The NFC East is going to be the worst division in football, again.
It comes as no surprise to me. I rail against the overhyped Cowboys before the start of seemingly every season, and the Eagles have been gutted by injuries the past few years and the Washington Football Team has been rebuilding for 20 years and the Giants keep picking in the top 10 for a reason.
This division stinks. Same as it ever was (at least recently).
Some patently mediocre team will go 9-7 (maybe even 8-8) to win it. And then it’ll be a quick playoff exit. All of these huge market teams who tend to get all of these headlines and a ridiculous amount of attention (not that any of them outside the Cowboys actually covet it) will once again conspire to play suspect football and generally look overmatched against the better teams in the NFL,
What, you say? The Cowboys had a win for the ages? They managed to eek out a game-winning field goal against the defensively-inept Falcons after being handed a gift of an onside kick recovery? Who cares! It took a miracle for them to win a game in which Dallas exposed, once again, an inability to contain a decent offense. They gave away possession after possession, and these are exactly the kind of weak opponents the Cowboys always compile their yards and points again.
Bottom line is they are lucky as hell not to be 0-2, they got muscled around by the Rams in the opener and have given up over 800 yards already this season. That once-dominant offensive line continues to battle age and health issues, and there is so much of this marathon to go.
Wanna sum up NFC East football? Here you go: Within the span of a few minutes early Sunday afternoon the Eagles (0-2) fell behind the Rams, 21-3 (which meant they had been outscored 41-3 dating back to taking a 17-0 lead over WFT in Week 1). Daniel Jones had just thrown another interception in Chicago to extend his turnover spree in a game the Giants would lose, and Dallas had just fumbled for the third time in its first five possessions (which also included a punt and a failed fake punt).
So now the Eagles sit winless, having lost to Washington, a team that trailed Arizona 20-0 after trailing Philly 17-0 quickly last week. The Giants (who began this game going fumble, punt, interception) lost their most vital cog on offense, Saquon Barkley, for the season with a torn ACL (almost certainly), the Eagles have a MASH unit in the trenches and at receiver. It isn’t pretty, folks, and I wouldn’t be looking for quick fixes.
The Eagles have a wonderful foundation and are the premier organization in this division by a country mile, but it’s hard to not be concerned by their troubling start, with a defense that has allowed Dwayne Haskins and Jared Goff to go 30-for-42 for 368 yards with 3 TDs and no picks in the past six quarters, while allowing 271 rushing yards in two games. Washington’s offense is pretty inept and the offensive line is brutal. The Giants have issues everywhere.
So far, these teams have all looked unwatchable at times. It could get a little better for some of them. But I’m less than convinced it will.
Seats get hotter for Patricia, Gase, Quinn
If you put together a list of the coaches on the hottest hot seats before the season, it would have had Adam Gase, Matt Patricia, Dan Quinn and Doug Marrone pretty high on it. And, well, for three of them the first two weeks could not have gone much worse.
It can get late pretty early in this league, which Quinn in particular knows too well, as the Falcons are going on a third straight year of not playing anything close to winning football early on. Most years they don’t generally start to ’til about Halloween. Have to wonder if he has that long if this continues. After getting blown out by Seattle in the opener, the Falcons blew an early 20-0 lead, or a 29-10 halftime lead or 39-24 lead with eight minutes to play. Pick any you like! It’s all of the above. They’ve given up 78 points and 953 yards and Quinn is a defensive coach.
Patricia is a defensive coach as well, who watched his team get shredded in the fourth quarter last week by Mitchell Trubisky as Chicago rolled up 21 points in the final 15 minutes to steal that win. Then the Packers smashed them for four quarters Sunday, with Aaron Jones‘ 75-yard run to open the second half telling you all you need to know. Brutal. They’ve blown four straight double-digit leads — an NFL first! — and are wasting Matthew Stafford’s career.
Brutal would be a compliment for what the Jets have done through two weeks. The 49ers were literally running out of players Sunday, but converted a third-and-31 and destroyed them with little opposition. Sam Darnold’s future is becoming the hottest topic in New York, and if the Jets do anything well, good luck convincing anyone.
Vikings looking like NFL’s biggest disappointment
The Vikings started very slow as a passing unit a year ago before getting things righted and going on to the postseason. Not so sure that is in the cards this season. This was a team at a crossroads and ownership decided to double down on new deals for pretty much everyone: Mike Zimmer, Kirk Cousins, the front office. Can’t help but wonder if they are feeling a little sick in the stomach.
You could make the case this has been the biggest disappointment in the NFL through two weeks. Zimmer’s defense has been slipping for years, but it looks under water now. The Colts had their way with them on that side of the ball, and consider what Cousins has done in the first half the first two weeks: 9-21 for 113 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT and a safety in the equivalent of a game’s worth of work. The offensive line is awful. The Vikings have been outscored 37-13 in the first half, with 12 total first downs and 194 net yards, while holding the ball for less than 20 minutes.
Something better change, quickly.
More Week 2 insider notes
- Speaking of things that must change — there is a lot of grumbling going on about the field conditions at Met Life Stadium. Opposing players and coaches believe that surface is not up to par. The Steelers had some major complaints last week facing the Giants, and the 49ers, who played the Jets there Sunday and face the Giants there next week, had some significant issues with it after suffering a rash of injuries Sunday …
- Have to wonder if this is not the 49ers’ year. Gutted on the defensive line and at receiver and now they could be without their starting QB for a while, too. They can seemingly run the ball no matter who is out there, but Raheem Mostert is a game-breaker and him possibly missing a few weeks too limits all of the strengths of this team …
- Justin Herbert was nothing short of stellar doing what he did without the starting reps in a week in which he was slated to be the backup until the last minute. I have been a Tyrod Taylor guy, but no reason not to ride Herbert now. See what the rookie can do with regular prep …
- Kyler Murray’s 2020 might end up looking a lot like Lamar Jackson’s 2019 …
- The Ravens‘ offense still hasn’t really clicked yet, and they have already rolled up two 30-point performances in blowout wins …
- The Bucs had a workmanlike victory over the Panthers and their poor defense, but you got the sense Tom Brady was less than pleased after the first two early scoring drives. And Gronk has a ways to go to get back to even what we saw at the end of his Pats career. I still think this is a playoff team, and Brady will be fine, but a well-oiled machine they are not, yet …
- Gardner Minshew is legit. I was on him early last year if you regularly read this space, I love the way he plays and he could easily be 2-0.