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NFC East Week 9 Recap: Is Dallas flying under the radar?

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NFC East Week 9 Recap: Is Dallas flying under the radar?

Each week, we'll take a look at how the Eagles' division rivals fared the previous weekend (spoiler alert: the Giants lost again) and what they have upcoming. This week, Dallas is quietly swimming in our wake, Kirk Cousins finally provided evidence for a Kolb-sized contract extension, and the New York Giants continued to do what they’ve been doing all season (a.k.a embarrass themselves).

Here’s what happened this week in the NFC East:

New York Giants (1-7)

What Happened: I know it’s been a few days, but remember what the Birds did to Denver? That’s essentially what the Los Angeles Rams did to the GMen on Sunday, as the Giants were thoroughly embarrassed, 51-17, at home. 

While you’re spinning down memory lane, try to remember every disappointing Eagles defense of the past decade; you’re probably envisioning some formerly-big-named cornerback giving a half-effort (or less) on a tackle. That was essentially the breaking point for New York on Sunday; down a touchdown and very much still alive, the Giants D gave up a 52-yard score on 3rd-and-33 which featured a Nnamdi-esque tackling effort by former first round pick Eli Apple. Somewhere in the unemployment line, Byron Maxwell is having a giggle. Or maybe that laugh we hear is Janoris Jenkins, whom coach Ben McAdoo suspended for this one for breaking team rules.

The rout was on at that point; the Giants got chased out of their own building on Sunday, and the Jared Goff-led Rams look very much like the real deal come the postseason.

Positive Spin: The Giants back-up quarterback and third-round pick (definitely a better choice than selecting some offensive line help, great call Jerry Reese) Davis Webb says he’s learning from one of the best ever. Props should be given to Elli Manning, who has clearly opted to give Webb his older brother's cell-phone number. 

There’s not much to spin positively here for Big Blue, but here’s two things fans can take. One — the Rams provide ample evidence that a quick turn-around in the Not-For-Long league is a real thing, and Two — any New Yorkers looking to send McAdoo and Reese to the airport probably just got a whole lot more people willing to throw in cab fare.

Negative Spin: See literally everything from above.

What’s Next: A road game against the San Francisco 49ers, which the Giants would be wise to Sam Hinkie the heck out of. There’s articles in the Geneva Convention that specifically forbid the RedZone channel from playing clips of this game, as it’ll go far beyond cruel-and-unusual punishment for viewers. Regardless, Birds fans who don’t want to face Sam Darnold for the next fifteen years should be rooting for the Giants come Sunday.

 

Washington (4-4)

What Happened: Welp, I did not see this one coming. After two weeks of being soundly beaten by their division rivals, the Washington Football Team came from behind to beat the presumably-playoff-bound Seattle Seahawks, 17-14. The highlight on a dull afternoon was a game-winning four-play, 70-yard touchdown drive by Kirk Cousins with under two minutes to go, giving Jay Gruden’s squad their first victory over a winning team since beating Oakland back in Week Three.

One could argue this was more of a “Seattle lost it” game as opposed to a “Washington won it,” as the Seahawks missed a hat trick’s worth of field goals (in the immortal words of Andy Reid, we can all count). That’s not what matters in the standings, of course, and so Dan Snyder’s squad sits at the halfway mark with an enthusiasm-muting .500 record. You’ll forgive Maryland residents if they’re not rushing to put down their playoff ticket deposits.

Positive Spin: Beating the Seahawks is great, and gets this team's season back on the rails a little bit after two gut-punching loses. It’s sorta like failing a midterm (getting whipped by the Birds, 34-24), but then the teacher says you can take the test again (playing Dallas the next week), only to fail the next one even worse (losing 33-14). Then, a week later, you recite some random fact from the test in front of the whole class; it doesn’t really count the same, but I guess it helps, sorta. 

The Seahawks, despite a banged up defense and a tissue-paper O-line (which seems like a recurring theme around the NFC), were coming in at 5-2 and working to stay on pace with the upstart-Rams. By all accounts, this is a win to feel good about.

