NFC East: Jake Delhomme

Mailbag: Free agency on the brain

March, 17, 2012
3/17/12
11:10
AM ET
All that's been on anyone's mind this week is free agency and college basketball. We'll skip the hoops questions in this week's mailbag and try and stick to that first thing. If you don't mind.

Barry from DC is concerned that he hasn't heard more about the Washington Redskins trying to sign offensive linemen.

Dan Graziano: Clearly, Barry, wide receiver was their first priority (after quarterback, of course, which is fixed through the draft). Then they got to work on the secondary. But I agree with you that right tackle and left guard remain areas of concern. Reports out of Washington say they had tackle Demetrius Bell in for a visit Friday, and everything I'm told indicates they're interested in tackle Eric Winston (though he spent a lot of time with the Chiefs this week). They weren't in the mix seriously for Carl Nicks or Ben Grubbs at guard. They may not land any big O-line names, but I know they're looking to add, and they're targeting guys they think can work well in their zone-blocking run game schemes.

Like a lot of people, Jason from Bryn Mawr, PA gives the Dallas Cowboys a lot of credit for the moves they've made so far in free agency. He wonders if the focused, targeted approach they're taking reflects coach Jason Garrett's influence on personnel decisions.

DG: I do, Jason. I think you saw that begin last year, when the Cowboys cut players like Roy Williams and Marion Barber in order to go with more sensible options. I think you saw it this year with the overhaul of the coaching staff that got rid of some long-timers and replaced them with fresh faces. I believe Jerry Jones really wants Garrett to succeed and is willing to let him run the team his way, and I believe that means Garrett has a great deal of say in the kinds of players the team is pursuing. Things are making more sense in Dallas than Jones' old reputation usually leads people to believe they are.

George from Lexington, VA is watching the New York Giants sign free agents "to modest contracts so that they can fill specific roles in their system" and asks whether their approach is at all similar to the Billy Beane Oakland A's model that inspired the book and movie "Moneyball."

DG: I think it's an imperfect comparison, George. "Moneyball" is the story of a low-revenue team trying to find a way to compete in a game that has no salary cap and was at the time heavily tilted in favor of the high-revenue teams. The NFL's salary cap eliminates this problem by effectively eliminating the concept of low-revenue teams. All NFL teams are rolling in money, and those that don't spend as much as the others do so by choice. The Giants have been right up against the cap the last two years as a result of some big contracts that would make Billy Beane pass out, so part of the reason they haven't made big free-agent moves is because they're unable to. But I think the main reason the Giants are so comfortable with their simple moves is their belief in their coaching staff and the veteran-inspired environment in their locker room. They really believe they can find most of their solutions internally, because they believe their program develops prospects into good players. And they've been proven right a lot in recent years.

Now, when I do the mailbag, I like to make sure all four teams are represented. But man, was it hard to find a Philadelphia Eagles question this week. I scrolled back and scrolled back through Redskins question after Redskins question, and the first Eagles questions I found were from March 11! Thomas Hanson from D.C. asking if the Eagles would bring back Kevin Kolb as Michael Vick's backup if the Cardinals let Kolb go and gwh from Downingtown, PA asking if Donovan McNabb would be open to coming back as Vick's backup and if the Eagles would consider that.

DG: Obviously, since these questions came in, Arizona has decided to stick with Kolb, so that's out. And I guess, if there is an NFL team out there that would consider giving McNabb a job (and we have no proof that there is at this point), the Eagles would be a leading candidate. I thought the two best backup quarterback options were Jason Campbell and Kyle Orton, but they got snatched up right away by the Bears and Cowboys. The Eagles make that position a priority, as you know, and they're surely looking around for better options than Mike Kafka and Trent Edwards. But the list of the remaining candidates isn't awe-inspiring. David Garrard may be the best of a bunch that includes Rex Grossman, Shaun Hill, Jake Delhomme, Dennis Dixon and old friend Jeff Garcia.

Anyway, Eagles fans, come on! Where are the questions?

Final Word: Giants at Packers

January, 13, 2012
1/13/12
1:30
PM ET
Divisional Final Word: Saints-49ers | Broncos-Patriots | Texans-Ravens | Giants-Packers

Three nuggets of knowledge about Sunday's Giants-Packers divisional round game:

Run, Giants, run: The Giants, who averaged a league-worst 89.2 rush yards per game in the regular season, ran for 172 in their wild-card round victory over the Atlanta Falcons. It was the first time this season that the Giants had rushed for more than 150 yards in a game. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Giants have won their past 14 games in which they have rushed for at least 150 yards. So although the Week 13 results and the Packers' league-worst pass defense (299.8 yards allowed per game) could tempt Eli Manning & Co. into a shootout, the Giants' best bet may be to try to wear down the Packers' run defense, which gave up just 111.8 yards per game on the ground.

