One of the most perplexing aspect of picking the NFC East is what is going on with Jason Pierre Paul’s hand?? How damaged is it?? Is he really missing his thumb?? Today he showed up to the facilities and is about to sign his contract yet we haven’t been shown what his hand looks like. As the Giants “alpha dog” on defense, without him being what he had been could have a ripple effect on the Giants as a whole.
2015 NFC East
Dallas Cowboys 9-7 *
Philadelphia Eagles 8-8
New York Giants 7-9
Washington Redskins 4-12
The Dallas Cowboys will come down a peg now that they are running by committee. This is the first time since 1946 when the NFL’s leading rusher switched teams the following year. Here at Taylor Blitz Times we made mention of “The Great Wall II” and an offensive line is great for an era. We stand by that but we have to see how the often injured Darren McFadden and Joseph Randle will perform.
Cowboys brass has to have some reservations or they wouldn’t have traded for Christine Michael from Seattle. The penchant is there to revert back to the pass happy era we saw earlier in Tony Romo’s career. At least in a few games this can happen. The defense begins the season with Rolando McClain, Kevin Hardy and Orlando Scandrick beginning the season suspended and on the reserved injured list doesn’t bode well. Dallas will have a sloppy start to this season as they try to establish their running game and find defensive continuity.
Sanchez will have to play for Bradford several times this season.
Interestingly the Eagles are coming into 2015 with something old and something new. The old?? Chip Kelly jettisoning off top shelf talent. Gone is RB LeSean McCoy to Buffalo and WR Jeremy Macklin to the Chiefs. The something new is swapping QBs Nick Foles for Sam Bradford from the Rams.
The often injured Bradford won’t remain on his feet for the entire season. We saw the hit Terrell Suggs put on Bradford in the pre-season. Chip Kelly’s offense will expose Bradford too additional hits and Sanchez will have to take his place several times this season. This kills offensive continuity and we know Kelly’s too arrogant to change his play calling.
Not only will the Eagles wear down but the Giants will remain too inconsistent to take the division. Eli Manning just inked a new contact extension and will play loose. However Victor Cruz is still rounding back into game shape and Odell Beckham is getting the business from defenders set to get after him in his sophomore season.
If Jason Pierre-Paul had showed up with 10 fingers the Giants win the division. With his being sent home without signing his contract something is definitely up. And without an index finger he’s rendered one of his hands to be useless to pull on jerseys in pass rush hand fighting techniques. Pierre-Paul won’t be the same player and the defense will take a big step back without it’s dominant pass rusher. Remember he was their franchise player… not any more.
Darren McFadden takes a hand-off from Carson Palmer in Sunday’s come from behind win.
Funny how attention on one team seems to trump the news of the rest of the division. Many of us were paying so much attention to Peyton Manning and his progress with the Denver Broncos, we wind up surprised when other teams show they are not to be taken lightly. Such was the case in Oakland last Sunday. There was an emotional response to Darius Heyward-Bey being helped off the field late in that game. From that point on the Raiders played spirited football that hadn’t been seen in the first two weeks, when they couldn’t score more than 14 points. After an 0-2 start, the Raiders got off the canvas and an offense ranked 20th sprang to life and came from behind for a 34-31 victory after being behind 31-21 with 3:00 to go.
The San Diego Chargers fell from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 27-3 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. In a test against one of the NFC’s heavyweights, the Chargers showed they are still lacking when it comes to playmakers. In Antonio Gates, Ryan Matthews, Malcolm Floyd and company, they can get the yardage a given play is designed for but nothing more. Not a game-breaker in the bunch. Atlanta crowded Phillip Rivers and he had nowhere to go with the football as evidenced by his 21 of 38 for 173 yards and 2 interceptions. What this means is they are one of the best of the lesser teams. They can sit on the Oakland’s and Tennessee’s of the world but come up short against stronger teams. This week they travel to Kansas City where they haven’t won in 3 years. Can they do it?? The Chancellor sees a second loss coming.
Last week’s 233 yard rushing performance was an eye opener.
Speaking of the Chiefs they are riding the momentum of their 27-24 win in New Orleans. A game where they finally started to look like the team most pundits expected out of the gate. Jamaal Charles ran for a season high 233 yards and displayed he hasn’t lost his game breaking ability with a 91 yard touchdown on the bayou. In those 2 prior meetings the Chiefs stayed with a commitment to the run with 26 rushes in 2010 and 34 in 2011. Now with Cassel and the passing game not totally in rhythm yet, Charles coming off 33 carries last week in the Superdome, and the Chargers allowing 5.7 yards per carry (14 car. 80 yds) for Michael Turner last week. We’re going to take a wild guess and say Kansas City runs the football this week. What do you think??
