Wednesday links. The perfect appetizer for a day of injury updates and look-aheads to this week's games. Any big ones this week in the NFC East? Hmmm ...
Tim MacMahon credits Rob Ryan for taking a Cowboys defense that was one of the league's worst last year and turning it into an above-average one. But as talk has begun to swirl about Ryan's head-coaching future, Tim thought it was worth taking a step back and pointing out that Ryan still has work to do to turn this Dallas defense into a championship-level one. It certainly played that way early in the year, but the recent success that mediocre quarterbacks have had against it calls into question whether Ryan's work here is actually done.
Blogging the Boys looked at the five sacks of Tony Romo in Sunday's game and concluded that two of them were directly Romo's fault, two were the fault of the protection (though he could have checked out of one) and one was the fault of both equally. In the end, BTB believes it's a good thing that the Cowboys won't see another 3-4 defense this year, since they seem to struggle for whatever reason in pass protection against those looks.
New York Giants
Justin Tuck says he's struggling to understand why the Giants' passion and sense of urgency seem to fade in and out from week to week -- i.e., why so flat against the Eagles and Saints but so focused and intense against the 49ers and Packers. My personal theory is that the Giants are weak in a couple of the areas (rush offense, rush defense, pass coverage) that can help teams control games. You can win games with a strong passing attack and pass rush, but it's easier to control games when you can run the ball, stop the run and cover receivers consistently. So a team that struggles in those areas, to me, shouldn't be surprised to find itself showing up as inconsistent from week to week. Just my theory.
If it really is about passion and urgency, though, the Giants seem to believe the return of running back Ahmad Bradshaw from his foot injury helped on Sunday and will continue to help going forward. Bradshaw helps in a lot of ways, but the quotes in this story seem to indicate he helps a lot with the team's on-field attitude and seriousness.
Phil Sheridan writes that Vince Young played poorly enough to make Michael Vick look good. But Phil's not buying it. Not buying that Vick is the long-term answer at quarterback, not buying that the team's commitment to Vick should spare Andy Reid's job ... basically, Phil's fed up and thinks everybody's awful and should go. Hey, he's not the only one in Philly who thinks that way these days.
And for those dreaming of a post-Reid time in Philadelphia, Paul Domowitch offers a list of seven potential replacements. The list includes the three usual suspects plus former Falcons and Seahawks coach Jim Mora, current Cincinnati and San Francisco defensive coordinators Mike Zimmer and Vic Fangio and Cardinals offensive line coach Russ Grimm.
On Tuesday evening, the NFL officially announced the four-game suspensions for left tackle Trent Williams and tight end Fred Davis for violations of the league's substance abuse policy. The next time you'll see Williams and Davis in a game is 2012, and it's not going to be easy for the Redskins to score points down the stretch this season without them.
That's going to put even more pressure on the Redskins' defense, which has been among the league leaders in sacks this season but, Ryan Kerrigan says, was "disappointed" not to get any Sunday against the Jets and Mark Sanchez. I was a little surprised about that, too, given the pass-protection issues the Jets have had this season. (Former Redskin Andre Carter sacked Sanchez 4.5 times in one game.) It's not out of the question that a Redskins defense of which so much has been asked might be slowing down in the season's final weeks.