Cagle’s Corner: NFC East not living up to its potential

Things in the NFC East have not gone according to plan.

The Cowboys, who won the division last season, have been marred by injuries. The Eagles offense has not been as explosive, sometimes looking just plain confused. The New York Giants are about as consistently average as you can get. And the Redskins are just the Redskins.

In a division rich with history and electric fan bases, there has not been a single game where a viewer might think, “Wow, that was some good football!”

It is sad to see these teams play the way they have, especially when they have so much talent.

Enough cannot be said about the losses of Tony Romo and Dez Bryant for the Cowboys.

Without Romo, the Cowboys’ offense has been an utter disaster.

The explosion, the big time plays are all gone, as Brandon Weeden refuses to play with any ounce of emotion or courage.

Teams do not fear the Cowboys attack without Romo and Bryant, allowing opposing teams to stack the box and create difficult reads for Weeden. The Oklahoma State product has played decently, completing around 70 percent of his passes, but you cannot win in today’s NFL with slants and check downs. Weeden, or even Matt Cassel, must play with more confidence if the Cowboys hope to be there in the end.

While the Cowboys still hold the best offensive line in football, they have had to stray away from a decently successful run game because their defense cannot hold teams.

So far, the only guys that have stepped up and played good football are Sean Lee, Byron Jones and Mo Claiborne.

On a defense that is devoid of great depth and freakish talent, the ’Boys are going to have to be more consistent on the defensive side if they hope to steal one victory without Romo and Bryant.

In Philadelphia, the Eagles have been as up and down as you can get. The Eagles lead the division at 3-3 tied with the Giants. However, the Eagles have been wildly inconsistent on both sides of the ball.

It could be argued that the Eagles could be 4-2, with the debacle of the Redskins’ game still leaving fans scratching their heads and angrily chowing down cheesesteaks. Demarco Murray has been nothing short of a fail in the Chip Kelly attack.

Sam Bradford has shown himself capable of handling head coach Chip Kelly’s offense, playing extremely well in some spurts. However, Bradford has also been terrible at times (this Monday) and has shown he just does not have the ability to run aprolific offense. Bradford has thrown nine interceptions, second most in the league, and has been as detrimental to the Eagles’ success as Murray at times.

Defensively, I believe this Eagles squad can be special. Malcolm Jenkins at safety and Connor Barwin coming off the edge have shown themselves especially dangerous at their positions.

Without Romo and Bryant, the Eagles could capture this division as early as Thanksgiving, especially playing the stingy defense they have been recently.

While New York is tied with Philadelphia atop the NFC East standings, I don’t believe they can sustain their current model of winning.

Although the Giants secured a very good win over the Buffalo Bills, the Giants have also given up two victories in the fourth quarter, one coming to Dallas on opening night and another to Atlanta a week later.

The Giants should be 5-1, yet they have not been able to step on their opponent’s throat all season. Against the Eagles, Eli Manning looked like a scared school boy, tossing just 189 yards and two picks. Manning’s play cannot be this subpar if the Giants want to win this wide open division.

The Giants simply do not have the defense they had during their Super Bowl runs. This season, the burden is placed strictly on Manning and the offense to pile on points and keep the ball away from opposing offenses.

Sadly, the Redskins are not even out of the hunt themselves. While they sit last in the standings at 2-4, any team can beat any team. If the Redskins can bottle up some lightning, even they could escape on top come Thanksgiving.

Now that Dallas has lost four in a row with no hope in sight, I believe this is Philadelphia’s division to lose. Even when Romo and Bryant return, which for Bryant could be as early as this week, it might be too late for them to catch up.

However, someone must show themselves to be the true champion of this division and step up their play in order to gain momentum.