Things appeared so clear just a few days ago.
Undefeated Dallas was running away with the division. Philadelphia was 1-2, looking perplexed and fading fast. And the Giants and Washington were utterly hopeless.
Well, at least we were right about DC.
Doesn’t it feel like Jay Gruden’s days are numbered? Like this weekend?
Things are going so well in our nation’s capital, Daniel Snyder has “completely destroyed the Redskins fan base.” How can you resist a headline like that from our good friend Bill-in-Bangkok?
This weekend, they get a nice reprieve in hosting the Jets (0-3). The offense has looked good — when its receivers have actually caught passes. But then again, Philadelphia is yielding 26 points a game and has just three sacks.
It’s hard to win knowing you have to score four touchdowns each week, even if you do have Carson Wentz.
Judging by records (and only an idiot does that through four games), the Giants are just as good. Daniel Jones has revived the good ship in just two weeks.
Dallas gets its turn this weekend to test itself against Rodgers and Green Bay. Dak Prescott hasn’t plateaued already, has he?
So through the season’s first quarter, three teams are within one game of each other. Just how we like it in the NFC East.
Here’s the other need-to-know news around the division this week:
Among all the positive developments for Dallas thus far in 2019 — Prescott’s step forward as a quarterback and the revelation that is barely legal offensive coordinator Kellen Moore — the inspired play of RT La’el Collins just might be the most important.
On a line with All-Pros Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick, he has stood out above them all through four games.
So it’s not good news for Dallas that Collins (back) and Smith (ankle) both haven’t practiced this week, Blogging the Boys’ Dave Halprin reports.
Collins leads the NFL in run-blocking, has yet to yield a sack and ranks in the top 10 in pass-blocking efficiency, according to Pro Football Focus.
His absence would not be ideal in a game where both teams are “looking for revenge, but only one will be successful,” David Howman explains. (Sounds like the tagline of the new Rambo movie.)
And confidence is already shaken in Dallas. Just one Cowboys’ defeat has sent east Texas into convulsions of self-doubt, according to RJ Ochoa. (It was quite a precipitous drop in confidence...)
There is some good news on the injury front: DE Tyrone Crawford (hip) returned to practice Thursday on a limited basis, and WR Michael Gallup (knee) again was a limited participant. The speedster seems on track to return Sunday.
With both Collins and Smith potentially out, Connor Williams has been practicing at right tackle. If Collins starts on the outside, Xavier Su’a-Filo will start in his guard spot. Su’a-Filo started eight games last season in spot duty.
Speaking of Prescott, Moore and Frederick, they received some ESPN love through the season’s first quarter.
But hey, maybe Robert Quinn — who has three sacks in two games since returning from suspension — can save the day and rescue the Cowboys season from the lowly fate of 3-2?
A hobbled defensive backfield has suffered more than its share of injuries for the Eagles. They don’t need any problems on their offensive line.
But the good news is he was merely limited in the workout, joining CB Sidney Jones and DE Derek Barnett as participants who did not take every rep.
Jones seems on track to play Sunday, but with the Eagles and injuries, who knows?
He, Rasul Douglas, Orlando Scandrick and Craig James will handle cornerback duties. Ronald Darby (hamstring) and Avonte Maddox (concussion, neck) will be out.
If you get excited about compensatory picks (and who doesn’t like free draft choices?), Gowton is again your man, thanks to the 49ers signing former Iggle Jordan Matthews.
Speaking of Gowton, here’s a little inside info on Philly’s matchup this weekend with those other green dudes, the Jets. He gets right to the point: Will mono-afflicted Sam Darnold play? (Of course no kissing, no matter how good his hair looks.)
A little recognition is nice, even if it’s only 25 percent of the way through the season. But Pro Football Focus is handing out honors, and some Eagles were winners — we’re looking at you Wentz, Jason Kelce and Brandon Brooks.
Speaking of Wentz, you might not know this, but he’s on pace for a very good season.
But poor RB Miles Sanders has a long way to go (really — it says so in Michael Kist’s headline).
I guess Saquon Barkley was better, huh Penn State?
Mr. Gruden is a thoughtful, deliberate man.
He doesn’t rush things. No. He’s a deep thinker.
So while it might be Friday morning, he’s still working on that whole “Who’s going to be my starting quarterback” thing.
Don’t worry, Hogs Haven’s Scott Jennings reassures us, Gruden will figure it all out sooner or later.
“I’m getting closer here,” the Brother of Chucky said Thursday. (Knock on wood if you’re with him.)
This is hard people. Gruden feels good about all three quarterbacks.
But the smart money is on old standby, Colt McCoy, to earn the start.
There is good news, folks. Not one of the three options is Kirk “Kurt” Cousins. Boy, is he making friends with his receivers in Minnesota or what!
But let’s not get too optimistic. This is Washington after all, home to Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi and Snyder. Oh yeah, and the Patriots come to town this weekend.
Maybe Tom Brady can find Trent Williams.