Week 4 NFC East Recap: Bye Weeks Are the Worst

It was a bye week for your Philadelphia Eagles, but the world still spins. Washington and Dallas escaped with unimpressive victories and the Giants got curbstomped by an NFC powerhouse run by Sam Bradford. Here’s a look at what happened this week in the NFC East:

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What Happened: There’s only one place to start, and that’s here. I assume Cowboys twitter is convinced that was a catch. 

As for the game on Sunday, dem ‘Boys came away with a nice road victory behind 138-yards rushing by Ezekiel Elliot and another interception-less game by Dak Prescott (your move, Carson). San Francisco actually led 14-0 at the early goings of the 2nd quarter, but it was essentially all Dallas after that. Blaine Gabbert threw a brutal and all-too-familiar-looking
interception with just under 11 minutes remaining (and the game still in reach), and Elliot just shoved it down the Niners throats after that.

It’s almost as if San Fran’s defense wore down as the game went on -- like, I dunno, they’d been on the field for too many plays or something. Who can really say? I’m not a sports scientist.

Oh, and Dez Bryant yelled at a teammate in front of the world for dropping a touchdown, because he’s never done that before. It’s okay though, because it just shows that Bryant is SUCH A COMPETITOR who WANTS TO WIN SO BAD. Or, maybe he’s just a jerk who skips team meetings. Only God knows.

What It Means: At 3-1, without Romo, this team is going to get a lot of attention. It’s a lot like a bug bite on your elbow. All reasonable logic states just to leave it alone, but just the slightest itch and OH MY GOD I WANT TO CUT IT OFF WITH A HANDSAW. 

It’s unclear how close Romo is to returning; what is clear, however, is that there will be plenty of pundits who think Head Coach Jerry Jones… er, sorry, Jason Garrett… should stick with Prescott when he does. This is what we call an old-fashioned Quarterback Controversy, the kind a well-managed and even-tempered organization is typically able to weather. Expect a massive implosion in Jerry World by Thanksgiving.

What’s Next: A home game against the Bengals, a trip up to Lambeau field, and then a date against the Wentz Wagon. The only thing that could stop this QB controversy would be an 0-3 slide, which isn’t completely outside the scope of possibility.

Washington

What Happened: Oh boy, Washington came THIS CLOSE to blowing a game at home to the NFL's equivalent of a dianoga. Despite a 14-0 DC advantage at the end of the 1st quarter, the Cleveland Browns came back to take a lead (thanks in part to a Cousins interception) and actually had control of this one deep into the third quarter.

Alas, Cleveland hit their high water mark too early, and fumbled the ball away in the redzone. The Browns would turn the ball over two more times after that, Kirk Cousins and Co. would capitalize, and Washington got themselves back to .500 with a 31-20 victory that wasn’t as easy as the final score projects. What ya gonna do? Cleveland gonna Cleveland.

Cousins went 21-for-27 with three touchdowns (plus an INT, and a fumble he recovered all by himself), which is easily his best game of the season. Public Service Reminder: no one has ever won an argument by saying “but he played so well against the Browns!”

What It Means: Washington has gotten to .500 after an 0-2 start, which one could argue shows true GRIT and DETERMINATION and TOGETHERNESS AS A TEAM, that ability to recover from such tremendous adversity. More likely, it’s a result of playing a choking New York Giants squad and the aforementioned Cleveland Dianoga’s. The Browns were being led by third-stringer Cody Kessler, which sounds like the name of a character on an early 90’s sitcom (a joke Kessler wouldn’t understand, because he was born in 1993, and also I am old).

A legit sign of corner-turning appears to be the results of running back Matt Jones, who was finally a focal point of the Washington offense. Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay (who is now calling plays from the booth, presumably to more properly identify players bald spots) squashed his inner Andy Reid and showed some play-calling balance on Sunday (27 passes to 26 runs), and Jones rewarded him with 117 yards on the ground.

Bottom Line: Washington has not shown enough at the quarter point to pretend they’re a legit contender. But if they are to contend, the most likely path appears to be the one led by Jones.

What’s Next: A trip up 95 to face the John Harbaugh and the 3-1 Baltimore Ravens. If Jones can duplicate the success he had vs. the New Browns on Sunday against the Old Browns, or the Cousins of late-2015 shows up, we can start taking this team seriously again. Until then, keep them in the trash compactor.

New York Giants

What Happened: Thank goodness for Sam Bradford, coming in to save the weekend. Big Blue looked absolutely lifeless against the NFC Leading Minnesota Vikings, punting on their first five possessions, going two-for-twelve on 3rd downs and having just one completion over 20 yards (a screen pass).

Despite an anemic offensive performance, the Giants actually made it a one-score game near the start of the 4th-quarter, and a come-from-behind victory wasn’t out of the question.

That was, until SAM BRADFORD DELIVERED, answering the Giants only TD drive with one of his own. The former Eagles franchise savior went 5-for-5 on the touchdown drive that would inevitably seal the defeat for New York, proving once and for all that Bradford is The Greatest Quarterback Alive. That, or the Giants secondary is toilet paper.

The Giants defense, meanwhile, did not record a sack or a takeaway. Remember how New York spent about $200 million on defensive upgrades this past offseason? That’s what those in the business world call “poor return on investment.” We sports-types just call it “reasons why Steve Spagnulo should update his LinkedIn profile.”

Oh, and Odell Beckham Jr. got his weekly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which of course he blamed on everyone else. Seriously, he is about a likable as a porcupine on your toilet seat. 

What It Means: The Giants season, once so promising, suddenly seems unstable. A loss to the Vikings in Minnesota isn’t anything to be embarrassed about, but the cracks in the defense (and mental fortitude of the teams star wide receiver) should raise a few red flags. Rookie head coach Ben McAdoo, meanwhile, had some questionable clock-management decisions at the end of the first half, which the local media will no doubt remember till the end of existence.

Again, the issue isn’t that the Giants lost; it’s the way they lost. Last week, it was a choke job against a divisional rival. This week, it was an embarrassing smackdown on national television. Giants fans would rather boogie-board with sand-paper. 

The pieces are still in place for New York to make some waves this season, but the arrow is definitely trending down after Week 4.

What’s Next: Aaron Rodgers and the Packers at home (coming off a bye week). So don’t bet heavily on an immediate turnaround.

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