[+] EnlargeNew York's Brandon Jacobs
Andrew Mills/US PRESSWIREBrandon Jacobs ran for 92 of the Giants' season-best 172 yards on the ground in the wild-card round.
Vulnerable down the field: ESPN Stats & Info also reports that the Giants gave up 24 passing touchdowns this year when using five or more defensive backs -- the most in the league while in such formations. Just more proof of why the Giants don't blitz and rely on their front four to pressure the quarterback. They need all the help they can get on the back end of the defense, and in a game like this against Aaron Rodgers and his array of weapons, that's more true than ever.

Good playoff omens: The Packers this year scored 560 points, which is the second-highest single-season total in NFL history. The only team that scored more was the 2007 Patriots, who of course went undefeated until losing in the Super Bowl to the Giants. Also, Manning has three career playoff road wins (all in that 2007-08 postseason, and not counting that Super Bowl victory on a neutral field). If he wins this game, he'll tie the record for the most career playoff road wins, which is shared by Roger Staubach, Jake Delhomme, Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco and Len Dawson. Flacco's playing at home this weekend, and the rest of those guys are off. Though I guess Delhomme is the Texans' backup, so if T.J. Yates got hurt, Delhomme could technically pick up a fifth and make this note moot. Hey, we're covering all bases here.

Redskins' QB Campbell signs tender

April, 12, 2010
4/12/10
3:31
PM ET
As expected, Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell signed his one-year tender offer of $3.1 million Monday, but he's still hoping the club can trade him. Campbell will not report to this weekend's three-day voluntary minicamp, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Coach Mike Shanahan has said the club will not release Campbell. If a trade goes down, look for it to happen during the upcoming draft. If a team's willing to send over a fourth-round pick, I think the Redskins would pull the trigger. They already have Rex Grossman on the roster, so keeping Campbell on the roster seems like overkill. It also seems like a tough situation for a 28-year-old guy like Campbell who actually put up decent numbers in '09 behind an awful offensive line.

Let's hope Shanahan and Bruce Allen find a trading partner during the draft. We'll keep you posted on any developments. It seems like the Bills or 49ers would be wise to trade for Campbell. And if I'm Mike Holmgren in Cleveland, I'd much prefer to start Campbell over Jake Delhomme.

Why aren't teams coming after McNabb?

March, 15, 2010
3/15/10
3:14
PM ET
When the Cowboys recorded back-to-back wins over the Eagles last season (three in all), there was a school of thought (led by the Philadelphia Daily News' Rich Hofmann) that Donovan McNabb had taken his last snap in Philly. Eagles coach Andy Reid insisted that McNabb would be his quarterback in 2010, but then, what else did you expect him to say?

[+] EnlargeDonovan McNabb
Christopher Hanewinckel/US PresswireAt 33, Donovan McNabb appears to still have a number of productive seasons ahead of him.
But as the draft approaches, it's becoming more and more likely the Eagles will put off the Kevin Kolb era for at least one more season. Today in his award-winning (I assume) Monday Morning Quarterback column, Peter King wondered aloud why more quarterback-needy teams aren't lining up to trade for McNabb. And I couldn't agree more with Peter on the theory that trading a first-round pick for McNabb is actually safer than spending $35 million or so on a rookie quarterback such as Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen. Here's a portion of Peter's column:

"A playoff quarterback near his prime can be had for a premium price," writes King. "The fact that there's a real chance the Eagles could deal McNabb, and that McNabb is a half-year younger than Peyton Manning and apparently intends to play four or five more seasons, and also apparently has kicked the injury bug, leads me to this question: What in the world are all these quarterback-needy teams doing? Why aren't teams running to deal for McNabb?

"The prime object of this game in the personnel area is to get a quarterback who can win games and lead your team, and a good, proven one is out there. The Eagles aren't shopping him, but they surely are listening. I asked a coach with a quarterback need about McNabb, and the coach said because McNabb is on the last year of his contract and would probably need to be re-signed, and the fact that Philadelphia would want a high draft choice for him in a very good draft, and the fact that he doesn't have a lot of years left, all combine to make it a tough trade. Understood. Good factors all. But McNabb is 33.

"I have my own problems with McNabb. I don't consider him on the Manning-Brady-Brees plane. I think the Eagles should go with Kolb and make the best deal they can for McNabb this offseason, because, basically, it's Groundhog Day in Philadelphia. Every year's the same, and I don't see McNabb getting Philly over the hump and into another Super Bowl. So why would I want to pawn him off on another quarterback-needy team when I don't think he's a top-five quarterback? Simple. Because he's a top-10 or top-12 quarterback, and they're too hard to find to let one pass when he's just sitting there for the taking.

