By Dylan MacKinnon
One team seems to be running away with this. While the Eagles, Giants, and Washington all struggle, the Cowboys have emerged as not only the favorite in the division, but a contender in the NFC. Meanwhile the other teams could all be looking at top 10 picks at the end of the year. But how do they all stack up vs each other? Here is the state of the NFC East heading into week 5.
4) New York Giants (1-3)
The Giants finally won a game! But they are still a bad team. All they proved is that once again, they will do just enough every now and then to ruin their chances at a great draft pick. It is the annual Giants tradition. Be mostly terrible, but then win games they weren’t expected to, and cost themselves a better pick.
Since 2017 they have literally been the worst team in the NFL, with the lowest winning percentage over that time. And they still struggle to win. Because they have been a team that is bad at drafting. We talked about it last week, so I wont go into all their bad draft picks again this week. What I will say is they are the Phillies of the NFL right now. After a decade of losing, they have little to show for it. Is this a team a few moves away from winning? No. The only thing that might fix this team is if they managed to snag a great QB. But that goes for almost any NFL Team. Apart from lucking into a franchise guy, they are a long way off from competing.
The Giants still struggle to block. Even with all the WR talent that has come through the Giants, they still struggle to move the ball downfield. They have gone from one of the most storied and successful franchises in NFL history, to one of the biggest jokes in the NFL. Ten years ago they were winning their 4th Super Bowl. Since then, they have a single playoffs appearance. They are 58-97. Under 6 wins in 6 of the last 9 seasons, and on track to make that 7. They lost to the Falcons, the team even the Eagles beat up. They lost to Washington. One win vs the Saints does not change that.
Dave Gettleman was a terrible hire at the time, and he has proven me right about that. He took a bad situation, and has thus far made it worse. He wasted a high pick on a RB. Is Saquon a very talented player? Sure. But great RBs don’t change franchises. And they have leaned on him so much his prime is not going to last very long. He missed on a QB. And he has missed on two head coach hires. Giants will not turn this around while he is the GM.
3) Washington Football Team (2-2)
The difference between the Eagles and Washington is mostly negligible. Some may say that Washington has more wins, so they should be higher. But the extra win they have is vs the Giants. If the Eagles played the Giants instead of the Chiefs, 49ers, or Cowboys, they might have two wins.
Both these teams have struggled on defense. Eagles were expected to. Washington’s defense meanwhile was supposed to be great, and so far it is allowing 30.5 pts a game. And not just vs great defenses. No when they played a top offense like the Bills they allowed 43 points. The 3o pts games were vs the Falcons and the Giants. The Eagles defense held the Falcons to 6 pts. The Giants held them to 17. The Giants are averaging 18 pts a game vs teams that are not Washington. The Falcons are averaging 16 pts vs teams that are not Washington. The Bills average 30.3 pts vs non Washington teams. Chargers are the only team Washington has held below their average. Every other team they allowed to score at least 10 more points than usual.
They have allowed 21 more points than they have scored. That is the worst in the NFC East, and 24th worst in the league. Their young stud defender, Chase Young, is having a down sophomore year thus far. Still zero sacks through 4 weeks. The team as a whole has only 7 sacks. That is really bad from a team expected to be a force on Defense. They aren’t holding teams to low scores, they aren’t hitting the QB, and they aren’t forcing turnovers. Those are about the only things a defense can do, and they are 0 for 3. Mediocre defense, mediocre offense. Washington does very little well. If the ball is not in Terry McLaurin’s hand, there is not much to fear with this team. They are just all around mediocre.
2) Philadelphia Eagles (1-3)
This team is kind of an enigma. For the first two weeks the defense looked great. Granted one week was vs the Falcons, but still, they were giving up under 15 pts a game through two weeks. But in the following two weeks they did nothing but allow TDs.
So what is real? I don’t think they are this bad, but they are more bad than they are good. They are getting very little production from their defensive ends and linebackers, and safeties. Having Rodney McLeod back helps a lot, but the other safety spot is still a question. The loss of Brandon Graham is hurting them so much more than anyone thought it would, and Jonathan Gannon has not come up with any answers to fix that yet. The cornerbacks have played well, and Javon Hargrave has been a star. But that is all the defense has. They do not have the talent to defend any team with more than one weapon.
Darius Slay has weirdly been a subject of some of the ire towards the defense. But I am not sure why. Slay has perhaps been their second best defender after Hargrave. When Tyreek Hill was killing the Eagles it wasn’t against Slay. The problem was that they were letting linebackers and safeties try to cover one of the most explosive WRs in the NFL. That is on Gannon, not Slay. Slay has shut down anyone they have asked him to. Through 4 games he has only allowed 59 yards. he is the furthest thing from the problem. Which made it weird how many in the Eagles media, and Eagles twitter, seemed to focus so much ire on him.
The offense meanwhile has been just as inconsistent. Vs the Falcons and Chiefs Jalen Hurts looked like a star, and the Eagles were able to move the ball all game. Versus the Cowboys and 49ers, they struggled to even get first downs. In this case, I actually think they are closer to the good weeks than the bad ones. And I think that inconsistency is more on Nick Sirianni than the players. Eagles offense has looked best when they focus on making quick plays, moving up tempo, and using a lot of motion. They did none of those things weeks 2 nd 3. But once they did it again vs the Chiefs, viola, everything worked again. Make quick plays, and let your fast WRs make their own plays. Trying to beat teams with deep shots wont work with this team.
The biggest issue is still the penalties. That actually improved a bit in week 4, but even then, 3 touchdowns were taken off the board because of penalties. if this team were able to be more disciplined, they may not be 1-3. This is not a good team, but they don’t have to be a terrible team. Its their own mistakes that make them a bad team.
1) Dallas Cowboys (3-1)
The Cowboys are a genuinely good team. They can beat you on the ground, and through thee air. Even with several injuries they aren’t missing a step. They have beaten the Chargers and Panthers, and competed with the defending champion Bucs.
Dak Prescott is looking the part of a top flight QB. His running ability has not yet recovered, which makes sense given the injury he is coming off. But he has made up for that with his arm. He is completing 75% of his passes, and already has 10 TDs. He is on track for over 4000 yards, and over 40 tds.
There isn’t even much to say right now. They are just a very good team. Even the defense is improved. I still see them giving up some points when it comes down to it, but as I have been saying, the big difference is the playmaking. The defense continues to force turnovers. Doing so one week would be a coincidence. Doing it for 4 weeks in a row, is a pattern. They lead the NFL with 8 interceptions. Trevon Diggs has 5 on his own. And when Trevon Diggs is not picking it off, he is shutting the other wrs down. Keenan Allen has been the only WR who could compete with him thus far, and even in that game Diggs still played well.
They are far and away the best team in the NFC East. The bigger question now is can they compete in the NFC? I hate to say they may be able to.