NFC East: Lawrence Tynes

Josh Brown is an NFC Player of the Week

December, 24, 2013
12/24/13
2:30
PM ET
New York Giants kicker Josh Brown, whose 45-yard field goal in overtime delivered a 23-20 victory against the Lions in Detroit on Sunday, has been named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

Lewis
Brown
Brown kicked three field goals in the game -- a 52-yarder and a 41-yarder, in addition to the 45-yard winner. He became the first kicker in Giants history to kick three field goals of 40 yards or longer in the same game.

It's the fifth time in his career Brown has won a Special Teams Player of the Week award, and the first time since Week 8 of the 2009 season, when he was with the Rams. He's the first Giants player to win NFC Special Teams Player of the Week since kick returner David Wilson won it in Week 14 of 2012. He's the first Giants kicker to win it since Lawrence Tynes in Week 3 of 2012.

Brown is also the fourth Giant this week to win an NFC Player of the Week award. Cornerback Terrell Thomas was NFC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 8. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul won the same award in Week 11, and defensive end Justin Tuck won it in Week 13.

Cowboys hope for another takeaway feast

November, 20, 2013
11/20/13
11:30
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Only three teams have more takeaways than the Dallas Cowboys this season. The Seattle Seahawks have 26, the Kansas City Chiefs have 24 and the Carolina Panthers have 23.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Carr, Eli Manning
AP Photo/James D. SmithBrandon Carr was responsible for the game-clinching interception in the Cowboys' opener against the Giants, who turned the ball over six times.
In the midst of a horrible statistical season defensively, the Cowboys have forced 22 turnovers in their first 10 games.

The Cowboys got it all started the right way in their season opener against the New York Giants with six.

The Cowboys had three takeaways on the Giants’ first 10 snaps. DeMarcus Ware had an interception of Eli Manning on the first play. Barry Church forced a fumble on the sixth play and Will Allen intercepted Manning on the 10th.

On the second play of the second half, Church returned a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown. Later the Cowboys scooped up a muffed punt, and in the fourth quarter Brandon Carr iced the win with a 49-yard interception return for a score.

It was the 24th time the Cowboys forced six or more turnovers in a game in team history and the first time they had as many as six since Dec. 14, 2003, against the Washington Redskins.

Manning threw 15 interceptions in New York’s first six games -- all losses -- and he has been intercepted just twice since. He has only three touchdown passes in the Giants’ four-game winning streak.

The Cowboys get to see Manning again Sunday at MetLife Stadium for the rematch. Is it fair to expect a similar turnover game? Probably not.

"You always feel confident," coach Jason Garrett said. "That’s always a point of emphasis for us, to take the ball away. Just because we did it before that doesn’t give us an advantage of doing it now. You have to go out there and do the things necessary to get the takeaways. Typically it has a lot to do with executing and beating your guy and making plays on the football."

Some of the Giants look at the season-opening loss to the Cowboys as one they let slip away, despite the six turnovers. The Cowboys felt the same in the first regular-season game at AT&T Stadium in 2009. Tony Romo was intercepted three times and Felix Jones had a fumble, but with 3:46 to play they had a 31-30 lead and the defense could not make a stop.

Lawrence Tynes kicked a 37-yard field goal on the final play to beat the Cowboys, 33-31.

Links: Not rebuilding in Philadelphia

July, 22, 2013
7/22/13
10:11
AM ET
Dallas Cowboys

Defensive tackle Jay Ratliff was placed on the physically unable to perform list Sunday after suffering a minor hamstring strain during a conditioning test.

DeMarco Murray has his sights set on a big 2013 season. Murray: "This year is going to be a great year for me, I feel. I’ve come prepared, physically, mentally and emotionally. I’m definitely ready. I’m excited about this year and what we’re going to do."

New York Giants

Paul Schwartz of the New York Post: "There’s not a whole lot of buzz surrounding these Giants -- no exciting new marquee additions, no sense from outside that they are much-improved or on the cusp of shedding last year’s inconsistency. Gone are key Super Bowl cogs such as Osi Umenyiora, Ahmad Bradshaw, Kenny Phillips, Lawrence Tynes, Chris Canty and Michael Boley. There is no talk of rebuilding around the Giants -- that never is a consideration as long as Eli Manning is in his prime -- but there is more of a sense of uncertainty than previous summers."

