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 (10-4)
Week 16 Opponent: Indianapolis Colts (10-4) (4:25 p.m.)
Line: (Dallas -3 1/2)
Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas with the latest on DeMarco Murray:
Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray went through his second straight practice in which he was limited and is listed as questionable on the injury report.
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Friday morning that he was “pretty positive” Murray, who had surgery Monday to repair a broken left hand, would play Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. Murray, the NFL’s leading rusher, actually held the ball at times in his left hand during the brief portion of practice open to the media.
On Thursday, Murray said the final decision to play would be his, and coach Jason Garrett agreed to an extent.
“He knows how he feels more than anybody else,” Garrett said. “It’s our job as coaches and the medical staff to evaluate him and see if he’s functional. If we see things that don’t add up to what he’s saying about how he’s feeling, we’ll certainly have that communication. But he’s the one that knows about himself more than anybody, and we trust his feedback. He’s a veteran player. He knows what it takes to play in a game.”
Meanwhile, Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton has not practiced this week and is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. More from Mike Wells of ESPN.com.
No, it’s not worth playing him. Hilton is the Colts’ best offensive playmaker and they can’t afford to be without him in the playoffs. The Colts know that, too/ That’s why it would be surprising if Hilton played against a Dallas team that is trying to lock up a playoff spot still.
“[I want to]) make sure I’m healthy,” Hilton said. “Don’t want to go out there and hurt the team and they can use the spot on somebody else. If I’m 100 [percent] and I’m feeling good, I’ll go out there and play.”
Hilton injured his hamstring in the second half of last weekend’s victory over the Houston Texans. He’s fourth in the league in receiving yards with 1,345.
“For me I have a lot of gears, I want to hit that first gear and that last gear,” Hilton said. “If I’m able to do that then I should be fine.”
Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram gives reasons why the Cowboys have struggled at home this season:
One factor in the Cowboys’ performance in the four home losses was Romo’s iffy status, a contrast to his Most Valuable Player caliber of play in the rest of the games.
Romo played in the opening loss against the 49ers after missing much of training camp recovering from back surgery. He didn’t look comfortable and was intercepted three times.
In the 20-17 overtime loss to the Redskins, he suffered fractures in two small bones in his back, causing him to miss the 28-17 loss to the Cardinals the following week.
The 33-10 loss to the Eagles on Thanksgiving Day featured Romo’s worst performance of the season. He was intercepted twice and had a season-worst passer rating of 53.7. He admitted he didn’t handle the short week well while managing his back issues.
Plus, the Cowboys have played tougher teams at home. Their home opponents have a combined record of 48-50. Their road opponents are 39-59.
NEW YORK GIANTS (5-9)
Week 16 Opponent: @St. Louis Rams (6-8) (4:05 p.m.)
Line: (St. Louis -6)
Jordan Raanan of NJ.com wonders when Giants’ second-year quarterback (and Philly-area native) Ryan Nassib will get some real NFL playing experience:
Ryan Nassib is stuck in a similar spot. The fourth-round pick last year out of Syracuse is waiting patiently for his opportunity to show what he can do. It just doesn’t appear like that opportunity is coming any time soon. With Manning’s durability and desire to play, Nassib might as well bring a recliner to the sideline come Sundays.
Manning will start his 166th consecutive regular-season game on Sunday against the St. Louis Rams even with the Giants long out of playoff contention. Nassib will sit and wait for … something, anything?
In two seasons, Nassib has played a total of 19 snaps, all in mop-up duty this season. He’s thrown five passes (completed four), took two sacks and fumbled once in four games. He wasn’t active for a single contest his rookie season.
There appears to be no greater time than now for Nassib to get an opportunity to gain real game experience. The Giants (5-9) play the Rams and Eagles in two meaningless games to close out the season.
Kevin Kernan of the New York Post discusses how rookie Odell Beckham Jr. has completely changed the Giants’ offensive philosophy:
There are much better days ahead next season for the Giants’ offense now that rookie Odell Beckham Jr. has established himself as a difference-maker, and offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo has learned what life is really all about in the NFL.
Start with the biggest lesson of them all learned by the first-year offensive coordinator and his West Coast offense:
Life isn’t just about the system.
Asked Thursday about that biggest lesson learned, McAdoo said, “I guess you don’t fall into the trap where you think the system is everything.’’
McAdoo fell into that trap, but give the man credit for expanding his game this season.
“The best play may not be the best play because it doesn’t give the person the ball that gives you the best chance to win the game,’’ McAdoo said. “So getting the ball to the right guy at the right time is the most critical.’’
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (3-11)
Week 16 Opponent: Philadelphia Eagles (9-5) (Saturday 4:30 p.m.)
Line: Eagles (-8)
Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post says just because everyone is taking shots at Robert Griffin III, that doesn’t make it right:
Right now, Griffin doesn’t look like he is going to be a very good NFL quarterback. Everybody, at least in Washington, knows the reasons. In fact, nobody is allowed to talk about anything else. It’s almost a civic ordinance.
Two years ago, Griffin was a paragon. Now he’s almost a pariah? This doesn’t pass any smell, much less civility, test. When Griffin returns to his role as starting quarterback — by default and not merit — Saturday against the Eagles and the following Sunday against the Cowboys, the Circus Maximus temptations at FedEx Field may be irresistible. Thumbs down; loose the lions.
Even if Griffin had the hubris to anoint himself “RGIII,” even if he has the misfortune to be Daniel Snyder’s buddy and thus Exhibit A for the vain glory of an era, the total portrait of him as a person is still estimable. He’s a Boy Scout, Dudley Do-right, an Army recruiting poster. The problem: Right now he’s not Peyton Manning or Russell Wilson or maybe even Colt McCoy.
Zac Boyer of the Washington Times gives the latest on the Washington injury front:
Trent Williams is considered questionable to play for the Washington Redskins against Philadelphia on Saturday because of a sprained right shoulder.
Williams, the Redskins’ starting left tackle, was unable to practice on Wednesday but returned to practice, albeit in a limited fashion, on Thursday. He was injured in Washington’s road loss to the New York Giants on Sunday when, in the third quarter, he collided with running back Alfred Morris while attempting to block Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
The Redskins ruled defensive end Jason Hatcher out for Saturday because of injury. Hatcher has been dealing with soreness in his right knee and didn’t play against the Giants. Inside linebacker Keenan Robinson is considered doubtful after he sprained the MCL in his left knee in the loss at Indianapolis on Nov. 30.
Strong safety Brandon Meriweather will miss his third consecutive game because of a sprained right big toe, and that injury will keep him out of the Dec. 28 finale against Dallas as well.
Matt Cassidy is a journalism student at Temple and an intern at Birds 24/7.