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Around The NFC East: Cowboys, Redskins, Eagles Storylines

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Week five news, notes and nuggets about the Giants’ NFC East rivals

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NFL: Oakland Raiders at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

With Week 5 of the NFL season this weekend, there are headlines across the NFC East. Let’s take a look at what’s going on with all of the New York Giants division rivals in this week’s Around the NFC East.

Washington Redskins

Ranking the Redskins Talent by Position | Hogs Haven

The 2017 Redskins have some talent across the board. Just how much talent you ask...well, that may be in the eye of the beholder.

Below, I give you my "fairly simple" rating scale where 10 is the best and 1 is the worst. I have rated all the Redskins starters (and a few others who get starter reps). As an extra special treat, I have added in ( ) the potential to which I feel these players can get to, or in some cases, fall to. These ratings are a combination of this season to date, and future rojections, with past performance taken into consideration for veteran players.

Rating Scale:

10 - Elite player at their position (top 3)

9 - Perrennial All-Pro player

8 - Pro Bowl Caliber player

7 - Solid starter with Pro Bowl potential

6 - Above average starter

5 - Average starter

4 - Below average starter

3 - Average reserve

2 - Below average reserve

1 - Shouldn’t be on an NFL roster

Offense:

Kirk Cousins: 8 (+1)

Rob Kelley: 5 (+ or -1)

Chris Thompson: 7 (+1)

Terrelle Pryor: 7 (+1)

Josh Doctson: 5 (+3)

Jamison Crowder: 7 (+1)

Jordan Reed: 8 (+1)

Vernon Davis: 7 (0)

Trent Williams: 10

Shawn Lauvao: 5 (0 or -1)

Spencer Long: 7 (+1)

Brandon Scherff: 9 (+1)

Morgan Moses: 7 (+1)

Defense:

Ziggy Hood: 4 (0)

Matt Ioannidis: 7 (+1)

Jonathan Allen: 7 (+2)

Ryan Kerrigan: 8 (0)

Preston Smith: 7 (+1)

Ryan Anderson: 5 (+2)

Zach Brown: 8 (0)

Mason Foster: 6 (0)

Josh Norman: 10

Bashaud Breeland: 7 (+ or - 1)

Kendall Fuller: 6 (+2)

D.J. Swearinger: 7 (+1)

Montae Nicholson: 6 (+2)

Josh Doctson’s near-TD at end of loss to Chiefs came on one of Redskins’ staple plays | Washington Post

With less than two minutes remaining against the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night, the Washington Redskins faced a critical third and short situation, needing a field goal to draw level or a touchdown to take the lead. Quarterback Kirk Cousins took an end zone shot to wide receiver Josh Doctson, who couldn’t quite manage to secure what would have been a spectacular catch.

Even though the route itself might have seemed foreign to Redskins fans (we’ll explain why later), it actually came on one of the offense’s staple plays.

Despite the result ending up being a negative for the Redskins, the team can be encouraged by the process that led them to that point.

Philadelphia Eagles

Carson Wentz is proving his critics wrong | Bleeding Green Nation

This time last year the Eagles and Carson Wentz were flying high, in their bye week at 3-0 and Wentz looking like the QB the Eagles drafted him to be. The season then immediately went south as his supporting cast fell apart, dragging down Wentz and bringing out the critics in full force. Heading into the season, the excitement went up another notch as Wentz got weapons to throw to and was prime to take the second year leap that many players do.

If it was fair to criticize Wentz at this point last year, then it’s fair to reevaluate those critiques at the same point this year. There’s 12 more games to go, but so far Wentz is putting those criticisms to bed.

Wentz and the Eagles can’t win without defense

In a great illustration of small sample size, arbitrary end points and obviousness, Wentz was criticized for not winning when the defense doesn’t play lights out.

