How I See It: NFC East Stock Watch

October, 6, 2009
10/06/09
11:00
AM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


Falling
Romo
1. Tony Romo, Cowboys QB: He's gone from one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the league to a guy who's desperately trying not to make a mistake. Surely there's a happy medium. Right now, it looks like he doesn't have much trust in his wide receivers. He's holding the ball too long because he's waiting for a wideout to come open. And it's not happening. This is not a bus-driver quarterback. If that's what offensive coordinator Jason Garrett is trying to create, he's headed down the wrong path. He has to get Romo out of the pocket and take advantage of his improvisational skills. The play Romo made to Sam Hurd on the 53-yard connection was classic Romo. The Cowboys need to see more of that guy. I realize the Broncos have a much-improved defense, but Romo is capable of making them pay. That rarely happened on Sunday.
Manningham
2. Mario Manningham, Giants WR: I realize it's only one game, but Manningham was really bad against the Chiefs. The one ball he caught went for 43 yards but he even juggled that one. He had at least two drops that I remember -- one leading to an interception. He's had a lot of early success, but it looks like he needs to refocus at this point. He didn't help Eli Manning out much at all Sunday. Good thing the Giants didn't really need him.

3. Any receiver for the Skins not named Santana Moss: I thought Malcolm Kelly was ready to make a major contribution for the Skins. So far, he's been almost non-existent. The Redskins don't have a legit No. 2 wide receiver, and that takes away from what Santana Moss can do. Moss made a huge play Sunday, but it was one of only two catches. He can't get involved if teams are able to simply focus on him the entire game. Jason Campbell showed a lot of courage in the second half. He could be a more effective quarterback if he had better weapons.

Rising
Jacobs
1. Brandon Jacobs, Giants RB: Jacobs is one of the most punishing runners in the league, but he spent last week responding to Tony Siragusa's comments that he'd been "tip-toeing" too much this season. Jacobs responded by running over the Chiefs for 92 yards on 21 carries. They loaded up to stop the run early, but Jacobs eventually wore them down. Tiki Barber told me recently that he talked to Jacobs about not letting opponents have so many clean shots at him. There's certainly a fine line between punishing defenders and preserving your body for the rest of the season. On Sunday, Jacobs was once again a force. Despite all the numbers that Steve Smith's putting up right now, it's Jacobs who gives this offense its identity.
Brooking
James
2. Bradie James and Keith Brooking, Cowboys LBs: They were superb against the Broncos for much of the day. Brooking made a huge play on fourth-and-1, stuffing Knowshon Moreno for no gain. It looked like the play that would lead the Cowboys to a win, but we all know what happened after that. Brooking and James combined for 17 tackles. They're fighting off blocks to make a lot of plays. James crushed Kyle Orton on a delayed blitz. Right now, Brooking and James are both playing at a Pro Bowl level.
Portis
3. Clinton Portis, Redskins RB: There were several solid performances by Redskins defenders (London Fletcher, Jeremy Jarmon), but I thought Portis' willingness to play through pain deserved special mention. He put up 98 yards against a Bucs defense that was loading up to stop him. It's not like he's wowing anyone with his yards per carry, but by toting the ball so many times, he kept the Redskins afloat long enough for Jason Campbell to make some plays in the second half. Without Portis on the field, the Redskins don't win that game Sunday. Any disagreements?

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