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NFC East Report, Week 6: Jerry Jones implodes his own locker room

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USA Today Images

NFC East Report, Week 6: Jerry Jones implodes his own locker room

Each week, we'll take a look at how the Eagles' division rivals fared the previous weekend (spoiler alert: everyone who played got a win, which is sorta okay, since Dallas didn’t play) and what they have upcoming. This week Washington got revenge on the younger Shanny, Jerry Jones went full TO on his own locker room, and the Giants found a new way to let their fans down.

Here’s what happened in Week 6 in the NFC East:

Washington (3-2):

What Happened: Let’s call this one the “Jim Tomsula Revenge Game,” which up until this point, had just been what Washington’s defensive line coach had called it when he sent bits of his old mustache to members of the York family.

Despite getting to face Brian Hoyer (who was benched in the 2nd quarter) and holding the moral high-ground against San Fran’s winless head coach Kyle Shanahan (who was complicit in the physical destruction of Robert Griffin III), Washington barely squeaked a victory out at home over the hapless Niners, 26-24.

 Thanks to some pretty inconsistent play by future Niner Kirk Cousins (as well as one of those awful fumble returns for a touchdown where no one really knows what’s happening and you’re pretty sure the runner was down anyway), Washington blew an early 17-0 lead. They fought back, but then nearly blew a 10-point lead with three minutes to play, getting bailed out by an interception by some guy named Kendall Fuller. At the end of the day, Washington got the victory, despite being arguably outdone by rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard (who’s name would be infinitely cooler if it were DJ Beathard, or even C.J. Beard-hard).

Positive Spin: These aren’t Chip Kelly’s Niners; San Fran has lost their last five games by three points or less, and there’s something to be said about finding a way to win against an opponent that refuses to back down. It’s like Apollo Creed celebrating his split decision over Rocky in the first one.

A win is a win is a win is a win, and fans in the D.C. area still reeling after Max Scherzer and some freakish luck knocked off the local baseball team (AGAIN) can take pleasure in seeing their football team at least knew how to finish a game. If we believe in the edict that every win in the National Football League is tough, then good for Jay Gruden’s squad for getting the victory… even if it was against a winless bottomfeeder with no quarterback that had to fly across the country.



Negative Spin: While the Birds went on the road and beat an NFC contender on national television, this Washington squad struggled against a winless team at home. It’s like comparing your 100 meter time to Usain Bolt’s; no one is arguing that you can’t run 100 meters, but we’re not gonna sit here and argue whether you look as impressive doing it. That’s how Washington fans should be feeling right now; there was nothing good about this victory except that it was a victory. The NFC East leading Eagles, at this juncture, seem quite a few stones-throw ahead.

And while Washington didn’t lose the game, they lost some guys to injury, including first-round pick Jonathan Allen, cornerback Bashaud Breeland, and kicker Dustin Hopkins. The Breeland injury could be bad, as they’re already down Josh Norman, and losing a kicker is like losing a neighbor; you never know how good you had it until you get a really awful one. Here’s hoping the new Washington kicker plays death metal too loud at night, mows the lawn bright and early on Saturday, and never cleans up after his dog. Also, is an ax murderer. 

What’s Next: Don’t act like you don’t know. The Washington Football Team comes down 95 to Lincoln Financial Field on Monday Night with a chance to make the NFC East interesting.
While they’ll still have ten to play come Tuesday morning, this is a pretty big must-win for the only team whose nickname causes Supreme Court rulings. The Birds beat Washington in D.C. in Week One (like you forgot), which means a similar beating this week would give Philly the tiebreaker (not to mention a three-win lead in the division).

To sum-up: if Washington falls in Philly Monday night, expect Jeffrey Lurie to ask for playoff ticket deposits come Tuesday.

Dallas (2-3):

What Happened: It’s pretty hard for things to go poorly during a bye week, but Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is truly a master of innovation. He’s like the Steve Jobs of the NFL, had Jobs been able to create unnecessary controversy by talking when he shouldn’t have. Bare with me here, as this is going to wade a little bit into political waters; I’ll try my best to asses the entire thing purely from a football-standpoint.

Brief sum-up: While the Cowboys were preparing to lose to the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago, Jones’ was getting himself knee-deep into the Colin Kaepernick / Donald Trump feud. Most notably, Jones (whom Donald Trump apparently cold calls) became the first (and only) NFL owner to say any player who ‘disrespects the flag’ will be benched. (Those who read this space regularly will recall I begged Dez Bryant to call his bluff. As of print time, Dez had yet to return my calls. We can only reasonably assume he is a coward and/or only uses his phone for drawing silly pictures)

Needless to say, Jones’ threat to essentially fire players who protest did not go over well with a lot of the guys on his roster, resulting in a coaches-players meeting and then later, a players-owner meeting where many of “‘dem Boys” seemed reluctant to address whether their concerns had been addressed by the boss. 

