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 (11-4)
Week 17 Opponent: @ Washington (4-11) (1 p.m.)
Line: Dallas (-6)
Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Cowboys ‘we-fense’ is peaking at the right time:
The Cowboys had six players selected for the Pro Bowl on Tuesday. None of them was from the defense.
And that’s just fine with Cowboys’ defensive players.
All season, they’ve embraced the fact that the unit has no big names. Their approach has been all for one.
“Our defense is we-fense, and that’s what we focus on is we-fense. There is no star of the defense,” defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. “If every man is doing their job and in place, then everybody will talk about the whole defense. It’s not an individual league.”
The Cowboys’ “we-fense” is peaking at just the right time. Since Thanksgiving, it has been stacking up one big play after another, putting the offense in favorable positions.
David Moore of the Dallas Morning News explains why Jason Garrett is starting Tony Romo on Sunday:
It’s unlikely that the Cowboys, win or lose, will be able to escape the No. 3 seed in the NFC. They face an opponent in the regular season finale that has broken Tony Romo’s back — literally — the last two times these teams have met.
So why play Romo?
“There’s a playoff scenario with us winning the game that will give us an opportunity to get a first-round bye so we’re going to take advantage of what we can take advantage of,’’ head coach Jason Garrett said. “There are 16 opportunities to play and guys who are healthy are going to play in this game and practice this week and play in the game. Ballgames are important to us.’’
And what about the argument that this game is as close to meaningless as a team can get?
“There are no meaningless games,’’ Garrett said.
NEW YORK GIANTS (6-9)
Week 17 Opponent: Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) (1 p.m.)
Line: Not Listed.
Jordan Raanan of NJ.com reports that Tom Coughlin hasn’t thought of the possibility that this might be his last game with the Giants:
As the Giants enter their season finale on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles already eliminated from playoff contention for the third straight year, coach Tom Coughlin says he hasn’t even thought about the possibility that this may be his last game with the organization he helped win two Super Bowls.
“No. No it doesn’t,” Coughlin said before ending his press conference on Friday in less than two minutes.
Coughlin had his contract extended earlier this year until after the 2015 season. The Giants have made it a habit of not allowing their head coach work on the final year of his contract.
Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News says that Odell Beckham Jr. highlights GM Jerry Reese‘s best draft since 2007:
When Jerry Reese walked into the Giants’ war room on May 8, he needed a home run — not so much to save his job, but to save his reputation. He had earned a rep for uncovering hidden talents, for building a team with key players others had passed by. But recently his golden touch had begun to disappear.
Two days later when the draft was over, Reese may not have known it, but he had hit his home run. And his golden touch had returned just in time.
Talk about perfect timing. After years of questionable draft picks, bad luck with injuries and an assortment of free agent decisions that didn’t work out, the Giants general manager emerged from the 2014 draft with much more than just Odell Beckham Jr., who has been by far the best rookie in the NFL. He also had what would become his best draft class since the magical one he drafted in 2007, his first draft as a GM.
Week 17 Opponent: Dallas Cowboys (11-4) (1 p.m.)
Line: Dallas (-6)
Rich Tandler of CSNWashington reports that head coach Jay Gruden is content with his team’s effort:
Today, Gruden said that he was pretty happy with the performance of his team
“For the most part the guys have come in here and practiced hard and are paying attention in meetings and they’re working hard,” said Gruden. “It’s a great opportunity, especially the young guys and of course the veteran guys, they’ve got a lot of pride. They know it’s a Cowboys rivalry game playing in front of the home crowd so they take it very seriously.”
It is easier for Gruden to sell this message since the Redskins win their last game against a motivated Eagles team last Saturday. They had lost six in a row prior to that and that led many to conclude that many players had checked out for the season.
Mike Jones of the Washington Post writes about rookie cornerback Bashaud Breeland exceeding expectations this year:
Breeland says his success has not surprised him.
“Not at all,” he said. “I feel like I do a good job of preparing, doing film study and practicing throughout the week, so everything that happens in the game, it really comes natural to me. Coming in, I knew it was going to be hard as a junior coming out to get on the field. So I wanted to do the little things.”
No one else in the Redskins organization saw this coming, however.
“We were very smart,” Coach Jay Gruden deadpanned before breaking out into laughter. “No, if we knew he was that good, we wouldn’t have drafted him in the fourth. We would’ve drafted him in the second,” which was Washington’s first available draft pick.
Matt Cassidy is a journalism student at Temple and an intern at Birds 24/7.