Since ummm, I don’t know, forever, the NFC East has been the most dominant division in football. Seriously, for the past 30 years, you’d always have a seat at the table and a legitimate argument. In the 80’s, the NFC East won 3 Super Bowls (Redskins ’83, ’87, Giants ’86). The 90’s, a record 5 Super Bowls, including 4 in a row (thanks Buffalo) (Giants ’91, Redskins ’92, Cowboys ’93, ’94, and ‘96). And so far, in the 21st Century, the East has claimed two more Super Bowls (Giants ’07, ’12).
But that winning argument ends today. Here’s the record of the NFC East after 4 weeks:
NY Giants: 0-4
No one has a winning record, and combined they’re an embarrassing 4-12. How bad are things? Christ, if Cleveland was in the NFC East, they’d be in first place. So would Buffalo.
This is an unprecedented level of futility. It’s very possible that the “winner” of the East will not have a winning record. And, even more interesting, each team is failing for a different reason. Let’s take a look under the hood of each of these losers.
Despite having the “best” record in the East, Dallas has the biggest problems, because they involve institutional instability (a nice way of saying the organization is run by a bunch of fucktards). Dallas has trotted out the exact same team for more than a decade. Flashes of brilliance coupled with an undisciplined approach to playing football. They suffer from an intolerable Owner (who’s also the GM) who refuses to cede an inch of control. This leads to spineless head coaches and a room full of “yes men” in Jerryworld.
Jerrah’s a young Al Davis, who, after a good period of success, drove the franchise into the ground through his uncompromising ways (and speed first philosophy) until he died at age 120. Oakland’s still recovering from Hurricane Al. Dallas is on track to suffer a similar fate from Hurricane Jerrah.
Washington’s problem is easy enough: they have completely botched RGIII. RGIII is the franchise…and you do everything to protect the franchise, even if that means sitting him until he’s 100% healthy. And you especially sit him when your franchise QB is a dual threat QB and has a bum knee. Everyone knows RGIII is hurt. His own teammates know he’s hurt. And by trotting out a gimpy RGIII, you have taken away the dual threat. His game is now completely marginalized, and a marginalized RGIII is simply an average QB.
Shanahan’s ego is too big to make a change. There’s no way he’s pulling RGIII now, unless of course, he blows out his knee (again). At 1-3, there’s no reason for him to be out there. The Skins are only one game out of first place. They should rest RGIII and put in (a healthy) Kirk Cousins. By continuing to play RGIII, the Skins run the risk of irretrievably damaging the franchise.
Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense is surely paying dividends: the Eagles are averaging just under 25 points a game. The only problem? No one told him he had to play defense: the Eagles are giving up just under 35 points a game.
Chip was hailed by the media and fans as this years’ read-option. He was going to revolutionize the way the game was played. People drooled over the training camp smoothies (oh he’s so progressive) and the entire City of Brotherly Love got one big, collective hard on when the Eagles racked up over 400 yards and scored 33 points in Chip’s debut.
But this ain’t the Pac-10. You can’t just throw on some ugly-ass uniforms and run plays every 20 seconds and expect to win. You may have been crowned a genius in Week 1, but by Week 2, you were ridiculed for your inability to manage the clock. Oh, and your defensive philosophy of ambivalence ain’t gonna cut it.
Honeymoon’s over, Chip. If he figures out that defense is important, plus learns some basic skills in situational football, the Eagles should be ok. Might we suggest Eagles fans buy Chip this book for Christmas?
New York Giants
Oh how the mighty have fallen. There is one thing wrong with the Giants: everything, everything that is, except Eli (he’s still dreamy). The O-line? Old, hurt, and unable to block. Running Backs? They brought Brandon Jacobs back (‘nuff said). D-line? No pressure. Linebackers? Their best one is an undrafted cancer survivor. The Secondary continues to give receivers (at least) a five yard cushion, even on press. And the Special Teams? Well, they continue to be special:
Screw it, we’ll throw Eli in the mix too. He’s reverted to Dopey Eli and, while some of his (league-leading) 9 interceptions have been tipped balls, some have been downright awful.
Who’s to blame? We’re looking right at GM Jerry Reese. The problem is personnel. Reese is living off the fumes of his (genius) 2007 draft. Reese had built this organization to promote from within. Manningham leaves, that’s fine, we got Cruz. Osi leaves, we got JPP. Chris Canty leaves, hello Linval Joseph. But that doesn’t hold true anymore. Bradshaw left and David Wilson has not stepped up. James Brewer has been equally inconsistent on the O-line, and paying Will Beatty $37.5 million now seems like a horrible idea.
Reese has steadfastly refused to place a priority on linebackers, which has led the Giants to fill this position with undrafted players, busts (Aaron Curry), and injury prone veterans (Keith Rivers, Dan Connor).
The saving grace for the Giants: as bad as they’ve been, they’re only two games out of first place.
So who’s going to win this division? Who knows, it’s completely up for grabs. But I think the better answer is: who cares?
Enjoy your teabag.