Good Thursday morning to you all here in the NFC East. We are gearing up for a weekend of three games that will teach us whether the Eagles are over their turnover problem, whether the Giants can handle their injury problem and whether the Redskins are going to have problems stopping the league's elite offenses. The Cowboys get to rest for a week and listen to everyone with a microphone tell them what's wrong with their quarterback even though their real problems lie elsewhere. Fun stuff. Links.
The Steelers this week will enjoy the return from injury of a couple of the players who give them their defensive identity. This got Phil Sheridan thinking, and he believes the Eagles have lacked a defensive identity for the past couple of years but that DeMeco Ryans is the kind of guy who can bring it back.
And speaking of the Eagles' Sunday opponent, the Steelers are the rare team that looks similar to the Eagles on offense -- especially when their quarterback is running around behind the line of scrimmage trying to extend plays.
One of the ancillary issues that arose from Monday's debacle was that of Cowboys Stadium as a home field. Specifically, there is concern that the stadium offers no "home-field advantage" to the Cowboys because it is too big to get overly noisy or rowdy and distract the opposing team on offense the way many football stadiums do. The Cowboys are only 15-12 in their home stadium since it opened in 2009, and the Bears said after Monday's game that they'd felt right at home. I don't know. I mean, it is really big. And the video board is so awesome that I have no idea why anyone would watch the field other than it. But I kind of think this is self-fulfilling-prophecy kind of stuff. And I'm also more inclined to believe a winning team gets the crowd excited more than I am to believe an excited crowd helps the team win.
Nobody thought Morris Claiborne was going to go his whole career -- or even his whole rookie season -- without allowing a touchdown catch. The key is to learn from the mistake that led to it, and Claiborne says that he has.
It's not all hype. Brian Burke has some high-level stats that back up the feelings of Redskins fans and casual observers about just how well Robert Griffin III has played so far.
In John Keim's notes from Wednesday's practice, there's some stuff from Billy Cundiff about his confidence remaining high and some issues he might be having with the snapper and holder. Still, it's pretty simple: They got him to kick touchbacks on kickoffs, and he's done a fine job of that. But they also got him on the assumption that he'd at least be reliable as a field goal kicker as well. And if he's not, they will eventually look to replace him. That's how they do kickers in this league.
New York Giants
Big issue around the Giants on Wednesday was this stuff about Rueben Randle's work ethic. Eli Manning didn't exactly rush to the rookie's defense, offering a polite answer about how Randle is learning what he has to do in order to be successful. The Giants believe in the ability of their coaches and veteran players to develop guys, and this is part of that.
Tom Coughlin doesn't want the Giants taking the Browns for granted on Sunday, just because they're 0-4 and haven't had a good team since Bill Belichick was coaching them. Good idea. After Sunday, the Giants' remaining 11 games are all against either division opponents or teams that made the playoffs last year. This could be their last chance for an easy win. It'd be a good idea to roll the Browns.