Big Blue View's roster breakdown continues with defensive end Justin Tuck.

Philadelphia Eagles

Nick Fierro of The Morning Call: "Gone are the old training methods, workout schedules, nutrition plans, teaching routines, roster-building philosophy and play-calling system of [Andy] Reid's regime, which lasted 14 seasons. In is a fresh approach that has the veterans as excited as the rookies, if not more, with scientific research fueling the whole thing. Every single aspect of the Eagles' football operation has been changed.

Don't tell coach Chip Kelly that this is a rebuilding year in Philadelphia. "My job is to win right now," Kelly said. "How do you think I'd be received in Philly if I told them we were going to write this year off? Those people that are waving to me on the streets right now? That ain't going to happen. But that's never been my mentality, either. We're not writing anything off."

Washington Redskins

Quarterback Robert Griffin III on Wednesday will reportedly be examined by Dr. James Andrews.

In lower-profile injury news, Michael Phillips of the Richmond Times-Dispatch discusses the uncertainty along the defensive line.

Giants keep breaking up the band

March, 28, 2013
3/28/13
10:02
AM ET
News overnight Wednesday included the official (and long-expected) signing of Osi Umenyiora with the Falcons and the signing of Chase Blackburn with the Panthers. Neither of these New York Giants Super Bowl heroes had been expected back in 2013, and it does not appear the Giants made any real effort to keep either one. That's the way the Giants roll when it comes to players -- they look forward and not back. But it's worth a moment to stop and consider the changes they've seen in a little over a year.

Blackburn
Umenyiora
It's been less than 14 months since the Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, and 22 of the 45 players who played for them in that game are no longer on the roster. Another -- cornerback Aaron Ross -- left for a year and came back. This is the list of the 22:
  1. DE Osi Umenyiora
  2. LB Chase Blackburn
  3. RB Ahmad Bradshaw
  4. RB Brandon Jacobs
  5. RB D.J. Ware
  6. WR Mario Manningham
  7. TE Jake Ballard
  8. TE Travis Beckum
  9. OT Kareem McKenzie
  10. G Mitch Petrus
  11. OT Tony Ugoh
  12. WR Devin Thomas
  13. K Lawrence Tynes
  14. CB Will Blackmon
  15. LB Michael Boley
  16. S Kenny Phillips
  17. S Deon Grant
  18. DT Rocky Bernard (still a free agent, could return)
  19. DT Chris Canty
  20. DE Dave Tollefson
  21. CB Derrick Martin
  22. LB Greg Jones

Some fairly significant names in there, and while I don't think any of their departures represents a bad or ill-considered decision on the team's part, I just felt like it was worth looking back and assessing the turnover in light of the Umenyiora and Blackburn departures.

This is the way things work in the NFL. The Super Bowl champion Ravens have turned over basically their whole defense, and their title was less than two months ago. So the Giants haven't been gutted or pillaged or anything like that. They view their roster as an organic, constantly evolving entity, and they're not going to hold onto guys they shouldn't keep just because those guys helped win them a Super Bowl (or, in some cases, two). Some of these players will be missed, others will not, but if the Giants get back to the Super Bowl again in the next couple of years, the team is going to have a much different look at many positions than it did in the Super Bowl they won just last year.
The New York Giants are signing veteran kicker Josh Brown on Wednesday, according to a report in The Star-Ledger, which almost certainly means the end of the Giants' tenure of kicker Lawrence Tynes. Tynes is a free agent who told the team he was looking to test the market. And as the Giants so often do when a player tells them that, they wished him good luck and moved on to another option.

Is it a good move? Who knows? Brown's a kicker. He's been great at times, disappointing at times. Has a big leg. All kickers have good years and bad years, and if 2013 is a good one for Brown, it'll be looked at as a good move. If it's not, they'll replace him, maybe even before the end of the season. We don't have a crystal ball here, and if we did it wouldn't work on kickers.

I did this post because it's worth saying something about Tynes. If this is the end for his run with the Giants, it was a pretty special run as kickers go.

