It turns out a quarterback who was on pace to shatter the NFL’s passing yards record was not the problem in Dallas. A week after Dak Prescott lost his season due to a compound ankle fracture, the Cowboys put up a truly putrid performance against the Cardinals on Monday Night Football. Dallas lost 38-10, but not solely due to the play under center from backup quarterback Andy Dalton. Rather, virtually every aspect of the team broke down against Arizona. It was an embarrassing performance for an embarrassing team in an embarrassing division.
Without Prescott under center, the Cowboys never really got going. They went three-and-out on their first two possessions, and then the turnover bug hit. Running back Ezekiel Elliott fumbled the ball twice in the first half—he now has four lost fumbles this season. Dalton was forced to chuck the ball 54 times to try to get the Cowboys back in the game, but he totaled just 266 yards and one touchdown against two interceptions.
The poor effort was even more remarkable because of how thoroughly unimpressive the Cardinals looked themselves. Quarterback Kyler Murray completed just nine of his 24 passes, looking out of sync with his receivers on multiple occasions, and Arizona didn’t get points on the board until the second quarter. Yet by halftime, the Cardinals led 21-3.
At 2-4 and without its starting quarterback, Dallas should be looking at a lost season. But the one saving grace for the Cowboys is that they play in the NFC East, a division where they can be 2-4 and still hold first place. Unfortunately for us NFL fans, that means we’re going to continue to have to pay attention to the Cowboys—and the rest of the division—because league rules stipulate at least one team has to reach the playoffs. But the other squads in the division are no more entertaining than Dallas. As you might guess from the fact that the Cowboys still hold a lead on the division after a loss, the rest of the NFC East is even worse.
The 1-4-1 Eagles are so injured that they can barely field a full NFL team, and Carson Wentz is having the worst season of his career. Their one achievement this season is a five-point win over a 49ers squad that is even more decimated by injuries than Philly is, and the team played for a tie against the Bengals the week before that. For their efforts, the Eagles are just half a game out of first place in the division. In fact, the Eagles have the best point differential in the division, at negative-34. Philly lost by two to the Ravens this week, in what may have been the most impressive performance by an NFC East team all season.
New York and Washington, meanwhile, played each other on Sunday. The 1-5 Giants beat the 1-5 Football Team by one point, 20-19, overcoming a phenomenally poor performance from quarterback Daniel Jones, who went 12-of-19 for 112 yards, one touchdown, and one pick, which came at the end of a first-and-goal after a 14-play drive to get the ball all the way down to Washington’s 7-yard line. Still, there was at least one sign of improvement for Jones: It was his first game with a touchdown since Week 1, breaking a month-long streak without a score. For the season, he has thrown three touchdowns and six interceptions. And the Giants defense did its job, too, scoring on a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter to break a 13-13 tie. New York’s offense scored zero points in the second half and yet the G-Men still managed to win their first game.
Washington benched sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins for Kyle Allen after Week 4, and Allen has not been an improvement. He turned the ball over twice against the Giants, both on plays that were entirely his fault. Still, he threw two touchdowns, including one with just 36 seconds left that gave Washington a chance to tie with an extra point. Head coach Ron Rivera decided to go for two—and the win—late in that game, sparing fans the prospect of overtime between those two teams. Here’s how that play went:
The NFC East is not just terrible, it is also hard to watch. The division that sits at 5-18-1 after six weeks has a point differential of negative-184. Both Washington and Dallas have had to switch quarterbacks, while Jones is creeping toward the “bust” label in New York, and injuries and incompetence have made the Eagles virtually unwatchable. There’s little hope things get much better—but one of these teams will be in the postseason come January.
The NFC East’s ineptitude wouldn’t even be worth this angry blog, but NFL broadcasters won’t let us simply ignore this division. The Eagles and Giants play on Thursday night next week. And in Week 8, the Cowboys and Eagles will face off on Sunday night before the Buccaneers play the Giants on Monday night. NFL fans will be stuck with this filth all season long:
The Cowboys have seven more nationally televised/4:25 games.— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) October 20, 2020
In terms of wins, the NFC East is barely keeping pace with the Bears, who have already benched one quarterback and might already be considering benching another. Fire this division into the sun.