NFC East: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly from Week 6
October 16, 2013 in NFC East
By Guest Writer Nick Clarke:
In recent years the NFC East has been nicknamed “The NFC beast” and “The SEC of the NFL” and coming into the 2013 season expectations were high for this explosive division loaded with talent. Through six weeks of football the division is a combined 7- 16, with the Eagles (3-3) and Cowboys (3-3) looking like the only formidable teams. The NFC East has seen its fair share of ugly, and certainly lots of bad, but it has also seen a little bit of the good that made this division a dominant force.
Nick Foles’ performance against the Buccaneers was masterful. Foles completed 71% of his passes and compiled a passer rating of 133.3, a small sample size, but much more encouraging than Vick’s numbers thus far. Vick gives the Eagles explosiveness with his legs, but Foles creates a good amount of explosive plays with his arm. Even if Vick regains the starting role when healthy, Foles gives the Eagles stability and hope for the future.
There have been few positives to take from the Redskins’ first five games, but DeAngelo Hall’s play has been one of them. Hall is known for his ability to make the big play and not so much for his shutdown ability, but last week against the Cowboys he showed his shutdown ability. Hall was matched up with Dez Bryant and stepped up to the challenge, limiting the Cowboys dynamic play maker to 36 yards on only 5 catches and no touchdowns. To put that in perspective, Dez has scored a touchdown 12 times in his last 11 games. Hall also made a brilliant touchdown saving play covering Miles Austin that displayed Hall’s fast closing time on the ball and astute awareness.
Dwayne Harris won the game for the Cowboys last week. Harris had an electrifying game changing 86 yard punt return for a touchdown and added a brilliant 90 yard kickoff return to seal the Cowboys’ win. On a night when The Cowboy offense was not clicking, Harris took over and secured an important division win. Harris is 1st in kick and punt return average in the NFL and he leads the Cowboys with 7 special team tackles.
The Giants have been just awful and Rueben Randle has been one of the few bright spots. Randle has been eye popping at times, including his 2 touchdown performance against the Eagles in week 5, and he has an impressive 16.7 yard average on his 20 receptions. Although Randle sits behind Hakeem Nicks on the depth chart, his dazzling play may force his fellow wide out Hakeem Nicks out of New York and give Giants fans a ray of hope for the future.
The Eagles’ defense was problematic last year and it has carried into this season. The Eagles are allowing 314.5 yards a game through the air, which is 2nd worst in the NFL and 105.7 yards a game on the ground, which is the middle of the pack. The rushing yardage would probably be worse, but because the Eagles’ secondary is so bad teams are encouraged to air it out. If the Eagles want to look like a playoff bound team, they will have to show they are able to stop someone sooner rather than later.
Robert Griffin III’s effectiveness is becoming a problem for a Redskins’ team that can’t afford to lose any more games. The losses are at the expense of easing RGIII back in. Although RGIII looked much better running the football against the Cowboys last week, he still does not look good throwing the ball. RGIII is managing a mediocre 80.4 passer rating and is a shell of himself from last year. Until RGIII regains his explosiveness the Redskins will continue to lose.
The Cowboys can’t manage to be a consistent football team. The Cowboys have not won back to back games this season. It seems as if a different Cowboys team shows up to play every week, which results in the underachieving, mediocre 8-8 team the Cowboys have been for the past 2 seasons. Tony Romo, Jason Garret, and Jerry Jones preach that this year will be different, but it sure doesn’t feel like it.
The Giants’ season has been a nightmare and Eli Manning is leading the charge with a league leading 15 interceptions. Unless Eli has a trick up his sleeve, the Eli Manning era is ending quickly and the Giants will probably experience some growing pains with whoever replaces him, so don’t expect the Giants to experience any major success until at least next season.
The quarterback controversy that stared in training camp could derail the Eagles. Although I listed Foles’ emergence as a positive for the Eagles it could end up jeopardizing a promising season depending on how Chip Kelly chooses to deal with it. This is more of a foreseeable ugly, but if it becomes a problem it will be much more than an ugly speck on the season. Another big decision for Coach Kelly and Eagle nation.
The Redskins’ penalty yardage was embarrassing last Sunday night and don’t have enough fire power right now to be handing out free yards. The Redskins were forced to re –punt because of an illegal motion penalty and the 2nd punt was returned for a touchdown, and to make matters worse they got flagged on the return because the special teams coach was too close to the field and made contact with the ref.
Injuries are becoming all too familiar to the Cowboys, especially to Demarco Murray. The Cowboys lost DeMarco Murray and DeMarcus Ware for the game and for at least another week during the Redskins’ game last Sunday night and now the defensive line has one of the four projected starters from training camp. Jason Hatcher has to lead this banged up D-line, while DeMacus Ware heals up and hopefully this ugly situation does not get worse.
The Giants running back situation is a complete mess. Although Brandon Jacobs looked more like the 2008 Brandon Jacobs last Thursday night, he isn’t discovering the fountain of youth anytime soon. David Wilson was suppose to be the running back of the future, but his chance is pretty much over. If the Giants truly believe in Wilson they should give him another chance, but if not the search for a feature running back will stop and a committee approach will be taken and will limit any chance for any running back to get going.