NFC East: Josh McCown


Nearly a third of the league inquired about receiver DeSean Jackson, but not all the teams are known. Two of those teams reportedly have fallen out of the race for Jackson -- and both have coaches who previously worked with him (Andy Reid in Kansas City and Marty Mornhinweg with the New York Jets). The assumption is that this sends up red flags about Jackson; that’s not necessarily the case.

And it’s hard to get a good feel on who is really interested. Oakland and Washington definitely are, though to what extent remains to be seen. Jackson arrives in Washington Monday and will visit Tuesday. Thus far, it’s his only reported visit.

San Francisco’s name came up when Jackson was on the trade block and the 49ers had expressed interest in free-agent wide receiver Golden Tate, among others, before he signed with Detroit. So it would make sense that they’d at least inquire about Jackson. Tampa Bay has said they'd take a look, though it was a rather tepid endorsement.

Here’s a little handicap of some teams that have expressed interest or reportedly want to get in the race:

Washington Redskins
Cap space: Approximately $7 million
Why he’d consider: It’s a premier market in a premier conference. Oh, and they get to play the Eagles twice a year. The Redskins would have a lot of speed offensively with Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Andre Roberts and Jordan Reed and would be a major threat down the field. Add to it an athletic quarterback who can extend plays and the off-schedule explosions would increase. Robert Griffin III’s deep-ball ability will be important -- and his ability to extend plays. Jackson’s agent, Joel Segal, has definitely taken quarterback play into consideration in the past with his receivers. If Jackson is forced to take a one-year, prove-it deal, this especially would be a factor.
Why he wouldn’t: Because other teams can offer more. Washington can’t compete if Jackson’s strong desire is to return to the West Coast and play for the team he grew up rooting for (Oakland). If they want a more proven coach, San Francisco and Tampa Bay have to be a consideration (if the Bucs are strongly interested, which is debatable). And if San Francisco truly is interested, then the 49ers clearly would offer him a better chance for team success. The Redskins still have other needs to address so they can only spend so much, and it's hard to gauge how aggressive they'll be. But the fact that they have the first visit says something.

Buffalo Bills
Cap space: Approximately $13 million
Why he’d consider: They have more cap room than most teams, so they could offer the sort of contract that could get it done now -- if they wanted to go that high. They need what Jackson provides (though many teams do).
Why he wouldn’t: The Bills aren’t a marquee team and their quarterback situation is questionable. EJ Manuel started 10 games as a rookie and showed flashes, but remains unproven. That has to be a strong consideration. None of their receivers had more than 597 yards last season, so how secure could you be? They have a good young talent in Robert Woods, a solid receiver in Stevie Johnson (nagging injuries, however) and a fast young guy in Marquise Goodwin. But that’s not exactly a Hall of Fame trio. The draft has to be an attractive option, so that could limit what the Bills would be willing to offer.

Oakland Raiders
Cap space: Approximately $15 million
Why he’d consider: Because the Raiders were his favorite team growing up and he played college ball at nearby Cal. Jackson is a West Coast kid, and if his desire to return there is strong, then it will be hard to top. The Raiders need help at receiver so Jackson would fill a big hole. Also, the Raiders have more money than the other teams reportedly interested thus far.
Why he wouldn’t: The Raiders have a wait-and-see approach going on and, while they’d like him, they won’t overspend. So if another team is more aggressive, then Jackson could end up elsewhere. Also, other than going back to California, the Raiders aren’t exactly an attractive franchise. Their coach, Dennis Allen, will enter the season on the hot seat and their quarterback, Matt Schaub, is not known for throwing deep all that often. At this point, it’s uncertain if he remains a quality starting quarterback.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cap space: Approximately $12 million
Why he’d consider: They have a potentially strong structure with new coach Lovie Smith. He’s a proven coach in the first year of his regime so he’ll be around several years at least. The Bucs have another explosive receiver to pair with Jackson in Vincent Jackson. Both are dangerous down the field. Oh, yeah, and they have the cap room to absorb a bigger contract.
Why he wouldn’t: Smith’s history suggests building around the run game and the defense. Also, they have a journeyman starting quarterback in Josh McCown and a second-year guy in Mike Glennon, whom the new coach did not draft (and replaced right away). So there are questions at this spot. Their interest is said to be lukewarm, so it’s hard to imagine them overspending for Jackson.

San Francisco 49ers
Cap space: Approximately $4 million
Why he’d consider: It’s the best team, it’s near where he played college ball and it puts him back on the West Coast. They need a receiver who can stretch the field to pair with Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis. Jackson would provide that and then some. They also have a big-armed quarterback in Colin Kaepernick who can let Jackson run under the ball and remind everyone of his explosiveness. Unlike Washington, the 49ers also have a defense that plays at a championship level, so if Jackson wants to produce and win, this could be the stop.
Why he wouldn’t: The 49ers were reportedly interested in pursuing a trade, according to Pro Football Talk. But their cap number isn’t high and they already have talent at receiver. They could opt for the draft, which is deep at this position and has a few players with Jackson-like qualities (though no one can match his acceleration on deep balls). Hard to know what the reported friction with the 49ers between general manager Trent Baalke and coach Jim Harbaugh means for the future of either person and, subsequently, a guy like Jackson.
Nick FolesDrew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty ImagesNick Foles will enter the 2014 season as the Philadelphia Eagles' starting quarterback.
PHILADELPHIA -- Let's move to the offensive side of the ball this week in our position-by-position look at the state of the Eagles.

Since it's Presidents Day, let's look at the leader of the offense, the quarterback. This should be the easiest position on the team to assess, but in classic Eagles fashion, things are not as clear as they might seem.

Here's a mental exercise worth trying: Imagine the Eagles traded up in the 2012 draft and took Nick Foles with, say, the 12th pick in the first round. In this version of events, Andy Reid spent the summer of '12 talking about his plan to start Michael Vick early and ease Foles into the job -- just as he did with Donovan McNabb back in 1999.

When Chip Kelly took over, his approach would reflect Foles' status as a recent first-round pick. He might have the same competition between Vick and Foles that he had last summer, but Foles would have the edge in anything approaching a tie. Vick clearly had the edge in real life (and he played superbly in the preseason to claim the job).

Now put Foles' 2013 performance into the context of this alternate reality. The 27 touchdowns and two interceptions. The 8-2 record as a starter. The NFL-best passer rating. Offensive MVP of the Pro Bowl.