So purely from a football perspective: In a league where management is often hell-bent on mitigating distraction, Jones has found a way to inject ADHD directly into the brainstem of his lockerroom. 

Jones is like a schoolteacher that learned all the other faculty are dealing with kids playing with fidget spinners, so he walked into his spinner-free class and yelled "ANYBODY WHO PLAYS WITH FIDGET SPINNERS GETS DETENTION." Except in this case, the fidget spinners are a non-violent protest against social injustice. But again, let's leave the politics out of it 

So politics aside, as an Eagles fan, I couldn't be happier that Jones has gone out of his way to sabotage the chemistry in his own locker room. It would have been less destructive for him to bring in Terrell Owens, Tim Tebow, and a pack of genetically-altered fire ants that learned how to recite “yo momma” jokes. What a clown.

Oh, and Zekes suspension was upheld, then blocked again, which means THAT bit of news will continue to hang over this team like a Hurricane over… Ireland, apparently. Man, the world makes zero sense.

Positive Spin: The only good news for Cowboys fans this week was the unfortunate injury to Cowboys Owner Aaron Rodgers. That’s what it takes to find joy as a fan of this franchise; injuries to the game's biggest stars. For shame.

They still have five division games remaining, including two against the Birds. That’s a lot of football left to play, and it’s entirely plausible the entire vibe around this squad is completely different come Thanksgiving. But for now, they’re not doing themselves any favors.

Negative Spin: The NFC East hasn’t had a repeat winner since the Iggles lost the Super Bowl, and there’s a reason for that; having everything go right two years in a row isn’t easy. Having already lost two games at home, and doing everything in their power to be the league's most controversial squad, the Cowboys aren’t exactly the betting-mans favorite to leapfrog the NFC East leading Birds, who currently hold a three-win advantage over them.

Oh, and Jason Garrett’s never had back-to-back winning seasons as a head coach, let’s not forget that. Can you believe this guy’s been in charge of this team for eight years? This bozo had a longer run than Castle, which is shocking, as I’d feel way more confident with Nathan Fillion calling plays. BRING BACK FIREFLY!

What’s Next: The Cowboys get those same winless 49ers this week, though at least it’s in San Fran. They’ll then travel across the country to face Washington who, if all goes according to plan, will have just been embarrassed on Monday Night Football. 

New York Giants (1-5)

What Happened: Yep, this seems about right. A week after dropping to 0-5 and missing a half-dozen starters, including the phenomenal Odell Beckham Jr., the New York Giants simply dismantled the Broncos in Denver on Sunday night 23-10, because sometimes football just doesn’t make sense. 

It’s like finding out that all the disgusting matter you pushed down your shower with Drain-O morphed into a sentient being, moved to Manhattan, and is now a Victoria’s Secret model. That was watching the Giants Sunday night, as this 0-5 disaster suddenly resembled an overly competent football team.

The Giants D made Broncos QB Trevor Siemien less comfortable than a television audience listening to Al Michaels crack Harvey Weinstein jokes, sacking the young QB four times and forcing a pair of interceptions. A Janoris Jenkins pick-6 in the final minute of the first half essentially sealed this one, though the most notable change for the GMen was some semblance of a running game. Some guy named Orleans Darkwa had over 117 rushing yards for Big Blue, which is the first time someone from the Giants has rushed for over 100-yards in a game since flip-phones were trendy. 

Credit will be given to Head Coach Ben McAdoo for firing himself and handing the play-calling duties over to Mike Sullivan. Me personally, I just wonder why it took McAdoo so long in the first place. Or why he was even hired to be making these decisions in the first place. It’s like buying plane tickets, then having the airline tell you all the flights are delayed so they’re giving you Amtrak tickets instead. Sure, I’ll still get to my destination, albeit a little late, and I can’t help wondering if I wouldn’t have been better off not hiring the airline in the first place.

That last analogy will be lost on the Mara family, as I assume they’ve never had to fly commercial.


Positive Spin: THE GIANTS HAVE FIGURED IT OUT!! They just went into the Mile High City and beat an AFC Contender coming off a bye week! This season’s not over yet, baby! After all, these Broncos won a Super Bowl just two years ago, and if there’s one thing Giants fans appreciate, it’s overrating a team’s expectations on some crazy Super Bowl victory of the past.