Tynes spent six seasons with the Giants, and during that time he kicked the game-winning field goal, in overtime, in the NFC Championship Game, twice. The Giants would, of course, go on to win the Super Bowl in each of those two seasons, defeating the Patriots both times and authoring one of the standout chapters in franchise history. And while those Giants Super Bowl teams will always be remembered for Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning and the fearsome defensive linemen, Tynes will occupy a place in fans' memories at which few kickers ever get to arrive. He'll appear on historical highlight videos. He'll get to come back on anniversaries and be introduced as a two-time Super Bowl champion, and everybody will remember the kicks in Green Bay and in San Francisco that put the team in the Super Bowl.

There aren't too many kickers who get to go out as heroes, but Tynes is a guy who managed to pull that off in New York. Whatever awaits him in free agency, his time with the Giants will be remembered well.
Washington Redskins

What kind of recovery can Redskins fans expect from linebacker Brian Orakpo? And assuming recovery from a second straight season-ending pectoral injury, what kind of production can the Redskins expect from their former first-round pick? Mike Jones takes a look at these questions whose answers will be a huge part of the Redskins' 2013 defense.

Redskins GM Bruce Allen says it's "ludicrous" to think that the team is is trying to upset people with its nickname. But the problem with that remark by Allen is that no one thinks that. No one on this side of the argument thinks the current GM or coaches or players on the Redskins are doing anything with the intent to offend. Allen is in the wrong discussion, and saying what he said indicates that the team doesn't want to have the right one. That's the disappointing thing. On Twitter on Thursday, RedskinsST21 wrote to me, "This conversation is so frustrating as a fan. Feels like we did something wrong." It shouldn't. This is just an opportunity to do something right. It would hurt absolutely no one to change the name of this or any other professional sports team. In the grand scheme of things, the name of a professional sports team is incredibly insignificant. If changing it allows us to take a step toward greater respect for fellow human beings, it's simply a no-brainer. And it's disappointing that the team doesn't see that side of it.

New York Giants

Ohm's looking today at special teams, where the main question right now seems to be whether the Giants are moving on from free-agent kicker Lawrence Tynes. The return game seems in good hands, especially with David Wilson on kickoffs.

Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis has been providing inspiration for Giants defensive back Terrell Thomas as the latter attempts to come back from a third ACL surgery.

Dallas Cowboys

Bill Callahan, who may be given offensive play-calling duties if those are taken away from head coach Jason Garrett, thinks too big a deal is being made of this particular issue. And he may well have a point, but surely someone of Callahan's experience understands the extent to which offensive play calling as an issue fires up football fans.

The Cowboys believe DeMarco Murray can be an "elite runner," especially if they can find ways to keep him healthy. I think they're right. Murray has shown a lot when he's been on the field the past two years, especially considering the way the offensive line has played in front of him. But they need to find a way to keep him healthy, that is beyond doubt.

Philadelphia Eagles

Running backs coach Duce Staley wants the Eagles' running backs to improve in blitz pickup. This has been a hole in LeSean McCoy's game, to be sure, and with the questions the Eagles face at quarterback and trying to get their banged-up offensive line healthy, it's likely to take on even more importance in 2013.

Continuing a position-by-position look at the Eagles' offseason, Zach Berman takes up the question of safety, which has been a thorny one in Philadelphia now for quite some time.
Washington Redskins

People ask why Mike Shanahan keeps indicating the Redskins have a chance to get back their salary cap room when that does not appear to be the case. I do not know why Shanahan keeps saying that, because, like Mark Maske, everything I've been told indicates that it's a settled issue.

Here's LZ Granderson on the issue of the Redskins' name change. It's really good. Obviously by now I know that many of you oppose the idea, but I continue to feel as LZ does, and I continue to fail to see the downside of changing it. It's the name of a sports team. And the other side of the argument is human decency and a chance to make a gesture that shows respect for fellow human beings. No-brainer.

New York Giants

Ohm Youngmisuk's latest positional analysis is on the secondary, and touches on the issue of Corey Webster. He seems to make sense as a salary-cap casualty, but as Ohm points out, the Giants may not have enough depth at cornerback to cut him loose in the absence of a capable replacement.

With Lawrence Tynes set for unrestricted free agency, the Giants have signed former Cowboys kicker David Buehler. As Cowboys fans can tell you, Buehler's better for kickoffs than for field goals, but he's only 26 and you never know what happens with a guy in his second stop.

