NFC East: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from Week 7
October 23, 2013 in NFC East
By Nick Clarke
The NFC East had a pretty encouraging week 7, with the division’s only loss coming as a result of a divisional game between the Cowboys and Eagles. Although the division looked to be a race between the Cowboys and Eagles through 6 games, the Redskins have managed to sneak back into this race of underperforming teams.
The Cowboys sit at 4-3 overall and 3-0 in the division, and the important divisional wins can be attributed to their defense, either by not allowing a touchdown or coming up with timely turnovers. Last week the Cowboys defense came away with as many turnovers as points the Eagles scored (3). Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick were able to hold DeSean Jackson to a mere 21 yards on 3 receptions and as a collective effort the defense was able to hold LeSean McCoy, the NFL’s leading rusher, to only 55 yards on 18 carries. The defense will only get better as it is still adjusting to the new 4-3 scheme.
Robert Griffin III looked a lot like the RGIII Redskins’ fans know and love from last year. RGIII made it happen with his legs and his arm, and the cherry on top was the last drive, where he led the team down the field for a game sealing touchdown. RGIII compiled his best passer rating of the season (105.2), which is far better than his season average of 83.4. RGIII will look to build on his progress every week and get the Redskins back into the thick of the divisional race.
Eli Manning and the defense led the Giants to a hugely important first win. Justin Tuck had a sack and two tackles for a loss. If the Giants want to be considered relevant they are going to need Tuck to create pressure off the edge. The Giants defensive line has not been able to create any pressure at all with just 6 sacks all season as a team and Tuck leads the charge with 1.5. If Tuck and the rest of the D-line can continue to create pressure the secondary will improve and will continue to come up with turnovers.
Chip Kelly called the week 7 performance “unacceptable” and so I thought long and hard about anything good that could’ve been taken from the Eagles’ pathetic loss against the Cowboys last week, and I realized Chip Kelly was completely right it was unacceptable, nothing the Eagles did last Sunday could be considered somehow good.
Excluding the game against the Rams, the Cowboys have looked really good on either offense or defense, but not both. The Cowboys offense has looked completely out of sync over the last two weeks, and if the Cowboys want to compete with elite competition the offense has to wake up. The Cowboys need to get back to in a groove on offense and become an overall more balanced football team to cure their inconsistent play on either side of the ball.
Josh McCown lit up the Redskins’ secondary for 204 yards, 1 touchdown, 70% completion (14 of 20), and a 119.6 passer rating in limited time. If the defense, especially the secondary, does not improve quickly the Redskins will not be a part of the division race. The Redskins go as RGIII goes, but even a fully healthy RGIII couldn’t carry this team with the way the defense is struggling.
Hakeem Nicks was targeted 10 times and only reeled in 2 of those targets for catches. Nicks is known to drop a few balls, but some of these incomplete passes are due to miscommunication between Nicks and Eli Manning. Manning overthrew Nicks in the end zone for a sure touchdown early in the 1st quarter and not long after Nicks droped a perfectly thrown ball by Manning that would have gone for a big gain. Manning and Nicks have to get on the same page quickly to ignite the offensive fire power the Giants still posses.
Although I still believe Nick Foles has the talent to be the Eagles’ quarterback of the future, his poor performance against the Cowboys gave reason to believe he is not the answer. Before Foles exited with a concussion in the 3rd quarter he completed just 11 of his 29 passes for 80 yards and often looked lost out on the field. With the Eagles firmly in the division race, they hope Foles can replicate more of his rookie campaign and early sophomore year success with Vick still sidelined with a hamstring injury. Now it looks as though they will need to turn back to Vick.
DeMarco Murray’s latest injury has sparked rumors about the Cowboys being ready to move on from him as their franchise running back and possibly being in the market for another back. Whether these rumors are true or not it’s far too early to close the door on Murray. Murray has star potential with his mix of speed and strength and his ability to block as well as catch passes. It would be foolish of the Cowboys to even consider the option of moving on from Murray and hopefully they clean up these rumors as soon as possible.
Brandon Meriweather’s lack of self control is disturbing. The NFL has made players safety hugely important in recent years, especially anything dealing with concussions. Meriweather made several boneheaded reckless hits last Sunday against Chicago. Brandon Marshall was furious about Meriweather’s play and called him out after the game saying, “Guys like that really don’t understand there is life after football”. Meriweather received a 2 game suspension from the NFL for his repeated illegal hits.
Peyton Hillis is the newest addition to the running back rotation and managed only 36 yards on 18 carries in his debut with big blue. The Giants looked to have finally caught a break when they rediscovered Brandon Jacobs, but a hamstring injury sidelined him last Monday night. It looks as if Eli Manning and his super talented receivers will have to do even more of the work for an already one dimensional offense.
Matt Barkely’s debut for the Eagles was a disaster, the former USC Trojan and Heisman hopeful completed only 11 of his 20 passes for 129 yards and 3 interceptions. Combine Barkley’s horrid performance with Foles’ awful start and concussion and with Vick’s hamstring injury and you get a horrible quarterback situation in Philly. The Eagles will have to figure out the quarterback situation quickly or any hope of catching the Cowboys for the division lead will be down the drain.