Negative Spin: At 0-5, the Giants season had ended. Honestly, it probably ended when Jake Elliott’s kick soared through the uprights in Week Three. And now, right when the tanks were getting ready to roll, they found a way to not only win, but win convincingly. The team that showed up Sunday Night looked legitimate, like the ones most delusional New Yorkers had been bragging about all summer. 

So not only has this team failed to live up to expectations, they’re now failing at tanking as well.

And we can’t go the whole recap without touching on the McAdoo / Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie feud. The Giants head coach suspended DRC for the crime of repeatedly quitting on his team, which Iggles fans will remember is exactly what he did to Andy Reid’s squad back in 2011. It’s almost as if this guy doesn’t care once his team starts losing. DRC’s in his 4th-year with the Giants and is a veteran on that defense; McAdoo seems completely in control of this locker room, yes sir.

What’s Next: Who cares? This team is in a no-win scenario. Lose, and they make their fans miserable. Win, and they cost a franchise in need of a youth movement the chance to draft higher. It’s one of those awkward wasted seasons where fans just aren’t sure what to root for; like that one game Pat Shurmur coached the Eagles, or any NASCAR race.

Anyway, the Giants play host to Seattle next Sunday, and who you root for really depends on whether or not you’re counting the magic number towards home-field advantage in the playoffs. I say GO GIANTS!

Bad timing for Sixers' only hot shooter go on the shelf

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USA Today Images

Bad timing for Sixers' only hot shooter go on the shelf

Sixers fans got a news update they didn't even know they were supposed to be dreading on Tuesday night, when the team announced that sharpshooting starting guard JJ Redick would be out with "a small cortical crack in the fibular head of his left leg." Redick suffered the injury Monday against the Raptors he will be "re-evaluated in approximately 10 days to two weeks." (This was, of course, preceded by a Woj Firecracker in which he commented that Redick's injury "isn’t serious and he will likely miss only a short window of time," which should inspire some cold sweating over how bad we were supposed to initially be expecting this injury to be.)

To a certain extent, injuries like this are to be expected over the course of the NBA season. It may not feel like it, with Joel Embiid a perpetual DNP risk and Markelle Fultz suffering from jump-shot amnesia, but the Sixers had actually been relatively lucky with health so far this season. Out of a possible 40 games so far, none of Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, T.J. McConnell or Redick have played fewer than 35, with even Embiid's 31 played feeling slightly miraculous. Someone important from their rotation — no, Justin Anderson doesn't count — was bound to miss a couple weeks with injury. 

But, man, losing Redick right now is gonna hurt. It's not just that he's been scorching lately — though that he undoubtedly has been, averaging 20 a game with a 51/46/94 percent shooting slash line over his last eight, since coming back from a hamstring injury that caused him to miss two contests. It's that while he's been that hot, the rest of the team has gone ice cold. 

Saric was similarly searing from deep at the beginning of 2018, but he's cooled off in the last couple, hitting just 2 of his last 10 triples. Jerryd Bayless has hit multiple threes in only one of his last 10 games. Covington, whose three-point bombing was so furious at season's beginning we started to wonder if Redick was gonna get jealous, has now gone just 31 percent from deep over the same eight-game stretch when Redick has been raining holy Process hellfire. Even McConnell, who never seems to miss when he actually deigns to take a triple, is just one for his last nine from distance. And three-point shooting continues to be the one blight on Embiid's otherwise superlative sophomore season, as he's just 3 for 17 from three so far in 2018. 

With only six players that Brett Brown can really trust right now — maybe seven if you wanna give Amir Johnson the benefit of the doubt — injuries to anyone is devastating to the Sixers' chances to be competitive on a nightly basis. And, as previously harped on here at The 700 Level, the Sixers are currently in the midst of a particularly tough January, which will see them play the Celtics, Bucks (twice), Spurs and Thunder — as well as the much-improved Bulls — over the next two weeks. 

What to do for the Sixers, then, in JJ's absence? Well, we'll certainly see a lot more of Bayless' streaky shooting, and maybe some more minutes for a recovering Anderson. We may also get a first look at the recently-signed wing James Young, who shot 37 percent on 9.4 attempts a game from deep this season in the G-League. And, hopefully, we see some greater offensive aggression from McConnell, who after the Raptors game, essentially owned up to the fact that he has to be willing to take open shots when they're given to him if he wants to be the Sixers' fifth guy down the stretch. 

Of course, it's tempting to wonder if this might not be the perfect circumstances for the return of Fultz to the Sixers' rotation. But such hopes don't seem particularly practical at the moment —Fultz's jumper has obviously not fixed itself overnight (or, uh, over two months), and no one — not even Brown — is pretending there isn't a major problem here. I don't know how or when the Fultz situation will get better, but in the meantime, it's hard to see him returning anytime soon, and even harder to picture him being the cure for what ails the undermanned Sixers if he does. 

