Breakfast links: 2-1 and wondering

September, 24, 2012
9/24/12
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Monday morning in the links means a reshuffling of the order. We do them by division standings when we're in season, and the tiebreaker is division record, which is still odd since there's only been one division game. But whatever. Increasingly, I think I'm the only one who spends any time caring about the order. Let's just have the links, shall we?

Dallas Cowboys (2-1)

Jean-Jacques Taylor doesn't think the Cowboys are going anywhere until Jason Garrett figures out how to fix the offense. I can't tell you exactly why the Cowboys weren't able to ravage the same Tampa Bay defense that gave up six billion passing yards to the Giants one week earlier, but I do know this: Dallas' offensive line is legitimately horrible, and that infects everything else an offense tries to do.

The big injury news from the game is the loss of starting safety Barry Church for the season due to an Achilles injury. This is a bad loss. Church's progress, which made free-agent signee Brodney Pool expendable early in training camp, is a major part of the reason the Cowboys' defense has looked so drastically improved early this season. And I'm not sure moving Brandon Carr to safety is a permanent solution, even though Carr looked good there Sunday. Can they really count on Mike Jenkins to stay healthy as a starting corner?

Philadelphia Eagles (2-1)

The Eagles' coverage plan for Larry Fitzgerald on Sunday obviously didn't work, as Fitzgerald torched them for nine catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. In this story, Nnamdi Asomugha explains that the original plan was for him to shadow Fitzgerald all day, but that they had to switch up once the Cardinals started moving Fitzgerald around so much. This sounds to me as though they got outcoached on this particular point, no?

Rich Hofmann wants to know how much longer Michael Vick can be expected to take beatings like the one he took Sunday against Arizona. This seems to be an annual question, and the answer usually is that he can't -- that Vick will at some point get injured and have to miss games. Vick is not free from responsibility, of course. Even on the game-changing sack/fumble, you can see he never turns his head, and if he'd been able/willing/whatever to see more of the field, he might have at least been able to unload the ball and get a field goal out of it. But he can't block for himself, and that was the larger problem Sunday.

New York Giants (2-1)

Wide receiver Ramses Barden is hoping that his strong performance in relief of Hakeem Nicks in Thursday night's victory leads to more opportunities for him, even once Nicks returns. Surely, he's shown enough to warrant a look as the No. 3 wide receiver, which is not an insignificant role in the Giants' ideal offense but has not been a major part of it so far this year. Perhaps Barden's emergence will change that.

Ohm believes that Thursday's other super-sub star, running back Andre Brown, has secured a role for himself in the running game even once Ahmad Bradshaw returns from his neck injury. And no, we still don't know when that will be.

Washington Redskins (1-2)

John Keim weighs in on the Redskins' alarming tendency so far this season to give up very big plays on offense. Their coverage is a weakness, obviously, and they try to compensate by loading up in the pass rush, too often using a "cover-zero" look that leaves cornerbacks on an island in the hope that the safeties and the rest of the defense can get to the quarterback before the receiver has time to get open. The Bengals absolutely abused that strategy Sunday, and John is right that the Redskins need to adjust.

Part of Jason Reid's game review focuses on the impact the loss of left tackle Trent Williams to a knee injury had. It's Williams' athleticism that sets him apart, and that's a big part of what the Redskins are able to do in protection and also in the running game. If Williams is lost for a significant amount of time, they will struggle to overcome that. After the game, he said that when he went back in briefly in the second quarter he could move left but not right. You need both.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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