NFC East Roundup: Coughlin Turns It Around

Why the Giants may be able to dream of the playoffs.

Photo courtesy: USA Today Sports Images

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

With Week 4 in the books for the entire division, here’s a recap of what’s happening around the NFC East.

After another win, the Giants might be able to dream of the playoffs, writes’s Mike Silver.

Whether the Giants might get back to the level of sustained excellence that Coughlin desires and demands remains to be seen, but no one should discard the possibility out of hand. Though New York has missed the playoffs in each of the past three seasons, Coughlin proved during the 2007 campaign, and again four years later, that he’s capable of getting a team to peak at the right time.

Those Super Bowl triumphs earned Coughlin the right to fight through this rough patch without being fired, at least to this point, and he certainly seems to have retained a measure of motivational magic. Surely, there’s reason to believe: The potential return of Pierre-Paul remains uncertain, but if the pass-rushing demon can come back as any semblance of his normal self, watch out.

Either way, with the 2-2 Cowboys burdened by the protracted absences of their brightest offensive stars, quarterback Tony Romo and receiver Dez Bryant — and with Washington (2-2) and Philadelphia (1-3) having looked underwhelming thus far — the Giants can dare to dream of a divisional title, and perhaps more.

Tom Coughlin is likely fighting for his job, and so far he’s winning, writes ESPN’s Dan Graziano.

“We’re 0-2? Fight. Keep fighting,” Coughlin said Sunday evening, after a 24-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills improved his team’s record to 2-2. “That’s what we do. That’s what the thing is all about.”

Coughlin just turned 69 years old a few weeks ago and is the oldest coach in the NFL. Most people know this, and most people also know that if he ends this season with a losing record for the third year in a row, the Giants are likely to look for a new head coach. Coughlin surely knows the first thing but hates to talk about it. And he likely knows the second thing too but doesn’t have time to care.

“His energy is just really high right now,” Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “Well, it always is. But the last couple of weeks, I think he’s just been so positive, so upbeat. We still get music at practice. We still have the recovery day. It tells us he believes in us, and he’s always reminding us of that.”

Todd Archer of ESPN says the Cowboys’ 2-0 start to the season is a distant memory after two close losses and another big injury.

The Cowboys won’t have Tony Romo or Dez Bryant [against New England]. They lost Lance Dunbar almost certainly for the season with a knee injury against the Saints. They likely won’t have Randy Gregory either. Depending on how he fares with the protocol, they could be without Lee. They will welcome Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain to the lineup for the first time this season now that their four-game suspensions are over.

“When you lose your two franchise players like Tony and Dez, it’s tough, but that’s what happens in this league,” tight end Jason Witten said. “You’ve got to be able to regroup.”

The question is how. And when. And can they do it enough times to make the returns of Romo and Bryant matter to a season that is at a crossroads after four games. The Cowboys’ two-game winning streak to open the season is a distant memory right now.

Dallas took its second straight loss hard in the locker room after the game, writes Rainer Sabin of the Dallas Morning-News.

“We had a chance to win that game, and we let it slip through the cracks,” defensive end Jeremy Mincey said.

The Cowboys’ locker room inside the Mercedes-Benz locker room was quiet as players slowly milled about the cramped quarters. Some sat in chairs with dejected looks on their faces. Others whispered to each other, letting off some steam.

“I’m disappointed, and everybody in this dressing room is sick,” owner Jerry Jones said.

For the second straight week, the Cowboys surrendered a lead and lost.

From the Washington Times’ Anthony Gulizia, the Redskins entered Sunday floundering in the turnover department, but beat the Eagles in that regard.

The Redskins entered the game with a minus-5 turnover ratio, which ranked second-worst in the NFL. They were plus-1 against Philadelphia — not spectacular, but certainly a start. The Redskins are one of just three teams in the NFL yet to record an interception (the other two, New Orleans and Seattle, are playing Sunday and Monday night, respectively).

The Redskins talked this week about needing to improve the pass rush if they wanted to force more turnovers, and they did that against the Eagles. They sacked Philadelphia quarterback Sam Bradford five times. They had just four combined in the three games before Sunday. With pressure like that, interceptions will come.

Washington showed Sunday that its offense has firepower to compete in tight games, writes the Washington Post’s Liz Clarke.

The Redskins finally showed what Gruden has been pleading for since the season opened: game-changing plays and toughness when things go wrong. In an ugly division game, the Redskins proved capable of overcoming the most, outgaining the Eagles, 417-320.

“We gave up the lead, had a lot of adversity in that game. That’s something that we have been trying to talk about,” Gruden said.

Cousins was 31 of 46 for 290 yards and one touchdown , while rushing one yard for another score, improving to 4-9 as an NFL starter. Most notably, he was steady on the fourth-quarter drive the Redskins simply had to convert, fitting his final throw into a tight window, with scant margin for error and the seconds ticking away.