All that from a heralded first-round quarterback? Folks would be rushing to anoint Foles the starter for life instead of debating whether Kelly deep down wants a different style of quarterback to run his offense. When general manager Howie Roseman left open the possibility, however slight, of taking a quarterback in the first round of this year's draft, you would have checked him for a fever.

Imagine that kind of talk in Seattle, Indianapolis and Carolina, where young franchise quarterbacks are in place.

In Foles, the Eagles have their starter for 2014. Period. If he continues to perform at his 2013 level, Foles will get the kind of contract that establishes him as the franchise guy. If not, then we'll be talking about the true Kelly-style quarterbacks available in the 2015 draft.

There are legitimate reasons to withhold judgment on Foles. When things were going great, there was an unmistakable sense that he was very lucky as well as very good. When underthrown passes bounce off a defensive back's hands and into DeSean Jackson's for a touchdown -- which happened in Green Bay -- there is more than a little luck involved. On his record-tying seven touchdown passes in Oakland, Foles' receivers were almost comically open thanks to blown coverages and falling defenders.

In his final two games, Foles was frustrated by the defensive strategies deployed in Dallas and against New Orleans. He is going to see variations of those schemes next season until he and Kelly prove they have solved them. And he is going to face some pretty good defenses, Seattle, San Francisco and Carolina among them.

So 2014 will be Foles' acid test. He will be the unquestioned No. 1 quarterback all year, a first for him. As for his backups, that's another area where things get a little murky.

Roseman has said the Eagles would welcome Vick back if the veteran can't find a starting opportunity in free agency. The feeling here, though, is that everyone concerned feels it is best for Vick, and the Eagles, to move on.

Matt Barkley was a fourth-round pick in the 2013 draft. He played in three games as a rookie. In the first two, he was forced to play because of injuries to the starter and without the benefit of any meaningful practice reps.

So take Barkley's stats with the appropriate grain of salt. He completed 30 of 49 passes (61.2 percent) for 300 yards. Those numbers are actually pretty encouraging. But Barkley threw four interceptions and fumbled away one red zone opportunity. Those plays tend to stick in the memory better than the rest.

Can Barkley be the No. 2 quarterback behind Foles? Absolutely. If he's forced to play? Well, a midround pick from a major Pac-12 program in his second season -- that description would have applied to Foles in 2013 just as it applies to Barkley in 2014. G.J. Kinne, who was on the practice squad, knows the offense, but is not likely to be in the mix. Of course, the media hasn't seen him practice since training camp, so information is limited.

If the Eagles want to bring in a veteran free agent to compete with Barkley for the No. 2 spot, they will have good options: Matt Cassel, Josh Freeman, Tarvaris Jackson, Josh McCown. Remember, we're talking about a solid veteran who would be competing with Barkley for the backup spot.

The draft should provide more possibilities. Using a first- or second-round pick would change the dynamic too much -- while shorting the many other areas the Eagles need to improve. But another midround pick? Certainly. Training and developing quarterbacks in the Kelly system should be a priority for as long the coach is here.
PHILADELPHIA -- It is all too easy for Eagles fans to be dismissive of the hiring of Jay Gruden as the head coach in Washington.

It’s not like it’s Jon, right?

Doesn’t Dan Snyder always get this wrong?

With Chip Kelly completing his first year on the job, the Eagles still have the shiniest, most progressive program in the NFC East.

But it could be a mistake to take the hiring of Gruden too lightly, even if it means much of Mike Shanahan’s coaching staff remains in place.

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
AP Photo/Nick WassIs Jay Gruden the coach who will get the most out of Redskins QB Robert Griffin III?
Washington didn’t go for the wow factor the way the Eagles did with Kelly last year. The hiring of Gruden is much more reminiscent of the hirings of Marc Trestman in Chicago, Bruce Arians in Arizona and Mike McCoy in San Diego. Like Gruden, they were all NFL veterans who had been just under the radar for head-coaching opportunities in the past. They were almost too obvious for owners looking to make a splash.

And guess what? They all did just fine.

Arians’ Cardinals went 10-6, same as Kelly’s Eagles. The difference was that Arizona plays in the NFC West with Seattle and San Francisco and missed the playoffs, while that record was good enough to win the NFC East by two games.

McCoy’s Chargers didn’t have as good a regular-season record -- 9-7 in a division with Denver and Kansas City -- but they are still alive. They may have backed into the playoffs, but they won their first-round game.

Trestman’s Bears played for the NFC North title on the final day of the regular season. If Jay Cutler hadn’t gotten hurt -- or if Trestman had stayed with Josh McCown when he was hot -- who knows how Chicago’s season might have been different?

Kelly’s Eagles trounced Trestman’s Bears 54-11 in a crucial game for both teams. Kelly beat Arians head-to-head, as well. Kelly lost to McCoy in their head-to-head meeting.

Point is, there is value in hiring a smart coach with a fresh approach and an outsider’s perspective, as the Eagles did. But long experience in the league and a sound program are not to be discounted, either.

The biggest question is whether Jay Gruden is the right coach to get the absolute best out of quarterback Robert Griffin III. He doesn’t seem like it at first glance. Going after San Francisco’s Greg Roman, who has designed an offense around Colin Kaepernick, might have made more sense from that perspective. But we can’t be sure until we see Gruden’s offense with Griffin running it.

In the division, Tom Coughlin remains the No. 1 coach until someone else wins a Super Bowl. That said, in 2013 the New York Giants looked like a team on the decline.

Kelly jumped ahead of Dallas coach Jason Garrett almost immediately. The Cowboys’ decision to stay the course may help the Eagles as much or more, within the division, as any hire Snyder could have made in Washington.

Gruden doesn’t send shock waves through the NFC East. Hiring him may not be sexy, but recent history shows it could be a solid move.

Cowboys playing catch-up with Cousins

December, 20, 2013
12/20/13
3:30
PM ET
IRVING, Texas – With only one start under his belt this season, the Dallas Cowboys have done more research than normal in studying Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Cousins
They mostly studied the Redskins’ scheme even when Robert Griffin III was the quarterback, but spent time on Cousins' work last week against the Atlanta Falcons as well as some of his backup work this year and last year and some preseason work, too.

“You just get a feel for how he plays and how he fits within the scheme,” coach Jason Garrett said.

