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NFC East: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly from week 3

Steve Shoup

By Nick Clarke

 

The Good

Kirk Cousins has Redskins’ fans believing again. Cousins ignited the offense for thirty four points, throwing for over four hundred yards along with three touchdowns in the process. The Redskins’ offense as a whole looked as explosive as Philadelphia’s and their passing game finally clicked. Cousins looked very much in sync with Pierre Garcon, who caught eleven passes, and was able to find Desean Jackson for an eighty one yard score. Overall the Redskins’ offense surpassed five hundred yards and figures to be a force for the rest of the season.

Victor Cruz and Eli Manning finally pulled it together! Manning managed not to throw an interception against a tough Houston defense and accumulated a one hundred twenty two passer rating in the winning effort. The Giants needed this win badly to keep pace with what now seems to be a formidable division, and the Giants played their best football of the season in all three phases of the game. The Giants will have to keep turnovers to a minimum and have Victor Cruz involved early if they want to continue their winning ways.

DeMarco Murray has rushed for one hundred or more yards and a touchdown in each of the first three games of the season, which has only been accomplished four other times. Murray and the Cowboys are clearly committed to the run and with the way their offensive line is set up; they should continue to find huge success. Murray has helped ease Romo back in and his superb running has given the defense more time to rest and opened up the passing lanes for the classic Romo to Bryant connection. Scott Linehan has done a wonderful job sticking to the game plan, even this past week when the ‘Boys found themselves down twenty one, Linehan stayed committed to the run. With teams having to deal with Bryant and Murray all year, the Cowboys’ offense should continue to score at will.

Nick Foles is clutch, very clutch in fact. Foles has engineered two fourth quarter comebacks in the last two weeks and has done so under extreme pressure, as the Eagles’ offensive line is riddled with injuries. Foles didn’t receive much help from LeSean McCoy, the Eagles’ mercurial offensive weapon, who only managed twenty two yards on his twenty touches. The Eagles’ passing game continues to thrive whether it’s the quick screens to Darren Sproles or the deep seam passes to Jeremy Maclin, Foles is putting points up on the board, especially in the second half of games. If Foles can replicate his late game success in the first couple of quarters, the Eagles shouldn’t be picking up their first loss anytime soon.

The Bad

The Cowboys’ defense looked relatively decent through the first two weeks, but without its stud middle linebacker Rolando McClain, the ‘Boys defense struggled mightily against a third string quarterback. Morris Claiborne was targeted seven times and the Rams completed five of those passes for one hundred eighteen yards. Claiborne was just one example of poor play in the secondary, JJ Wilcox struggled to cover at all times and Barry Church was not a presence in stopping the run. Hopefully, the defense we saw on Sunday is a product of injuries and miscommunication, but even so, the defense still has a lot to prove over the next thirteen weeks.

LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles combined for forty two rushing yards on twenty two attempts and three catches for thirty yards. McCoy and Sproles are arguably the Eagles’ most dynamic players, not just on offense, but on the entire team. It’s a head scratcher why McCoy and Sproles couldn’t find any success on the ground against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. Chip Kelly needs to find a way for McCoy to get in open space, because without the threat of the run, teams should certainly be able to handle Jeremy Maclin and rookie Jordan Mathews.

The Redskins found themselves ahead of the Eagles by ten mid-way through the second quarter, yet let the lead slip by halftime. The ‘Skins then found themselves in position to capture the lead back with less than seven minutes to play, but on the first play of that crucial drive, Cosuins threw a pick. In all the success Cousins found throughout the game, he struggled to make the throw when it mattered most. Obviously Cousins doesn’t have experience on his side, but come December the ‘Skins will be looking back to the winnable road divisional game in Philly and wondering how it slipped through their fingers. Cousins is going to need to muster some late game magic over the course of the season if the Redskins want to stay in the divisional race.

The Ugly

The Eagles and Redskins got in a heated fight during the early moments of the fourth quarter after Chris Baker delivered a crushing blow to Nick Foles on an interception return, which was later ruled an incomplete pass. Baker’s hit on Foles was away from the ball and looked to be up around the helmet, as many wanted an unnecessary roughness call. Also, prior to the game Desean Jackson had some bitterness towards his exit in Philly and he displayed it with his touchdown celebration, and even before he scored he got into multiple heated exchanges with Eagles’ defensive backs. The Eagles and Redskins need to keep more of an even keel next time they meet or someone is going to be suspended.

After Morris Claiborne heard he lost his starting job to reinstated cornerback Orlando Scandrick on Tuesday, he skipped the walk through and left the Cowboys’ facilities. The benching came after Claiborne’s a game in which Claiborne allowed a touchdown and one hundred eighteen yards to his side, but also sealed the game for the Cowboys with a late game interception. Claiborne has some growing up to do after his latest incident and needs to accept his role as the third corner on this team. Until Claiborne displays the ability to cover downfield and play in a zone scheme, he will be watching from sidelines for a long time.

The Redskins lost their veteran cornerback DeAngelo Hall to a ruptured Achilles tendon for the entire season. The ‘Skins weakest part of their defense was already their secondary, and now with their captain and most talented player lost for the season, teams will feast on the inexperience and lack of talent the Redskins will be starting. Hall’s injury is a touch blow for the ‘Skins and reinforces the idea that Cousins will have to be nearly perfect to get the Redskins into the divisional race, a tough task for a backup quarterback.



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