Breakfast links: A winless week in the East

December, 5, 2011
12/05/11
8:00
AM ET
Well, all right then. For the first time since the opening week of the 2001 season, the entire NFC East went 0-4 this week. That's a tough trick, folks, and it says a lot about the state of our beloved division. The Redskins, Cowboys and Giants all had chances but all lost in the final minutes, and as a result we don't see much loosening up in the standings, which determine the order of the daily links.

Dallas Cowboys (7-5)

Jean-Jacques Taylor heard Jason Garrett's explanation for the way he managed the clock at the end of regulation, and he didn't change his mind about what he thought about it: Namely, that it was dumb. Got to say, I know Garrett's got this whole public-persona thing set up where he's going to stick by his decisions and explain them and not ever admit that anything's wrong. And I actually think the face he's put on publicly has been good for a team that needed to project confidence this year. But Garrett's explanation on this one just didn't make sense, and I'm with Jacques.

Clarence Hill writes that, while the end-of-game time management issues will be debated ad nauseum, the Cowboys made plenty of mistakes before that point to put themselves in a position to make it matter. And he's right. If you keep leaving it up to your field goal kicker at the end of the game, as the Cowboys have done for three straight weeks now, eventually something's going to go wrong. The Cowboys' inability to make a stop on defense in the second half (and, of course, overtime) was the real reason they lost.

New York Giants (6-6)

A lot of people laughed at me last week when I wrote that the Giants had enough in the passing game to beat the Packers. But while they didn't beat the Packers, I'm pretty sure Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and even Travis Beckum proved the basic point that the Giants' passing offense ranks with the best in the league. Ian O'Connor writes that Manning proved he's in Aaron Rodgers' class. I think Rodgers' accuracy is absolutely incredible and sets him apart from everyone in the league. But as a leader and a playmaker, sure, Eli belongs in the second-place discussion right now.

The popular comparison to Sunday's close loss to the Packers was the famous Week 17 loss to the Patriots in 2007 that gave that year's team so much confidence when it met up with the still-unbeaten Pats in the Super Bowl. And it could have a similar kind of effect on the Giants' confidence. But that year's Giants team was already playoff-bound when that game happened. This one hasn't won in a month. As Chris Canty says at the end of Ralph Vacchiano's post, at this point the Giants need to win a game.

Philadelphia Eagles (4-8)

Jeff McLane's theory is and has been that the Eagles' commitment to Michael Vick could go a long way toward keeping Andy Reid around at least one more year. Of course, Jeff also seems to think that the best move for the organization with regard to Vick right now might be to sit him down for the rest of the year so he doesn't get hurt more seriously than he already is.

Phil Sheridan thinks the most important thing Reid can do the rest of the way is demonstrate that he still has control of his locker room, as questions have arisen about that in recent weeks. I think the way the Eagles play in the final four games can have an impact on the organization's decision about Reid, but I think it's going to have to be pretty awful in order to change the team's mind and get him fired.

Washington Redskins (4-8)

Dan Daly writes that Sunday's loss felt like the end of the Redskins' season, especially with Trent Williams and Fred Davis set to miss the final four games due to drug suspensions. And while I expect they'll play better defense down the stretch than they did in the final eight minutes of Sunday's game, I agree that it's hard to see how they're going to score enough points to win games the rest of the way.

Jason Reid writes that the Redskins aren't close to being a good team and that they need smarter and better leaders. I think that's a little harsh. They're overmatched on offense and will be more so the rest of the way with Williams and Davis out. But Sunday's fourth-quarter meltdown notwithstanding, the general sense people around the league have of the Redskins is that they're a strong defensive team with good leaders like London Fletcher and Santana Moss and may be a strong quarterback/wide receiver combination away from contending as early next year. Particularly in a division that just went 0-4 this week!

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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