Cousins threw for 381 yards on 29-of-45 passing with three touchdowns and two interceptions in the loss to the Falcons. He also lost a fumble.

He will be the fourth straight backup quarterback the Cowboys have seen, joining Matt McGloin of the Oakland Raiders, Josh McCown of the Chicago Bears and Matt Flynn of the Green Bay Packers. McCown and Flynn had four touchdown passes apiece against the Cowboys.

While not immobile, Cousins is not the runner that Griffin is.

“We’ve watched enough film to know that there is a difference,” safety Barry Church said. “With RG III, the running attack is a lot more opened up than it is with Cousins, but the passing attack, there’s no limitations on him. They go through the whole playbook. We’re definitely leaning more to the pass this week than in the past when RG3 was running all over people. This week there’s more emphasis on the pass, but we’ve also got to be aware of Alfred Morris because he’s a dog out there.”

The Philadelphia Eagles have found themselves in the middle of the NFC North race as much as the NFC East race over the past month. Sunday night’s game against the Chicago Bears is their third game in a row against an opponent from the North.

Two weeks ago, the Eagles and Bears helped each other out. Chicago defeated the Dallas Cowboys, pushing the Eagles into first place in the East. The Eagles beat the Detroit Lions, opening the door for the Bears in the North.

They won’t be helping each other this week. ESPN.com Bears reporter Michael C. Wright and Eagles reporter Phil Sheridan discuss some of the issues facing both teams.

Sheridan: Like the Eagles, the Bears survived this season when a backup quarterback took over and played unexpectedly well. Unlike the Eagles, who stayed with Nick Foles, Chicago went back to Jay Cutler and sent Josh McCown to the sideline. So, Michael, how is that scenario playing out in the locker room, on the field and among the fans?

Wright: The reaction is quite a bit different between the fans and the players, obviously. In the immediate aftermath of Cutler’s ankle injury on Nov. 10 against Detroit, Bears coach Marc Trestman told the team and the media that Cutler would be the starter again as soon as he was medically cleared to play. The coach never wavered on that declaration, and that was apparent even among the players during McCown’s incredible four-game run. In answering questions about McCown during that stretch, Trestman and the players seemed to temper the compliments regarding the backup, making it a point to state that Cutler was still the starter once he would be able to return to action. So within the locker room, the message was always that Cutler would return, but among the fan base, as McCown flourished, the call to make him the permanent starter grew louder regardless of what Trestman and the players said on the record. Cutler certainly helped himself by bouncing back from a bad start at Cleveland to throw for three touchdowns in a win, but there’s certainly a segment of the Chicago fan base still calling for McCown to be the man under center.

Phil, Chicago’s defense simply can’t stop the run, so LeSean McCoy is poised to have a pretty big game if the Eagles decide to feature him. What was the deal with McCoy running the ball just eight times against the Vikings?

Sheridan: That was one of the head-scratching strategies Chip Kelly deployed Sunday. It was like stepping into a time machine and watching an Andy Reid-coached game. Kelly’s explanation was simple enough: The Vikings were missing four cornerbacks and the Eagles thought they could exploit the inexperienced backups. Then, he said, the Eagles fell behind and had to throw, but McCoy had run for 217 yards the week before, mostly in the second half as the Eagles staged a comeback win. Ultimately, there is no explanation or excuse for eliminating a weapon as dangerous as McCoy from your offense. That’s supposed to be the defense’s job.

The Eagles did a better job against Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson in recent weeks than against the Vikings’ deeper, less star-studded receiving corps. How much more dangerous are the Bears now that Alshon Jeffery has emerged alongside Brandon Marshall? Is Jeffery even better at this point?

Wright: In the past, teams focused most of their game plan on shutting down Marshall. That involved double-teams and shading coverage over to his side. Teams are now finding they can’t do that anymore because if you double Marshall, you put Jeffery in one-on-one matchups that he’s going to win the majority of the time. The Bears say teams are now starting to mix it up against those receivers, which makes it important for Cutler to be able to quickly recognize the coverage and distribute the ball accordingly. I wouldn’t say Jeffery is the better receiver overall at this point, but I will say that he tracks the ball in the air better than anybody else on Chicago’s roster, which has allowed him to make some unbelievable grabs in contested situations. I’d say one player to watch is No. 3 receiver Earl Bennett. With all the focus on Marshall and Jeffery, the Bears have made it a point in recent weeks to involve Bennett more in the offense. Remember, Bennett played college football with Cutler at Vanderbilt, so there’s chemistry. Bennett has hauled in a touchdown in each of the past two games.

How will Philadelphia’s secondary look on Sunday? I know the Eagles are banged up, causing something of a musical-chairs effect in the secondary. At this point, do you know which guys the Eagles will have available to face Marshall, Jeffery and tight end Martellus Bennett?

Sheridan: We don’t know yet, Michael. The larger problem is that, even when everyone is healthy, the Eagles' secondary isn’t equipped to handle a receiving corps as deep and talented as the Bears’ is. The Eagles have the 31st-ranked pass defense for a reason. During their five-game winning streak, they were able to give yards but minimize points allowed by forcing turnovers and playing well in the red zone. That formula fell apart in Minnesota. As for the injuries, the biggest loss would be nickel corner Brandon Boykin, who leads the team in interceptions and is a very good cover guy. It looks like rookie safety Earl Wolff will be back after missing four games with a knee injury, but it remains to be seen how effective he’ll be after missing that much time. If the Bears go three or four wide, the Eagles will be hard-pressed to match up with all those weapons. Their best hope would be to pressure Cutler, but they have struggled against guys who get the ball out as quickly as he does.

There’s a chance linebacker Lance Briggs returns Sunday night. What impact would that have on Chicago’s defense? Can the Bears clamp down on the Eagles or is this thing destined to be a shootout like their win over Dallas two weeks back?

Wright: I see this one being a shootout. I think Briggs will have an impact on the defense in terms of making sure the calls get in quickly and the defense is lined up correctly. Briggs should also be an upgrade over rookie Khaseem Greene, who has filled in on the weak side over the past seven games. But Briggs has been on the shelf for a month and a half, and there’s no way he’s in football shape yet. So you have to wonder how much he will actually be able to contribute from a physical standpoint. If Briggs plays like the Briggs we all know, then Chicago will have a much better shot at controlling Philadelphia’s rushing attack, but I’m not sure he’ll return as that guy. So let’s count on a shootout. The team with the defense that gets that one or two key stops down the stretch will be the team that comes out on top.

