Rival Watch: Behind enemy lines Vol 1 (Cowboys, Redskins, Giants)
After two weeks, the Eagles winning the NFC East doesn’t appear to be as unbelievable as it once was.
The Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles were all given up on before the season even started by most of the “experts”. The NFC East was officially dubbed the NFL‘s least competitive. There had to be a playoff representative because there would have to be a division winner, but none of these four teams could expect anything more than a home game in the playoffs that would result in a first-round exit.
Depending on who you talked to, the division winner varied, but almost everyone thought they had everything figured out. There was no way the Eagles had any shot of competing or getting out of the cellar. The Redskins were supposed to have the most complete team and were the defending NFC East champions. The Giants were supposed to surprise some and had the most experienced and ready quarterback. The Cowboys had their stars returning. Then Tony Romo got hurt, and it was supposed to be over. That theory was followed by the emergence of rookie quarterback Dak Prescott. The Cowboys immediately were supposed to be the division champs again.
The first two weeks have shown us the NFC East is as capable of being competitive as it ever was. Every team has room for growth. No team is ready to compete for the Lombardi Trophy, but the rumors that everyone’s season was over prior to week one have been exaggerated slightly.
With that said, we begin “Rival Watch”.
The New York Giants
So far, so good for “Big Blue”. The Giants share the top spot in the NFC East with the Eagles after two games with a 2-0 record. Any true Eagles fan will hate to hear this, but the Giants may end up being pretty good. For the first time, they finally have both Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. on the field at the same time. They’ve also added rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard to the mix, giving quarterback Eli Manning a nice trio of receivers.
The Giants won their home opener despite the fact they were inefficient on offense and didn’t score an offensive touchdown. The held Drew Brees and the explosive New Orleans Saints in check and rode that to a victory. Knowing they can win in that fashion and looking at what they’re capable of on offense should have the other teams in this division worried.
Their next three games will determine a lot about where this team is as they have a divisional home game against the Redskins before traveling to face the two best teams in the NFC North, but no fan will argue about or complain about a 2-0 start. This team has tremendous upside and will continue as the season goes on. Keep in mind they already hold a victory over the Cowboys.
Circle November 6th and December 22nd on the schedule if you’re an Eagles fan.
The Dallas Cowboys
Love them or hate them (and you’re truly not an Eagles fan if you don’t subscribe to the latter opinion), the Cowboys have the potential to make some noise in 2016. Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott has made it difficult for teams to develop a gameplan to stop him as there isn’t a whole lot of film to study other than what he have on him from his college days. That may not matter as we keep hearing words like “maturity”, “professionalism” and “preparation”. However it turns out, the rookie takes the idea of playing in the NFL seriously, and that’s what you like to hear if you’re a Cowboys fan..
If Prescott is, indeed, the real deal, the idea of him lining up behind that Cowboys’ offensive line and creating some real chemistry with running back Ezekiel Elliott and wide receiver Dez Bryant is downright scary. This team won’t have any problems scoring points. The problem in Dallas is what we’ve been saying the problem has been for a couple of years now. This team needs a consistent pass rush. They aren’t talented enough to hold up in the secondary if the guys up front can’t get home.
Who knows why and how Jason Garrett keeps hanging around. Since being hired in 2010, he boasts a 46-44 record (including 1-1 in the playoffs). If you throw out 2010, where he took over in week ten and went 5-3, he only has one winning season to his credit. He went 12-4 in 2014. He went 8-8 in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Last year was the worst of his coaching career as the bottom fell out and the Cowboys went 4-12.
With games coming up against the Chicago Bears and the San Francisco 49ers, the idea of the Cowboys ending the month with a 3-1 record is a very real possibility. If you’re an Eagles fan, you want to circle October 30th and January 1st on the schedule as both games could do a lot in deciding who wins this division in 2016.
The Washington Redskins
The Redskins made one of the big splash acquisitions of the off-season when they added cornerback Josh Norman. Following a division title in 2015, this was supposed to be the move that solidified an already stout defense and moved the Redskins to the upper-echelon of NFL teams and maybe put a stamp on a deep playoff run.
There were several problems with that theory. Norman doesn’t really fit the scheme of what the Redskins want to do on defense and has seemed out of place at times through the first two games. They seemed to be leery of having him guard Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown in game one.
Bashaud Breeland is on the other side and is overrated. He gets overpowered way too often, so he normally plays eight yards off of the line of scrimmage. The problem with that is he’s not very fast, so he’s regularly beaten deep. Just check out the highlight reels of any game.
Kirk Cousins is the quarterback, and he was signed in the off-season for too many years and too much money. He has yet to beat a team with a winning record (0-6 at the time of this article being published). He has great players at the skill positions, but some of them are starting to get old. Letting Alfred Morris get out of town was clearly an error in judgment (not to mention he drove the final nail in the coffin as the Cowboys defeated his former team).
The Redskins are 0-2 (both home losses) after two weeks following a loss to the Cowboys, and this team can’t afford to go 0-3 with two division losses to start the season. Unfortunately, there isn’t any reason to believe that isn’t going to happen.
Circle October 16th and December 11th as the Eagles haven’t beaten the Redskins once in their last three attempts, but overall, there’s no reason not to believe the Redskins will go from first to worst in the NFC East. Somewhere in Washington, fans are already looking for a reset button.
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