By Dylan MacKinnon
It was not a great week for most of the NFC East. Even some of the teams that won did not look good doing so. The NFC East and the AFC South will be in a tight competition for the worst division in the NFL. It is not just the poor play, but all 4 teams have already seen major injuries. Giants lost their center. The Eagles lost their best DE and their RG. Washington lost their QB. And the Cowboys lost their best DE, a WR, and their RT was suspended. Some of these players are not gone for the year, but still to lose players this early is tough. But who is the beast of the least, and who is first among the worst? Here is your State of the NFC East heading into week 3.
4) New York Giants (0-2)
One thing is for certain right now, the Giants are the worst team. The way they threw away a game they were controlling last Thursday, was for me, hilarious. It came down to a last second FG. Dustin Hopkins missed his first attempt. So Giants should have won. But nevermind, Dexter Lawrence was offsides, so Hopkins got a 2nd chance. He nailed it, and Giants lost, falling to 0-2. It was a very Giants way to lose.
That’s not the only embarrassing part though. They settled for 5 field goals. The most egregious example of settling was at the end of the game, when the defense forced an interception while trailing by 2 pts with 3 minutes left in the game, at the Washington 20 yard line. Somehow, they mange to gain only 4 yards, and only ran 16 seconds off the clock. Two ineffective Saquon Barkley runs (We will get to him in a bit), a Daniel jones incomplete, and Graham Gano has to come onto the field a fifth time. Then the defense lets Taylor Heinicke go down the field quickly into FG range, and Washington wins. They kicked FGs from the Wash 17, 37, 34, 29, and 5.
So far this year the Giants score a TD only 33% of the time when they get into the red zone. That’s the 30th worst rate in the league.
And then there is the issue with Barkley. he is coming back from a major injury, so it is reasonable he will struggle early. But in the meantime the Giants have to deal with having no rush game. Daniel Jones is the only person on this team that can seem to run the ball. Barkley had 13 carries for 57 yards. On the surface that seems okay. But one run was for 41 yards. Meaning the other 12 carries went for 16 yards. 1.3 yards a carry. Maybe he figures it out later in the year. But until then the Giants need to rely on their QB to run the ball. Not ideal. Now that their center, who was perhaps the lone bright spot on their o line, is out for the year, this may get even worse.
The worst part of this team is still the coach though. Mr.Accountabilty and Discipline should have been running laps himself after the game. The way he makes his players do when they mess up. At one point Judge had to waste a timeout early in the game. After the timeout, his team got dinged for a false start, which also could have been a delay of game. Then they took a sack, and just like that they were out of field goal range and had to punt. What a great use of a timeout. Joe Judge just might be the worst coach in the NFL. His Tough Guy act chased players off a team already light on talent. And his game day decision making makes Rich Kotite look smart.
Here is a fun fact. This is the 5th straight time the Giants have gone 0-2 and the 8th time in 9 years. They have 4 wins in the first two games over the past 10 years. Also, there is this little nugget about their first round pick.
Every catch Devonta Smith had in week 1 was for more yards than Kaderious Toney has in total so far. Smiths shortest catch went for 3 yards week 1. Toney has -2 yards so far.— Dylan MacKinnon (@DylanFMackinnon) September 17, 2021
3) Washington Football Team (1-1)
I struggled deciding on who to put at 3. Eagles and Washington are very close right now. I went with the Eagles because their defense has actually showed up so far. Washington’s defense was supposed to be their claim to fame. It looked on paper to be a genuine elite defense. Early results haven’t lived up to the hype. They gave up 29 pts to the Giants of all teams. We have seen flashes from the pass rush, but it was inconsistent. There were drives where they dominated, but also drives where they were a non factor. It could just be early season rust. But they certainly aren’t playing up to their potential yet.
Then there is Taylor Heinicke, who was somewhat impressive vs the Giants. He made a terrible mistake that almost cost them the game, but overall he played well. We will see how he looks as he gets more snaps, and defenses learn more about him. But so far he looks like at the least a adequate backup.
If you just looked at the box score, you would think everyone played really well. But anyone who watched last Thursday saw two teams continually making mistakes. It was like a game of hot potato with each team taking turns making terrible mistakes that should have cost them the game. If it wasn’t for Dexter Lawrence bailing them out, they would have lost to the Giants. A costly interception late in the game also almost cost them the game. And the question there was why were they throwing the ball? it was 2nd and 7, they had just had runs of 11 and 3 yards. They had the lead. Why throw and take that risk. Even if its not intercepted, a incompletion stops the clock. Ron Rivera is likely the best coach in the division , but that was some poor decision making.
