The NFC East: Touchback
Tom Landry, Buddy Ryan, Bill Parcells and Joe Gibbs led their teams in 1987 in old school smash mouth football when football was really fun to watch. The identities of these teams where fashioned by run first offenses and 4-3 defenses that stacked the line like the Great Wall of China. The air on these Sunday afternoon football games was thickened with warriors such as Lawrence Taylor, the hogs, Randall Cunningham, Phil Sims, Doug Williams, Art Monk, Mark May, Gary Clark, Darrel Green, Charles Mann, Mike Golic …
… Missing from this eclectic group of players is the mighty Dallas Cowboys? How could anyone leave out Steve Pelluer, Gary Hogaboom, and Eugene the hitting machine Lockhart, K-Mart Kelvin Martin and the manster Randy White? I think the point has been made; however, within the 1987 Cowboys which was the beginning of the end of the Tom Landry era, the Cowboys had some hidden gems on this roster. For instance Herschel Walker, the center piece of what was to become one of the most lopsided trades in NFL history giving the Cowboys seven picks over two seasons including the drafting of the NFL’s all time rusher Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, the moose Darrel Johnson and several other players who contributed to the 90’ s run for the Cowboys. Within this 1987 roster was a hidden gem of one Mark Tuinei, a university of Hawaii product who made an appearance on the famed television show Magnum P.I. when it was actually cool to wear a mustache. Tuinei helped anchor a line that featured three Super bowl wins. The next gem in this 1987 roster was Nate Newton, the often-controversial figure with the big smile who partied more than he practiced. Jim Jeffcoat anchored the defensive line along with a safety and special teams player, the beloved Bill Bates who in his final season stepped out onto the field at the Georgia Dome in 1993 and walked off a champ.
As we touchback this week through the NFC East for week seven, the question of Cowboys, Giants, Redskins and Eagles is can these teams step into the rivalries of the past and regain must watch television that made the 1987 season one to remember?
Featured Game of the Week
Seven, the perfect number, the number that represents what no other back in NFL history has ever done, not even Jim Brown. Seven straight games with one hundred yards of rushing was accomplished in Sunday’s game against the Giants by Demarco Murray, giving him a total of 913 yards for the season. Peyton Manning however will certainly overshadow this record on the day, with good reason. The Giants played much better this past Sunday making up for the gaff they experienced in Philadelphia. Eli Manning was proficient in the passing game this week going 21 of 33 with 248 yards and 3 touchdowns, not bad considering the drumming he received the previous week. On three different occasions the Giants had the opportunity to sustain drives; however, the offensive line once again proved to be dazed and confused with false start penalties that ended drives forcing the punt. Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. will in the future be a connection that will place fear in the hearts of defensive coordinators around the league; they hooked up for two touchdowns. The combination of Cruz and Beckham in the future will be fun to watch and we all know that with options and speed Manning will quietly dominate much like he did when he had weapons during both super bowl victories. The Giants scored 21 points which is an improvement over zero; yet, there is much to be done in the way of finding a way to win.
The Cowboys entered Sunday’s game against the Giants riding the adrenaline train off the win in Seattle and played off the rails taking the engine to the station. The win over the Giants was the sixth straight win for the Cowboys and they are experiencing success because the system is being played the way Jason Garrett envisioned and experienced in the early ‘90s, by running the football. The question of Murray’s health is being answered by having Dunbar and Randle to keep him off the field so that he may rest and face less reps. It’s working, the previous years Murray has not made it through a season without being hurt; however, if the Cowboys can keep Murray healthy, the rest of the season may be promising. That being said, the Cowboys have won six in a row for the first time in seven years. Escobar showed up Sunday with a coming out party of sorts, the potential of the second year tight end is preparing him self to take over for Witten when he retires. Escobar caught two passes today from Romo, both for touchdowns. Romo continues to find Terrance Williams each and every week at the right time and the right place connecting once again for the second touchdown of the game tying the game at 14 in the 2nd quarter. The Cowboys are dominant in one category this year; they lead the league in third down conversions. Last year, the Cowboys were beyond terrible on third down production, what has snapped? The Run is putting teams in position to respect the way they game plan the play action because at anytime Romo could hand off to Murray for a burst or throw to Bryant, Beasley, Witten, Escobar, Williams, and Street…
Tony Romo completed 17 of 23 passes for 273 yards three touchdowns and one interception after Bryant fell down on a route. Murray ran for 128 yards and 1 touchdown. The defense continues to finish games; causing two fumbles and interrupting the flow of the run making Manning throw the ball. If the Cowboys continue to play with the team mindset and believing in their coaches, then the Cowboys will remain atop of the NFC East. Did anyone notice that worst home field advantage in football was in favor of Dallas? I believe that was the first home game that the Cowboys have experienced since moving over from Texas Stadium in Irving. Great job fans! Cowboys face the Redskins next Monday night on ESPN and the Giants will be on bye week.
