Eye on the Enemy: NFC East Roundup
Once a week, we’ll take a spin around the NFC East to check in on what’s going on with the Eagles’ division rivals.
DALLAS COWBOYS (1-1)
Week 3 Opponent: @St. Louis Rams (1-1) (1 p.m.)
Line: Cowboys (-1.5)
It has been nearly 10 months since the quarterback underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk in his lower back. He never practiced more than two consecutive days in training camp and during the preseason. The idea was to avoid the repetition of an inflammatory cycle that would leave the back in a constant state of irritation. Romo had taken every snap in practice to prepare for regular season games until sitting out Wednesday. He said afterwards that he took every snap and felt good. The plan for the remainder of the regular season, as head coach Jason Garrett said, is to see how Romo feels each week and plan accordingly.
Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram sees RB DeMarco Murray as the key to a Cowboys win against St. Louis:
Containing Murray should be a bigger challenge for them. They haven’t done it too well in the past. Murray’s two biggest rushing days have come against the Rams. He rushed for a career-high 253 yards in a 34-7 victory in 2011, and 175 yards in a 31-7 victory last year. His 428 combined rushing yards are the most he has against a single opponent, impressive considering he’s faced the New York Giants four times (328 total yards) and the Washington Redskins five times (280 yards) in his career.
Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News writes about how the Cowboys plan to replace LB Rolando McClain in this Sunday’s matchup:
The Cowboys are expected to start their third combination of linebackers in as many games Sunday against the Rams. Weakside linebacker Justin Durant, who is also out with a strained groin, said he’s progressing quicker than expected but isn’t expected to play Sunday. With McClain also expected to be unavailable against the Rams, the Cowboys will probably start rookie Anthony Hitchens at middle linebacker, have Bruce Carter move back to the weak side and plug in Kyle Wilber at the strong side.
NEW YORK GIANTS (0-2)
Week 3 Opponent: Houston Texans (2-0) (1 p.m.)
Line: Texans (-2)
Paul Schwartz of the New York Post reports that defensive coordinator Perry Fewell thinks DE Jason Pierre-Paul would make a great fit at tight end:
The Giants know all about how defensive end J.J. Watt caught a touchdown pass in the most recent game for the Texans, which is why when the Giants will be in their goal-line defense, coordinator Perry Fewell says “all eyes are on him.” What about the Giants breaking with tradition and doing the same thing with their athletic defensive lineman? “JPP, you could probably throw it 5 yards over the goal post and he’d have a chance to go up and get it,” offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said, referring to Jason Pierre-Paul.
That’s something the 2-0 Texans have rarely had to do so far this season. Through two games, Houston leads the league in rushing attempts (80) behind a rejuvenated Arian Foster, and the Texans rank dead last in the NFL with 41 pass attempts. It’s a conservative offensive approach that’s kept the sometimes error-prone Fitzpatrick, who has averaged 17 interceptions and six fumbles a season since 2011, from making critical mistakes. The Texans have just one turnover this season, a Foster fumble. But a Giants defense that’s still searching for its first game-changing play of 2014 desperately wants Fitzpatrick to make his first critical mistake. For all the players’ talk of emulating the Seattle Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom,” the ‘D’ has not forced a turnover in two games, and yes, that’s left the Giants somewhat frustrated.
Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post writes about S Antrel Rolle‘s message in a recent players-only meeting:
The Post learned exclusively Thursday that safety Antrel Rolle, the Giants’ resident vocal leader and a big part of the team’s soul, called a players-only meeting and was the first of several players to speak. The message? “Just go out there and play fast,’’ Rolle told The Post. “First and foremost, know your assignment and that’s going to allow you to play fast and confident. Go out there expecting to win, expecting to make that play — as opposed to playing cautious and not really knowing what the outcome is going to be. “You’ve got to go out there expecting to dominate. The mind is a powerful thing. Mind controls all.’’
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (1-1)
Week 3 Opponent: @Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) (1 p.m.)
Line: Eagles (-6.5)
Liz Clarke of the Washington Post talks about S Brandon Meriweather‘s return from suspension:
One dangerous hit can cost an NFL defense 15 yards and the culpable player a five-figure fine. Multiple infractions can result in suspension, as Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather, who was suspended for the first two games for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Baltimore receiver Torrey Smith during the third preseason game, can attest. It was Meriweather’s sixth illegal hit in an eight-year NFL career; it was also his second suspension in as many years. To be sure, when the 5-foot-11, 198-pound Meriweather finally makes his regular-season debut Sunday at Philadelphia, NFL officials will be eying his so-called “strike-zone” closely. Given his history, Meriweather has exhausted any benefit of the doubt in the eyes of the NFL. And though he insists that he worked hard in the offseason to alter his technique, hitting lower and leading with his shoulder rather than helmet, Meriweather vows to double-down on that effort going forward.
Zac Boyer of the Washington Times reports that head coach Jay Gruden expects WR DeSean Jackson to be available for Sunday’s game:
DeSean Jackson was again held out of practice on Thursday as he recovers from a separated left shoulder, though Redskins coach Jay Gruden believes Jackson should be available to play against Philadelphia, his former team, on Sunday. “I think a lot of it is just pain tolerance, some of it, and the big thing is to make sure he gets his range of motion,” Gruden said. “But as far as doing more damage to it, I would have to ask the trainer on that one, but I think he’ll be ok. He wears shoulder pads. He’ll be all right.”
Garcon and his fellow starters have worked since the spring to develop chemistry and timing with Robert Griffin III, and in practices prior to this week, they have worked with Kirk Cousins only in a limited capacity. Cousins and his teammates appeared to have pretty good chemistry in last week’s game. By chance, the quarterback said, he happened to connect more with backups Andre Roberts, Niles Paul and Ryan Grant in last week’s game. Garcon, a week after catching 10 balls on 12 targets, had only one catch on four targets. But he said, “Just how it played out. Things, you never know how they’re going to go. It’s football. Just glad we got the win, 41-10.”
Matt Cassidy is a journalism student at Temple and an intern at Birds 24/7.