"McNabb would shore up any team's most important position for the next half-decade. Some team's going to take Jimmy Clausen between, say, the fourth and 20th pick in the first round, and whoever takes him is going to have no idea if he's the long-term solution at quarterback."

In the case of the Vikings, they can't make a play for McNabb until they hear from Brett Favre. But even if they're willing to offer a first-rounder for McNabb, the Eagles might not want to help out a team that competes in the same conference. But if teams such as the Bills or Rams (same conference but not a true threat) put a nice package together, surely the Eagles would be interested.

A scenario in which McNabb, Kolb and Michael Vick all return to the Eagles still seems unlikely despite what you're hearing on at least one network. Courage awards aside, Vick had no choice but to say all the right things in '09. But I could see him becoming extremely frustrated during another season of limited Wildcat reps. I don't think it makes any sense for the Eagles to bring him back. Do we think that Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will spend much of this offseason trying to develop an expanded Wildcat package?

Former Eagles general manager Tom Heckert is now with Cleveland, so I thought he might make a play for McNabb. But now the Browns have signed former Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme, a man coming off by far the worst season of his career. Perhaps a team will finally panic when we get closer to the draft and make a strong offer for McNabb.

But if not, it looks like the Eagles are prepared to go with a lame-duck quarterback in 2010. I think you're asking for problems with that approach, but maybe the Eagles are willing to take the risk. Meanwhile, Kolb continues to say all the right things publicly. Something tells me, though, that he won't be thrilled with yet another season on the sideline. Call it intuition after watching how much he enjoyed those two starts in '09.

One last note from King: Eagles quarterbacks coach James Urban and Mornhinweg were in the Bronx on Friday to watch Fordham quarterback John Skelton's pro day. Doesn't that seem like a little overkill for a late-round prospect from a school not known for being an NFL farm system? (apologies to Fordham grads Alex Wojciechowicz and Vince Lombardi of Seven Blocks of Granite fame).

Who's still out there in free agency?

March, 12, 2010
3/12/10
12:09
PM ET
Now that we're a week into the free agency period, let's step back and see which unrestricted free agents are still on the board. Philadelphia Daily News NFL columnist Paul Domowitch has compiled a helpful list that includes his top five players at each position. Ben Watson is no longer leading the tight ends list because he signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the Cleveland Browns, according to (who else?) ESPN's Adam Schefter. And wide receiver Hank Baskett just signed a one-year contract to return to the Eagles.

Working off Domowitch's list, I'll offer my top remaining unrestricted free agent at each position:

Quarterback

Jake Delhomme, Panthers

Running back

LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers

Wide receiver

Terrell Owens, Bills

Note: The 29-year-old Josh Reed would be a lot less of a headache.

Tight end

Randy McMichael, Rams

Note: McMichael is 30 but he's capable of scoring five or six touchdowns in the right offense.

Offensive tackle

Mike Gandy, Cardinals

Guard

Ryan Lilja, Colts

Center

Kevin Mawae, Titans

Defensive end

Charles Grant, Saints

Defensive tackle

Jimmy Kennedy, Vikings

Inside linebacker

Larry Foote, Lions

Outside linebacker

Keith Bulluck, Titans

Note: Even at age 32, a highly productive player

Cornerback

Rod Hood, Titans

Note: What a weak, weak group. I used to like Dre Bly, but he's a declining player

Safety

Darren Sharper, Saints

Note: The Giants treat Antrel Rolle like some sort of All Pro while Sharper is on the street. I know Sharper is getting long in the tooth, but he can still play. The Broncos went after an aging Brian Dawkins. Some team should do the same with Sharper. Cowboys, anyone?

McNabb's been awful against the blitz

October, 28, 2009
10/28/09
11:33
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

If I told you Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo had by far the best numbers against the blitz among NFC East quarterbacks, would you believe me? Well, that's exactly what the fine folks at ESPN's Stats & Information are telling me this morning.

Romo has the 10th best passer rating in the league (98.9) when teams bring at least one extra defender. Romo's thrown four touchdowns against the blitz and only one interception. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the best in the league against the blitz with a 136.7 rating. He's an astounding 40-of-51 for 706 yards, four touchdowns and only one interception.

If not for the dreadful work against the blitz by Jake Delhomme and Derek Anderson, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb would be the worst in the league with his 39.6 rating. He's 4-of-19 for 40 yards against the blitz. McNabb doesn't have nearly as many attempts against the blitz as other quarterbacks because he missed time with that rib injury. But he's about to make up for lost time when the Giants come to town Sunday. I think Bill Sheridan will send blitzes from all over the field. And Osi Umenyiora will be eager to face his old friend Winston Justice, the man who helped seal his first Pro Bowl appearance.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning is ranked 19th in the league with an 85.1 rating, but he's thrown for more touchdowns (7) against the blitz than any other quarterback. Only Tom Brady has attempted more passes against the blitz (98) than Manning's 96.

Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell checks in four spots behind Manning with a 77.9 passer rating. He's thrown for two touchdowns and three interceptions against the blitz. And by the way, Eagles backup quarterback Kevin Kolb checked in right behind Manning at No. 2o with an 83.7 rating. He threw for three touchdowns and three interceptions against the blitz.

Thanks once again to ESPN's Stats and Information group for passing this along. It's a tremendous resource for the Beast.

Wrap-up: Panthers 20, Redskins 17

October, 11, 2009
10/11/09
8:51
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


It looked like the Redskins were headed toward a 3-2 record at one point in the second half. They had a 15-point lead and you would've thought the Panthers would be ready to fold. But that's not what happened.

The Panthers raced down the field and made it 17-12, and the Skins never really recovered. The huge play was the fourth-quarter punt return on which Byron Westbrook collided with Antwaan Randle El. The Panthers were awarded the ball and they made the Skins pay.

The Redskins are an absolute mess but I'm not sure an in-season coaching change would make all that much difference. They play the Chiefs at FedEx next Sunday. I'd wait to see if they can beat Kansas City. If you lose that game, then go ahead and make the change. But if you win that game, you're hosting the Eagles the following Monday with a chance to go to 4-3.

I'd like to see Zorn get a full season -- even if it's his last. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see Snyder go after Mike Shanahan after the season. But Shanahan's not going to accept an interim job. Stick with Zorn and see if he can get a win next Sunday.

It's not like the Redskins played particularly well in the first half Sunday, but they'd done enough to have a 10-2 lead. Then they made it 17-2 in the third quarter. Now, the Jim Zorn watch is on again. The Redskins have brought in offensive consultant Sherman Lewis to try and offer suggestions to Zorn and offensive coordinator Sherman Smith. Either Lewis or defensive coordinator Greg Blache could take over on an interim basis if Dan Snyder fires Zorn.

What a joke that DeAngelo Hall couldn't bring down quarterback Jake Delhomme on a third-and-9 late in the game. Do we blame that on Zorn, too? I agree that Zorn is in over his head right now, but a coaching change isn't going to accomplish anything -- just like an offensive consultant won't.

Get a close look at Sunday's loss to the Panthers. That's the Redskins in a nutshell.

How I See It: NFC East Stock Watch

September, 29, 2009
9/29/09
11:05
AM ET

NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


Falling

 Zorn
1. Jim Zorn, Redskins coach: The loss to the Detroit Lions will be difficult to overcome. The Redskins still have time to right the ship, but Dan Snyder's not a patient man. If you fire Zorn, you also lose your playcaller and quarterbacks coach. I'd like to see Snyder give Zorn a full second season to see if there's any progress, but that could be wishful thinking. If the Redskins head into the division game against the Eagles in late October with a 2-4 record, I think Snyder will seriously think about making a move. It's not going to help but it might make him feel better.

 Ware
2. DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys LB: I hate to say it because he's a tremendous player, but three weeks without a sack is pretty amazing. He put the crunch on poor Jake Delhomme once in the first half Monday night, but for the most part, he was handled by Panthers left tackle Jordan Gross. Ware's still an elite pass-rusher, but he's not living up to his lofty standards right now.

3. The Redskins' 'much-improved' defense: So far, the great Albert Haynesworth hasn't transformed this into an elite unit. Rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford calmly picked the Redskins apart at times and the Lions gashed the Skins in the running game. This was supposed to be the strength of the team, but right now it's a major weakness. On offense, it doesn't help that the Skins don't have a viable threat at the No. 2 receiver. I had high hopes for Malcolm Kelly, but he's not doing a lot right now.

Rising

1. Kevin Kolb and LeSean McCoy, Eagles: With veterans Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook out with injuries, Kolb and McCoy got the job done against the lowly Chiefs. Kolb made good decisions all day and showed that he can fit the ball into tight spots. I don't know if he'll ever be the starter in Philly, but he certainly raised his stock around the league with back-to-back 300-yard passing games. I thought he was outstanding against the Chiefs. Showed a lot of poise. McCoy's seeing his holes a lot better and it's obvious he has immense talent. Strong game for him.

 Bradshaw
2. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants RB: The entire Giants defense deserves a nod for their shutout win over the Bucs, but we'll single out Bradshaw this week. He's waited behind Derrick Ward the past two seasons for significant playing time. And now he's showing how dynamic he can be. He's the perfect change-up to the bruising Brandon Jacobs. He has the speed to bounce a run outside and the power to run it between the tackles. Bradshaw is a force to be reckoned with, and he allowed the Giants to eat up the clock against a tired Bucs defense.

