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Valentine’s Views: ‘Things I think’ about the NFC East, Marc Colombo, more

The Giants are back to work with the NFC East up for grabs

NFL: NOV 15 Eagles at Giants Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NFC East might be — well, is — the NFL’s worst division. It sure is interesting, though, that’s for sure.

After a crazy and unpredictable Week 11 Sunday, the NFC East is more muddled than ever. Your standings:

Philadelphia Eagles 3-6-1
New York Giants 3-7
Dallas Cowboys 3-7
Washington Football Team 3-7

The Eagles lead the division, but in back-to-back losses to the Giants and Cleveland Browns have played like the team least likely to win it.

Philadelphia lost 22-17 to the Browns on Sunday, mostly shooting itself in the foot. Carson Wentz threw two interceptions, including a pick 6. The Eagles lost a fumble inside the Browns’ 5-yard line. Wentz was sacked five times. The Eagles went 2-of-12 on third-down conversions.

Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson is being asked about benching Wentz in favor of rookie Jalen Hurts.

Dallas won for the first time in five weeks, getting a late touchdown pass from Andy Dalton to Dalton Schultz for the winning score. Amazing how much better the Cowboys look with a decent running game (21 carries, 103 yards for Ezekiel Elliott) and competent quarterback from Dalton (22-of-32, 203 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT).

Washington took advantage of the unfortunate injury to Joe Burrow to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals, 20-9. Washington was already winning when Burrow, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, was hurt, so it’s not fair to say the rookie quarterback’s injury is why they won.

Who will win the division? Who knows? Here is the remaining schedule.

NFC East Remaining Games

Eagles (3-6-1) Giants (3-7) Washington (3-7) Cowboys (3-7)
Eagles (3-6-1) Giants (3-7) Washington (3-7) Cowboys (3-7)
Seahawks (7-3) Bengals (2-7-1) Cowboys (3-7) Football Team (3-7)
Packers (7-3) Seahawks (7-3) Steelers (10-0) Ravens (6-4)
Saints (8-2) Cardinals (6-4) 49ers (4-6) Bengals (2-7-1)
Cardinals (6-4) Browns (7-3) Seahawks (7-3) 49ers (4-6)
Cowboys (3-7) Ravens (6-4) Panthers (4-7) Eagles (3-6-1)
Football Team (3-7) Cowboys (3-7) Eagles (3-6-1) Giants (3-7)

Here are a few more ‘things I think’ as the Giants return from their bye week.

The Giants have to win Sunday

Sunday’s victories by Dallas and Washington muddied the NFC East waters and made the Giants’ path to an improbable NFC East title even more perilous. The Giants simply have to beat the 2-7-1 Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

After victories over Washington and Philadelphia, the Giants open as 4.5-point favorites on the road against the Bengals. Cincinnati will have Ryan Finley at quarterback instead of Burrow, after the rookie quarterback suffered a season-ending torn ACL on Sunday. The Bengals were already playing without running back Joe Mixon, on IR with a foot injury. So, Cincinnati will be offensive-challenged vs. the Giants.

After Sunday, the Giants have four straight games against teams with winning records— Seattle (7-3), Arizona (6-4), Cleveland (7-3), Baltimore (6-4). They really can’t afford a stumble against the Bengals.

Joe Judge and Marc Colombo

Joe Judge can, obviously, do what he wants when it comes to making changes to his coaching staff. If he and Marc Colombo were at a point where they simply could not co-exist then a move had to be made.

Terrific reporting by Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post and Art Stapleton of The Record has detailed most of the reasons for why Colombo was canned last week. Judge, unhappy with the offensive line’s play, personally involving himself in working with that group in recent weeks. Judge and Colombo not seeing eye-to-eye on techniques. Colombo perhaps not buying in as much to the idea of rotating linemen as he had led media to believe. Colombo’s explosive reaction to the idea of long-time NFL offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo being brought in by Judge as a consultant.

I am concerned mostly because the young line, whatever the reason and whoever should get the credit, has been playing much better in recent weeks. Maybe DeGuglielmo’s views are more in line with Judge’s, but I worry about the disruption causing uncertainty among a group of young players who are really just finding their way in the NFL.

To be honest, I also worry about DeGuglielmo’s hit-and-run history. By all accounts, his is a grating personality. Since 2012 he has only held one job for more than a year, and that for only two. His last two jobs, the Miami Dolphins last season and the Giants now, are ones he took over mid-stream. I just wonder how the Giants young group is going to react to him.

Ultimately, the Giants invested the fourth overall pick in the draft in Andrew Thomas. If Judge believed Colombo was culpable in Thomas’s early-season struggles, and wasn’t setting him on the right path for a long and successful career, then he had to make a change.

Mid-season changes like this are certainly not unprecedented. It’s how Colombo got his first offensive line coach job, replacing Paul Alexander in Dallas a couple of years ago.

I just have my fingers crossed that at least in the short term this one doesn’t do more harm than good.

Thoughts on Jason Garrett

I don’t think there should be any great surprise regarding the speculation about offensive coordinator Jason Garrett’s future with the Giants.

I’m not saying I know he won’t be back in 2021. Or, that I know the report by Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports in right. LaCanfora isn’t the most accurate of NFL insiders.

What I’m saying is the speculation should have been expected. Garrett was Colombo’s head coach in Dallas, and had to be brought in partially at Garrett’s recommendation and to make the installation of his offense easier.

Garrett and Judge had never worked together prior to this season. Garrett had been a head coach for a decade before taking the Giants job. Judge came from the New England system. I have no inside information, but I’m relatively certain the two don’t always agree on the best way to use players or attack opposing defenses.

I would, quite honestly, hate to see Daniel Jones put in a third offensive system in three years next season. I haven’t always agreed with the way Garrett has done things, but the Giants’ offense has steadily been improving and he has to get at least some credit for that.

If Judge decides, though, that Garrett’s not the right fit long-term then so be it. That wouldn’t be a shocker.