Dallas Cowboys

All the clues tell us the Cowboys have decided to strip head coach Jason Garrett of playcalling duties, but Garrett won't actually come out and say so. Could indicate that he's not thrilled with the idea. But since Garrett and Jerry Jones are both invested in the presentation of Garrett as the one in charge of such decisions, we're unlikely to get the truth on this... well, ever.

Todd Archer has a brief rundown of the Cowboys' salary cap situation and what they're going to have to do about it.

Philadelphia Eagles

I really liked this hire the Eagles made Wednesday. If the issue is whether or not Howie Roseman has enough experience to wield the front-office power he now wields, the best way for him to combat that is to surround himself with people like Tom Gamble, who appears to be quite well regarded and will only bolster the strength of the Philadelphia front office.

Sheil Kapadia runs down some free-agent options for the Eagles at safety. I know Redskins and Giants and Cowboys fans have asked about that same position, so you all can check out the same names if you like. My favorite name on the list is Jairus Byrd, but after they released George Wilson the other day, I think it's pretty certain the Bills will keep Byrd now.

And Stevie Brown for the defense

January, 2, 2013
1/02/13
10:52
AM ET
The NFC East is dominating the weekly awards for the final week of the NFL's regular season. Moments after announcing that Washington Redskins rookie running back Alfred Morris was NFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 17, the NFL announced that New York Giants safety Stevie Brown had been named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the season finale against the Eagles.

Brown had his eighth interception of the year in the Giants' 42-7 victory and was credited with six solo tackles. A training camp afterthought whose playing time came mainly as a result of the persistent injuries to starting safety Kenny Phillips, Brown finished the year tied for second in the NFL in interceptions, behind only Chicago cornerback Tim Jennings.

It's the second time this season that Brown won this award. He also won it in Week 8, after intercepting Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo twice and recording eight solo tackles. Two weeks earlier, Giants safety Antrel Rolle was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week. A somewhat remarkable year for Giants safeties, especially when you consider that the team finished 31st in total defense and 28th against the pass.

The Giants won many weekly awards in 2012. Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks was the NFC Offensive Player of Week 2. And kicker Lawrence Tynes (Week 3) and kick returner David Wilson (Week 14) made off with NFC Special Teams Player of the Week Awards as well.

Fantasy fix: Return of RG III?

December, 21, 2012
12/21/12
10:00
AM ET
Since we all spend way too much time each week on our fantasy teams anyway, here at the NFC East blog we like to take one post a week and focus it on fantasy football. This may be the last such post this season, since most leagues are playing their championship games this week and next week is kind of a mess, schedule-wise. But we'll see. Meantime, here's a look at where our division's players fall in this week's rankings according to ESPN.com's fantasy experts. For the full rankings, click on the name of the position.

QUARTERBACKS

3. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins at Philadelphia

T6. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys vs. Saints

12. Eli Manning, New York Giants at Baltimore

T23. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Redskins

This of course assumes Griffin returns this week from the knee injury that kept him out last week in Cleveland. I'd personally be interested to see where Kirk Cousins ranked if he got another start, but it doesn't look as though we'll find out... Romo against the Saints' defense looks like a good bet, but you'd have said that about Josh Freeman last week and he got shut out, so who knows?

RUNNING BACKS

5. Alfred Morris, Redskins at Philadelphia

9. DeMarco Murray, Cowboys vs. Saints

20. LeSean McCoy, Eagles vs. Redskins

26. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants at Baltimore

28. David Wilson, Giants at Baltimore

31. Bryce Brown, Eagles vs. Redskins

T49. Felix Jones, Cowboys vs. Saints

Bradshaw would rank higher against a bad Baltimore run defense if we knew he was going to play, but we don't. Similarly, McCoy would rank higher against the Redskins if we knew how much he was going to play in his first game back from his concussion. But we don't. I can't imagine starting any Eagles or Giants running back with confidence in a fantasy title game... I do like Murray against the Saints. I think he's going to get many, many chances.