 Choice
3. Tashard Choice, Cowboys RB: Felix Jones was brilliant against the Panthers before he got hurt in the third quarter. At that point, Choice took over the game. He had the inside handoff for a 5-yard touchdown run and he did some damage in the passing game. He needs to improve his blitz pickup, but he's a huge asset in the running game. You could tell that he became stronger as the game went along. You can already tell that Tony Romo has a ton of confidence in him because he's looking for him when plays break down. The play where Romo scrambled and then lobbed it back across the field to Choice helped put the Panthers away.

Rapid Reaction: Cowboys 21, Panthers 7

September, 28, 2009
9/28/09
11:35
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


ARLINGTON, Texas -- After a dreadful first half, the Cowboys finally did enough to separate themselves from one of the worst teams the NFC South has to offer. Both teams slopped around in the first half but the Panthers caught fire on consecutive passes to tight end Dante Rosario, the second one going for a 25-yard touchdown.

The Cowboys found a sense of urgency in the third quarter, taking a 10-7 lead on Tashard Choice's 5-yard touchdown run. A week removed from one of the worst performances of his career, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo did a relatively nice job of managing the team. He wasn't called on to make a lot of plays, though his school-yard toss to Choice on third-and-8 late in the third quarter kept a scoring drive alive.

The Cowboys desperately needed a win Monday, but they certainly won't get any style points for this one. They let a bad team hang around until the last five minutes and it took way too long for the offense to find any rhythm. The most positive sign for the Cowboys is that the defense finally caused a couple of turnovers.

Second-year cornerback Mike Jenkins picked off an awful pass by Jake Delhomme in the first half and Terence Newman put the game away with a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys came into the game as the only team in the league without a sack or caused turnover. Nose tackle Jay Ratliff finally got the Cowboys' first sack in the second half and the Cowboys did a nice job of putting pressure on Delhomme.

Panthers coach John Fox helped the Cowboys out by abandoning the running game when his team was only down 10-7. It was a curious move against a defense that allowed 174 rushing yards by the Bucs two weeks ago. It's still early in the season, but it's hard to imagine the Panthers having a turnaround. They were missing two starters on defense and the Cowboys' offensive line finally started to wear them down in the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys will take the win, but they obviously have a lot of things to work on. What was Jason Garrett thinking when the Cowboys had second-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter? He had Tony Romo throw consecutive passes into the corner of the end zone. And it's not like the Panthers had slowed down Choice and Felix Jones.

Jones left the game with a knee strain in the third quarter. He returned briefly, but then limped off the field. It's certainly something you worry about with a player who missed a lot of the 2008 season with toe and hamstring injuries.

First-half analysis: Cowboys were awful

September, 28, 2009
9/28/09
10:18
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


ARLINGTON, Texas -- I'm sorry you guys had to watch that first half. The Cowboys had a chance to come out and score right away, but they stalled in the red zone on their first possession. You had Felix Jones shredding the Panthers defense -- and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett inexplicably went away from him. Nick Folk missed a 40-yard field goal wide right and the Cowboys never really recovered. Here are some other quick-hit observations:
  • I'm really impressed with the work left tackle Jordan Gross is doing on DeMarcus Ware. And I'm baffled by how seldom the Cowboys are matching up Ware against right tackle Jeff Otah. They finally flipped him over to Otah's side in the second quarter.
  • The Cowboys finally got a turnover in the first half. Mike Jenkins made a play on a moon ball from Jake Delhomme. But the Cowboys didn't capitalize on the turnover.
  • When the Cowboys backup nose tackle Junior Siavii is on the field, he's getting absolutely no push up the middle. Delhomme didn't see any pressure on those two nice passes to Dante Rosario. When Jay Ratliff's off the field, I think the Cowboys lose a lot.
  • I was very impressed with the way Keith Brooking played in the first half. He did a nice job fighting off blocks and he's pretty solid in coverage. It looks like Brooking and Bradie James are doing a pretty nice job communicating. I think Brooking is a definite upgrade over Zach Thomas.
  • Jason Witten had a big first half. He was Tony Romo's target on eight passes -- and he caught all eight. He has 71 yards receiving. The Cowboys wide receivers combined for two catches in the first half. That's not going to get it done.
  • The Panthers obviously have a tough time stopping Felix Jones. So why aren't they feeding him the ball?

