This was a big week for the NFC East.
Kirk Cousins played great in his first start of the season (and certainly not his last), a loss at Philadelphia. By doing so, he strengthens the argument for a quarterback change in Washington.
Dallas came all the way back from a 21 point deficit to beat the Rams. The Cowboys, now 2-1, finds themselves one game behind the division-leading Eagles and in a much better place psychologically thanks to a hard fought victory.
The Giants won their “must win” against the Texans (sans Arian Foster) and avoided starting the season 0-3, instead finding themselves two games out of first place. Eli Manning and Rashad Jennings led the way as New York had their best offensive performance of the year.
The Eagles managed to escape Washington in a game that was literally a fight. Lesean McCoy was ineffective, but the passing game turned out to be enough as Philadelphia improved to 3-0, a mark only shared by the Cardinals and the Bengals.
The complexion of the division has changed a bit since last week, but that’s only a testament to how much of a difference one week of football can make. There are 13 games left for each of these teams, and you have to expect that all four teams will be changing every step of the way between now and the end of the season. I wanted to touch in on each of these teams now though, and try to get a sense of who they are and what kind of team they may become as the 2014 NFL season goes on.
It is possible that Kirk Cousins is more fun to watch that RG3? Ok, he doesn’t run around like Griffin, but he makes throws like this instead.
Cousins and Foles were going at it all game, which made it a great game to watch for everyone involved. Although Cousins did throw a pick, he managed to avoid making the mistake that took Washington out of the game. He looks confident and comfortable in the pocket already, and that will only improve as time goes on. Cousins is looking at a 6-8 week time frame where he doesn’t have to worry about getting his starting gig taken away, and he should only get better as he gets more reps. He might not thow for 450 yards again anytime soon, but his chemistry with wide recievers Pierre Garcon and Desean Jackson is something that will improve with time.
This Redskins team has a completely different identity thanks to the quarterback change, and it could end up being for the better. Head Coach Jay Gruden worked wonders with Andy Dalton last year, and Cousins sees a lot of Dalton in himself. If Gruden can continue to draw up plays that allow Cousins to make plays with his arm, this Bizzaro Washington team could be better than the original. Here’s another awesome throw by Cousins:
Yes Austin Davis and the Rams offense had their way with the Cowboys, but that isn’t the message here. What you should take away from Dallas in week 3 is that they were down by 21, and all signs pointed towards them starting the season 1-2. Tony Romo orchestrated the comeback, putting up a 99.1 QBR in the process. 2-1 is a hell of a lot different than 1-2, especially for the Cowboys, who need any kind of psychological edge they can get.
I still don’t think this team is capable of finishing the season better than 8-8 — their defense is that bad — but maybe if they get some momentum, things can change. Who knows, its the NFL. The offense is very capable of putting up points, as Romo looks healthy enough and he’s got great talent around him (Bryant, Witten and Murray). Counting on your offense to rack up points is not always the best approach to win football games, especially when a backup quarterback like Austin Davis is throwing for 327 and 3 touchdowns. Yes the ‘Boys are 2-1, but they might be the NFC East team that needs the most work if they plan on being in the playoff picture.
New York Giants
The Giants caught a break this week, as the offense they played was missing a key starter for the second week in a row (Carson Palmer was out for Arizona in week 2). Arian Foster was ruled out on Sunday morning, leaving the Texans offense in the not-so capable hands of Ryan Fitzpatrick who has a knack for turning easy throws into hard, spectacular catches by his receivers.
This type of offense is obviously not sustainable though, as errant throws added up to three interceptions for the Houston quarterback. The Giants offense on the other hand, finally came together in Coach McAdoo’s west coast scheme. Eli Manning put together his most impressive game of the year, completing 21 of 28 for 234, 2 touchdowns and most importantly, 0 interceptions. Rashad Jennings had a monster game as well, carrying the ball 34 times for 176 yards and a touchdown.
We definitely saw some good things from New York this week that show the new offensive system is starting to catch on. We will learn a lot more about this team as they move forward and play better teams with better quarterbacks, but a win in week 3 keeps the Giants in the thick of things, which is all New York fans can really ask for at this point.
The Iggles are undefeated, but every one of their victories was a struggle. In each of their three games so far, they’ve had to overcome at least a 10-point deficit. So maybe it shouldn’t be such a surprise that they’re getting points when they visit the 1-2 49ers this week. Lesean McCoy had 19 carries for only 22 yards which is a surefire way to piss off fantasy owners (like myself) and raise questions among Philly fans. The fact that he couldn’t get anything going against a weak Washington defense is very concerning, especially when Darren Sproles wasn’t picking up the slack either.
Maybe this was a fluke thing, Foles carrying the entire workload of the offense. But if it isn’t, and the Eagles find themselves trying to pass themselves back into games, eventually they’re going to run into an actual defense and struggle to move the ball. Don’t forget, they’ve played three pretty bad defenses in the Jaguars, the Colts, and the Redskins. I’m not indicting Chip Kelly or anything, I’m just saying the Eagles probably won’t continue to win games in the fashion they’ve won their first few.
Sports-Kings Down and Distance Contributor Jim Bearor @JimBearor