NFC East All-Division Team: Week 5 update

October, 6, 2011
10/06/11
11:00
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Eli ManningChristian Petersen/Getty ImagesAfter two straight interception free performances, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning takes the top spot in the divisional rankings.
Back with another edition of the NFC East's rolling All-Division Team, which this week features yet another change at quarterback. The New York Giants' Eli Manning has taken over the top spot after a second straight interception-free victory. Tony Romo has more yards and a better completion percentage, but Romo has also cost his team two games with second-half interceptions while Manning has been the steady leader his team has needed him to be while recovering from its early-season injury problems. Since the second quarter of the Week 2 game against the Rams, Manning has been unflappable and, when it's been needed, excellent.

The Eagles' Michael Vick had the best individual Week 4 game among division quarterbacks, but while I'm sure the vast majority of people who comment on this post and harass me on Twitter about it will ignore what I am about to type here: This list is meant as an overall evaluation of the way the players have played to date, in all four games this season. It is not -- I repeat, NOT -- based solely on performance in this past week's games. (For example: Ryan Torain is not the running back, because LeSean McCoy has had the better year.)

That out of the way, here is the list to which you're all scrolling down anyway. Some notes will follow:

Quarterback: Eli Manning, Giants (Last week: Tony Romo)

Running back: LeSean McCoy, Eagles (McCoy)

Wide receiver: Hakeem Nicks, Giants; Jeremy Maclin, Eagles (Maclin, Miles Austin)

Tight end: Jason Witten, Cowboys (Witten)

Fullback: Owen Schmitt, Eagles (Darrel Young)

Left tackle: Jason Peters, Eagles (Peters)

Left guard: Evan Mathis, Eagles (Kory Lichtensteiger)

Center: Will Montgomery, Redskins (David Baas)

Right guard: Chris Snee, Giants (Snee)

Right tackle: Tyron Smith, Cowboys (Smith)

Defensive end: Trent Cole, Eagles; Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants (Cole, Pierre-Paul)

Defensive tackle: Cullen Jenkins, Eagles; Jay Ratliff, Cowboys (Jenkins, Ratliff)

Outside linebacker: DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys; Brian Orakpo, Redskins (Ware, Ryan Kerrigan)

Inside linebacker: Sean Lee, Cowboys; London Fletcher, Redskins (Lee, Fletcher)

Cornerback: Asante Samuel, Eagles; Aaron Ross, Giants (Samuel, Mike Jenkins)

Safety: Kenny Phillips, Giants; LaRon Landry, Redskins (Phillips, O.J. Atogwe)

Kicker: Dan Bailey, Cowboys (Bailey)

Punter: Sav Rocca, Redskins (Rocca)

Kick returner: Devin Thomas, Giants (Brandon Banks)

Punt returner: Brandon Banks, Redskins (Banks)

  • Austin and Darrel Young lose their spots due to injury, and Nicks and Schmitt delivered performances worthy of those spots anyway.
  • On the offensive line, I'd had Mathis and Lichtensteiger very close for the past couple of weeks, but I just think Sunday moved Mathis past the Redskins' guard ever so slightly. Washington's offensive line has been underappreciated as a reason for the early success, and they get consideration at every position. (Chris Chester is playing great at right guard but trapped on this list behind maybe the best one on the league). Will Montgomery at center has been a revelation, and replacing Casey Rabach with him might have been one of the critical moves the Redskins made in the offseason. Don't begrudge Tyron Smith that big late sack. He's been a monster all year and done much more to help the Cowboys win than to help them lose. And yes, I'm interested to see who steps up and takes the left tackle spot with Peters out a few weeks. No one's really pushed him for it yet this year, though Doug Free finally had a good game Sunday.
  • Did some Redskin-shuffling on their excellent defense. I doubt Kerrigan will mind losing his spot to Orakpo, his mentor, who had a monster game. Those two could trade off all year. And I thought about rewarding Rocky McIntosh for his big game by giving him Fletcher's spot, but Fletcher's been that defense's heart and soul all year and has done nothing to lose it. Oh, and I moved Landry in at safety over Atogwe because, while it's only been two games... wow.
  • Cornerback was tough, as it's been all year because so few in this division are playing it well. Ross' assignment wasn't as tough Sunday as was that of Corey Webster, who had to take on Larry Fitzgerald. But Ross has been delivering excellent, reliable coverage all year for the Giants with very few (if glaring) mistakes, and I think he deserves this spot. Jenkins has been fine, but I think overall Ross has played a little bit better and should be acknowledged, especially since he's outperformed the expectations that attended his ascension to the role when Terrell Thomas got hurt.
  • I keep waiting for Brandon Banks to break a big kick return, but he hasn't done it, and I think Thomas has looked a little better overall. Banks still remains unchallenged in the punt-return category.

Okay, fire away. Let me know where I screwed up.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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