Delhomme strikes quickly to Rosario

September, 28, 2009
9/28/09
10:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


ARLINGTON, Texas -- Just when you thought Jake Delhomme didn't have an arm, he completed two gorgeous passes in a row to tight end Dante Rosario. Cowboys inside linebacker Bradie James had decent coverage on Rosario on the first pass, but Delhomme dropped it in the perfect spot. That play went for 25 yards.

On the next play, Dawson beat rookie cornerback Mike Jenkins for a 25-yard touchdown. It was a brutal half for both teams, but the Panthers suddenly came alive late. This just in from ESPN Stats and Analysis: The last time the Cowboys were shut out in the first half was Nov. 19, 2006, against the Colts. The Cowboys won that game.

Cowboys-Panthers: What will we learn?

September, 28, 2009
9/28/09
2:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


I'm headed over to a "Monday Night Football" Chalk Talk session in downtown Dallas, but here are my quick-hit thoughts on tonight's game:
  • The only way the Cowboys lose is if they're unable to pressure Jake Delhomme. At this stage in his career, Delhomme is a pick-six waiting to happen. The Cowboys need someone other than DeMarcus Ware to apply pressure against the Panthers. If Delhomme has time in the pocket, he's still capable of picking you apart.
  • Jason Garrett has to establish the run early. The Panthers have allowed an average of 168 rushing yards through two games. Even with Marion Barber probably out with an injury to his left quadriceps, the Cowboys have enough depth to be successful. The Panthers are thin in the middle, so Felix Jones and Tashard Choice don't need to try and cut everything outside. Tashard Choice is an effective inside runner, and I think he's capable of having a big game.
  • I think Martellus Bennett's about to have a breakout game. So far, Jason Witten has put up the best numbers in the Cowboys' celebrated (locally) two-tight end offense. The Panthers will focus on stopping Witten, which means Bennett could have more opportunities. He's an excellent athlete who also does a nice job blocking. Wouldn't surprise me for Bennett to have four or five catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.
  • The Cowboys were much better against the run last Sunday. But DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are a lot different than Brandon Jacobs. They both have the ability to turn a little seam into a huge gain. If the Cowboys are going to run blitz, they better be under control. And that means you, Ken Hamlin.
  • Stay on top of Tony Romo. Garrett doesn't need to put Romo in situations where he's going to make a big mistake. Get him in rhythm early with some quick slants to Roy Williams. Then you can build on that. Don't take shots downfield just for the sake of opening things up in the running game. There's a chance you can run on this team without that threat.

What's in Mosley's Mailbag?

September, 19, 2009
9/19/09
12:07
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


Each week, thousands of readers leave questions in the NFC East mailbag. Let's take a look at what folks are talking about this weekend.

Don from Ohio writes: Has anyone ever lobbied to have the Skins and Cowboys play on Thanksgiving? I think it would be a great thing to see arguably the biggest rivalry in sports on Turkey Day. I'd much rather see that than meaningless matchups like the Raiders and Cowboys. They should at least have Dallas play an NFC East team every year. They could rotate it every season. Just a thought.Thanks for the great work.

Mosley: Thanks for checking in, Don. I couldn't agree with you more. Al Davis and Jerry Jones might be close friends, but that doesn't make for a great Thanksgiving game. If the league can make sure the Giants open the season in Jones' new stadium, then it could send a division rival to Arlington each Thanksgiving. I'm totally with you, Don. Always have been.


Jon from Westchester, N.Y.: Hey Matt, I'm a big fan of yours. I check your blogs a few times a day and I really have learned a lot from your blogs. Keep up the good work.I have a question regarding the Giants, but not something that I have heard a whole lot about. I am very happy with the defense. I feel that the secondary is very good but doesn't receive the respect it deserves. Kenny Phillips is going to be a top safety in the few years and Michael Johnson is underappreciated in the eyes of the league. The line is amazing and that's all I will say on that, but I am a little worried about the linebackers. I know Michael Boley was brought in and I am hoping he helps out a lot. But what about Pierce? He is a very smart player but he is getting up there in age. Are the Giants going to draft someone this year that can learn from Pierce? Also, I know we drafted Clint Stintim, but are the Giants going to upgrade that position also? I like Blackburn and the other guys, but I feel they are very good backups and not so much stater material.

Mosley: Jon, thanks for stopping by The Bag. Pierce will turn 31 in October, so you're right to a bit concerned about his age. But there are linebackers in this league still performing at a high level on the wrong side of 30. Obviously Ray Lewis comes to mind. Pierce is the backbone of this team. He's an inspirational leader and he still has plenty left in the tank. He looked really old last season because he got in one-on-one matchups with Brian Westbrook in December and January. That's why the Giants brought in Michael Boley, a guy who can help them stay in their base defense more often because of his cover skills. And don't worry too much about the depth. Chase Blackburn is a really good football player and I think he'd start for a lot of teams in this league. Throw in talented players such as Bryan Kehl and Gerris Wilkinson (injury prone) and I think you're doing OK with depth. Clint Sintim needs to get back on the field. He's got the long arms and size that Tom Coughlin loves in a linebacker. He just needs to get healthy.