WIDE RECEIVERS

T9. Dez Bryant, Cowboys vs. Saints

13. Victor Cruz, Giants at Baltimore

T15. Pierre Garcon, Redskins at Philadephia

20. Miles Austin, Cowboys vs. Saints

25. Hakeem Nicks, Giants at Baltimore

32. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles vs. Redskins

50. Santana Moss, Redskins at Philadelphia

Yeah, the broken finger didn't change anything about Bryan'ts fantasy production last week, and I see no reason to think it would this week. He's a touchdown machine at this point. I'd happily roll with Austin, too, and if Griffin is indeed playing I'd start Garcon with confidence.

TIGHT ENDS

2. Jason Witten, Cowboys vs. Saints

10. Martellus Bennett, Giants at Baltimore

17. Brent Celek, Eagles vs. Redskins

KICKERS

3. Lawrence Tynes, Giants at Baltimore

7. Dan Bailey, Cowboys vs. Saints

17. Kai Forbath, Redskins at Philadelphia

T18. Alex Henery, Eagles vs. Redskins

TEAM DEFENSES

T17. Giants at Baltimore

T17. Redskins at Philadelphia

20. Cowboys vs. Saints

30. Eagles vs. Redskins

Giants must stop leaning on the past

December, 17, 2012
12/17/12
1:30
PM ET
Victor CruzDaniel Shirey/USA TODAY SportsVictor Cruz and the New York Giants have just two weeks to salvage what's left of their season.
It would be easy to chalk this up to typical New York Giants behavior -- paste the Saints one week, get shut out 34-0 in Atlanta the next. One good, one bad, never consistent -- that's the party-line book on the Giants, and there are plenty of people inside and outside their locker room who are trying to fit this season into that narrative.

I think they're wrong. I think Sunday's loss in Atlanta was extremely atypical of the Giants -- that it contradicted many of the things we believed we knew about them and that they believe about themselves. And I think the fact that it went as wrong as it did offers the Giants and their fans good reason to think it might not turn out OK this time.

Now, you know where I've stood on this all year: Fool me twice, shame on me. I'm not going to count the Giants out until they're 100 percent mathematically out. What they did last year earned them every benefit of every pundit's doubt. But they've lost four of their last six games and allowed not one, but two teams to pass them in the NFC East standings. They still make the playoffs, at least as a wild-card team, if they win in Baltimore next week and beat the Eagles at home in Week 17. But any assumption that they'll win both of those games is rooted in what they showed you last year -- not what they've shown you this year. And that may be the Giants' biggest problem right now:
"I've been here too long. ...I've seen this too many times before to have any doubt in my mind," Osi Umenyiora said of bouncing back. "I know it can be done. But talking about it isn't going to do nothing. We have to go out there and get it done."

It is time -- perhaps past time -- for the Giants to stop assuming this will all be OK because it was last year. It is time -- perhaps past time -- to look seriously at this year's problems and seek solutions, rather than recycle the same old tricks and assume they'll work again. I get that it's easy for a team that won the Super Bowl to convince itself that it should stay the course. And of course the Giants (who are actually one game better than they were at this point last season) might just flip that switch this week and turn out to have been right all along.

But I argue that there are deeper concerns, specific to 2012, that point to doubt. And I think Sunday's game is a perfect example. If you believe in the narrative about a team that gets up for big games and thrives off of a confidence inspired by past accomplishments and victories, then that's a game you expect the Giants to win. Or at least come within 33 points. Instead, they didn't even show up against a team they beat 24-2 in a playoff game 11 months earlier. Their quarterback played one of the worst games of his career. They couldn't get a yard on fourth down when they needed one, and Matt Ryan couldn't have been any more comfortable in the pocket if it had been surrounded by electrified barbed wire. These facts are what bug you if you're a Giants fan right now. As much evidence as 2011 showed you that this team can get things done in the biggest and most dire of spots, Sunday was the latest in an upsettingly long chain of 2012 evidence that such things shouldn't be assumed.

I heard Carl Banks on WFAN radio this morning in New York talking about "collective will" and wondering whether this year's Giants have enough of it to succeed. I think he's spot-on. This year's Giants have shown an ability to play tough but not to stay tough. They haven't shown the collective ability to make good on their offseason goal of playing more consistent, more dominant football week in and week out. And the worst part is, their answer to this seems to be to wait around for a happy, nostalgic visit from the Ghost of Playoff Race Past -- to assume they'll do it again just because they did it before.

