Week 4 of the 2019 season is in the books, and the NFC East is in an interesting spot. The Cowboys and Eagles are currently in a battle for the top of the division. The Giants are on the rise with new quarterback Daniel Jones leading the charge. The Redskins are working to save their season after suffering devastating losses to all divisional rivals.
The season began with questions around the demise of Eli Manning, whether the Eagles could stay healthy and how much Washington’s Trent Williams’ hold out would affect the team
NFC East reporter Clara Lilley takes a look at the division at the season quarter post.
The Boys come up Big
Division leaders Dallas were not always tipped to be at the top. For the Cowboys, there were questions around whether they could replicate 2018’s division win. It’s been 15 years since the NFC East saw a repeat division win, and a quarter of the way through the season looks like that spell might be broken.
Despite their Week 4 loss to the Saints at the Super Dome, Dallas look good. Receiver Michael Gallup was having a strong start to the season before his meniscus injury with 17.4 yards per reception and 113 yards per game. Their defense is stronger than ever, having developed Collins and Van Der Esch into team studs.
The real test will come next week as Green Bay head to Arlington. Green Bay have looked dynamic offensively, with Rodgers’ leading a developing offense. Their record doesn’t match their on field play: they loss despite racking up 422 passing yards.
If Dallas can put up a win against Green Bay, their position at the top of the division is likely to remain unchanged.
The Birds aren’t far Behind
Philadelphia entered this season as a team of talent. On paper, their roster appeared the most complete. They were a team with a proven system, a mixture of rookie talent and veteran knowledge and Carson Wentz at the helm.
Yet, the Eagles are currently sitting mid-division at 2-2. They are currently the leading team in the league in points allowed on first drives. Their inability to make plays in the first quarter is setting them up to always be chasing from behind. Whether this is a Pederson psychological plan, or simply giving themselves time to warm up, it is causing them to lose games to opponents they should be beating. Their 24-20 loss to the Falcons in Week 2 was a difficult loss
However, Week 4 shone a glimmer of hope onto the team after they beat the newly improved Packers in the Thursday night game. This exhilarating game was a breakout for fourth year back Jordan Howard from Chicago, who racked up 2 rushing and 1 receiving touchdown. It also showcased a strong defensive line being able to contain plays by one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the league.
Their next match-up is against a Jets team fresh off a bye week. It’s unlikely quarterback Sam Darnold will be back after his unfortunate case of mononucleosis. Fortunately for the Eagles, this could be a game that signals their comeback after a difficult start.
The Return of the G Men
The Giants have launched their comeback, with rookie talent Daniel Jones at the helm. After the week 2 benching of veteran Eli Manning, Jones has led the Giants to two wins.
Jones made use of his arm and laser focus passing for 225 yards for 75% completion for a win against the Redskins. This is in spite of superstar running back Saquon Barkley sitting out with a high ankle strain. Running back Wayne Gallman stepped into his shoes and had a rushing and receiving touchdown, with 118 all purpose yards.
It’s unlikely they’ll make up ground and surpass the Cowboys with a difficult run of games ahead, facing the Vikings and Patriots. Yet, they look like a team who are finding their identity again.
Danny Dimes mania has truly taken hold in East Rutherford and it’s showing no signs of stopping.
Meltdown in Washington
The winless Redskins were not tipped for greatness despite showing glimmers of promise during the offseason. They currently sit with a -52 point differential.
They are without their starting left tackle, and with Keenum as starting quarterback after Colt McCoy’s week 13 fibula injury impacted his playing. Head coach Jay Gruden has downplayed the loss of tackle Williams. He stated that the issues at the position are a result of Donald Penn adjusting to a new system.
However, at week 4 of the season, coach Gruden’s reasoning has turned to a poor excuse. This week saw calls for Gruden to be fired, which was met with reassurance of his job security.
Things got so gruesome on Sunday against New York that Keenum was benched for rookie Dwayne Haskins. Haskins completed 52% of passes for 107 yards on 15 attempts, ultimately for a loss. They were only able to breakthrough for a field goal against the Giants.
It’s hard to see Washington wanting to keep Gruden around for much longer.
If the season were to end today, the Cowboys would be facing off against the Bears in the NFC wildcard round as the 4th seed. The Eagles and Giants remain in the hunt. At week 4, the NFC East division win looks open for three of the four teams.
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