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Monday Afternoon Blitz Package

12/27/2010

With the Philadelphia Eagles scheduled to host the Minnesota Vikings in a rare Tuesday night game, let's focus on the other three teams in the division:

Dallas Cowboys

I think Jason Garrett still has this job. Going into Saturday night's game against the Cardinals, I thought a loss could damage Garrett's hopes of becoming Dallas' permanent head coach. But the Cowboys actually responded to adversity pretty well and third-string quarterback Stephen McGee staked the Cowboys to a lead late in the fourth quarter. That the defense couldn't get a stand late in the game is hardly a surprise. And that's where things get a little complicated with Garrett. We used to be able to pin the defense's failures squarely on Wade Phillips. But with Garrett becoming the head coach, he's been spending time in some of the defensive meetings. Was this defense simply too bad for anyone to repair on the fly? Or is the first thing that Garrett needs to do is hire another defensive coordinator. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been all over the map with his answers regarding Garrett. I still think he's pulling for Garrett, but he feels compelled to at least consider other options as well. Garrett needs his team to have a solid showing in Philadelphia next Sunday, and he'll have some help because the Eagles will be playing on four days rest. I still think this is Garrett's job to lose, but I don't feel as convinced as I did heading into that Cardinals game.

New York Giants

Tom Coughlin may be losing his grip on this job. I believe that Giants co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch truly believe in Coughlin and they won't forget about that 2007 Super Bowl when they are making this decision. But the Giants are once again fading at the most crucial time of the season. In 2008, they had the Plaxico Burress excuse. Last season, they had major injury issues on defense. But in 2010, they appeared to have a team capable of making a deep playoff run. But then Michael Vick happened. For the past 68 minutes, the Giants have been cratering in epic fashion. And it seems like Coughlin has run out of motivational tools. He sounded like a beaten man during Sunday's postgame news conference. I think he was shocked that his team performed so poorly in a game that meant everything to the Giants. If New York doesn't make the playoffs (and there's a good chance they won't), we'll see how patient Mara is about the situation. My sense is that he'll let Coughlin coach into the final year of his contract (2011) like Jones did with Phillips last season. But that's certainly not a lock. This is a team that came up small at the worst possible time. And when your star quarterback is throwing interceptions at an alarming rate and your head coach is grasping for answers, it seems like there could be change in the air.

Washington Redskins

Maybe the Mike Shanahan era is finally getting underway. With all the distractions swirling around this organization, it's pretty impressive that Shanahan had his team prepared to upset the Jacksonville Jaguars. I'm not saying this Jaguars bunch is headed anywhere, but the Redskins were playing without 13 opening-day starters. Players such as Rob Jackson and Chris Wilson made plays on defense for coordinator Jim Haslett. This was a rag-tag bunch that Shanahan duct-taped together, but it somehow got the job done on the road. This is the type of win the Redskins can build on. Now, they desperately need to stay in a game against the Giants, a team that has dominated them in recent years. If you can beat the Giants at FedEx and finish 7-9, you can carry a little momentum into the offseason. At that point, Shanahan can focus on drafting or trading for a franchise quarterback. (And by the way, the Eagles have another quarterback they'd listen to trade offers for). But something tells me that Shanahan wants to draft a quarterback he can mold from the start. He openly covets Sam Bradford, so he'll be looking for a similarly talented player. And I can't say that I see anyone in this draft with that type of potential. It will be interesting to see how the Skins approach this offseason. It's still been a lost season for them based on the way Donovan McNabb played and how the situation went down with Albert Haynesworth. But a couple of wins at the end of the season could make things a little more palatable for Redskins fans.