Early in the season, Philadelphia’s frenetic pace seemed to be the next new thing, the revolution. Now that the Eagles have basically an entire season under their belts, how have teams adjusted to their pace on offense? Is it still as big an advantage as it seemed to be early in the season?

Sheridan: It has been an effective tactic at times. The up-tempo approach is one of the reasons Foles replaced Michael Vick as the No. 1 quarterback. Vick is obviously a bigger threat in the read-option, but Foles is more comfortable with the pace Kelly likes. Hard to blame Vick, who had a career’s worth of offensive football to unlearn. But the pace can hurt the Eagles, too. When they have a couple of three-and-outs in a row, as they did against the Vikings, their defense is back on the field way too quickly. And when a team moves the ball as well as the Vikings did, the defense wears down. It was useless by the fourth quarter. The Eagles defense has been on the field for more plays than any team in the NFL. That is partly a side effect of Kelly’s up-tempo offense.

Upon Further Review: Cowboys Week 15

December, 16, 2013
12/16/13
8:00
AM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- A review of four hot issues from the Dallas Cowboys' 37-36 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

[+] EnlargeBoyd_Murray
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesDeMarco Murray and the Cowboys are focusing on winning out and attempting to make the playoffs.
Recuperative powers: If the Cowboys win their final two games, they will make the playoffs. If there is a message Jason Garrett is looking to sell as the team looks to rebound, that's it. The Cowboys' final two games are against the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles, teams they outscored 48-19 in meetings earlier this season. It's not the message a lot of fans want to hear, but it is what matters most as the Cowboys look to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

"I feel good that we have a chance to beat the Redskins, and if we do that, we'll get a chance to play Philadelphia with an opportunity to get in the playoffs," owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. "I know when I see us lose a game after having a lead like we had at halftime, anything can happen one way or the other."

Pathetic work: On a day in which the offense gained 466 yards and 27 first downs, you would think everything worked well. It didn't. The third-down offense continued its season-long struggles as the Cowboys converting on just 2 of 9 chances. It was the third time this season the Cowboys converted on less than 30 percent of their third-down tries in a game. They are 56-of-159 on the season. Tony Romo said he has to be better on third downs, the receivers have to win in man-to-man situations and the blocking has to be better.

"We haven't done that well," Romo said of the third-down woes. "We have to do a better job."

No chance on D: At one point, the Cowboys fielded a defense that had three players who were not with the team when training camp started (George Selvie, Everette Brown, Corvey Irvin), two undrafted free agents (Jeff Heath, Cameron Lawrence), a sixth-round pick (DeVonte Holloman) and a cornerback (Sterling Moore) who was out of football until Nov. 25. Matt Flynn became the fifth quarterback to throw four touchdown passes against Monte Kiffin's defense, joining Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Josh McCown. Flynn and McCown are backup quarterbacks, and the Cowboys will see another backup next week at Washington with Kirk Cousins quarterbacking the Redskins.

Still producing: Jason Witten caught 110 passes last year, an NFL record for tight ends in a season, but he had only three touchdowns. He has 59 catches this year and eight touchdowns. Witten needs one TD in the final two games to equal his career high. His eight from Romo this season are the most the duo has combined for in a season together. With 59 catches for 703 yards, Witten is averaging 11.9 yards per reception, which equals his career best so far. He might not have the starry numbers of the past, but at 31, Witten is not slowing down yet, either.

Welcome to AT&T Stadium

December, 15, 2013
12/15/13
2:15
PM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Welcome to AT&T Stadium where the Dallas Cowboys hope to keep their playoff destiny in their hands with a win against the Green Bay Packers.

At 7-6, the Cowboys trail the Philadelphia Eagles by a game in the standings, and a loss would mean the Cowboys would need the Eagles to lose in Week 16 to even make the Dec. 29 regular-season finale mean something.

Before the Cowboys can win three in a row, they must win one in a row.

Better at home: It took some time but the Cowboys might have figured out how to make AT&T Stadium something of a home-field advantage.

The Cowboys are 5-1 at home and the only loss was to then-undefeated Denver, 51-48, in October. But it’s not like the Cowboys have been dominant in their last two home wins. They needed a 90-yard drive in the final minute to beat the Minnesota Vikings and overcame a sluggish start to beat the Oakland Raiders on Thanksgiving.

The Cowboys are averaging 34 points per game at home and the defense, which has been bad, is a field goal better at home than on the road. The Cowboys have also had 15 of their 25 takeaways at home.

Overall the Cowboys are 21-16 in the regular season at AT&T Stadium.

SportsNation

Will the Cowboys make the playoffs?

  •  
    36%
  •  
    64%

Discuss (Total votes: 16,401)

Another backup: The Cowboys will face a backup quarterback for the third straight week with Matt Flynn starting for Aaron Rodgers. That’s the good news.

The bad news is the last backup quarterback they saw, Chicago’s Josh McCown, tore them up in the Bears’ 45-28 victory. McCown threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns and had a 141.9 passer rating. He also ran for a score.

Flynn threw for 258 yards on 24-of-32 passing with a touchdown and interception in the Packers’ 22-21 win against the Atlanta Falcons.

Time to get going: With the defense almost in a complete disrepair, the Cowboys’ offense will have to carry the day.

But can it?

The running game has improved greatly. DeMarco Murray is averaging 96 yards a game on the ground in the past four games.

The passing game has been ineffective. Tony Romo has not thrown for more than 234 yards in his past four games. Dez Bryant is coming off a two-catch, 12-yard game. Jason Witten has 10 catches in his last four games. Miles Austin has four catches in his three games since returning from a hamstring injury.

The Packers are allowing 369.4 yards and 25.1 points per game.

Jerry Jones is too fickle

December, 10, 2013
12/10/13
3:05
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- It's good that Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones believes in Monte Kiffin.

On his radio show on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas Tuesday morning, Jones said, "First of all, he knows what's happening to us better than anyone. And if there are adjustments to be made, he's the right man for the job right now."