Perhaps the biggest worry here, if you're a Sixers fan, is if Redick's injury will end up pushing the Colangelos toward making a short-sighted move to bolster their current depth, a.k.a. the much-feared "panic trade." If the Sixers struggle over their next two weeks — going 2-5, say, and dropping to three or four games out of the playoff picture — it's not impossible that the team will sniff around a quick-fix upgrade on the wings. The good (or bad) thing for the Sixers is there aren't a ton of obvious names that are both available and fit the team's timeline of trying for max cap space this summer — and both Lou Williams and Nikola Mirotic have likely priced themselves out of any cheap deadline dealings with their strong play of late. 

But, hey, while we're on the subject of short-sighted deadline dealings: Boy, could sure use Nik Stauskas right now, huh? Not to say that he's lighting it up since being sent to Brooklyn in December by any means — he hasn't scored more than five points in a game this year for Brooklyn — but he is shooting 47 percent from deep for them in his limited looks, and again, the Sixers thrived a year ago with Sauce as their starting two, even when he wasn't putting up numbers. He'd never be the long-term solution for Philly, but there was always a scenario in which it'd be helpful for the team to have him around in a pinch, and now that theoretical is upon us. (Meanwhile, since scoring 40 combined points in his first three games for the Sixers, Trevor Booker has scored a whopping 38 total in the 12 contests since.) 

Bottom line: This is gonna be a tough couple of weeks coming up for Philly. The good news? No back-to-backs for the Sixers this month, so no games yet where we definitely won't have Embiid or Redick. And if the Sixers can manage to tread water the next few weeks — even going 3-4 would be pretty acceptable — things should get a lot easier for them in February and especially March, when hopefully the team will be closer to whole again. Just have to hope nothing else Woj-worthy happens with the Sixers in the meantime.

Rating the Rumor: Eagles OC Frank Reich a 'possibility' for Titans

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Rating the Rumor: Eagles OC Frank Reich a 'possibility' for Titans

Just when it seemed the Eagles might make it through the 2018 coaching carousel relatively unscathed, a new rumor links offensive coordinator Frank Reich to the Titans’ vacancy.

Then again, due to the timing of the Titans’ head coaching search, they may not even have the opportunity to talk to Reich at all.

Reich was first named “a possibility” for the Titans’ job by longtime beat writer Terry McCormick. However, because the organization did not request an interview during the first week of the NFL playoffs, by rule, a meeting cannot occur until after the Eagles’ season is finished. That could be as many as three weeks from now, depending on the outcome of the conference championship on Sunday.

Ideally, the Titans will have filled the job by then.

Reich himself shot down the story on Tuesday, though that was easy given the circumstances, with the Titans unable to reach out at present.

“Right now, myself, our staff, are interested in one thing only, so, that's all,” Reich said. “I have no time (for that). When I tell you I have no time for anything to consider anything else other than how we're preparing a game plan to beat the Vikings, that's really all we're concerned about.”

If the Titans are a little late to the game, that’s because a somewhat surprising postseason run gave Mike Mularkey two additional weeks of life. Once eliminated from the playoffs over the weekend, the sides parted ways, at a time when most front offices were already finalizing coaching searches. Of the seven clubs with openings, two are filled, and three more are reportedly spoken for.

In other words, the Titans are left with a smaller pool of candidates to choose from. That could help explain why Reich could be gaining some momentum after there was no reported interest in the first round of coaching interviews.

While Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo were among the star candidates this offseason, Reich flew under the radar. However, the reality is he probably warranted more consideration. From that standpoint, the Titans’ supposed interest makes sense.

Some observers may even see a potential Reich departure as beneficial for the Eagles. DeFilippo’s contract is up at the end of the season, and it’s believed if he isn’t hired as the head coach of either the Titans or Cardinals, he’ll leave for an offensive coordinator job regardless. If Reich goes, one of the league’s bright, young assistants could move into his role.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, it probably is.

DeFilippo is reportedly still in the running for the Cardinals job (for which the Eagles can grant permission for a second interview next week even should they advance), and may be ready to move on regardless, to someplace where the title of offensive coordinator comes with play-calling duties. As for Reich, his availability is largely tied to whether or not the Eagles make it to the Super Bowl, unless the Titans were willing to wait until February to have so much as a conversation.

The Titans are already lining up interviews with other candidates, notably Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel. And should the Eagles lose on Sunday, you can certainly understand why any of Reich, Schwartz or DeFilippo would be on the short list. Yet, for the moment, their candidacy for this particular job appears to be in direct proportion to the outcome of the NFC Championship game.

Rating the rumor: Sorry, Titans – you snooze, you lose