NFC East Roundup: How You Like Kirk Cousins Now?

Plus: Which defensive back is playing like a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate?

Kirk Cousins. (USA TODAY Sports)

Kirk Cousins. (USA TODAY Sports)

Let’s take a spin around the NFC East and check in with what’s going on with the other three teams in the division.

We’ll begin in Washington, where the Redskins defeated the Green Bay Packers at home, 42-24. Kirk Cousins threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns, while rookie running back Robert Kelley rushed for 137 yards and three scores. DeSean Jackson, Jamison Crowder, and Pierre Garcon eached had a receiving touchdown, while Martrell Spaight notched an interception. Cousins also had another memorable soundbite with general manager Scot McCloughan.

With Cousins as the starting quarterback, the Redskins could make consecutive appearances in the playoffs for the first time since the early 1990’s. Rick Snider of the Washington Post thinks the team needs to pay the young passer.

McCloughan needs to pay Cousins big time. The team reportedly gave Cousins an initial lowball offer of $12 million per year. The club wasn’t sure if Cousins was merely a product of an offensive scheme and wondered if his performance could be replicated by a more affordable option at QB.

There have still been rumblings coming out of Redskins Park that Cousins won’t be worth a heftier price tag, but McCloughan has no choice anymore.

The Redskins are 6-3-1 and have a good chance of making the playoffs for the second straight year with Cousins at the helm. They haven’t been to consecutive postseasons since 1991-92. By letting Cousins leave in free agency, McCloughan would be pushing in all his chips, effectively wagering his tenure in Washington. Any regression on offense after replacing Cousins would have Redskins fans clamoring for a change in management.

Cousins deserves the money. The Redskins have won close games and are 11-4-1 in the regular season since Week 12 of last year. That’s the club’s best 16-game run since 1992.

After the win, head coach Jay Gruden expressed his displeasure with the league’s scheduling. The team has a very quick week, as they have to prepare to play the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington Thanksgiving afternoon. JP Finlay of CSN Mid-Atlantic has more.

Beyond tailoring the plan of attack specific to Dallas, the Redskins also need to worry about their players. Football games are tough on players’ bodies; there’s a reason the sport is generally played with a week off between games.

“The biggest thing is you worry about the health of your football team. This is a physical football game we played last night and we’re at the point in the year where guys are a little bit beat up,” Gruden said.

Though the Skins sustained no serious injuries against Green Bay, players like Josh Norman, Will Blackmon and Morgan Moses are already nursing injuries. With just three days between games instead of the normal six, that means substantially less medical treatment and rehab opportunities.

“Guys still have a bunch of bumps and bruises that aren’t on the injury report here and there that they have to take care of their bodies for. It’s going to be tough.”

The Redskins hope to take over second place in the NFC East against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day.

Speaking of those Cowboys, they defeated the Baltimore Ravens, 27-17, last week. Dak Prescott threw for 301 yards and three touchdowns, while Ezekiel Elliott only rushed for 97 yards against the league’s top defense. Dez Bryant caught a pair of touchdowns in the win.

Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star Telegram thinks if Tony Romo‘s disappointment over his benching continues, his final chapter with the Cowboys will turn for a bad end.

The team just rolled to its ninth consecutive win, in which the offense eclipsed 400 yards for the eighth consecutive time. An entire franchise that normally imploded in Romo’s absence now is doing better than it ever did with him, save for one or two other times.

It’s a fascinating narrative twist to witness, but this reality must be killing him.

“There’s nothing weird about this,” [Cole] Beasley said. “We’re 9-1. You don’t worry about stuff like that. There is nothing to feel awkward about — you are winning games.”

That is the end of that.

No matter how much it hurts, that is the part Romo must come to terms with or the ending of his sports career in DFW will turn far worse. If the pouting continues, teammates will shut him out, and he will be even less of a part of this “magic” than he already is.

Linebacker Rolando McClain was eligible to return Monday after serving a 10-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. With reports that he missed another drug test that could sit him out for another year, owner Jerry Jones still wants to keep the linebacker, pens Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News.

Jones did make it clear that he wants McClain to return to the Cowboys.

“We certainly, when he’s eligible, we won’t release him and when he’s eligible he’ll be a part of this team,” Jones said. “He had gotten in good shape. We’ll just deal with what I’ll find out with his status from the league.”

Jones was asked if he expects McClain to be eligible to play this season.

“I just don’t know,” Jones said. “Our plans were for him to be eligible and thought he could be a real addition to our defense, but under the circumstances, I don’t want to comment because of the detail.”

The Cowboys host their annual Thanksgiving Day game this year against the Washington Redskins in a big division battle.

And finally to the Giants, who defeated the Chicago Bears, 22-16. Eli Manning threw for 227 yards and two touchdowns, while Rashad Jennings ran for 85 yards and a touchdown. Rookie Sterling Shepard and Will Tye each caught touchdowns, while safety Landon Collins continued his outstanding season with another interception.

The second-year safety is playing like a potential candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and the Giants hope Collins continues to play like this for the remainder of the season, from Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post.

“I’m doing great at the position, and I’m just trying to prove I’m one of the best in the NFL,” Collins said.

That’s a conversation Collins was never a part of last season during an extremely uneven year for the 2015 second-round pick. Collins started all 16 games, but the Giants finished last in total defense, last in pass defense and allowed 31 TD passes — 25th in the league.

Indeed, the enduring memory of Collins’ rookie year was of him dropping an easy interception of Tom Brady that would have given the Giants a home victory over the Patriots instead of an eventual 27-26 loss.

Collins said he can feel the maturity in him growing from Year 1 to Year 2.

“It feels tremendously different now,” Collins said. “I’m confident in every call that I make, confident in every position that I’m in. The confidence level is through the roof compared to where it was at the end of last year.”

Although the defense played very well, Pat Leonard of the New York Daily Post writes the offense is still a big point of concern for the team.

[Odell] Beckham failed to get a first down late in the fourth quarter that could have helped ice the game. Then he was fully dressed and clearly in a bad mood when the locker room opened. Beckham talked to the media and, in fairness, was peppered too often with the same question about Chicago shutting him down after answering it the first time. But it was strange to see a Giant not all smiles given the circumstances and the game’s result.

“No, (Chicago’s defense did) nothing different,” Beckham said. “Defense played lights out today. They were a big part of the game.”

Jennings bristled at a suggestion that the Bears might have been a pushover opponent.

“You’re gonna tell me they’re not NFL players over there?” a testy Jennings said. “We (as an offense) can continue to grow and finish with the ball in our hands. We weren’t able to do that like we wanted to, and that’s something we’re gonna have to do down the stretch.”

The Giants defense looked unprepared in the first half, resulting in another game in which [Ben] McAdoo’s team won but often didn’t look like the better team. “Nobody wants to start slow,” said Olivier Vernon, a monster in the win. “The Bears weren’t doing anything that we hadn’t seen on film. We just have to start faster.”

The Giants are in Cleveland to take on the winless Browns later this week.