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Week 5: NFC East Good, Bad & Ugly

Steve Shoup

By Guest Writer Nick Clarke:

 

The Good    kirkcousins

The Washington Redskins faced a daunting task in hosting the defending champs on Monday Night Football, and although they did not pull off the upset, they looked as formidable as they have at points this year.  Kirk Cousins displayed his ability to throw accurately don the field, finding DeSean Jackson for two fifty five plus yard strikes.  The Cousins-Jackson connection figures to be a key factor for the Redskins, as they try and climb their way back towards the thick of the tough divisional race.  The Skins didn’t turn the ball over once against one of the most complete defenses in the history of the NFL.  If the they can limit turnovers, continue to let their front seven subdue the opponents’ rushing attack, and ignite the offense with the big play ability of DeSean Jackson, they should find themselves firmly in the divisional race down the stretch.

The Dallas Cowboys turned the ball twice in the red zone and three times overall, dropped a touchdown pass before the half, and allowed over one hundred and seventy rushing yards, but managed to win the game.  The Cowboys of the past would’ve allowed these mistakes to come back and haunt them, but not the 2014 Cowboys, they’ve showed the ability to grind out wins.  The Cowboys outplayed the Texans for the entire game, but kept shooting themselves in the foot with turnovers and mental lapses on both sides of the ball.  Although the mental mistakes were not good, the fact the ‘Boys were able to grind out an OT victory, shows the confidence the ‘Boys are playing with, winners of four straight.  If the Cowboys can continue to put their mistakes behind them and stay the course, they find themselves playing well into January.

The New York Giants scored twenty unanswered points to defeat Matt Ryan and the Falcons for the Giants’ third straight win.  The Giants’ offense is firing on all cylinders, especially with the return of rookie weapon Odell Beckham Jr. and emergence of Eli Manning’s level headed decisions.  Also, the Giants’ defense looks legit, led by the best defensive end against the run, Jason Pierre-Paul.  The defense was able to quell the Falcons high octane offense, holding Matt Ryan and Co. to just twenty points.  If the Giants can continue their defensive dominance and spread the ball around on offense, they should be in a good position to compete in the divisional race.

 

The Bad        

Courtesy of ICON SMI

Courtesy of ICON SMI

The Seahawks’ offense has a plethora of weapons and the Redskins were able to take care of just about all of them, except for the one player that touches the ball on every snap.  They had a tough time controlling the mobile quarterback, who rushed for one hundred and twenty two yards on Monday night, and allowed him to extend plays for big gains at will.  The defense needs to limit big plays and get off the field on third down if they want to highlight their ability to get to the quarterback and control the line of scrimmage in the run game.

The Eagles have had major problems with their offense, largely ignored because of their phenomenal success on special teams.  The offense has now scored two touchdowns in the past eight quarters, one of those touchdown drives starting in the red zone.  LeSean McCoy has yet to reach one hundred yards this year, and Nick Foles has been inaccurate in a system of short and intermediate passes.  The offensive line has seen almost every member go down with an injury this year and is struggling to find chemistry with the new starters.  If the Eagles’ offense doesn’t start clicking, they should expect more tallies in the loss column as the special teams cannot keep their torrid pace, with four touchdowns in the last three games.

The factors behind the Cowboys’ bad are the same as the factors behind the Cowboys’ good, just with a glass half empty approach.  The Cowboys simply outplayed the Texans, but thanks to drops, fumbles, interceptions, delay of games and intentional grounding penalties, the Cowboys nearly lost a game they should’ve ran away with.  Romo threw a red zone turnover, Terrance Williams dropped a touchdown, DeMarco Murray fumbled in the red zone, and Dwayne Harris muffed a punt.  All recipes for disaster.  The Cowboys cannot expect to be a top tier team if they continue to make fundamental mistakes.

The Eagles were once again spotted a big lead thanks to their special teams and defense.  It’s a trend that they certainly cannot rely on.  The bird gang’s defense has been horrific, but has been opportunistic, allowing over four hundred yards a game, but averaging over a takeaway a game and a defensive or special team’s touchdown a game.   Chip Kelly needs to rekindle the offensive fire power the eagles have been known for.  Foles and McCoy cannot expect to keep coming out on the winning side if they continue their mediocre play, as the defense and special teams will not be there to bail them out every week.

 

The Ugly    

The Washington Redskins’ wide receiver Pierre Garcon had a rough outing, catching just two passes for a measly twenty two yards.  In an attempt to get off Sherman Island, Garcon resorted to a very childish act; pulling Sherman’s dreads.  Sherman, the talker that he is, responded after the game by saying, “Pierre did a few things. When you can’t get open, you got to do whatever you can.” And he wasn’t done there, Sherman continued to belittle Garcon, saying, “Pierre doesn’t matter in this league”.  Garcon responded with silence and that’s about all you can do when the best defensive player in the league calls you out for such a childish act stemming from frustration.

LeSean McCoy took himself out of the game on the Eagles’ final drive of the game in their attempt to run out the clock and end the Rams’ furious comeback.  The Eagles ended up giving the ball back to the Rams and without a string of errant Austin Davis passes, the Eagles’ would’ve found themselves on the losing side of a game in which they lead by twenty points in the third quarter.

 

 



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