[+] EnlargeJerry Jones
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsJerry Jones says "there'll be a little different cast of players out there up against Green Bay," after the Cowboys owner and GM witnessed a MNF loss at Chicago.
Yet after the 45-28 loss to the Chicago Bears on ESPN's "Monday Night Football," Jones was saying the Cowboys must change what they do defensively.

He saw Josh McCown throw for four touchdowns against Kiffin's defense. He saw Kiffin's defense give up 33 first downs and 490 yards. He saw Kiffin's defense allow the Bears to convert on eight of 11 third-down opportunities. If you're scoring at home, that's the sixth time teams have converted on at least half of their third downs in a game against Kiffin's defense.

Brandon Marshall had 100 receiving yards against Kiffin's defense. Matt Forte had 102 rushing yards against Kiffin's defense.

How does Jones have confidence in what Kiffin is doing?

"Well, I think that you realize you don't have a choice," Jones said immediately after the game. "We can do some things different out there. It's not as safe, but it could be more effective. Maybe get us a turnover when it could have made a difference and change the tide out there. But I'll assure you that we'll be doing some different things up against Green Bay. There'll be a little different cast of players out there up against Green Bay. But they used their assets very effectively, those big receivers, and to the quarterback's credit, he put it on them and we just couldn't defend it."

I'm not a certified decipherer of Jones-ese, but it sounds lile he wants Kiffin to gamble more, to be unsound if necessary. It sounds like he wants Kiffin to be (gulp) more like Rob Ryan. Jones lived in fear of all the exotic packages Ryan rolled out in 2011 and had the coordinator scale it back in 2012. He thought the players had to think too much and thus reacted slowly. Ryan was fired after last season.

Jones is like Goldilocks looking for the defense that's "just right." That's the problem. His convictions change too conveniently. If Ryan is too blitz happy, he wants to change. If Kiffin is too conservative, he wants to change.

The owner and general manager cannot be that fickle.

Kiffin's scheme has never been built on tricking people. It was built on great players making plays. He had great players playing for him in Tampa Bay. There's a chance three more of them could one day join Warren Sapp in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The defense is built on getting pressure with four players. It is built mostly on zone concepts. The Cowboys can't get pressure with four players right now and their corners play best in man-to-man, although Monday it did not matter what coverage they played.

The owner has paid a lot of money for pieces that do not fit or have not performed, and the general manager does not have enough pieces for Kiffin's scheme -- or Ryan's scheme -- to work well enough to just be presentable.

Dallas Cowboys Graphic
CHICAGO -- It's one thing to get torched by quarterbacks who are household names, such as Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford and Drew Brees.

McCown
But what about the sixth quarterback to pass for at least 300 yards against the Dallas Cowboys this season?

“Is that Luke McCown or Cade McCown?” Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick asked after Monday night's 45-28 blowout loss to the Chicago Bears.

Um, actually it was Josh McCown, who is Luke's brother and not related to former Bears first-round bust Cade McNown.

Scandrick meant no disrespect -- “He's been playing great this year,” he added -- but his slip of the mind makes the point. The Dallas defense got dominated by a 34-year-old journeyman backup.

McCown has consistently performed well while filling in for an injured Jay Cutler, but this was a career night for a guy who couldn't keep a starting job at SMU. He completed 27 of 36 passes for 348 yards and a career-high four touchdowns, plus he ran for another score.

To be brutally honest, the numbers would have been much more impressive if the Bears weren't in clock-killing mode for most of the fourth quarter. Chicago never punted or committed a turnover.

All due respect to McCown, but he's not a guy who should account for five touchdowns against an NFL defense.

“If you were back there at quarterback and we played the way we played, you'd probably have five touchdowns,” defensive end DeMarcus Ware said in response to a question from a 40-something television reporter. “I mean, that's the way I feel. If you don't play a fundamentally sound game, a guy that can just get out there and play, he'll hurt you and that's what he did.”

In doing so, McCown added his name to a long list featuring a bunch of big-name quarterbacks.

Rapid Reaction: Dallas Cowboys

December, 9, 2013
12/09/13
11:37
PM ET

CHICAGO - A few thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys' 45-28 loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday.

What it means for the Cowboys: With this embarrassment, the Cowboys now find themselves chasing the Philadelphia Eagles, and they need to win intervening games versus Green Bay and at Washington to make sure the Week 17 meeting at AT&T Stadium is for the NFC East title.

If they can, they will be in their third straight de facto NFC East title game to close the season. If they can't, owner and general manager Jerry Jones will have to reassess his statement that Jason Garrett will be the coach in 2014.

It's December, so the Cowboys struggle because that's what they do. Tony Romo has taken the brunt of the criticism for that record, but Monday's loss falls squarely on the defense. Josh McCown threw for four touchdowns and ran for another score. Wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall did whatever they wanted against whomever they wanted. Matt Forte ran for more than 100 yards.

If there was ever a sign that Monte Kiffin should be out as coordinator after this season, it was this game. It's one thing to get lit up by Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. It's quite another to have it happen against a backup quarterback, even if McCown had been playing well in Jay Cutler's absence.

Stock watch: DeMarcus Ware, falling. Last week, Ware said the strength had finally returned to the quadriceps that kept him out for three games. But he was invisible versus the Bears before he was gifted a sack in the fourth quarter. Ware has two sacks since his return but is likely to see his streak of having at least 10 sacks in a season end at seven.

There's no defense in Dallas: Blame the injuries all you want, but Rob Ryan at least had an injury-riddled defense competitive last year. Kiffin has had to deal with injuries, but he had zero answers for the Bears.

The Cowboys allowed 24 points in Monday's first half. Only New Orleans and Denver had more against the Cowboys in an opening half (28 each). The Cowboys allowed 32 first downs. Only New Orleans (an NFL-record 40) and Denver (34) had more. The Cowboys allowed 498 yards. Only San Diego (506), Denver (517), Detroit (623) and New Orleans (625) had more. It's the fourth time a quarterback has had four touchdown passes against the Cowboys.

In the first half, the Bears had 12 plays of at least 10 yards. They scored quickly (a 37-second drive) and they ate up clock (90 yards, 8:10).

They did whatever they wanted to do.

Hurt again: Sean Lee made his return to the lineup after a two-game absence because of a hamstring injury but he could not finish the game after suffering a neck injury with 12:33 left in the third quarter.

Lee returned briefly for five plays before he went to the locker room for the rest of the game. Lee has yet to play a full season in his career because of injuries. He is the best playmaker on the defense, but even with him the defense has not been close to adequate. Imagine how bad things would be if Lee missed even more playing time?

