NFC East Notebook, Christmas Eve: Tony Romo out as Cowboys vie for division crown

Tom Pennington

News and notes from Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington.

Welp, we all got what we had hoped for. Well, not exactly.

The Cowboys and Eagles will go toe-to-toe with the NFC East title on the line, but it's lot more complex than that. The Cowboys just suffered a major injury at the quarterback position, and there are rumors if the team doesn't come through to make the playoffs than owner Jerry Jones will clean house.

On the opposite end, Chip Kelly has a chance to go to the postseason in his first as an NFL head coach. So much for all the doubt his offense wouldn't translate to the professional ranks, huh?

The Giants and Redskins will close out of the year in a completely meaningless contest. Essentially it's a tryout for most of the players on both teams.

Here's the latest from around the NFC East:

Dallas Cowboys

No matter what, Cowboys apologists need to blame Tony Romo for missing out on the playoffs. This week, Christmas came early, as Dallas' quarterback was declared out for the remainder of the year with a herniated disc in his back.

Likely, it'll be the veteran Kyle Orton taking snaps under center against Philly. The last time Orton played meaningful minutes in a football game was back in 2011, so yeah, being rusty should be an expectation.

The Cowboys are continuing to search for quarterbacks, though. David Carr, Tyler Thigpen and John Skelton are three players who worked out for the team.

Philadelphia Eagles

When you drop a 54-spot on the Chicago Bears, your team is bound to earn some quality Pro Football Focus grades. Tackle Jason Peters led the Eagles' offensive players with a 6.9 grade; running back LeSean McCoy wasn't too far behind with a 5.1 grade; and Nick Foles finished with a 4.0. Every Eagles offensive player had a positive grade with the exception being Brad Smith, who played in just one snap.

With Romo out for Sunday's game, the Eagles are prepping for Orton. And former Eagle and Denver Broncos teammate of Orton, Brian Dawkins, is warning his former club not to overlook the veteran signal-caller. He's no Peyton Manning, Dawkins said, but reminded everyone of the fact Orton posted some impressive numbers in consecutive seasons while with Denver.

Washington Redskins

In the nation's capital, all attention is not on their Week 17 showdown with the Giants, but instead on who will be on the sidelines coaching the team in 2014. The latest bracket breakdown features Clemson coach Dabo Swinney vs. Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

Comparing and contrasting the two coaches, Zimmer led a top-seven defense each of the past two seasons and has been popular name among assistant coaches being considered for head coaching jobs the past few years.

Swinney's specialty in on offense, and since 2011 has made the Tigers both an ACC and a national championship contender. This year marked Clemson's third 10-win season in the past three years, the best ever for the football program.

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