Doesn't work that way. The Giants need to spend a little less time reminding themselves how good they were in 2011 and a little more time focusing on the real, concrete problems of 2012. What is different and fixable about Eli Manning and the passing game? Why can't the pass-rushers get to the quarterback? Why is Lawrence Tynes missing 30-yard field goals? Why can't they summon that big third-down or fourth-down conversion when they need it most?

They didn't have to ask these questions in 2011, when Manning was brilliant every week and Jason Pierre-Paul ranked among the league sacks leaders, the breaks were going their way and they were never out of any game. But this year is different, as every one is, and they have 14 games' worth of evidence to prove it. A long, critical assessment of those 14 games would do the Giants a lot more good this week than any more talk about what they've proven in the past. Because if they keep focusing on last year, they're going to wake up in a couple of weeks and find that this year didn't turn out the way they were certain it would.

Fantasy fix: Bounce back for Bryce?

December, 13, 2012
12/13/12
10:30
AM ET
Because we all spend way too much time each week on our fantasy teams, here at the NFC East blog we like to take one post a week and focus it on fantasy football. This week, with the Eagles playing on Thursday night, we're doing it a day early. Here's a look at where our division's players fall in this week's rankings by ESPN.com's fantasy football experts. Click on the name of the position for the full rankings.

QUARTERBACKS

3. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins at Cleveland

10. Eli Manning, New York Giants at Atlanta

13. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys vs. Steelers

T24. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Bengals (Thurs.)

That's assuming Griffin plays, of course. If he doesn't, you can't just jam Kirk Cousins in there at No. 3. He doesn't give you the rushing yards.

RUNNING BACKS

8. Alfred Morris, Redskins at Cleveland

13. Bryce Brown, Eagles vs. Bengals (Thurs.)

T17. DeMarco Murray, Cowboys vs. Steelers

20. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants at Atlanta

29. David Wilson, Giants at Atlanta

This with the Giants' backs assumes Bradshaw plays but that he and Wilson share the load. If Bradshaw's knee keeps him from playing, I have to believe Wilson shoots up a lot higher than 20. ... And I wouldn't fear Brown this week just because of last week. That was an Eagles game-plan thing, choosing to pass instead of run against a Tampa Bay defense that's the worst in the league against the pass. Cincinnati's tough, but Brown should bounce back to a certain extent.

WIDE RECEIVERS

9. Victor Cruz, Giants at Atlanta

T17. Dez Bryant, Cowboys vs. Steelers

T17. Pierre Garcon, Redskins at Cleveland

T19. Hakeem Nicks, Giants at Atlanta

21. Miles Austin, Cowboys vs. Steelers

33. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles vs. Bengals (Thurs.)

50. Jason Avant, Eagles vs. Bengals (Thurs.)

So many question marks. Can or will Bryant play with a broken finger? Would Garcon's ranking be higher if we knew Griffin were playing? Would Austin's be higher (or lower) if Bryant were out? Is Nicks healthy at all? Lot of ways these rankings could change between now and Sunday.

TIGHT ENDS

4. Jason Witten, Cowboys vs. Steelers

9. Martellus Bennett, Giants at Atlanta

24. Clay Harbor, Eagles vs. Bengals (Thurs.)

Right, you say to yourself. Brent Celek's out for the Eagles with a concussion. Almost no offensive starters left on the Eagles at this point.

KICKERS

1. Lawrence Tynes, Giants at Atlanta

T11. Dan Bailey, Cowboys vs. Steelers

T11. Kai Forbath, Redskins at Cleveland

T14. Alex Henery, Eagles vs. Bengals (Thurs.)

TEAM DEFENSES

T17. Cowboys vs. Steelers

20. Giants at Atlanta

T25. Redskins at Cleveland

31. Eagles vs. Bengals (Thurs.)

Wow. The truth hurts, huh? No one even in the top half of the league.

RG III moving up in Pro Bowl voting

December, 12, 2012
12/12/12
1:50
PM ET
Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III ranks second among NFC quarterbacks in the most recent round of fan voting for the Pro Bowl, behind only Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers has 652,807 votes to Griffin's 537,459. Griffin was fourth among NFC quarterbacks the last time voting was released, two weeks ago, so he's shooting up the charts. The Redskins have won four games in a row, improving to 7-6 and are challenging for a spot in the NFC playoffs. Griffin injured his knee Sunday against the Ravens, but hasn't been ruled out yet for this week's game in Cleveland.

