What’s happening in the NFC East is somewhat remarkable. Given preseason expectations, with the Giants and Cowboys expected to lead the pack, what we’ve witnessed in 2017 is a complete role reversal of expected fates.
Who saw the Eagles leading the division at 10-1? Who saw the Giants completely falling on their collective Eli Manning face at 2-9? Or the Cowboys, who only several weeks ago where within breathing distance of Philly, falling off a cliff without Ezekiel Elliott?
Second-year quarterback Dak Prescott, after maintaining a 97.9 passer rating through Dallas’ first eight games, is now a shell of himself. He’s totaled 500 passing yards with zero touchdowns and five interceptions, and has a combined 57.0 passer rating, in three straight losses in as many weeks.
Cowboys fans are suddenly questioning whether they bought into fool’s gold in believing Prescott was the surprise heir apparent to Tony Romo. This graph, from SB Nation’s Cowboys blog, Blogging The Boys, says everything about how fans are digesting Prescott’s struggles:
The answers to those questions is crucial for the future of the Cowboys. When they made the decision to retain Prescott in the starting job over Tony Romo once the latter was healthy, they committed to Prescott as the quarterback for the next decade or more. Stumbling into a franchise QB at the end of the fourth round of the 2016 draft was seen as a major coup for Dallas. But now the concern is that it may have been fool’s gold, and the star of the future may be flaming out after less than two seasons.
Redskins fans can certainly relate. But is it too early, or too unfair, to compare Prescott to Robert Griffin III’s precipitous fall? The Sports Junkies touched on this during their Monday broadcast on 106.7 The Fan.
EB: I hope people are taking notice, and seeing what’s happening with Dak Prescott with no running game. Dak Prescott looks like poop.
Cakes: By the way, he has all of his compliment of wide receivers. He still has Dez Bryant. I mean, Cole Beasley’s a possession guy. I get it.
Lurch: Yeah, but they are struggling. Why are they struggling so much?
Cakes: I think part of it is Dez is not the same player. He gets no separation any more, if you watch him play.
Lurch: True. But why is Dak struggling so much?
JP: He’s pressing. He’s pressing.
Lurch: Man, it just doesn’t make sense to me.
EB: Well, they have some offensive line issues. And he probably wasn’t as good. It’s like Robert. Robert thrived with that running game. You kind of trick it up a little bit first go-around the league. Not quite as good as everybody thought.
Lurch: Yeah. He needed another guy.
The conversation took a hard left turn when EB used Prescott’s struggles to highlight how Kirk Cousins has still managed to thrive as the Redskins deal with many of the same issues as their division rivals. It’s worth noting, both the Redskins and Cowboys are 5-6.
EB: Meanwhile, Kirk’s got a banged up offensive line, no running game, no receivers, different guys every week. They’re signing guys off the street.
Valdez: But you still think they can run the table?
EB: Listen. I think it’s possible, because we have the softest schedule. You can mock me, Matt, and I’m not saying that we’re going to. I gave them a 25-to-30-percent chance, but I do think it’s possible, based on history and based on the fact that we have the softest schedule down the stretch. I mean, I think that’s reasonable to think that. We don’t play a team with a winning record! I mean, c’mon! It’s definitely doable! And what they’ve been able to do offensively, given all of their injuries, is remarkable.
The Redskins, after a devastating loss in New Orleans, are 1-0 with their remaining games against the Cowboys (5-6), Chargers (5-6), Cardinals (5-6), Broncos (3-8) and Giants (2-9). The Panthers (8-3) and Falcons (7-4) are currently slotted in as Wild Cards, the respective fifth and sixth seeds in the NFC. Running the table would put the Redskins at 10-6, which still may not be enough to secure a playoff spot.
JP: You do play two teams with an identical record. That’s why, that softest schedule, if you re-calibrate it now with the Chargers and Cardinals winning, the percentage goes up.
EB: Sure. I think we’re a damn good 5-6 team. Sorry. I do. We’re a good 5-6 team.
Lurch: I just think that 30 percent is a little high of going 6-0. But that’s just your opinion. I get it.
EB: Exactly! I’m not allowed to have an opinion! I’m sorry I’m not Valdez and haven’t given up on my Ravens, like he has, and probably deservedly so.
The Redskins play the Cowboys at Dallas on Thursday, a chance to avenge their 33-19 loss earlier in the season and come one game closer to running the table. A Redskins loss, at any point in the next five weeks, would virtually erase all playoff hopes in Washington.