Week one in the NFL has come and gone! First, the Kansas City Chiefs embarrassed the defending champions to open up the 2017 regular season. Kareem Hunt broke out in a major way, leaving some question marks for the New England Patriots.
The NFC East kicked things off on Sunday. The Philadelphia Eagles went into Washington D.C. and showed why they were road favorites to open up the season. In an ugly game filled with turnovers, the Eagles pulled away from the Redskins after a controversial Kirk Cousins fumble to win 30-17. Carson Wentz had some impressive moments in the victory, but he also had some questionable decisions throughout it. The home team didn’t look particularly great, as both offenses had moments of struggle on Sunday afternoon.
Later in the evening, the Cowboys and Giants had their own ugly game of football. Dallas eventually won 19-3, but the game was largely dictated by each team’s defense. It was encouraging to see the offense move the ball against one of the better defenses in the NFL, but the red zone offense must be improved. The Cowboys’ defense, however, played brilliantly to open the season. The defensive line got into the backfield, forced pressure, and even brought down Eli Manning on more than one occasion. Odell Beckham Jr. was held out of the contest due to his ankle injury, but the defensive performance was impressive nonetheless.
Let’s take a look at the latest news and headlines surrounding the Cowboys’ rivals in the NFC BEast.
New York Giants (0-1)
Last Game: L 3-19 @ Dallas
Next Game: vs. Detroit Lions (1-0) on Monday Night Football
The Giants traveled to Dallas, well Arlington, yet again to open the football season. After sweeping the eventual NFC East champs a season ago, the Giants struggled to move the ball against the Cowboys’ defense for the second consecutive meeting. Odell Beckham Jr.’s ankle injury prevented him from playing in the battle of the division's top two teams in 2016, but the Giants offense likely would have struggled to gain any momentum regardless.
Rod Marinelli’s squad played a helluva game on Sunday. DeMarcus Lawrence looks re-energized and hungry to make an impact on the defensive line during his contract year. The former second-round selection out of Boise State racked up five tackles, three tackles for a loss, and two sacks against the Giants to open the season. Sean Lee earned this week’s Game Ball, Jaylon Smith made an impact, and the secondary held their own against a solid group of receivers.
The Giants, however, played a poor game of football to open the 2017 campaign. The offensive line looks among the worst in the entire league, Eli Manning did not show any signs of improvement, and the offense looks stagnant without OBJ on the field. Dak Prescott had his best game against the Giants in his young professional career, and Ezekiel Elliott rushed for more than 100 yards after head coach Ben McAdoo exclaimed “all backs run the same when there’s nowhere to run” earlier in the week.
That said, how do things look in the Empire State following a 16 point divisional loss to the defending NFC East champions?
Paul Schwartz of the NY Post writes that “the Giants are adamant that they are not a one-man team” after their loss to the Cowboys without OBJ.
The Giants are adamant they are not a one-man team.
They had better hope they are wrong, and that they are a one-man team and that one man, Odell Beckham Jr., can return to save the day and restore some sense of legitimacy to a downtrodden offense.
The 11 players on the field Sunday night, getting paid on the offensive side of the ball for the Giants, might as well have stayed on the sideline with Beckham. He has a sprained left ankle but it is the unit he plays in that is hurting. It was as alarming an opening-game showing as anything the Giants could have imagined and, as usual, their same-as-last-season offensive line had its fingerprints all over this 19-3 loss to the Cowboys, a football atrocity.
However, they certainly appear to be a “one-man team” at the moment. In last season’s second meeting, the winning score in a 10-7 ball game was a simple slant route that the Odell Beckham took the distance for six points. On Sunday night, the Giants could not get anything going. Now, some of that is because the Cowboys’ great game plan and the defensive performance, but it also shows that the Giants are reliant on Beckham Jr. to get them out of holes.
Newly-acquired free agent Brandon Marshall and first-round pick Evan Engram received just five combined targets. The offensive line looks disastrous. Eli did not look good at all. The Giants have failed to eclipse the 20-point mark in the team’s last six consecutive games dating back to the 2016 season.
But that’s not the new beef with the new Giants, who added Brandon Marshall to take pressure off Beckham, on and off the turf, supposedly making Big Blue the Big Boys of the NFC East. Add Marshall and rookie tight end Evan Engram to the emotional chokehold they have on the Cowboys, and you moonwalk to the division title.
Perhaps the cynics were right. For all the cosmetic changes to the offense, they assert that none of it matters if you can’t run the ball. And if Sunday night is any indication, the Giants have one of the most inept rushing attacks in the sport.
The Giants had 12 rushes (if you care to include Eli Manning) for 35 yards. Elliott alone had 104 yards. Dak Prescott had more rushing yards (24) than Paul Perkins (16) or Orleans Darkwa (14). Even in this era of frenzied passing, the ability to run the ball is more than symbolic. Even if the rush now sets up the pass, there’s still an essential place in football for it. And the Giants can’t.
Philadelphia Eagles (1-0)
Last Game: W 30-17 @ Washington
Next Game: @ Kansas City Chiefs (1-0)
The Eagles enter the 2017 season with high aspirations. After finishing the 2016 season at 7-9, Philadelphia is hoping to make some noise in Carson Wentz’s second season. Philly notched its first win on the season on the road after Kirk Cousins fumbled a way an opportunity to take the lead in the final minutes. Behind a strong defense, the Eagles may have the opportunity to challenge Dallas for the division crown.
