The Mighty ERock," in the world inhabited by Eagles fans, has a Eagles based You Tube channel that he runs. His most recent episode has gone viral. In it he sums up what I suspect is the emotion felt by Philadelphia fans everywhere. ( I will allow you to draw your own thoughts about his comments, but feel free to share them in the comments section.)
"I've walked out of this stadium upset, I've walked out of this stadium angry. I've walked out of this stadium disappointed. I have never walked out of this stadium embarrassed. And right now I am embarrassed as an Eagles fan." - The Mighty ERock
Aside from his completion, I mean interception involving Sean Lee, Philadelphia quarterback Sam Bradford displayed terrible downfield accuracy. On the rare occasions when Bradford was on target it was his receivers who could not hang on to the ball. It has been this way for three of the four quarters that the former Rams passes has played this season. More and more it is becoming clear that he is the bust that the rest of the football world realized that he was after his time in St. Louis. Publicly though, his coach is still expressing support for his quarterback of choice (at least other than Marcus Mariota). I guess you have to feel that way when your next option is Mark Sanchez.
He was as sharp as anybody in how he threw the ball in the preseason, but we are not doing that right now. Some of that is drops, some of that is protection, some of that is Sam. It's a combination of all three." - Chip Kelly
The other crown jewel in Chip Kelly's foray into the realm of being an NFL personnel man, DeMarco Murray, is not only struggling to fit into the Eagles offense, his now struggling to stay on the field. Murray left Wednesday's practice with a hamstring issue An MRI has been scheduled and it is beginning to appear that he will be out of commission for the Eagles visit to New York this weekend. According to one AFC scout, this might be a blessing in disguise for the Eagles since he does not see Murray as the type of runner who will be successful in a Chip Kelly-led offense. His comments lend credence to the story that Kelly invested so heavily in Murray simply to deny his services to the Cowboys.
"What stands out to me about that offense is their inability to run the ball. DeMarco Murray doesn't fit that offense. He's a downhill, one-cut runner. That offense attacks you horizontally and in space. DeMarco doesn't want to go east and west. He wants to square his shoulders to the line of scrimmage and hit it."
|Don’t forget to resister for our Blogging the Boys meet-up!
Oct 24-25, 2015
Cowboys-Giants in the beautiful Poconos
|Three awesome Cowboys-centric events!|
|Saturday, October 24
(8:00-10:00 PM): Dinner the night before the game
|Sunday, October 25
(9:00 AM - 1:00 PM): Pre-game brunch
|Sunday, October 25
(4:30-8:30 PM) Cowboys-Giants game, with free buffet
|Click Here to RSVP||Click here for more information on pricing, lodging, etc.|