The Cowboys quarterback doesn’t throw touchdowns, the Giants defensive line doesn’t sack the quarterback, and nobody likes Kirk Cousins. There’s plenty for Eagles fans to like so far in the 2016 division. Here’s what happened and what it means this week in the NFC East.
What Happened: Ezekiel Elliott fumbled the ball twice. Jason Garrett called for a surprise on-side kick that let Washington tie the game. And Dak Prescott has yet to throw a touchdown pass in 75 attempts.
And yet, the Cowboys enter Week 3 with a 1-1 record, thanks to a hard-fought 27-23 road victory over divisional rival Washington.
Complete coverage of the Philadelphia Eagles and their NFL rivals from NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Former Washington running back Alfred Morris scored the game winning touchdown with just under five minutes to play, a sweet bit of revenge that would have been legitimately delicious had Morris been playing for anyone besides Dallas.
It is the 2nd time in the last sixteen games without Tony Romo that the Cowboys have been victorious. That being said, both of those victories have come against Washington. Because of course they did. It’s about as surprising as learning Eggo Waffles might make you violently ill. What a surprise!
So time will tell whether Dallas has found themselves a winning formula with Prescott, or if they’re just lucky the NFL schedule makers are required to put Dan Snyder’s squad on the calendar twice a year. Prescott’s 22-of-30 for 292 yards looks shiny any way you cut it, and like our own Carson Wentz, he had yet to throw an interception. All things considered, it’s surprising he’s not getting more hype. Like the portable pizza pouch. Tell me you don’t need one of those! Just don’t use it for waffles.
Oh, and Randy Gregory withdrew his 10-game suspension appeal, meaning he’ll be out until Week 16.
What It Means: Ignoring the fact that Dallas’ victory is as much a result of “Washington gonna Washington” as anything else, this was a pretty solid win for the Cowboys. Most impressive was a 10-play drive, orchestrated by Prescott deep in the fourth quarter that gave Dallas the lead for good. All in all, it appears the Cowboys quarterback play has improved from 2015.
Of course, saying the Cowboys quarterback play has improved versus last season is like saying you get better cell service than the pilgrims did. It’s not wrong, it’s just not the most impressive bar to be surpassing.
Jokes aside, the Cowboys goal for the first third of this season is to stay afloat until Romo can come back (no pun intended). After two weeks, being 1-1 is the definition of afloat.
What’s Next: The Cowboys get a home game against the less-than-impressive Chicago Bears. After watching that squad Monday Night, having faith in a visiting team victory is as silly as having confidence in Twitter protecting you from abuse. You’d be safer playing blindfolded in traffic.
What Happened: Speaking of being blindfolded, lets talk about Kirk Cousins. Washington was playing well enough to win, holding a three-point lead in the redzone with just over ten minutes to play. Alas, with victory within his grasp, Cousins gave new life to Dallas by throwing a momentum-swinging interception in the endzone, and the Cowboys answered with the aforementioned 10-play touchdown drive that ended up being the definitive score.
Should the Washington defense take the brunt of the blame for not stopping a rookie quarterback when it mattered most? Or should the running backs be bashed for accumulating a measly 62 total yards on the ground? Nah, it’ll be Cousins, the man who would be franchise QB, throwing a back-breaking interception that could have easily been the straw that broke the Cowboys back (again, no pun intended).
Josh Norman, meanwhile, has been playing fantastic, which is like owning a dog that speaks mandarin, but you live on Jupiter. It’s impressive, but not really much help in the current situation.
What It Means: While it’s accurate to say “no team’s season ends in September,” it’s equally accurate to say “the Titanic hadn’t sunk right after it hit the iceberg.” The Washington football team is taking on water, and fast. Teammates are anonymously ripping the quarterback and the coaching staff, which is never a good sign. Have you ever heard a Super Bowl MVP say “yeah, our team really came together this year after one of my unnamed teammates called us all morons”? That’s not typically how it’s done.
Statistically, teams that start 0-2 have a 12% chance of making the playoffs. Making matters worse, both of Washington’s losses came at home. So while D.C. optimists can remind themselves that Jay Gruden turned a 2-5 start last year into a 9-7 divisional crown, the likelihood of a repeat performance appears equal to Sam Bradford’s chances of making the Eagles Ring of Honor.
What’s Next: A must-win game versus the New York Giants in New Jersey. It’s hard to imagine Washington having any success this season if they start off 0-3 with two losses in the NFC East. Keep an eye on Cousins’ leash.
New York Giants:
What Happened: The 2016 New York Giants are in the demon-exorcising business. A week after winning their first season opener in half-a-decade, the Giants beat a New Orleans Saints team that dropped 52 on them last year. So far this season, Big Blue has treated the monkey on their backs worse than Harambe. Too soon?
Victor Cruz came up big when it mattered most, making the kind of catch we all wish Jordan Matthews would make and setting up the game-winning field goal with under two minutes to play. That’ll be what everyone talks about regarding Cruz this week, and not the fumble he coughed up in the 2nd quarter, which is totally fair. Why bring up that you wet the bed when you totally slept through the rest of the night perfectly?
However, the story here is the Giants defense. New York held Drew Brees to a respectable 263 yards in the air, getting the Steve Spagnuolo redemption tour started off on the right foot. The $62-million deal for Janoris Jenkins, meanwhile, suddenly doesn’t look so silly, as the Giants secondary has clearly improved over last season’s laughingstock.
Oh, and Josh Brown is back from his one game suspension, if you’re looking for the kind of news that’ll make your stomach churn.
What It Means: Like the Eagles, the Giants are 2-0, with the added bonus of having a win against a divisional rival. (In fact, the Birds and Big Blue join the Bradford-led Vikings as the only undefeated NFC teams). Fun Fact*: The last time the Giants started 2-0 was in 2009, when they somehow ended up 8-8 after beginning the year 5-0.
But that means nothing. The Giants have been the most impressive of the Iggles NFC East rivals, and Birds fans would be wise to root hard(est) against them for the time being. If you’re looking for cracks, it’s notable the Big Blue defense hasn’t had a turnover through two games, and their two sacks on the season have come from the secondary, and not the defensive line.
What’s Next: A chance to put a nail in the Washington seasons coffin in East Rutherford on Sunday and try to keep pace with the speedy wheels of the Wentz Wagon.
*fun, y’know, for everyone other than Giants fans.