With Week 11 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.
Let us get this out of the way early; this is not a typical New Orleans Saints team of the recent past, they are elite. Head coach Sean Payton and veteran quaterback Drew Brees lead a squad that has both fans and media thinking this team can reach the Super Bowl. They are that good. What makes them stand out is not just Brees’ play, but it is their sensational defense, who are playing incredibly well compared to their historically bad units of years past. Including 2017, there are only three seasons in the Payton and Brees era in which their offense was complemented with a defense that was top ten in both yards and points allowed.
The Saints have had no problem rushing the quarterback this year, ranking tenth in the league in sacks with 25, tenth in sack percentage with 7.76 percent, and 12th in sacks per game with 2.8. For the Redskins to win on the road in another loud and rowdy environment, they will have to play turnover-free football and stay committed to the ground game. The Redskins have lost Robert Kelley for the remainder of the season, meaning that Chris Thomspon and the up-and-down rookie Samaje Perine will need to elevate their play even more. Yes, Thompson is already playing at a very high level, but there is no doubt that coaches will look to him and Perine to lessen the pressure on Kirk Cousins shoulders.
In addition to the Saints’ strong defense, New Orleans has elevated and cultivated a dangerous rushing attack, similar to the unit they featured during their 2009 Super Bowl run. The 2017 Saints boast the third-best rushing attack in the NFL.
Master Tesfatsion, Dan Steinberg and Scott Allen kick off the day by discussing one of the more intriguing questions facing the Washington Redskins. You can keep the chat going on Twitter or in the comment section below.
Today’s question: Which Redskins player needs to bounce back or break through the most to beat the Saints?
Master Tesfatsion: I think Samaje Perine needs to have a huge game. Kirk Cousins will dink and dunk his way down the field, but he needs an effective run game to counter Washington’s pass offense.
With the injury suffered by Rob Kelley that will sideline him on Sunday, Perine should have a heavy workload unless the Redskins fall behind early. The rookie averaged 3.9 yards per carry in Sunday’s loss against the Minnesota Vikings, recording nine carries for 35 yards. He has the ability to receive 20 carries if needed, as we witnessed in Week 2 against the Los Angeles Rams, and still remain effective.
The offensive line is getting healthier with the return of Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao and Brandon Scherff as starters and Spencer Long sprinkling in some snaps as a backup. You can run the ball on the Saints, who have allowed 110.9 rushing yards per contest this season. Perine needs to come up big in the game, or else it will be a long day for Washington against a really good team.
Each Wednesday, the SB Nation NFL team sites explore a special theme. This week's theme is: “Your team’s under the radar defensive lineman.”
For me, this isn’t an easy pick. I’d say most of the players on the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive line are underrated — from a national perspective, at least.
Fletcher Cox is the exception since he’s a former first round pick who has been to two Pro Bowls at this point.
I’d say a lot of people probably don’t realize how good Tim Jernigan is. Then again, he just got rewarded with a 4-year, $48 million contract, so he’s not totally flying under the radar.
Brandon Graham gets a lot of love from Pro Football Focus each year. As the longest tenured member of the Eagles’ defense, his presence isn’t a secret.
Among the Eagles’ starters, then, that leaves Vinny Curry as the most under the radar player.
In his first year as a starter, the 29-year-old defensive end has been real solid. Curry has 18 tackles and three sacks through the first nine games of the season. While that might not seem overly impressive, consider Curry ranks second overall in PFF’s Run Stop Percentage (stops constitute a "loss" for the offense). Curry has 11 stops in 92 run snaps played.
Once upon a time in Curry’s career, he couldn’t even get on the field due to his poor run defense. Heck, he struggled to get snaps last year despite the fact he received a contract extension and the guy ahead of him on the depth chart, Connor Barwin, was failing to make much of an impact.
PHILADELPHIA -- Was it a lack of faith in backup Isaac Seumalo? Was it the Super Bowl experience? Was it a move showing they are going for it all this year?
"It's about adding talent to our roster," Pederson said. "That's what we do every time we make a signing or a trade."
Beatty, the 32-year old former Giants tackle, signed with the Eagles earlier this week in a somewhat surprising move, considering he has played just six games over the last two seasons, and hasn't played at all this year.
Check out to the video above to hear Pederson explain why the team decided to release offensive tackle Taylor Hart two weeks after signing him, and add Beatty to the roster this late into this season.
Once upon a time getting franchise tagged was something that NFL players loathed.
It makes sense, really. Players want the security of long-term, highly-guaranteed contracts. We can all empathize with that. The franchise tag is a lot of fully-guaranteed money for a one-year deal, but what if something happens in that one year? Is it really worth it?
Such is the conundrum many players who are tagged face. We saw this unfold fairly recently two and a half years ago when the Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before ultimately working out a long-term deal in the eleventh hour.
Interestingly though, the culture around being franchise tagged has shifted ever since Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins welcomed it. Cousins has chosen to see it as a continued risk worth taking, a series of one-year deals that piles up the cash.
It’s hard to say that it hasn’t worked out for Cousins. He keeps getting tagged and is on track to become an NFL player that clears over $100M on his career.
Why does Cousins keep getting tagged, though? As Cowboys fans, we know of Kirk’s inefficiencies, but we’ve also seen him have successes. Therein lies the difficulty, as Kirk Cousins is seemingly just barely enough to be a franchise quarterback, but one of those costs you a lot of long-term money.
Cousins is now at a point, given all the times he’s been tagged, that he won’t accept a deal with Washington that pays him less per year than a given tag would. Why would he? He has turned the franchise tag against his team unlike anyone before him, complicating his future with the Redskins.
DeMarcus Ware is one of the best pass-rushers, and players overall, in Dallas Cowboys history. Even after leaving the team and winning a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos, his post-career loyalty has remained in Dallas, and even if he isn't playing for them anymore, he is still finding ways to help the team.
According to Todd Archer of ESPN, Ware is at Cowboys' practice today working with the team's pass-rushers. Ware's presence is a welcome addition to practice for a group of pass-rushers that ranges across the entire NFL spectrum.
On one end is superstar DeMarcus Lawrence, a Defensive Player of the Year candidate who has picked up Ware's mantle as the best pass-rusher the Cowboys have. David Irving hasn't been far behind, but the Cowboys also have less heralded players like Benson Mayowa and Maliek Collins just trying to contribute to the team and make their mark in the league. But the player that is likely to get the most out of working with Ware is first round rookie Taco Charlton, who has struggled this season and can use all of the help he can get.
Ware has kept a low profile since his retirement, but perhaps he's looking to test out the waters on a potential coaching career. If Ware did want to return to the NFL in that capacity, he would have no shortage of suitors. The Cowboys could certainly find a place in the organization for a player of his caliber.