Matt from Texas writes: Matt, I wanted to check to see if you have your bags packed? Come Monday, most of the media will be trying to jump off the extremely overrated Eli/Giants bandwagon and onto ours. I figured I would give you first dibs. Before you developed a giant-sized man crush on New York, you used to respect the Cowboys. See you on the 'Wagon!

Mosley: Matt, I actually picked the Cowboys to win this game, 28-24. Michael Boley is coming off a long layoff and the secondary's banged up. I think Tony Romo can make plays downfield against reserve corners Terrell Thomas and Bruce Johnson. But I'm still driving the Giants bandwagon. This loss won't knock them out of a Super Bowl trip.




Oscar in Dallas left this note: Some guys at Bloggingtheboys.com were passing this link around. Its a Mic'd up video of Tony Romo during the game last week. For those who think he can't be the leader, you need to watch this video.

Mosley: Oscar, thanks for sharing. Looks like Romo was having a lot of fun last Sunday. Loved the look on Jason Garrett's face when Romo offered to kiss him if he'd call a seam route.




John from Silver Spring, Md. is concerned with my Albert Haynesworth analysis: Mosley, I have to disagree with your statement that Albert Haynesworth is falling. He was personally responsible for both times the Redskins stuffed the Giants on 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1. He made the tackle on 4th and 1 and he blew up the middle so LaRon Landry could make the tackle on 4th and 1. Not to mention the fact that he ripped into the backfield and tore of the helmet of Ahmad Bradshaw as he threw him to the ground.Also, I'm not sure what game you were watching, but they kept showing replays and Troy Aikman kept talking about how Haynesworth was pushing Seibert all over the place.The mark of whether or not Haynesworth is having an impact will not always be found in the stat sheet. You will know if he's having the impact the Redskins expect if he is clogging up the middle, as he did on the two short yardage stuffs and if you see him pushing 1-2 guys into the backfield so the QB cannot step up to avoid a rush off the edge.For someone who covers football, I'm disappointed that you rely so heavily on stats to determine a players worth, especially a defensive tackle.

Mosley: John, I appreciate the note. I may be holding Haynesworth to a ridiculous standard ($41 mil guaranteed), but what I focused on was that he looked completely worn down at the most important juncture of the game. When the Skins were actually hanging around in the third quarter, Haynesworth had to keep making his way to the sideline to catch his breath. Yes, he made some plays in the game. But when Washington truly needed to clog the middle, Haynesworth was sucking wind. Was I too hard on him? Maybe so.




Mike from Atlanta is concerned about where the Eagles are ranked: OK, first off I am a full-on Eagles fan. So this may come off as a little homerish, but how can the Eagles be ranked below the Giants when we absolutely crushed a supposed NFC South power while the Giants let the Skins stay in the game a lot longer than they should have. As well, how in the world can anyone seriously allow the Cowboys to rise in the rankings after beating up on a team that until five minutes before the game even knew who their QB was going to be?! Granted, a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point. And to top that off, the miserable Bucs manage to rack up over 450 yards of offense. Anyone with a reasonably decent offense then should be able to hit what, 600 yards and blow them away? And yes, I cannot wait to see us crush the Cowboys yet again. Come to think of it, I'm looking forward to the Giants doing it, too. The sooner we beat them both, the sooner no one can argue we are truly the Beast of the East!!

Mosley: I certainly didn't have the Panthers as an "NFC South power." I think the Redskins are better than Carolina. Jake Delhomme was just dreadful, and that's becoming a trend. We should let this quarterback situation settle down a little bit and then see where the Eagles are. I have them beating the Saints behind the strong arm of Kevin Kolb. Don't worry about where the Eagles are ranked right now. Let's see where they are at the end of November. OK, you guys have a great Saturday.

How I See It: NFC East Stock Watch

September, 15, 2009
9/15/09
11:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Falling
Haynesworth


1. Albert Haynesworth, Redskins DT:

Sorry, but when you make $41 million guaranteed, one tackle for a loss doesn't cut it. Haynesworth is supposed to be a disruptive force in the middle of the defense but for the most part, Giants guard Rich Seubert did a nice job on him. I just kept watching Haynesworth limp off the field. Not a great debut.

2. The Giants' third-and-short offense: Whether it was third-and-1 or fourth-and-1, the Giants didn't have any answers. They were stuffed inside the 5-yard line on fourth-and-1, which gave the Redskins a brief glimmer of hope in the first half. With a strong line and an excellent fullback in Madison Hedgecock, the Giants have to do a better job.