Griffin
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning ranks fifth in the NFC fan voting, behind those two, the Saints' Drew Brees and the Falcons' Matt Ryan. Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz is the highest NFC vote-getter at wide receiver.

The fan voting makes up one-third of the Pro Bowl selection process. Player and coach voting takes place at a later time. You can vote on nfl.com if you like. Here's the list of NFC East players who currently rank in the top five among NFC vote-getters at their respective positions:

Quarterbacks

2. RG III, Washington Redskins

5. Manning, New York Giants

Running backs

5. Alfred Morris, Redskins

Wide receivers

1. Cruz, Giants

Fullbacks

3. Darrel Young, Redskins

4. Henry Hynoski, Giants

Tight ends

4. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys

Guards

4. Chris Snee, Giants

Centers

2. David Baas, Giants

Defensive ends

2. Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants

Outside linebackers

2. DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys

Kickers

2. Lawrence Tynes, Giants

Special teamers

3. Lorenzo Alexander, Redskins

I still think Washington's Trent Williams and the Giants' Will Beatty deserve consideration at tackle, but neither is in the top five. And Washington's Will Montgomery is having a better season at center than Baas is.

David Wilson is an NFC Player of the Week

December, 12, 2012
12/12/12
11:19
AM ET
Some things are easy. If you (a) watched the New York Giants' game Sunday and (b) knew there was such an award as NFC Special Teams Player of the Week, you would have automatically assumed Giants rookie kick returner David Wilson would win that award. He has.

Wilson, whose explosive speed made him the Giants' first-round draft pick and has made him one of the league's best kick returners in his rookie season, had 227 kick-return yards Sunday in the 52-27 victory over the New Orleans Saints. That included a 97-yard return for a touchdown in the first quarter. He set a Giants team record for all-purpose yards in a game, adding 100 rushing yards to his return-yardage total.

Wilson is the first Giants kick returner to win this award since David Meggett in Week 1 of the 1994 season. He's the second Giants player to win NFC Special Teams Player of the Week this season, joining kicker Lawrence Tynes, who won it in Week 3. The Giants this season also have had two players win NFC Defensive Player of the Week (safety Antrel Rolle in Week 6 and safety Stevie Brown in Week 8) and one player (wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, Week 2) win NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

All-NFC East Team: Week 15 update

December, 12, 2012
12/12/12
10:00
AM ET
For a while, the quarterback position on the All-NFC East team has looked like a boat race, with Redskins rookie Robert Griffin III the clear winner of the spot. But Griffin hurt his knee Sunday, and if he has to miss a few games, he could be caught. Both Tony Romo and Eli Manning are hot and have big numbers (though Griffin's remarkably small number in the interception category is a big part of his lead.)

The disclaimer that no one will read: This is an All-Division Team based on overall season performance to date. It is not -- repeat, NOT -- simply a list of the players who performed the best in this past week. That's why Nick Foles isn't on it.

Just a few changes this week -- one on the offensive line, a couple at kicker and punter and the rest in the secondary, where I admit I'm at a loss. More explanation after the list itself.

Quarterback: Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (Last week: Griffin)

Running back: Alfred Morris, Redskins (Morris)

Wide receiver: Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys; Victor Cruz, New York Giants; (Bryant, Cruz)

Tight end: Jason Witten, Cowboys (Witten)

Fullback: Henry Hynoski, Giants (Hynoski)

Tackle: Trent Williams, Redskins; Will Beatty, Giants (Williams, Beatty)

Guard: Evan Mathis, Philadelphia Eagles; Chris Chester, Redskins (Mathis, Chris Snee)

Center: Will Montgomery, Redskins (Montgomery)

Defensive end: Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants; Jason Hatcher, Cowboys (Pierre-Paul, Hatcher)

Defensive tackle: Barry Cofield, Redskins; Fletcher Cox, Eagles (Cofield, Cox)

Outside linebacker: DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Cowboys (Ware, Spencer)

Inside linebacker: DeMeco Ryans, Eagles; Perry Riley, Redskins (Ryans, Riley)

