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NFC East news: A look around the division

The Cowboys bye week comes while division rivals have crucial matchups.

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Jets Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

Spadaro: Turning the page, with injuries to consider - Dave Spadaro,

The banged-up Eagles host the high-powered Miami Dolphins on Sunday Night Football.

Sirianni was asked repeatedly during his Monday afternoon virtual press conference about the status of the injured players, and each time he resisted placing timetables on those with injuries.

“We’re really early,” Sirianni said when asked about right tackle Lane Johnson, who exited Sunday’s 20-14 loss to the New York Jets after just seven offensive snaps with an ankle injury. “I got to see Lane today, got to talk to Lane, and his status is ‘to be announced.’ We’ll see how it goes. I know Lane is going to want to do everything he can to play and we’re going to want to do everything we can do to get him to play. He’s one of the best players in the NFL and it’s going to be important that he’s on the field.”

Sirianni did say that when Johnson isn’t on the field, “it is going to affect things,” for the offense, although Sirianni reiterated his support for Jack Driscoll, who replaced Johnson at right tackle on Sunday and has done so in the past. “I’ve got a ton of confidence in Jack,” Sirianni said. “Jack is versatile and can do a lot of different things.”

Cornerback Darius Slay (knee) and defensive tackle Jalen Carter (ankle) missed Sunday’s game and Sirianni was asked about those two players, along with cornerback Bradley Roby (shoulder) and safety Reed Blankenship, who left the Jets contest with a rib injury. Sirianni did not specify any injury information on any of those players, although he did say he was “hopeful” that safety Sydney Brown might be able to return after missing the last three games with a hamstring injury.

“We’ll see on all those guys,” Sirianni said. “They’re all in a little bit different categories as far as potential time out. I don’t want to put timetables on anything because there are just so many different things that can happen the next couple of days. I’m going to always keep that close to the vest.”

Washington’s defense took step towards returning to form vs. Falcons - Zach Selby,

The Commanders’ tried to get their defense back on track against Atlanta.

The Atlanta Falcons, lined up at the Washington Commanders’ 7-yard line on third-and-goal, needed to get in the end zone to try and tie the score. The play they ran required Cordarrelle Patterson to run a route in the flat and Drake London to run a stop route in the end zone. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio brought pressure with Jamin Davis, and Desmond Ridder only had about two seconds to make a throw off his back foot.

All St-Juste needed to do was wait for the ball to come to him.

“He lobbed it up,” St-Juste said. “I made him pay for it.”

St-Juste’s interception — the first of his career — was one of several plays the defense made in the Commanders’ 24-16 win that kept them in the game. It was a noticeable turnaround from how the unit played in the past month, when it was getting gashed by explosive plays and letting teams jump out to almost insurmountable double-digit leads.

Anyone looking at the box score from Sunday won’t see numbers that suggest Washington’s defense dominated the Falcons.

The Falcons were able to move the ball well against the Commanders overall. They put up 402 total yards for the third time in 2023, had 25 first downs on 11 drives and controlled the ball for over 36 minutes. Ridder also completed 60% of his passes for 307 yards — the second-best total of his career — and tossed two touchdowns.

Scouting Report: Key matchups for Giants vs. Commanders - John Schmeelk,

For their second division game of the year, the Giants weakness faces the Commanders’ strength.

Washington pass rush vs. Giants’ offensive line

It’s difficult to focus on an individual matchup here without knowing which Giants are healthy and how they will configure the line. The Commanders are tied for sixth in sacks (19) and their sack per pass attempt rate (9.2%) ranks 11th, although their pressure rate (35.8%) is just 18th.

Washington only blitzes on 27.6% of passing downs (19th), and only six teams use stunts and twists less than they do (22.4%), according to PFF. They want to put their stable of talented first-round pass rushers into 1-on-1 situations and give them a chance to win. All four of their starters have been effective at rushing the passer this season.

Montez Sweat has racked up the most traditional stats with 4.5 sacks and nine quarterback hits. He has 23 pressures (second on team) but his pass rush win percentage (11.9%) is only third for Washington, according to Pro Football Focus. He lines up almost exclusively on the left side of the defensive line, and uses length and power to make his way to the quarterback.

Chase Young, despite only having three sacks and seven quarterback hits, has been the most dangerous pass rusher on the line. He lines up almost exclusively over the left tackle and leads the team with a robust 19.6% pass rush win rate, according to PFF. He leads the team with 31 pressures, and his speed and power appear to have returned after his ACL injury as he is playing the best ball of his NFL career.

Jonathan Allen plays next to Young at right defensive tackle. His three sacks, seven quarterback hits and 12.9% pass rush win rate are tied for second on the team, and his 21 pressures are third. Fellow defensive tackle Daron Payne has not been as consistent with only 12 pressures, one sack, six quarterback hits, and a 5.1% win rate as a pass rusher. Payne has been an excellent run defender with five tackles for loss and 19 total tackles.

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