3. Anthony Spencer, Cowboys, DE:
Spencer

It's not like Byron Leftwich is the toughest guy in the world to sack. The Cowboys didn't sack him once. DeMarcus Ware was banged up early in the game and Spencer needed to step forward. He also let the Bucs run right at him. Not that strong of a debut for the former first-round pick. He has to lift his game against the Giants next Sunday night.

Rising

1. Patrick Crayton, Cowboys, WR:
Crayton

Everyone in Dallas has tried to demote Crayton based on his anemic numbers in 2008, but he got off to a strong start with four catches for 135 yards. The Bucs busted coverage on Crayton's 80-yard touchdown catch, but no one came close to catching him. So far, so good in the post-T.O. era. Tony Romo had a strong second half and Crayton played a large role in that.

2. Osi Umenyiora, Giants, DE:
Umenyiora

In his first game back since missing the 2008 season with a knee injury, Umenyiora was outstanding. His sack and fumble recovery for a touchdown in the second quarter effectively put the Redskins away. Umenyiora gives this team so much more versatility. Umenyiora and Justin Tuck form one of the most talented pass rushing duos in the league.

3. Sheldon Brown, Eagles, CB:
Brown

This one could go to the entire Eagles' defense after causing seven turnovers in a 38-10 win over the Panthers. It was a dominating performance all around. Brown may have whined in the offseason, but he was superb on the field Sunday. He's a gamer and we were too quick to dismiss him once Ellis Hobbs arrived. Could someone remind me why the Panthers thought it was a good idea to re-sign Jake Delhomme?

Observations from Giants' preseason opener

August, 18, 2009
8/18/09
6:46
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

I've seen the Giants practicing against each other in person. I was eager to see how they would look against another team -- and a pretty good one at that. Are you ready for some "Monday Night Football" preseason observations? I thought so.

  • I was watching defensive end Osi Umenyiora pretty closely on the Giants' first defensive series against Carolina. No matter what he says, I'm sure it will be a relief to have this first game under his belt after coming back from the knee injury. On third down, the Giants tried a stunt, but Umenyiora got stoned on the inside. The Panthers had the deep ball open, but Jake Delhomme threw an awful pass. One other thing that caught my attention early in the game: Safety Michael Johnson looked fast on a blitz that led a Delhomme incompletion.
  • Tom Coughlin had to be thrilled to see Marion Manningham go 21 yards on that first punt return. He reversed field and the Panthers broke outside containment. Manningham has had a solid camp and that play certainly won't hurt his chances of making the team. Manningham followed that up with a nifty 13-yard catch on a route that required great timing between him and Eli Manning. Unfortunately, the play was wiped out on an illegal motion penalty.
  • Umenyiora doesn't look like he's lost a step at all. Early in the game he beat Jordan Gross on a speed rush and knocked the ball out of Jake Delhomme's hand. In other news, Terrell Thomas is going to have to do a better job against the run. He had a shot at DeAngelo Williams in the backfield early in the game and let him get away. Defensive tackle Jay Alford also got off to a quick start. He's the one who made Umenyiora's play on Delhomme possible. The Panthers' offensive line couldn't give Delhomme anything resembling a clean pocket.
  • On Brandon Jacobs' 22-yard rumble in the first quarter, left tackle David Diehl had an excellent kickout block. Also some good blocking downfield by starting wide receiver Domenik Hixon. Jacobs looks faster to me than at any point in his career. The quick screen to Hixon on the second drive was a thing of beauty. Panthers played right into the Giants' hands with the blitz.
  • Ahmad Bradshaw followed an excellent block by Tutan Reyes on his 19-yard touchdown run. Bradshaw made the Panthers' first-team defense look helpless when he froze a linebacker with one move before running over a safety. Not much wrong with that scoring drive at all. I think Bradshaw's up to the challenge of holding off Danny Ware for the backup running back spot. He's elusive and he has more power than we give him credit for.
  • Not sure Tom Coughlin wants David Carr going airborne to get a first down in the second quarter of the first preseason game. But Jon Gruden loved the play. Carr looks pretty comfortable running the offense.
  • Not a good sign that Lawrence Tynes misses a 43-yard field goal, but he did have plenty of distance and just missed it to the right. I think Coughlin has a close eye on Tynes after watching him miss most of the '08 season with an injury.
  • Tom Coughlin has to be frustrated with the blocked punt before halftime. How in the world did the Giants let a guy come free from the left side. Bryan Kehl picked up the player next to him. Heads up play by Jeff Feagles to knock that ball out of the back of the end zone.

(Read full post)

SPONSORED HEADLINES

NFC EAST SCOREBOARD