NFC East Round-Up Week 6

Joe Robbins - Getty Images

The Eagles aren't the only team going up in smoke in the NFC East.

NEW YORK V. WASHINGTON

The good news: Whoever walks out of MetLife stadium victorious next Sunday will be 1st in the NFC East.

The bad news: one of the two teams playing in New Jersey that day might be the best team in the NFL. Hint: the team has won a Super Bowl in the past 1 year.

The Giants travelled 3,000 miles to annihilate a very good 49ers team in Candlestick. In the process, the Big Blue made the 49ers three biggest strengths look like weaknesses: San Fran couldn't run; couldn't stop the run; and didn't force any turnovers.

For all the gizmo and gadgets in the Redskins offense, our biggest strengths are similar to those of San Francisco: we run well, we stop the run, and we have a very solid turnover differential.

The Giants got up for San Fran and made a statement. Unfortunately, I don't think the Giants will lose their edge after such a big win, simply because of the fact that it wasn't that long ago these Giants were pushed to the brink of collapse after losing in week 14 last season to a far inferior version of these Redskins.

As cool as it was to beat-down the eventual champs twice last season - right now, those wins are only as good as bulletin board material for the champs.

Eli Manning is a worry against our get-off-the-field-on-3rd-down-no-matter-what defense. The Redskins have 13 takeaways this season and have forced only 26 punts. We shouldn't try and get those numbers any closer together than that. Manning is very poised, and we can't overextend ourselves trying to force him into a mistake that isn't coming.

Get ready for a hell of lot a 8-12 yard completions. Accept them. Learn to love them.

If the Skins hit Matt Ryan only once two weeks ago - how exactly are we going to get through a Giants' offensive line that has only given up 5 sacks all season? Really: I'm asking.

Captain America, Ryan Kerrigan doesn't have a quarterback hit in these past two weeks running. He's going to need to land some Sunday, if the Redskins going to make a Giant-like statement in East Rutherford.

PHILADELPHIA

Hit the panic button Philadelphia: Juan Castillo has been fired.

Today the coach with one of the warmest tushy's in the NFL (though maybe second warmest in the NFC East) fired tight-ends coach, turned offensive line coach, turned defensive coordinator, Castillo, citing the lack of takeaways (8) and sacks (7) by the Eagles defense.

Meanwhile, Phily is 31st in the league in points scored. Yup, this is the Philadelphia Eagles.

I'm not saying Castillo shouldn't have been fired - I've yet to hear a great reason why that he ought to have been hired - but the Eagles have too many other problems to this see this move as a season changing adjustment.

The Eagles are LAST in the NFC in giveaways and turnover differential, largely because they are - by some margin - LAST in the league in QB Hits allowed. Michael Vick is taking 8 and half shots in the backfield every game. If that doesn't excuse his many turnovers, it at least explains some of them.

Maybe because of the constant pressure on Vick - or maybe just because they've been overrated - wideouts DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, a pair once the envy of the division, have looked smallish and average this season. The pair has just 49 catches between them out of a combined 86 targets - that's 57%, if you were wondering. That figure compares poorly to the 64% completion/target percentage for Hixon and Cruz of the Giants; and 67% for the Cowboy's Austin and Bryant.[1]

A bright spot for the team is the fact they've managed to get the ball into LeSean McCoy 23 times a game for 96 all-purpose yards each contest. His steady but not spectacular production is an example of talent being bound by context. If he were on the 49ers he might be in the running for MVP. Who knows?

Andy Reid has a lot to fix over the next two weeks before he takes on the Falcons, who will also be coming off a bye week. Looking to keep his bye-week-undefeated-streak alive at 11, Reid has said he is going to "tear this thing apart" during the break. The firing of Castillo I guess is his first tear - but it's hard to see how it's all going to fit back together again.

Benching Michael Vick, is another option Reid will examine. After the loss to the Lions, Reid was asked if Michael Vick was his quarterback. He said, "Today, he is." Ominous speaks the fat man. A bold move like that might keep him his job. But the high risk of spectacular failure involved with benching your 100 million dollar man, might hurt his chances at landing his next job.

DALLAS

With all that's going on in Philadelphia it's hard to believe the Eagles might not be the most dysfunctional team in the division. And for the first team in recent memory, Reid and the ‘Guls are not saved that distinction by the Burgundy & Gold. Instead, it's Jason Garrett, in pole position in the race to the unemployment line.

Garrett's Cowboys aren't bad...all the time. No, they're actually periodically a really good football team. Like clockwork, the Boys show up every other week (@ the Giants; vs. Buccaneers; @ the Ravens) but are just as often comically bad (@Seahawks, vs. the Bears - next week @Panthers).

Now with Jerry Jones's fits of faith, a record of 8 and 8 might save Garrett his job. But the problem with this Jekyll and Hide routine is that they can't count on winning when their good, as sure as they can count on losing when their bad.

Case and point: last week's game against the Ravens.

When you outgain a team by 150 yards you're supposed to win. When you run for over 200 yards you're supposed to win. When you keep the ball for twice the amount of time as your opponent you're supposed to win.

When you have the ball down by 2 at your opponents 35 yard line with 26 seconds left and a timeout in your pocket - yup, that's right you're supposed to win.

They didn't, though, somehow. Now, they got to find out a way to beat consistently terrible team (Carolina) on a week their bound to show up bad.

My analysis: too close to call.

EXTRA EXTRA

If and when we beat the 6 and a half points favorite Giants...never mind rookie of the year, look out for the RGIII/MVP chants.



[1] The Redskins top two most targeted receivers (Hankerson and Moss) also combine for 67% catch/target ratio, but when you think about the fact that they've only been targeted 5 times a game (COMBINED) you realize that's a-whole-nother story - one worth thinking about.)

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