NFC East: Rich Kotite

Rapid Reaction: Redskins 27, Eagles 20

December, 23, 2012

PHILADELPHIA -- A few thoughts on the Washington Redskins' sixth victory in a row and their ninth of the season.

What it means: The Redskins have their first winning season since 2007, and if they beat the Dallas Cowboys at home Sunday, they will be NFC East champions for the first time since 1999. The Redskins also retain a chance to make the playoffs as a wild-card team, though they cannot clinch their playoff spot today. The Eagles have lost 11 games for the first time since 1999 -- Andy Reid's first season as their head coach. They have not lost 12 in a season since 1998, when they finished 3-13 under Rich Kotite.

Gimpy Griffin: There was much speculation going into this game about the ways in which Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III might be limited after missing last week's game with a sprained knee. Griffin wore a brace on the knee, and while the Redskins still ran a lot of the play-action passes that have been such a critical element of their offense, it seemed clear that Griffin's legs were not going to be a significant part of the game plan this week. He carried the ball twice for 4 yards in the first half and not once after that. The Redskins went with a fairly conservative game plan, feeding running back Alfred Morris the ball and picking their spots down the field when the receivers were able to get open in the Philadelphia secondary.

Season of giving: The Redskins were able to get back into the game after a slow start on defense because of two Eagles turnovers. Nick Foles' fumble on Ryan Kerrigan's first sack of the game set up a Redskins field goal drive, and London Fletcher's interception of Foles set up a touchdown drive that put the Redskins on top 13-7 in the second quarter. The Eagles entered the game tied with Kansas City for the worst turnover differential in the league (minus-22). Washington's defense seemed to stiffen after the turnovers, but the Eagles were able to move the ball against them in the fourth quarter after it appeared as though Washington had put the game away. Philadelphia had a first-and-goal from the 5-yard line but could not punch it in.

You never know: Colt Anderson's fourth-quarter interception of Griffin may have been the least likely interception of the year in the NFL. It was the Eagles' first interception in nine games and just the fifth of the season for Griffin in 14 starts.

Record-breaking kicker: The Redskins' Kai Forbath's first two field goals of the day were his 16th and 17th of the year in as many attempts. That broke Garrett Hartley's record of consecutive made field goals (16) to start an NFL career.

What's next: The Redskins host the Cowboys on Sunday at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., in a game that stands a decent chance of being picked for that night's prime-time slot. The Eagles travel up the highway to play the Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., in what very likely will be Reid's final game as Eagles coach.
NFC East teams went a combined 1-3 on Sunday, which isn't real helpful to the season records of bloggers who predicted them to go 4-0. But that's neither here nor there. What's here is your links, in standings order, which did not change Sunday.

New York Giants (6-3)

Eli Manning and the Giants have come back in so many fourth quarters this year, they were stunned when Sunday's comeback attempt in San Francisco fell short. They're a confident bunch, these Giants, but on Sunday they ran up against a team that's better than they are -- especially when the game is in enemy territory. As we have come to expect, though, they hung right in there and had a chance at the end. I have a feeling the Giants will make every game exciting the rest of the way.

The troublesome new Giants injury of the week is Michael Boley's hamstring. No idea at this point on whether it will allow the linebacker to play next week against the Eagles, but Boley's been a crucial part of the Giants' defense this year, as Ohm details here, and they can ill afford to be without him as they gear up for LeSean McCoy. Assuming the Eagles plan to actually use McCoy. Which is a different story.

Dallas Cowboys (5-4)

Calvin Watkins writes about Terence Newman, who was the Cowboys' consolation prize when they failed to sign Nnamdi Asomugha. Newman has played beautifully since his return from an early-season injury, and he had two interceptions Sunday in the Cowboys' beat-down of the Buffalo Bills. Took one of them back for a touchdown. Didn't want to talk about it afterwards. Just rolling along.

When the game was over, Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee talked about what a challenge the week had been for him -- from learning to play with that big wrap on his arm to protect his injured wrist to the pain and struggle of dealing with the scandal at his alma mater, Penn State. Lee was pleased with the way his school handled things Saturday. As for his arm, he says he's got some work to do before he's used to playing with that club on.

Philadelphia Eagles (3-6)

John Smallwood blames DeSean Jackson for the latest DeSean Jackson controversy, saying he can't comprehend how Jackson could allow himself to miss a meeting and get benched at a time when the Eagles needed to win basically every game. I'm with John on this one. Even if it was an "honest mistake," it's an inexcusable one that not a single one of Jackson's teammates has made this year, and the timing was lousy. Andy Reid was right to bench him, and if that's what cost them this game and their season then Jackson has to take the blame.

Most of the vitriol in Philly today, though, is being aimed at Reid and the coaching staff for the team's 3-6 record. Phil Sheridan writes that it's time for Reid to go, and invokes the names of Ray Rhodes and Rich Kotite in doing so. Everybody keeps telling me I don't understand the perspective of the Eagles fans who believed they were somehow entitled to a Super Bowl championship at some point in the past 13 years, but I don't think you kiss off 12 years of excellence just because you had this one lousy one. And I don't get the sense that Eagles management is planning to do anything of the kind.

Washington Redskins (3-6)

After five games with Rex Grossman as starter followed by three with John Beck, the Redskins went back to Grossman at starting quarterback Sunday and still lost to the Dolphins. So, who starts next week? Well, nobody knows. Could be Grossman. Could be Beck. My money's on Grossman, since he at least knows how to operate the offense and will allow the coaching staff to get a look at potentially helpful 2012 pieces between interceptions. But I'm glad it's not real money.

Redskins players Fred Davis and Trent Williams are apparently among the players who could be facing league discipline for testing positive for recreational drugs. It doesn't sound as though anyone's facing suspensions, only fines, in which case there's no rule that says we have to know the names of the disciplined players. My favorite part, though, of the original Yahoo! report on this is the one about how these players are upset because they didn't think there'd be discipline for conduct violations during the lockout. I agree that there shouldn't be, but are NFL rules really the only thing keeping these guys from doing drugs?

Travel day for me, folks, with connecting flights and all that kind of fun stuff. So if the blog's a little light this morning and early afternoon, you'll know why, and I'll pick you up later, I promise.