NFC East Roundup: Tony Romo’s Tricky Transition
With all four NFC East teams winning their games this week, let’s take a spin around the division and see what’s going on with the other three teams.
We’ll begin with the Dallas Cowboys, who defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 35-30, in one of the best games of the NFL season so far. Dak Prescott threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns, while Ezekiel Elliott ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner, and also had a receiving touchdown.
With quarterback Tony Romo set to be the backup quarterback against the Ravens on Sunday, former Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe thinks it could be a tough transition for the 36-year-old, pens Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star Telegram.
These things just happen and, at least according to Bledsoe, this could be a hard transition for Romo.
In 2006, Bledsoe was the veteran starter for the Cowboys. In the team’s sixth game of the regular season, he was benched by coach Bill Parcells at halftime in favor of Romo. Parcells named Romo the permanent starter that week, and Bledsoe never threw another NFL pass.
Although he said he received numerous calls from other teams the ensuing off-season, at 34 Bledsoe was finished with football. He did not want to move his family again, and he was ready to start living.
“The one thing Tony has is that he has the experience of being a backup before,” Bledsoe said. “Since the time I was a sophomore in high school, I had been the starter.”
With defensive end Randy Gregory facing a possible one-year suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, general manager and owner Jerry Jones still sees him as part of the team’s future, writes Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News.
In regards to Gregory’s off-field issues, Jones said on 105.3 The Fan’s Shan and RJ show [KRLD-FM]: “He’s our baby. He may be an ugly baby, but he’s our baby.”
Gregory is currently serving a 14-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. The new violation means he will likely face a one-year ban after the current suspension is served.
Jones said Sunday night that Gregory is still getting treatment.
“I really hope that he can continue to make progress,” Jones said, “and I do not rule out Randy Gregory being on the field for the Cowboys.”
The Cowboys host the Ravens on Sunday, before welcoming Washington on Thanksgiving Day.
Speaking of Washington, the team came from behind to beat the Minnesota Vikings, 26-20, at home after coming of off their bye week. Kirk Cousins threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns, and he may have given us this year’s version of his famous “You Like That” phrase. Preston Smith had a big interception as well.
After sitting behind Matt Jones on the depth chart to start the season, undrafted rookie Robert Kelley seems to have the starting running back job in his hands, pens JP Finlay of CSN Mid-Atlantic.
“He’s fun to watch, and he’s going to get better and better,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said of Kelley after the rookie ran for nearly 100 yards in a win over Minnesota.
The coach is right – Kelley is fun to watch. The Tulane product has a knack for making the first tackler miss, a quick shift in his hips and, perhaps most importantly, has been secure with the ball on every one of his NFL carries.
“I thought he ran really, really well,” Washington QB Kirk Cousins said of Kelley.
“I thought he did the same thing against the Bengals. He just picked up where he left off and was phenomenal all day. I was very pleased with the way he ran the football and I can’t say enough good things about him, his effort, the way he produced for us and his approach to the game.”
Cornerback Josh Norman thinks the NFL should follow suit with this year’s election and name a new commissioner to replace Roger Goodell, from Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post.
It’s been a while since Norman went after Goodell, though. Fortunately, the Associated Press recently surveyed some prominent players about what they would do to improve the oft-criticized league. And Norman had some ideas.
“Simple: Get the people who are in there out,” Norman told Howard Fendrich. “Whoever’s making the rules, just get ’em out. We have a new president; have a new NFL commissioner.”
Norman, as Fendrich noted, has already been fined more than $75,000 this season, and he added, “I hope I don’t get fined for that.” But he also had more to say about the league office.
“The game has been this way for 100 years. Why are people in the [league] office trying to change it?” Norman asked. “What are you trying to make better? Why touch the game? . . . Change the staff. We changed the president; let’s change them, too. There should be a number of years you can run it. There should be a term limit in the NFL.”
Washington hosts the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football, before making the trip to Dallas for a Thanksgiving afternoon showdown.
Finally, to the New York Giants, who just got past Cincinnati at home on Monday Night Football, 21-10. Eli Manning threw for 240 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, including the eventual game-winning score to rookie Sterling Shepard on fourth down early in the final quarter. Odell Beckham Jr. and Jerrell Adams had the other two touchdown grabs.
Midway through the season, linebacker Jonathan Casillas thinks the team’s defense is beginning to form a “bully” identity, from the New York Daily News.
“Domination. Physical. Putting that bully feeling out there against other teams,” Casillas said. “They might not run up there like they’re supposed to. They’re checking out plays, they’re running screens.”
“There’s teams out there (that) have done that in the past and it’s fared well for them,” he added.
At the end of Monday’s game, the Giants defense might have started to become what Casillas wants. They shut the Bengals out in the fourth quarter, stopping three separate Cincinnati drives after Big Blue had taken the lead.
The defenses most impressive stop was its last one. With the Bengals facing 2nd-and-10 on their own 30-yard line, the Giants’ defense got to Andy Dalton for sacks on back-to-back plays (the first by Damon Harrison and Casillas, and the second by Olivier Vernon). That forced the Bengals to punt, and they never got the ball back.
After attending UFC 205 and meeting Conor McGregor, Beckham got some “late inspiration” from one of the best mixed martial arts fighters in the world, writes Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post.
“I wanted some late inspiration so I went to the UFC fight the other night to see Conor McGregor,’’ Beckham said. “He believes so much in himself and he backs up everything he says. I like to see other (athletes) in their environment, like when I go to the U.S. Open tennis. I like to other athletes in their zone.
“I had never been to a UFC fight before and I definitely got a lot of inspiration from (McGregor). I met him after the fight. It was a fun experience.’’
McGregor famously boasted before his fight that he “runs New York.’’
He probably hasn’t watched enough of Beckham to make that statement. Beckham delivered yet another virtuoso performance with 10 catches for 97 yards and a TD in the Giants’ victory — their sixth of the season against three losses, matching their win total in each of the last two seasons.
“The bar I’ve set for myself is high,’’ Beckham said.
The Giants take on the Chicago Bears at home on Sunday afternoon.