In fact, defensive back Rodney McLeod says that “we are going to win the division”.
“Coach [Doug] Pederson is a great coach, man,” Eagles safety Rodney McLeod said on Monday’s 94WIP Midday Show with Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie, when asked about the Gatorade bath his teammates gave the head coach.
“We rally behind him day in and day out. And, you know, that was a big time win for us to set the tone for the season. To let people know — to put the league on notice, as Malcolm [Jenkins] said, that we are gonna win the division this year. It’s a new day. That’s all we wanted to prove as players.”
“We look at the division, we feel like we can match up with any team,” Jenkins told the media in July. “We feel like we can win the division. Winning the division puts you in the playoffs, and a good spot in the playoffs.”
In order to do that, though, the Eagles need strong quarterback play to compete with Dallas. Carson Wentz did not have a great second half of last season, but many are still high on the former second overall selection. CSN Philly’s Derrick Gunn writes that Carson Wentz “has a little Aaron Rodgers in him.” Well, okay then.
Looks like Carson Wentz has a little Aaron Rodgers in him. His ability to shake tackles and buy time proved to be beneficial in this game (see story). The 58-yard TD strike to Nelson Agholor was a direct result of Wentz staying on his feet until Agholor could free himself. Lane Johnson and Jason Peters both said what Wentz is able to do by scrambling is something you can't practice and that they just have to improvise. Now all Wentz has to do is be a little bit more careful with the ball and not try to force issues, which almost got him in trouble a few times
In the win against the Redskins, the Eagles saw one of its new additions fall in injury as cornerback Ronald Darby went down in the second quarter of the season’s opening game.
Ouch. Initially thought to be a season-ending injury, Darby is said to be back in four-to-six weeks, according to a report from ESPN.
An MRI revealed that Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby's dislocated ankle will not require surgery, a team source confirmed to ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
Coach Doug Pederson would not confirm the report during his news conference on Monday, saying he is still gathering information.
A team source confirmed that Darby received the best possible diagnosis, and doctors believe he is in a 4-6 week timeframe to rehab and return. The team has encouraged Darby to get a second opinion, and Darby is expected to see Dr. Robert Anderson, a foot and ankle orthopedic specialist in Charlotte, North Carolina, the source added.
Good news for Darby. Here’s hoping he has a full recovery.
Washington Redskins (0-1)
Last Game: L 17-30 vs. Philadelphia
Next Game: @ Los Angeles Rams (1-0)
The Redskins are coming off of a season in which the team had the opportunity to reach the playoffs with a win in the final week of the regular season. However, Washington failed to defeat the Giants at home in week 17. Now, the Redskins are potentially in the last season of the Kirk Cousins era. Can the team from D.C. make some noise in the division this year?
Despite being a top 10-15 quarterback in the league, many in D.C. are suffering from “Kirk Cousins fatigue”, writes The Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg.
Are you weary of wearing accounting eyeshades during the fourth quarter of every Redskins game? Do you dream of a day when your first thought after each pass isn’t how much money that attempt may have earned or cost the great-grandchildren of Kirk Cousins? Do you find yourself envious of other fanbases that might view football games as something other than three-hour referendums on the precise financial value of a slightly above-average NFL starting quarterback? And did you find yourself walking away from Sunday’s disappointing loss thinking either “a franchise quarterback wouldn’t have thrown that red-zone interception,” or “great, now people are gonna argue that a franchise quarterback wouldn’t have thrown that red-zone interception”?
Then you, like me, might be suffering from Kirk Cousins Contract Fatigue. And there likely will be 15 more flare-ups this fall. Better get some ointment. Or at least some earplugs.
Amid all the craziness of the offseason negotiations — Bruce Allen assuring us that Kirk Cousins was Washington’s long-term answer at quarterback, Bruce Allen assuring us that reaching a deal with Kirk Cousins wasn’t as complicated as the pundits suggested, Bruce Allen assuring us that Kirk Cousins is actually named Kurt — this particular nightmare kind of eluded me. Until Sunday, when — with horror typically felt only by watching Daniel Snyder dance to House of Pain — I suddenly realized: “Oh no, we’re actually doing this again.”
For all of the numbers Cousins puts up in the Redskins offense, he hasn’t been able to lead Washington anywhere. The instability in the franchise and the consecutive franchise tags make it difficult for Redskins fans to completely buy in.
Some of that likely escalated after Cousins’ fumble in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to Philadelphia. However, it looks like the referees may have gotten this wrong. You decide for yourself:
Nonetheless, the officials called it a fumble and the Redskins are sitting at 0-1. Our own OCC breaks down why that is such a big deal.
Will the Redskins be able to bounce back after an opening loss?
Will 2017 be more like the last two years with a decent recovery after the bad start? Or will things spiral out of control like they did in 2013 and 2014?
I think that this team is clearly more talented than the two earlier teams and arguably better at most positions than they were the last two seasons.
But talent is not the only factor.
In Week 1 in ’15 and ’16, they had the same talent in those losses as they had later in the year when they strung together some wins. It’s also a matter of being ready to play.
The Redskins weren’t yesterday and we’ll see if that turns around the rest of the season.