Through two weeks, Washington has yet to really look impressive. They aren’t as bad as the Giants, but they also don’t look good. Maybe they will improve. I thought they would be the best team in the division. But the two teams ranked above them have each showed something this season. Even if only for a bit. They have both been flawed, but not as flawed as Washington. So for now, Washington finds themselves in 3rd place. That could change, but Washington needs to show something in week 3.
2) Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
Philadelphia’s Offense was Jekyll and Hide the first two weeks. Week 1 they looked great. They didwhatever they wanted, both on the ground and through the air. Week 2, they could barley move the ball, and outside of a 91 yard pass had zero explosive plays. The First week was vs a very bad defense. Week 2 was vs a very good defense. So was week 1 a over performance, or week 2 an under performance? The truth is likely somewhere in between.
Jalen Hurts is still tough to judge. he is not making mistakes, but being a great QB is more than not throwing interceptions. He has to be able to make every throw, and the intermediate throws, especially over the middle of the field, is still a question mark. Is that Sirianni not trusting him to make those throws, or him not being able to make it? It is still too soon to tell. He has made some impressive throws to the sidelines, and genuinely throws a good short pass, a skill not everyone has.
In Week 1 he did fit a few passes into tight windows, so i do not think arm strength is the concern. What I noticed was he was sometimes throwing it a tad too early or too late. With no preseason, maybe that is just him not having timing down yet. I think it will take a few games to know who is really is.
The defense is another question mark. On one hand, they are not giving up points, which is an obvious plus. but they also have not made plays. The best teams, as in the teams that win Super Bowls. usually have play making defenses. Lots of sacks, lots of interceptions, and lots of forced fumbles. As of yet, they aren’t doing that. But beyond that the defense has still played very well. They have only been allowing around 3 yards a carry, and holding the passing game to short passes. We will see if the loss of Brandon Graham changes things, but beyond the lack of turnovers, the defense is very good, so far.
Teams without a single defensive turnover through 2 weeks:— Thomas R. Petersen (@thomasrp93) September 21, 2021
Defense has done fine so far, but this needs to improve.#Eagles
The Eagles are likely not contenders. But there is hope this team can be entertaining and show growth. In a weak NFC East, they can even win the division. What keeps them at just 2 for now, is the questions on the offense. Its tough to put them over the Cowboys when we know the Cowboys have an elite passing game. Cowboys will be able to put up points. We do not know if Eagles can. Monday’s game vs the Cowboys may answer a lot of questions.
1) Dallas Cowboys (1-1)
We all know the Cowboys will be effective through the air. Prescott and the Cowboys offense had a down game week 2, but still, we know this will be a team with around 5000 passing yards. There are just too many weapons. Then there is their run game. It is not the player they are paying millions producing, but they have found a productive RB in Tony Pollard. It will be interesting going forward if he takes more snaps from a thus far ineffective Ezekiel Elliot. It doesn’t look great for the front office if the guy making a ton of money is losing snaps, but as far as the on the field product, as long as someone is running well it doesn’t matter.
The defense is the question here. On one hand, it feels like teams will score on them. But with that said, what they are doing this year that they didn’t last year, is forcing a lot of turnovers. The Cowboys already have 4 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles. They lead the league in turnover differential. Even with a defense that gives up a lot of points, a timely turnover can make the game. Just look at the Eagles Super Bowl. The Eagles couldn’t stop Brady all game. But then Brandon Graham forced a fumble, and it may have been a game winning play. The reason the Cowboys beat the Chargers in week 2 was timely turnovers.
What the Cowboys also have now is at least one legit cornerback. Trevon Diggs shut Mike Evans down week 1. And while Keenan Allen gave him some more trouble in week 2, he still competed with who is a top NFL WR, and even had a key interception at one point while guarding Allen. And then there is the rookie Micah Parsons, who is already playing like a elite pass rusher at the NFL Level.
.@dallascowboys @MicahhParsons11 showed you why he is the best defensive player after only 2 games. He can be an elite DE; and he had to be yesterday in light of the rash of injuries. Not many players in the #NFLhave this versatility #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/pjU1QA0Mnt— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) September 20, 2021
I am not saying the Cowboys are good, but it is hard to deny they have so far been the most impressive NFC East Team. They have the Eagles on Monday, so that could change. But for now, they are the number one team. I still do not like their head coach even a little bit. but as a team, they are probably the most well rounded in the division. Even if they are not necessarily good, they are better than the other 3 teams.
But they are the Cowboys, the team that has only won a couple playoff games over the last 25 years. So I am sure something will go wrong.