Cornerback: Prince Amukamara, Giants; Brandon Carr, Cowboys (Amukamara, Morris Claiborne)

Safety: Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown, Giants (Rolle, Kenny Phillips)

Kicker: Dan Bailey, Cowboys (Lawrence Tynes)

Punter: Sav Rocca, Redskins (Brian Moorman)

Kick returner: David Wilson, Giants (Wilson)

Punt returner: Dwayne Harris, Cowboys (Harris)
  • Did you know this division doesn't have one single cornerback ranked in Pro Football Focus' top 50 for the season? This is what I'm working with, folks. Their highest-ranked NFC East corners are Orlando Scandrick (52), Brandon Boykin (54) and Cedric Griffin (63). So you tell me. I gave Claiborne's spot to Carr this week because I think they're pretty close and Carr's had a couple of game-changing plays the last couple of weeks. But these spots could belong to guys like Josh Wilson and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie just as easily. This is two years now, and no one in this division plays this position consistently well.
  • Safety's a problem, too, and with the best one in the division (Phillips) in and out due to injury, his spot goes to his real-life replacement, who has seven interceptions.
  • That second guard spot is a mishmash, with Chester, Snee, Nate Livings and Kevin Boothe all getting consideration. Snee has the track record, Chester's had the more consistent season. Slightly.
  • And no, Redskins fans, I'm not "ignoring" Darrel Young at fullback. For the millionth time, both Young and Hynoski are having excellent seasons. It's a tough call, every week. But Hynoski's on the field more, and while he doesn't catch or carry the ball once or twice a week like Young does, he's been the slightly better blocker. And that's the important part of their jobs. I'd love to see both guys go to the Pro Bowl. I can't put them both on this team, though. Maybe if one of them learned to play cornerback. There are spots open there.
  • Tynes is out at kicker. The only question was his replacement, and Bailey, Alex Henery and Kai Forbath all made good cases. I went with Bailey, who hasn't missed from inside 50 and has made more (2) from 50-plus than any of the others have. Forbath is perfect since joining the Redskins, and he's made some huge kicks, including this week and on Thanksgiving. But he's got 14 field goals to Bailey's 25 (and Tynes' 33 and Henery's 23). Didn't seem right. Henery is the best of the bunch on kickoffs, statistically. Good year for kickers in the NFC East.
  • Moorman's also out at punter after that debacle Sunday. Our old friend Rocca returns, though you know Steve Weatherford got a long look.
  • And yes, David Wilson's kick return for a touchdown would have won him the kick-returner spot for the rest of the season, but he already had it.

Your thoughts?
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The results of the early games in the NFC East were not great for the New York Giants, who now need to win this game against the Saints in order to maintain their division lead. Their best-case scenario for coming out of this week is a one-game lead over both the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, each of whom won with final-play field goals. And while the first half has been halting and frustrating at times, the Giants scored on an Eli Manning touchdown pass to Domenik Hixon just before halftime to take a 21-13 lead into the locker room.

It's been a weird game. The Saints scored a touchdown on a 73-yard interception return by Elbert Mack. David Wilson ran the ensuing kickoff back for a Giants touchdown. The Saints have turned the ball over twice, and thanks to that and Wilson's 227 kick-return yards, the Giants' average starting field position is the New Orleans 49-yard line. So while the 21 points are nice, you can't escape the feeling that they could and should have had more. The Giants are just 1-for-5 on third-down conversions and have four penalties for a total of 30 yards.

The Saints (six penalties for 50 yards to go with their two turnovers) are doing what they can to help out the Giants, but New York has only 13 rushing yards on eight carries and needs to find a way to extend drives and control the clock if it wants to put away this home game against a sub-.500 team. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw left the game at one point with a knee injury but returned, as did wide receiver Victor Cruz in spite of what looked to be a shoulder injury. So they have their players. They just need to get the offense going. The touchdown drive that ended the first half could indicate that that's what will happen.

One other note: Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes entered the week as the leading field goal kicker in the NFL. But he missed a 43-yarder in the Giants one-point loss in Washington on Monday night, and he missed a 36-yarder in the second quarter of this game. Tynes is a Super Bowl champion whose made the biggest kicks imaginable, but you don't like to see a trend like that starting at this time of year.

SPONSORED HEADLINES