NFC East Notebook, Dec. 13: Pondering possible Shanahan successors

Jonathan Daniel

News and notes from Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington.

Week 15 is upon us, and yet again the NFC East is all over the NFL headlines.

Philadelphia and Dallas remain in the playoff hunt, with the latter needing to beat the Green Bay Packers in order to just keep pace with the soaring Eagles. Those first-place Eagles, by the way, will face the Minnesota Vikings minus Adrian Peterson.

The New York Giants have been removed from playoff contention, but they'll host the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium, the field the NFC's No. 1 seed hopes to return to in about two month's time. And in Washington, nobody can get a gauge on what's coming next between Mike Shanahan, Dan Snyder and Robert Griffin III.

Here's the latest from around the NFC East.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys have been oft-criticized for their lack of focus on the running game, but lead back DeMarco Murray is on the verge of breaking a barrier. Despite injuries early on this season, Murray is 157 yards shy of eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark.

No Cowboys back has accomplished that feat since Julius Jones did so in 2006.

The Dallas offense as a whole have averaged about 150 yards per game over the past three games, and the difference, according to Murray, is the presence of fullback Tyler Clutts.

Philadelphia Eagles

When it comes to the Eagles, the conversation will always begin with the offense. But let's pay Chip Kelly's defense some credit.

Philly has held its opponents to 18 points per game over the last five, all of which resulted in Eagles victories. And quarterbacking that unit has been linebacker DeMeco Ryans.

The veteran linebacker was acquired last offseason from the Houston Texans and has brought a toughness to Philly. Said defensive coordinator Bill Davis: "DeMeco is the leader of our defense and he's having an outstanding Pro Bowl year, and we couldn't be happier with everything DeMeco is doing for us."

The Eagles could be getting another lift to their improving unit. Safety Earl Wolff practiced -- on a limited basis -- and will be a game-time decision against the Vikings Sunday.

Washington Redskins

There's a lot of uncertainty in the nation's capital, and that pertains to players, coaching staff and front office.

One debate is whether the team has good enough receiving options for whomever quarterbacks the Skins in 2014, and if Pierre Garcon is a true No. 1 wide receiver. Garcon is third in receptions (89) and 14th in yardage (1,017), but is among the league worst in terms of yards per reception (11.4) and touchdowns (3). But perhaps Garcon's production is hindered by who is under center and the lack of weapons around him.

Hogs Haven is also considering possible successors to Shanahan. Among them: Bill Cowher, Lovie Smith, Mike Zimmer and Ray Horton.

The former Pittsburgh Steelers coach is Hogs Haven's top choice, but chances are Cowher remains in the CBS booth. Smith is reportedly coveted by the Texans. Zimmer, who runs the Cincinnati Bengals defense, has no head coaching experience but among the highest-rated coordinators in the NFL. And despite a lack of experience, Horton has learned under Cowher, Mike Tomlin and Dick LeBeau, so he knows a few things for sure.

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