Just two weeks ago, Wentz was 0-10 when the defense gave up 20+ points. Of the 15 quarterbacks sampled in Football Outsiders’ look at QBs in their first 18 starts, only two, Dak Prescott and Matt Ryan, had non-losing records when the defense gave up 20+ points. Those two had something else in common: 1600 yard rushers to hand the ball off to. (And both regressed in year two.) Everyone else predictably struggled, from Peyton Manning to Derek Carr. Wentz was also 8-0 when the defense gave up less than 20 points, the third QB with a perfect record along with Ryan and Andrew Luck. Only Derek Carr, who in his rookie season had a leading rusher with just 534 yards and whose starting WRs were James Jones and Andre Holmes, had a losing record when his defense kept the other team to fewer than 20 points. 11 of the 15 QBs had a winning percentage of over .800.

What this all tells us is that young quarterbacks play well when the defense plays great, and they play poorly when the defense doesn’t. A shocking revelation.

Now, two games later, Wentz is 2-10 when the defense gives up 20+ points, a record in line with Peyton Manning, Cam Newton, David Carr, Derek Carr, and Jameis Winston. Alter a sample size and you get a different result. And why set the threshold at 20 points? Because it’s a nice round number. Reduce it to 19 and the results change, with Wentz picking up another win. Move it to 21, a more logical goalpost in football since it’s three touchdowns, and Newton has just 1 win. Again, alter a sample size and you unsurprisingly get a different set of values.

Updates on Eagles' Ronald Darby, Fletcher Cox, Sidney Jones | NJ.com

Ronald Darby (ankle): Darby has not practiced or played since he suffered an ankle injury back in Week 1 against the Washington Redskins, and his return does not seem to be coming anytime soon.

Although Pederson said Darby is still on track to return in six weeks, the original diagnosis, he did not sound overly optimistic he would be playing Week 7.

"We will continue with the rehab this week and get him moving a little bit more. He is on schedule. But, with the severity of the injury, it is going to take time," Pederson said. "I'm not going to hold it in a box. Things take time. You saw the replay, you saw the ankle. It takes time."

Dallas Cowboys

Jourdan Lewis is the Cowboys best new addition for the 2017 season | Blogging the Boys

Just about a week ago, the question was asked on these pages - Could Jourdan Lewis already be the Cowboys best cornerback? That is definitely a good debate, both Anthony Brown and Orlando Scandrick could make their own case, but the fact that it is a debate shows just how good the rookie has been so far this season. Thrust into the fire because of injuries, while battling his own injury issue, Lewis is fast becoming a part of the defense that you can trust.

Lewis is in the running for Rookie of the Year from Pro Football Focus. He currently places tenth in their rookie rankings.

10. JOURDAN LEWIS, CB, DALLAS COWBOYS

PFF Grade: 83.4

Elite Stat: Lewis is allowing just 0.75 yards per coverage snap so far this season, the 23rd-lowest rate among cornerbacks.

Lewis ranks 17th among all cornerbacks in terms of overall grade and in addition to being a stalwart in coverage, he’s excelled in run defense, where his 86.8 grade ranks sixth. One of Lewis’ biggest strengths so far this season has been his tackling: the third-round pick from Michigan is one of 28 cornerbacks this season who have not missed a tackle, among that group his six total stops (four in pass defense, two in run defense) are the third-most.

Not only is Lewis playing well, he is defying expectations. Because of his size, it was generally believed that he would be a slot corner only and that he would have trouble tackling NFL backs and receivers. So far in his career, neither has been true. Lewis is playing on the outside and Scandrick is manning the slot in most three corner formations for the Cowboys. Matching up against the big boys on the outside hasn’t been an issue. And even more surprising is his tackling ability. As PFF notes, he hasn’t missed a tackle yet.

Cowboys' running game looks good, needs to be consistent | ESPN

In Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the Dallas Cowboys’ running game looked as close to the 2016 version as in any game this season.

The Cowboys ran 27 times for 189 yards. Ezekiel Elliott finished with 85 yards on 21 carries, his best outing since running for 104 yards in the season-opening win against the New York Giants. Take away Alfred Morris’ career-high, 70-yard run and the Cowboys still averaged 4.6 yards per carry.

“Obviously, the numbers were gaudy,” coach Jason Garrett said. “I think we rushed for seven yards an attempt, close to 180 yards rushing. You have to factor a 70-yard run in, but those count, too.”