How I See It: NFC East Stock Watch

December, 29, 2009
12/29/09
11:00
AM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Falling

1. Albert Haynesworth, Redskins defensive tackle: He picked an interesting time to take a few shots at the organization that guaranteed him $41 million. Haynesworth, who hasn't been able to stay on the field because of an ankle injury, was sent home Christmas Day for being 20 minutes late to a meeting at Redskins Park. He then fired a few shots at defensive coordinator Greg Blache's scheme via The Washington Post that evening. Let's use a little common sense, Albert. Every one of these coaches will likely be gone in a couple of weeks. Does it really do any good to throw them under the bus at this point? Haynesworth's reputation as an elite defensive tackle has exceeded his actual production on the field this season. But at least he talks a good game.

2. Giants' D-line: It's hard to single out someone since the entire group has struggled this season. But at some point you have to have some pride in stopping the run. Allowing Jonathan Stewart to go for 206 rushing yards in the final game at Giants Stadium is embarrassing. And go ahead and throw in the linebackers, too. They look slow at times, and when they're in position to make a play, they miss tackles. Bill Sheridan will probably lose his job as defensive coordinator, but I put more responsibility on the players.

3. Macho Harris, Eagles safety: I normally give rookies a little grace, but Harris has played enough this season to be held to a higher standard. His hit on a defenseless receiver after an Asante Samuel interception helped put the Eagles in poor field position. And after the Broncos had trimmed the Eagles' lead to 10 points, Harris fumbled a kickoff return to give Denver another quick score. If you're going to give Harris meaningful playing time in the playoffs, he has to use better judgment.

Rising

[+] EnlargeJay Ratliff
AP Photo/Rob CarrJay Ratliff recorded two sacks in Sunday's win at Washington.
1. Jay Ratliff, Cowboys defensive tackle: He absolutely took over the game Sunday. He finished with two sacks but he also stuffed the Redskins' running game. Center Casey Rabach and the Skins' guards had no chance against Ratliff's power and speed. It's hard to imagine that this guy was a seventh-round draft pick. He's now one of the best defensive players in the league. Also a special mention here for Tony Romo, who had a superb December. If Roy Williams makes a play on the ball, Romo would've made it through the month without a single interception.

2. Brent Celek, Eagles tight end: He's emerged as one of Donovan McNabb's most reliable weapons. When the Broncos sold out to stop DeSean Jackson, it was Celek who burned them in the first half. He finished with four catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. And his one-handed catch in the center of the field was brilliant. Tony Gonzalez will probably get the most Pro Bowl votes in the NFC, but I think Jason Witten and Celek are playing at the highest level right now. Jackson gets most of the attention, but Celek's put up huge numbers this season.

3. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles wide receiver: The Eagles needed someone to make a big-time play at the end of the game and Maclin was up to the task. His 27-yard catch on the sideline with 59 seconds left against the Broncos put the Eagles in position to win the game, 30-27. He's made the adjustment from the spread offense in college to the West Coast offense a lot sooner than some of us expected. The combination of Jackson, Maclin and Jason Avant at wide receiver gives the Eagles one of the best groups in the league.

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