The Cowboys might be about to find out.

Hey, a running game: Let's get about the only positive the Cowboys had from Monday's game: They ran the ball well. DeMarco Murray ran for 145 yards on 18 carries. He now has 842 on the year and has a shot at reaching 1,000 for the season.

But why be positive on a night like this?

What's next: The Cowboys return to AT&T Stadium on Sunday to face the Green Bay Packers. The biggest question is whether Aaron Rodgers will make his return from a collarbone injury. If he does, the task is much more difficult. The Cowboys are 5-1 at AT&T Stadium this season, but the Packers have some good memories there as well, having won Super Bowl XLV there.

DeMarcus Ware says leg strength is back

December, 5, 2013
12/05/13
4:35
PM ET
IRVING, Texas – The time off after the Dallas Cowboys' win over Oakland on Thanksgiving Day did defensive end DeMarcus Ware good. He could tell at Thursday’s practice.

Ware
“I was doing a lot of moves I usually don’t do,” Ware said. “I was doing them in practice, feeling really confident in it. I’ve got my strength back, so I’m happy about that.”

Ware missed three games earlier this season because of a quadriceps strain, but he has played in each of the last three games. In his first game back, against the New Orleans Saints, he was limited to 51 of 83 snaps after he aggravated his quadriceps on a sack of Drew Brees. He played on 96 of the last 123 defensive snaps in the Cowboys' wins against the New York Giants and the Raiders. It is the highest percentage of plays Ware has played since the first two games of the season.

Now he knows he has to get his sack totals up. He has only five this season, his fewest this late in a season since his rookie year. And he knows it will be Josh McCown he must track down, now that the Bears have ruled out Jay Cutler.

McCown has been sacked 10 times in his six games (four starts). Cutler was sacked 11 times in his eight starts.

“I’ve got to get back on track,” Ware said.

Five Wonders: Tagging Jason Hatcher?

December, 3, 2013
12/03/13
9:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys have had some time to wonder some things after their win on Thanksgiving against the Oakland Raiders.

Every Tuesday as always wonder about some things. Five Wonders is back and off we go:
  • Jason Hatcher is having a career year and it could not have come at a better time. Hatcher will be a free agent after the season and already has more sacks this year than he has had in any season. And he could make the Pro Bowl, which is something he mentions frequently. But Hatcher will turn 32 next July. I'm on record saying the Cowboys can't pay age. But I wonder if the Cowboys would consider using the franchise tag on him. It would chew up $9-10 million in salary-cap room, but they would buy some time in finding defensive line help for beyond 2014. The Cowboys will have to make a number of moves to get under the cap, but they would be able to fit Hatcher in at the franchise number. Is it worth it? The Cowboys put the tag on Anthony Spencer last year, paying him $10.6 million. I thought it was the right move at the time and did not second guess it after Spencer's knee injury cost him all but one game this season. I'm not as sure about tagging Hatcher. They might have to restructure more deals than they would want and that would also affect the cap in 2015 and beyond. And last year the defensive line market was thin, even for the top players.
  • I wonder if the Cowboys will have a decision to make on backup quarterback Kyle Orton in the offseason. He will make $3.25 million in 2014 and count $4.377 against the salary cap. The Cowboys will have to do a lot of maneuvering to get under the cap in the offseason and could just restructure Orton's contract in the same way they did last March. The Cowboys have yet to start the clock on finding Tony Romo's replacement, which is another reason to keep Orton around. But the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers also offer up valid reasons to keep Orton even if he does not throw a pass this year. The Packers season has gone to shreds without Aaron Rodgers. They have not won since losing Rodgers, turning first to Seneca Wallace, who got hurt, then to Scott Tolzien and now they're on Matt Flynn. The Bears are 2-3 without Jay Cutler, though it is difficult to put much of the blame on Josh McCown. He's done a nice job and been a stabilizing force, but the Bears appeared to learn their lesson when they lost Cutler in previous seasons. Romo turns 34 in April. He's battled injuries in the past and had back surgery last April. Keeping Orton makes sense and something I think the Cowboys do. It's an insurance policy worth keeping.
  • I wonder if the Cowboys had Laurent Robinson in the back of their mind when they have signed some of these defensive linemen this season. Confused? Hear me out. In 2011, Robinson had a career year with 54 catches for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns, but because the Cowboys signed him to a minimum salary-benefit contract they were unable to re-sign him before he hit free agency. Jacksonville swooped in with a five-year, $32.5 million deal with $14 million guaranteed. It was way too rich for the Cowboys -- and ultimately the Jaguars -- but without the restriction Robinson would have re-signed with the Cowboys at a much cheaper rate. That brings me to the defensive linemen. When the Cowboys signed George Selvie, Everette Brown, Jarius Wynn, Drake Nevis and Martez Wilson, they made sure they got a second year on the contracts. They are all signed through 2014, so if they hit -- and Selvie is a hit -- the Cowboys hold their rights for a second year. That's a shrewd move, in my opinion.
  • I wonder if DeMarco Murray can reach 1,000 yards. Yep, I do. Murray missed two games with a knee injury and essentially missed a third when he got just four carries for 31 yards against the Minnesota Vikings when the game plan called for Tony Romo to pass the ball early and often. But with four games to go Murray needs 303 yards to reach 1,000. In his last three games Murray has rushed for 89, 86 and 63 yards. If he keeps up that pace, he would get there. Reaching 1,000 yards should not be that difficult, but the Cowboys sure seem to make it difficult after years of Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith almost annually reaching the mark. The last Dallas runner to go for more than 1,000 yards was Julius Jones (1,084) in 2006 and that's the Cowboys only 1,000-yard rusher since 2001.
  • I don't wonder if the Cowboys will rue the day they lost Alex Tanney, just as I don't think the Cowboys have rued the day since losing Matt Moore oh so many years ago. (Long-time readers will know how I feel about Moore). The Cleveland Browns signed Tanney off the Cowboys' practice squad last week. I liked what Tanney did in a short time with the Cowboys over the summer. He showed some things in his preseason work, but there will be a new Tanney next summer. Or even next week. I wonder if the Cowboys add a quarterback to the practice squad over the final month of the season. They could use the last four weeks to bring a guy in for a free look and essentially give him a “signing bonus” for four weeks of being on the practice squad and sign him to a futures deal when the season ends.
PHILADELPHIA -- Quarterbacks Tony Romo and Nick Foles will have a lot to say about whether Romo's Dallas Cowboys or Foles' Philadelphia Eagles wind up going to the playoffs as NFC East champions.