Negative Spin: At 4-4 and having been swept by the Birds, Washington has nearly zero chance of winning the NFC East crown. Their offensive line, meanwhile, makes the Giants trenches look semi-competent by comparison, which is like arguing whether Coca-Cola’s New Coke or Microsoft’s Zune had the larger cultural impact. The team also has no run game to speak of (man, if only a Pro Bowl running back had been available for cheap at the trade deadline). Oh, and Jordan Reed is out injured, which is a phrase used as often as “the President hit back on Twitter.”

The past three weeks sum up Cousins pretty succinctly; he’s good enough to win games, but not consistent enough to feel worthy of a seven-year $100-million contract. Considering the likes of Tom Savage, Drew Stanton, Kevin Hogan, and Matt Swanner have all been getting starts around the league this year, Washington could have worse things than a decade of Kirk. Seriously, that list of quarterbacks is so forgettable, you didn’t even realize one of them wasn’t a real guy.

What’s Next: Games against the Vikings and Saints, and Iggles fans eyeing home field advantage should swallow hard and root for the only team in the NFL that has Donald Trump defending their name choice.

 

Dallas Cowboys (5-3)

What Happened: Ahhh good, it had been so long since I got to type the words “Andy Reid” and “major disappointment” together in a sentence. Despite falling behind 14-3 early on, Reid’s Chiefs actually led 17-14 at the half thanks to a super-fun Tyreek Hill 57-yard catch-and-run that’s definitely worth a second look. Let me know if you think any of those Cowboys defenders are gonna work to take down Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount in the cold come December 31st (or better yet, the NFC Championship game).

Anyway, this game is about the Cowboys, who ended up winning 28-17 thanks to strong play from Ezekiel Elliott and Terrence Williams, and totally has nothing to do with the fact that Reid (who never changes) gave his star running back just nine carries on the afternoon. My goodness, that stat line still gives me palpitations.

In other Cowboys related news, Zeke’s suspension is back on appeal, which shows how much I (or anyone) knows about the legal system when it comes to NFL suspensions. Additionally, Tony Romo has been battling with Deion Sanders, which has as much impact on the NFC East as Papa John asking Nazi’s not to eat his pizza… though oddly, both those stories tie back to Jerry Jones somehow.

And speaking of Jones, the Cowboys owner went on record this week saying his team has “zero tolerance” for domestic abusers (the $11.3 million he paid to Greg Hardy suggests otherwise), and he’s now apparently battling whether Roger Goodell gets a contract extension or not. This is like a battle between Jaime and Cersei Lannister, in that we know deep down we’re supposed to dislike one more than the other, but I can’t for the life of me figure out which. 

Positive Spin: Have the Dallas Cowboys ever been so under-hyped? With the Birds soaring high at 8-1, dem Boys are flying a bit under the radar at 5-3 despite a three-game winning streak. Seriously, if I’d told you back in August that the Birds would be 5-3, you’d be feeling pretty good about their playoff chances, amirite?

With two games still to play against Philly, Zeke showing his 2016 form (and his suspension seemingly in limbo) and an upcoming schedule that features a few underachievers like the Raiders, Chargers, and Giants, a path to the Wild Card definitely exists, if not a shot at the NFC East should the Birds slip in the slightest.
 
Negative Spin: The Birds aren’t going to slip in the slightest. Seriously, unless Roy Williams comes out of retirement and delivers a horse collar tackle to Carson Wentz, it’s hard to imagine anything getting in the way of this Philly team claiming their first NFC East title since 2013. Keep in mind, even if Dallas sweeps the Iggles (which they won’t), they’re still a game behind.

Meanwhile, while Dallas sits in the final Wild Card spot today, they’re competing over two spots with Carolina, Atlanta, Seattle, and Detroit. Three of those teams made the playoffs last season, while the fourth (Carolina) was in the Super Bowl the year before. The point is simple; grabbing a Wild Card slot is as much of a guarantee as a suspension handed down by Goodell being enacted in a timely manner.


What’s Next: The Cowboys now head to Atlanta, like you really care. All eyes are on their next game on November 19 against the Birds. 

