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Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Breakfast links: Birds back off the blitz?

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Morning. Here's links.

Dallas Cowboys

Jerry Jones says Tony Romo played one of the best games he's ever seen him play Sunday, continuing the trend of strong support for Romo from within the organization. You'll notice that the chart accompanying Tim MacMahon's story shows that Romo had a better Total QBR in the fourth quarter of games in 2008 and 2009, but not so much last year or, of course, Sunday night.

For his part, Romo says he understands that none of this is going to go away until he wins the Super Bowl, and that "in a sense, trying to achieve that is not conducive to actually doing it." Good that he knows all of that, but I know it's going to infuriate some Cowboys fans that the interview in which he said it aired on The Golf Channel.

New York Giants

The focus has been on the defensive injuries, and for good reason, but Paul Schwartz says the Giants won't have a chance until the offensive line (on which everyone is healthy) gets in synch and starts blocking better. In particular, center David Baas and left guard David Diehl (two members of last week's all-division team, by the way) had rough games Sunday.

It sounds as though Justin Tuck expects to play Monday night against the Rams, though the Giants have not yet cleared him nor have they practiced yet this week to determine how healthy he is. We'll know more later today and a lot more tomorrow when we see how much the star defensive end practices with his team.

Philadelphia Eagles

Rich Hofmann says the Eagles' season opener showcased a dramatic change in defensive philosophy from years' past. The Eagles hardly blitzed at all, instead pressuring the Rams' quarterbacks by rushing their defensive ends from the base 4-3. This is what new defensive line coach Jim Washburn said he would do, of course, but Eagles fans who were used to the schemes of Jim Johnson and Sean McDermott are going to be seeing something a lot different this year -- those ends lining up way wide and trying to get to the passer without help from behind them.

The problem, of course, is that it leaves big gaps in the middle of the line, as happened on that big Steven Jackson run to start the game for the Rams. That's why the linebackers have to get better about knowing where in those gaps they're supposed to be -- something that did improve as the game went along  but remains a work in progress. Rookie middle linebacker Casey Matthews says he's not losing confidence.

Washington Redskins

As encouraging as the performance was Sunday from the Redskins' revamped defense, Jason Reid writes that we won't know how good it can really be until safety LaRon Landry is back from his hamstring injury. Jason also writes that it sounds as though that won't be soon.

Chris Neild was selected ahead of only one other player in this year's draft, but he came up with two sacks in his professional debut and is one of the reasons the Redskins are feeling so good about their defense right now.

Back to work on the all-division team, which will be up later today.