The two could even face off in a winner-take-all season finale at Dallas on Dec. 29.

Two other quarterbacks, however, could have almost as much impact on the NFC East race: the Chicago Bears' Jay Cutler and the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers.

The Eagles (6-5) already banked a win at Lambeau Field thanks in large measure to the absence of Rodgers, who broke his collarbone six days earlier during a Monday night game. The Cowboys (5-5) host the Packers on Dec. 15.

The availability and effectiveness of Rodgers, who has thrown on the side without a helmet or pads, will have a huge impact on that game, obviously. The Packers are 0-3 without him, including the game in which Rodgers was injured. They were 5-2 with him.

As for Cutler, he had the hard cast removed on the sprained ankle that has kept him out since Nov. 10. He is listed as week to week and, while Josh McCown has played well in his absence, Cutler is a difference-maker when healthy.

The Cowboys play the Bears at Soldier Field on Dec. 8. The Eagles host Chicago two weeks later. Cutler's status could have a huge impact on both games.

So Cutler and Rodgers could profoundly influence three of the 11 remaining games that will determine the NFC East champion. Here's how the path to Dec. 29 looks (if you want to use ESPN's Playoff Machine to work your own scenarios, it's here):

Sunday: The Eagles, in their bye week, can watch Dallas play the New York Giants at the Meadowlands. That's a tough game for the Cowboys, who are coming off their own bye and, before that, a brutal beating at the hands of the New Orleans Saints.

A win would tie the Giants with the Cowboys at 5-6, so technically New York would also be in the race. We're omitting them for now because the possibility of a team that started 0-6 going to the playoffs is too depressing to consider.

Projection: Eagles 6-5, Cowboys 5-6.

Week 13: The Eagles host the Arizona Cardinals, who could be 7-4 pending the outcome of this weekend's home game against the Indianapolis Colts. With rookie head coach Bruce Arians and veteran quarterback Carson Palmer, the Cards' profile is similar to the one the Eagles encountered against Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers. The Eagles defense is miles better than it was then and, while this is a tough game to pick, the Eagles are likely to be favored.

By kickoff of that game, the Eagles will know exactly where the Cowboys stand. After the Giants game, Dallas has four days to prepare for a Thanksgiving Day home game against the Oakland Raiders. The Cowboys have to be favorites in that one.

Projection: Eagles 7-5, Cowboys 6-6.

Week 14: The Eagles host the Detroit Lions while the Bears play the Cowboys on an afternoon with profound consequences on the NFC East and North. With Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson on one side of the ball and Ndamukong Suh on the other, the Lions are probably the toughest of the Eagles' remaining opponents. Put another way, a win here would put the Eagles in a commanding position.

If Cutler is Cutler, the Bears are likely to be favored at home, especially as weather becomes a factor in Chicago.

Projection: Eagles 7-6, Cowboys 6-7.

Week 15: The Eagles travel to the Minnesota Vikings for what should be a comfortable win. Unless Josh Freeman is playing quarterback at an unexpectedly high level by then, the Eagles defense can focus on bottling up Adrian Peterson.

Dallas, meanwhile, hosts the Packers. Here's where Rodgers could really swing the NFC East race. If he plays at his usual level, it's hard to imagine Green Bay losing. If not, the game belongs to the Cowboys.

Projection: Eagles 8-6, Cowboys 7-7.

Week 16: Cutler comes back into the picture here. If he plays against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, it's a very different game than if he doesn't. The guess here is that, with the Bears in playoff contention, he will.

Dallas goes to Washington.

Projection: Eagles 8-7, Cowboys 8-7.

Week 17: Eagles at Cowboys. Factoring in the Cutler and Rodgers variables, either team could be 9-6 or 7-8 just as easily. But what fun would that be? If they're both 8-7, this essentially becomes a playoff game.

Ah, but what if both teams are 7-8? That might be worse for the Eagles, since it would mean they went 1-3 between now and then. That could indicate injuries or instability at quarterback.

If the Eagles are 9-6 and Dallas is 8-7, the Eagles still might have to win the game to take the division. The first tie-breaker is head-to-head competition, so the Cowboys would edge them out if they both finish 9-7 that way. The second tie-breaker is record within the division. The Eagles are 3-2. Dallas is 3-0 with games against all three division opponents on their schedule. Winning any of those three would give the Cowboys the second tie-breaker.

Projection: A big game in Arlington, Texas, on Dec. 29.

Upon Further Review: Redskins Week 7

October, 21, 2013
10/21/13
12:30
PM ET
A review of four hot issues following the Washington Redskins' 45-41 win over the Chicago Bears:

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
AP Photo/Nick WassRobert Griffin III showed off the Griffin of old against Chicago, rushing for 84 yards and throwing for 298.
Robert’s return: Quarterback Robert Griffin III has been playing all season, obviously, but Sunday marked the first official return of Griffin pre-knee injury. He hurt Chicago running (84 yards) and throwing (298 yards). What really helped the Redskins was the ability to be balanced in their play calls and to use a large dose of play-action passes. Defenders were out of position and alleys created because of Griffin’s success. If the Redskins need him to play this well every week to win, then they’ll continue to struggle because Sunday’s game will be hard to duplicate. But when Griffin gets on a roll, it raises the confidence of everyone around him. Defenders talked often last year about how they knew that they had a quarterback who could bail them out.

Meriweather's status: The NFL will suspend safety Brandon Meriweather. It's just a matter of how many games, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Meriweather plays with a lot of passion and an exuberance that rubs off on his teammates. He’s also been effective -- not great but OK -- in the secondary. He’s mostly a sure tackler, but his hits are killing the Redskins and cost them 22 yards Sunday. They’ll cost him a lot more in his pocketbook -- and it will cost the Redskins a player for one or two games. The Redskins don’t have the depth to withstand the loss. Meriweather says he’s changed the way he hits and he probably has. And it’s difficult for defensive backs to play with his old sort of abandon anymore. But Meriweather must change; if he can’t, then it’ll be difficult for a team to trust him in the future. It’ll also make it a lot tougher on his current team.