This week the entire division is squaring off against one another as the Raiders make the trek to Invesco Field. The Broncos will be without the services of MLB Joe Mays who will be serving a suspension. Not the right time when Darren McFadden just had his best game of the season. His 113 yards came on only 18 carries and had a showcase run for a 64 yard touchdown. Right now Denver is 13th against the run and Oakland is 26th against the pass. Last year, Oakland won in Denver when McFadden rushed for over 150 yards. Had the Raiders not played such an emotional game last week they would have a chance to hand the Broncos their third straight loss. The real issue is Manning is going to be able to hit his receivers and expect a huge day from Brandon Stokely. He’ll have a Wes Welker type of day and the Broncos should pull away in this one.
Then it will be time for the first quarter report cards with the season 1/4th over.
The most enigmatic division in the NFL has just gotten weirder and weirder over the last two weeks. We chronicled how the Chargers play up or down to their competition and until Norv Turner is gone will continue to do that. True to form in their 1-1 start, they played down to the Vikings and up to the Patriots, although they lost. In the 93 years of the NFL, normally when a team can run the ball better than their opponent, they usually will win. Well the Chiefs are turning that axiom into a lost cause. They have run for over 100 yards in their first two games yet were blown out of the stadium on both occasions. They were also dealt another loss when they lost RB Jamaal Charles, who ran for over 1,400 yards last year. Second in the NFL.
However the Chiefs have lost three prominent players to injury and no one can answer the lingering question: What happened to the Chiefs passing attack?? It fell apart just because Offensive Co-ordinator Charlie Weiss left?? We don’t buy that. Josh McDaniels and Todd Haley are from that same New England Patriot coaching tree. They both were offensive passing coaches there. So how do you explain Matt Cassell who threw for 27 touchdowns to just 7 int a year ago, to having thrown for only 1TD and 4 interceptions in two games this year?? Look no further we’ll reveal that answer in a moment. Yet lets take a look at the AFC West standings…
Which brings us to the cream of this crop in the Oakland Raiders. Someone must have told Darren McFadden about our CEO’s claim that the SEC sends too many draft busts to the NFL. Since the midway point of last year no running back has run with more purpose. Even in defeat he ran hard for a well earned touchdown in Buffalo, where he fought off two Bills at the pylon. DMC rushed for nearly 100 yards for a second straight week. He’s the second leading rusher in the NFL after two weeks and it’s his play that’s allowed Jason Campbell to settle in and play some good football. Right now Campbell has completed over 65% of his passes and is going downfield with confidence. That touchdown bomb to Denarius Moore was a thing of beauty. Last year he would have overthrew his receiver or thrown a two yard outlet pass since he saw Buffalo CB McKelvin running with Moore. The Raiders have stuck to their philosophy of running first to set up the pass. Something the Chiefs used to do.
How about the embattled John Fox and the situation in Denver regarding the quarterback position. Should he start Tim Tebow or Kyle Orton?? We say start Tebow and you can always go back to Orton. By going with Orton and switching to Tebow late it looks like you’re giving up the season and the Bronco players might go in the tank. If Orton is your guy trade Tebow and get something for him. You can’t dangle a talent like that in front of a fan base and have him not hit the field. We said it before on our CEO’s facebook page, the more Cam Newton succeeds in Carolina, the louder the fan base will call for Tebow. How embarrassing was that a week ago to be on Monday Night Football and your stadium chanting for Tebow to play?? They’re chanting this while Orton is playing ok football. When he has a bad outting Coach Fox might need a heavy police presence to get him to his car. Better make a decision fast or keep winning. Well so far they did the latter after Willis McGahee (The U) came off the street to rush for over 100 yards in last weeks win over the Bengals.
The Chargers have the NFL’s best quarterback that hasn’t played in a Super Bowl in Phillip Rivers. He’s a fiery field general yet needs his duplicate on the defensive side of the ball. The Chargers are well coached and are strong in ever phase of the game. What they lack is a little more play making ability to get a little more out of each play. On defense they haven’t had a “presence” since Shawne Merriman left this team. They don’t have an enforcer maybe Bob Sanders can remain healthy and become that guy. They have to stop coming out unmotivated and playing down to teams then try to roar back late in the game. It will work against a lessor team but you saw what happened in New England when they try that against a good one. This will be Norv Turner’s last year coaching them if they can’t break that spell.
Which leads us back to the Chiefs. Haley should fire his offensive co-ordinator and take over play calling himself or pass it over to Josh McDaniel. This team needs to get back to running first and passing second. This was the #1 team in the NFL in rushing attempts and yardage last year. So after 2 weeks Jamaal Charles, Dexter McCluster and Thomas Jones have a combined 38 carries for 219 yards?? Last year those were single game totals and to have McCluster with as many carries as Jones shows their running out of passing formations. Too much slick ’em and not enough sick ’em. Get your lineman firing off the ball and run at your opponents with purpose. Enough of this trick ’em football!! Chiefs if you listen and play to your fundamentals you can reclaim your division. We know that you have scored 10 points while giving up 79, has a team ever had that bad a beginning of a season and made the playoffs?? Yes, the 1989 Pittsburgh Steelers were 0-2 after losing 51-0 and 42-10 to the Browns and Bengals yet fought their way to a 9-7 wildcard. So it can be done. Aside from the Raiders, who in this division has some direction??