NFC East Roundup: Dez Bryant returns for Dallas, but will Cowboys return to winning?

Taking a look around the NFC East heading into Week 8's Sunday and Monday action.

Dallas Cowboys (2-4)

Week Seven – Giants defeat Dallas 27-20: Another week without Tony Romo, another loss for Dallas. With Matt Cassel at the helm, the team once again came close to pulling out a victory. They tied it up in the fourth on a nice 25-yard reception by Devin Street, but a 100-yard kick off return by Dwayne Harris stifled their chances on the next play, and sent the Boys home unlucky. 

In the News: After missing time earlier in the year due to a suspension for his personal conduct, Greg Hardy raised plenty of question marks last week when he got into a series of skirmishes on the sideline during Sunday’s game. He was convicted last year of assault on a former girlfriend, but the charges were dropped in February after the prosecutors said the accuser couldn’t be found. Hardy appeared hostile in a special teams huddle during the loss, knocking special team’s coach Rick Bisaccia’s clipboard and exchanging tense words with teammates Dez Bryant and Devin Street on the sideline. The incident is not the first time Hardy has acted out this year, but Jerry Jones continues to stand by him as one of the team’s leaders and praise his passion for the game, saying, “That’s the kind of thing that inspires a football team…” It’s time to look at Hardy for more than his talent on the football field.

Dez Bryant participated in practice on Wednesday for the first time since September 11. Though he was limited, the team is still optimistic that he will be able to suit up for their next game against Seattle. This offense won’t look elite again until Romo comes back, but Dez will give opposing defenses a lot more to worry about in the mean time. The good new that came out of last week’s game was that the Cowboys may have found a permanent solution in the running game. Darren McFadden emerged as the lead-back in place of Joseph Randle, looking like the talented runner that the Raiders saw in him when they took him in the first round of the 2008 draft. The 28 year-old carried the rock 29 times for more than 150 yards and a touchdown, and will start against the Seahawks on Sunday. 

New York Giants (3-2)

Week Seven – Giants defeat Cowboys 27-20: The game was certainly a weird one from the Giants perspective. Though they pulled out a key victory against their division rivals, it seemed that no one stepped up in the win (other than perhaps the special teams unit). The whole team looked stagnant, including the run defense, which has been so impressive this year. A win’s a win, however, but the Giants will need to shape up if they want to defeat a threatening Saints offense. In the News: Nearly four months removed from an out of the blue fireworks accident, Jason Pierre-Paul has finally reached a deal with the Giants. The former All-Pro signed a one-year contract that could be worth as much as $8.7 million if certain incentives are reached. While the timetable is hazy for JPP’s return, he looked fantastic in his first practice back, apparently showing up to the facility in already stellar shape. Though he’ll only have nine fingers when he steps on the field again, the Giants will be glad to have Pierre-Paul’s presence on the field. The six year veteran took down the quarterback 12.5 times last year, and could give a major boost to a defensive line that ranks 31st in the league in the category with only 9 sacks in 2015. 

As strange as it seems, the Giants are atop the NFC East after their win against Dallas, but something needs to change to get them clicking on offense. Though Shane Vereen has filled his role for the most part, the G-men have lack a featured back, a role that Rashad Jennings has failed to fill. It’s time for Orleans Darkwa to step in. The young Tulane product looked fantastic last Sunday, on one drive running for 41 yards on just 4 carries. There’s no doubt that he has one of the coolest names in sports, but Darkwa also played like a beast, bouncing off tackles and running with conviction. He should start to see more carries if he can keep it up.

Philadelphia Eagles (2-3)

Week Seven – Panthers defeat Eagles 27-16: Not much looked on point for Philly in their Sunday night loss in week seven. After a short winning streak, there were grumblings that the offense that was championed in the preseason as one of the best in the league might actually live up to the hype, but instead Sam Bradford the Eagles stumbled through an embarrassing one-touchdown performance. Aside from a nice run by Ryan Matthews, Chip Kelly’s squad failed to get anything moving, bringing the question to mind: what needs to be changed?

In the News: Who would’ve guessed in August that there’s be a few voices calling for Mark Sanchez to start by mid-way through the season? Okay yeah, the end of that last paragraph made it sound like I’m one of those voices. I’m not. While Sam Bradford has had his share of troubles, it was Mark Sanchez who lead the team through the disappointing three-game loosing streak that ended the Eagles’ playoff hopes last year, it was Mark Sanchez who, one fateful Thanksgiving night, ran into the posterior of offensive lineman Brandon Moore. God help the team that puts “The Sanchiez” at starting quarterback. 

Maybe I just wanted a chance to roast Mark Sanchez, but the reality is that Bradford is still the best starting option in Philadelphia. And, in fairness, it isn’t all his fault. The Eagles have dropped 26 passes already this year according to Pro Football Focus. That’s way too many. With a bye week coming up, the players are going to have to dig deep and let the loss motivate them. The division is still up for grabs.


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