*

Some thoughts on the Inspiration of Roy Halladay: A lot has obviously been said about Roy Halladay in the past few days, and trying to keep it concise when discussing his legacy is probably more difficult than trying to hit his two-seam, but here I go anyway: The thing I loved most about the Doc was the story of how he came to be. Halladay was called up to the Show, nearly threw a no-hitter in his second career start, and then promptly began to fail miserably, eventually being banished to the lowest levels of professional baseball. Instead of quitting or retiring in shame, Halladay did what we can all only hope we would do in a similar scenario: he took advice, worked ridiculously hard, and completely rebuilt himself in a way that brought him to the highest levels of his profession. His path to greatness is not a sports story; it is a human interest story. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Philly sports fanatic or someone who doesn’t know the difference between a baseball diamond and Ronnie Mervis; the story of his success, culminating in that unbelievable no-hitter against Cincy in the NLDS, puts a Hollywood script to shame.

It is heartbreaking that his opportunity to teach and inspire others has been cut short. All I can do is promise that his legacy as a person who thrived by taking advice, working hard, and helping others is something I’ll continue to preach, teach, and live by. 

Thanks, Doc, for all those early mornings at the ballpark. Your legacy goes beyond the diamond.

Watch Eagles roast Jay Ajayi after 71-yard run for getting caught

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Watch Eagles roast Jay Ajayi after 71-yard run for getting caught

It's not everyday you see an Eagles player take the ball and run for 71 yards. So Philadelphia fans understandably went bonkers when Jay Ajayi did just that in the Birds' win over the Cowboys on Sunday.

It's also not that frequent that you see a dude get chased down from behind on such a play.

Sadly, the latter happened to Ajayi and his teammates let him hear it on the sidelines after. The fantastic Inside the NFL gave us an up-close look at the roasting.

You almost feel bad for Ajayi, like Kenjon Barner is laying it on a little too thick.

"You slow as $#@!," one player tells him.

"They're gonna lower my speed on Madden," Ajayi says.

Chip Kelly is going back where he belongs

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USA Today Images

Chip Kelly is going back where he belongs

After spending the year out of football, former Eagles coach Chip Kelly is returning to the sideline — and might be aligning with ex-Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman in the process.

According to reports, Kelly is expected to accept a head coaching job at one of two college football programs. The decision is down to Florida and UCLA, and he is rumored to have already turned away other high-profile programs such as Nebraska and Tennessee.

UCLA may be Kelly's most likely landing spot at this point, with alumnus Aikman putting on a "full-court press," says ESPN's Mark Schlabach, and Florida supposedly wanting an answer ASAP.

Wherever Kelly winds up going, that should end his unsuccessful foray into the NFL once and for all. Consider this an obituary of sorts.

The move will cement Kelly as a "college coach," if his pro tenure hadn't accomplished that already. After guiding the Eagles to the playoffs and being named Coach of the Year in his first season, he missed the postseason the next two years and was fired. Kelly got the hook again after one miserable season with the 49ers, bottoming out with a 2-14 record.

There are no shortage of excuses for why Kelly flamed out in the NFL. Lack of talent — specifically under center — was certainly a factor, though his failed stint as the chief talent evaluator in his final season with the Eagles certainly contributed to that.

The simple truth is not everything that works in college translates at the next level, and Kelly never adjusted.

Kelly only turns 54 this week, so a return to the professional ranks years down the road isn't completely out of the question. After his last two trainwreck seasons in the league, it's difficult to imagine what an organization would still see.

Employing schemes that aren't suited to the team's personnel, calling the same 10 to 15 plays every game, eliminating the quarterback's ability to call an audible or even something as small as never using a snap count may work at university. Those concepts are fundamentally opposed to what has been successful in the NFL.

Honestly, it's kind of too bad. The Eagles could use that easy W on the schedule periodically.

Perhaps the Eagles should just be grateful to have survived Kelly's radical changes without overhauling the entire roster again, and somehow coming out better off for everything. After releasing DeSean Jackson, trading away LeSean McCoy, trading for Sam Bradford, and spending huge sums of money on the likes of DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell -- to name a few, and all in the span of a year -- the franchise easily could've wound up in the tank.

There's no denying Kelly looked like a genius while at Oregon, racking up 46-7 record and three top-five finishes in four seasons as head coach. Yet like so many college coaches before him, and many bound to come after, he was never destined for sustained success in the NFL.