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State of the NFC East: Week 1

Updated: Sep 18, 2020

Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books, and it’s safe to say the NFC East standings don’t look the way we expected them to. Only one team in the division managed a win in Week 1, and it was the team from the nation’s capital with no name, not one of the two teams widely expected to win the division in the Eagles or the Cowboys. It remains likely that we’ll look back on this as nothing more than a strange start to a strange season, but it’s a bit jarring nonetheless. Without further ado, here’s a look at the state of the NFC East after Week 1.

Washington Football Team (1-0)

The Eagles faithful are all too familiar with what happened with Washington in Week 1. After getting dominated for the first quarter and change of the game and falling into a 17-0 hole, Washington ripped off 27 unanswered points to pull the shocking upset and cause an early disruption in the division expectations. While there are still plenty of questions in Washington and it’s way to early to assume it is suddenly a division contender, the team deserves credit for not folding after falling behind by 17 points. As a result, Washington has an early leg up in the division.

Week 2: at Arizona

Dallas Cowboys (0-1)

The Cowboys suffered a bit of a surprise defeat, falling to the Rams in a game in which they were favored to win. The loss didn’t have the shock factor that the Eagles’ loss did and Dallas got the expected production from it’s offensive stars: Dak Prescott passed for 266 yards and a touchdown, Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 96 yards and scored, and Amari Cooper hauled in 10 catches for 81 yards. Certainly nothing to panic about. However, the 422 yards the defense surrendered is somewhat concerning for Big D. Regardless, Sunday turned into a missed opportunity for the Cowboys, and both they and the Eagles are left to wonder whether the Week 1 slip-ups will come back to haunt them.

Week 2: vs. Falcons

New York Giants (0-1)

The Giants entered the season with low expectations and suffered a not-so-surprising defeat at the hands of the Steelers on Monday night. If the Giants’ season goes as expected, they’ll remain at the bottom of the standings and will likely receive less and less consideration in this column, so let’s give them some time today while we have a chance.

The Giants’ receiving corps was a bright spot, with Darius Slayton going for 6/102/2 and Sterling Shepard adding 6/47. Second-year QB Daniel Jones had some moments, but also had two turnovers, including an atrocious interception that changed the game. The offensive line remains a huge problem, as it couldn’t generate any lanes for explosive running back Saquon Barkley, who had just six yards on 15 carries. Tight end Evan Engram, expected to be a key piece in the offense, was a disappointment as well, hauling in just two catches for nine yards.

The Giants’ rebuild continues, and at the very least they got some encouraging signs in their Week 1 loss.

Next: at Bears

Philadelphia Eagles (0-1)

We could write several columns on what we saw from the Eagles on Sunday, and Eagles Frenzy has covered the game in-depth in other articles. As such, we’ll just add a few adjectives: pathetic, embarrassing, unacceptable, inexcusable.

Carson Wentz came out sharp, looking like the player we expect him to be, and then seemed to completely forget how to play football. He made poor decisions, produced two disastrous turnovers, and continued to make many of the same mistakes we’ve seen from him throughout his career. Watching him go from playing so well to so poorly in the span of minutes was jarring and concerning. But he wasn’t alone in his struggles.

The offensive line was a disaster, but we knew that it was going to be a problem going into the game due to all the injuries. Maybe we didn’t expect it to be that bad, but we knew it would be an issue. The line itself deserves its share of the blame, but the play of that group also reflects poorly on Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman. Pederson failed to use playcalling to offset the struggles of the line (could we get a rollout once in a while?) and really didn’t have a great day overall (going for it on 4th down from midfield is the most glaring example). As for Roseman, we’re not going to get crazy with the reactions after one game, and the sheer volume of Eagles’ injuries is a factor here, but it’s fair to question the roster construction from a depth standpoint. The Eagles know as much as any team the impact injuries can have, so depth should have been a priority even if the team couldn’t have anticipated just how many injuries it would have so early in the season.

As for positives, the defense did okay overall. The defensive line had some good moments and Darius Slay had the impact we had hoped for, doing an excellent job on the explosive Terry McLaurin. Avonte Maddox was flying around, and the defense held up reasonably well considering Pederson and the offense were frequently putting them in bad positions. Dallas Goedert was a bright spot as well with eight catches for 101 yards and a touchdown.

It’s not so much the loss itself that is so frustrating, but how it happened and who it happened against. The Eagles had a 17-point lead and blew it, and did so against a division opponent who they were expected to beat. Now, they’ve put themselves in an uphill battle right off the bat and have a ton of questions to answer as they attempt to get things right. A tough Week 2 opponent won’t make things any easier, and the Eagles could quickly find themselves in the danger zone with the season threatening to go off the rails if they can’t find the answers quickly.

Next: vs. Rams


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