Defensive inconsistency: The Redskins played terrific in the first half against Chicago and quarterback Jay Cutler. They tackled well and prevented big plays and disrupted timing. And then they went in the tank against backup quarterback Josh McCown. The game tested the Redskins' resolve and they could learn a lot about themselves. But you could feel a lot better about the overall defense had Washington not been picked apart in the second half. With Denver’s Peyton Manning and San Diego’s Philip Rivers in the next two weeks, they need to do better or continue what they showed in Dallas and the first half versus Chicago.

Two-headed monster: The Redskins surpassed 200 yards rushing for a second straight game and, while Griffin’s legs certainly helped here, so, too, does having Alfred Morris and Roy Helu. Morris lacks Helu’s burst, but his vision and patience makes him an excellent back. And Helu does more than just provide a change-of-pace. He’s a big back (5-foot-11, 215 pounds) who has been effective in the red zone, in part because with him in the game the Redskins can run or pass. Most of the time when Helu is in the Redskins do pass, so defenses must honor that threat (as opposed to Morris, who is not a good pass-catcher). Having that balance in the red zone is imperative. It’s why Helu rushed for three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Morris averaged 5.0 yards per carry and gained 95 yards. If Washington keeps games close, these two can both be productive and helpful.

Redskins 45, Bears 41: Ten Observations

October, 20, 2013
10/20/13
10:35
PM ET
Thoughts and observations after the Washington Redskins' 45-41 victory against the Chicago Bears:
  1. One win should not be cause for anyone to say the Redskins have turned their season around. That’s not how it works. It only means they’re capable of winning at home. Last year’s turnaround really began on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas after a lay-up win over the struggling Philadelphia Eagles at home. Beat the Denver Broncos? They become legitimate factors. Short of that, just play well in Denver and, if they lose, win a couple games in a row. They need to play well for an extended stretch before we can talk turnarounds.
  2. What I liked, however, is that the Redskins had to gut this one out. Of course, that shouldn’t have been the case with Jay Cutler out and Josh McCown in at quarterback for Chicago. McCown picked them apart and hurt them with his legs. However, it did force the Redskins to reveal more of their character because they were tested. They gave up a punt return for a touchdown and responded with an 11-play touchdown drive to regain the lead. They allowed a 50-yard game-tying run to Matt Forte for a touchdown and followed that with an 83-yard scoring drive to regain the lead. Chicago scored three times in the fourth quarter; Washington scored twice. Punch; counter punch. Sometimes the most rewarding games are one’s like this, when you are tested. Of course, a 45-20 win would have said a little bit more. But you get the point.
  3. Brian Orakpo, it turns out, does have hands. It’s quite shocking that Orakpo had never before scored in a game. For a guy who started playing in middle school, that’s astounding. “I was so excited I didn’t know what to do. It was a phenomenal feeling. I’ve been preaching that I’m trying to get my ‘Ryan Kerrigan’ on,” Orakpo said. That play was huge (and give a big assist to safety Reed Doughty for being so quick to the ball and preventing Alshon Jeffery from catching a bobbled pass).
  4. Yes, the zone read still works. Like any other play it must be run correctly and when it does? It works. The Bears focused so hard on stopping running back Alfred Morris that it enabled Griffin to get outside time and again. “I thought they would have had a better plan because we showed so much of it last week,” Redskins tight end Logan Paulsen said. “But there’s only so much you can do. We’ve seen those looks.”
  5. The Bears also helped by playing a lot of man coverage (as Dallas did) so when Griffin ran wide all he needed to do was beat a linebacker. And if that linebacker was focused inside, as they often were, it was a foot race he was going to win. Chicago would send two linebackers to the zone read side, with one who was supposed to eye Griffin. However, that wasn’t always happening and Griffin could slip outside. But the Redskins also took advantage of this strategy. The 26-yard pass to tight end Jordan Reed on the final drive did just that. Both the inside linebacker and left outside linebacker flowed to the right to defend a zone read look that way (and a fake end around by Josh Morgan). Griffin could throw back to the left, with no linebacker in front of Reed.
  6. The no-huddle look worked once again. I loved how they ran it with running back Roy Helu in the third quarter. He made it harder on a tiring defense because of his speed. The Redskins helped by doing what they did in Oakland: making the Bears defend wide to the right side one play, then force back to defend wide to the left on the next. Eventually, you could see the defense not getting down in their stance enough to shoot hard off the ball. “The defense can’t get the call in quickly so you get those looks where half are up and half are down looking at each other waiting for the call,” Paulsen said. Mix that with a little fatigue and it was a good recipe.
  7. Thus far it’s worked a change-of-pace. That doesn’t mean it would work the entire game (I’m a huge Seinfeld fan, but would an entire show about Kramer have worked? No. Sometimes less is more). The Redskins can run a good chunk of their offense from this look, but the real fear is that if you run a no-huddle a quick three-and-out could eat up about 15 seconds. It has to happen at the right time, with the right field position and at a point where you have the right defensive personnel on the field.
  8. Can you really say the special teams were that much better when they still allowed an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown. Yes, take that play away and the Bears had 109 return yards (four on punts; 105 on seven kickoffs). They avoided Devin Hester on kickoffs -- he managed 40 yards on two kick returns and, of course, the 81-yard punt return. The Redskins still get nothing out of their return game. Absolutely nothing. Do you hear me?
  9. Nobody should be surprised by Reed’s emergence. This is what he showed in training camp. I talked to tight ends coach Sean McVay on Friday about Reed and the next step he would take: the deep ball. Reed showed his downfield speed Sunday and, just as important, he played after getting banged up. That’s huge for a young kid who came out of college with durability issues. And the fade throw to him in the end zone, matched against safety Chris Conte, was a no-brainer. Conte never had a chance as Reed took him inside and cut back outside. It was like lobbing the ball into the post to a big man against a guard.
  10. When you run for more than 200 yards, you should have a strong game. This is who the Redskins are and the reason their offense has looked better the past two weeks. If they can’t run play-action they’re in trouble, but they could. They also could be more balanced in the red zone, something they haven’t been able to be much of this season because of various factors: score, time of game, etc. It made a difference; they had four legitimate drives inside the 20 and scored touchdowns on each. Their play calling kept Chicago off-balance.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider

NFC EAST SCOREBOARD