The Washington Redskins improve to 2-5 Sunday on the leg of Kai Forbath who contributed 13 of the 19 points scored on the day including the game winner with no time on the clock. What is more disturbing about the win for the Redskins is the play of Kirk Cousins, who by no means deserves to be given special treatment. In the games he has played with preparation, Cousins has played a role in turning the ball over 11 times. Sheepishly, RGIII sat on the sidelines Sunday with a sigh of relief taking the game with ease knowing that his job is not in jeopardy. What more can you say about Colt McCoy? Colt McCoy has patiently waited for a turn, a chance, and reclamation so to speak to prove that he has the skills to be a winner on the field. Why would anyone think different about McCoy? In college at the University of Texas, all McCoy did was win, he was the DJ Khalid of the Big 12. No, McCoy is not the prototypical NFL Quarterback; he has a little backyard football in him, escapability and the will to win. McCoy entered the game in the second half after Cousin gave up a fumble and an interception, which led to points for the Titans. Is this really a win for measure though? I mean the Tennessee Titans are not the darlings of their division. When Charlie Whitehurst is the quarterback of the team, there is not much hope for winning the division. Please do not get me wrong, I like the pony tail and all, he has been proficient when he has playtime; however, Whitehurst, like Cousins, like McCoy, are back up quarterbacks on teams trying to recover identities.
That being said, the Titans and Redskins both had an equal day. The Titans claimed 14 first downs to the Redskins 16, both teams had 2 turnovers, time of possession for the Titans 30:56 to the Redskins 29:04, both teams were 3-11 on third downs and both teams were equally bad to watch. McCoy on his first play from scrimmage found Pierre Garcon for a 70-yard touchdown pass, not bad for a throw to flats that ended in Garcon finishing with his legs. The rest of the day belonged to Kai Forbath, who over McCoy deserves the recognition of doing his job and helping the Redskins to their second win of the season. Washington Faces the Cowboys this week on Monday Night Football at the death star in Arlington, TX, the Cowboys have won 4 of last 5 matches on Monday Night; this is a rivalry game and a classic watch for the historical fans of the past and present.
Eagles Bye Week
The Eagles face a huge challenge this week when they face the Arizona Cardinals who have quietly surged to the top of the NFC West. Seattle’s loss to St. Louis yesterday gave the Cardinals a two game lead, the Eagles will need to focus on the task coming this Sunday and not fall prey to looking ahead to the Dallas game on Thanksgiving.
NFC East: Week 7
Dallas 6-1 Washington
Philadelphia 5-1 @ Arizona
New York 3-4 Bye
Washington 2-5 @ Dallas
Garrett, Gruden, Kelly and Coughlin do not yet stand up to the 1987 coaching line of Landry, Gibbs, Ryan and Parcells; nonetheless, these teams are still rivals, still fun to watch and still have one common goal, which is to pound each other to the ground in submission to show who will be beast in the East.
BTW, congratulations to Peyton Manning for surpassing Brett Favre as the leader in all-time touchdown passes with 510, no small feat considering the year off that Manning did not play. Manning is on his way to 600 a record that will surely stand for the coming future.
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