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The NFC Least: The Reason why Each Team is Struggling

NFC East Race

The Dallas Cowboys (1-3)

The NFC Least: The Reason why Each Team is Struggling
Cowboys defensive captain Sean Lee walks off the field. Photo courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys.

The Dallas Cowboys lead the league in yards per game with 509.5 yards per contest.

Their quarterback (Dak Prescott) has looked quite impressive, throwing for nine touchdowns and only three interceptions. Yet the Cowboys could be 0-4 if it was not for a lucky bounce in a Week 2 home contest against the 0-4 Atlanta Falcons.

Their offense has not been the problem as they have scored 20 more points than any other team with a losing record to date this season.

However, one aspect in which the offense has room to improve is taking care of the football.

Currently, the Dallas Cowboys ranks dead last in the NFL in giveaways. Now one could speculate that this is due to passes being forced into tight windows (due to large deficits late into football games).

Yet only three of the teams’ turnovers have come off of interceptions. This means the team must learn when it is appropriate to fight for the extra yardage and when to go down.

Given the lack of success on the defensive end (the Cowboys defense has given up more points than any other defense to date), the Cowboys must avoid giving their opponent a short field.

The Cowboys defense has played quite inopportune (producing the least takeaways in the NFL). This relates in large part to the lack of pressure the Cowboys defense has been putting on opposing quarterbacks.

To date this year the Dallas Cowboys have only managed to record eight sacks. The eventual return of Leighton Vander Esch, Sean Lee, Anthony Brown and Chidobie Awuzie should help turn this unit around.

The Washington Football Team (1-3)

The NFC Least: The Reason why Each Team is Struggling
Kendall Fuller intercepts a pass versus the San Francisco 49ers. Image Courtesy of NBC Sports Washington.

Washington was up 7-3 versus the Cleveland Browns, and then second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins forced a pass on a 1st and 25 from the Cleveland Browns 30-yard line into double coverage.

This pass was intercepted and on the day Washington would have a -5 turnover differential.

Washington would go on to lose the game by a final score of 20-34. As a result, many could assume that the defense struggled, but this simply was not the case.

23 of the 34 points given up came off of turnovers.

Washington has a relatively weak offensive line and they lack athleticism on the offensive end to create much separation in the secondary.

The lone star on the offensive end to date this season is second-year wide receiver, Terry McLaurin. Through four games this year the second-year wide receiver ranks fifth in the NFL with 387 receiving yards.

Anthony Gibson is slowly developing into a dual-threat running back ( 44 carries for 186 yards and 10 receptions for 98 yards ), yet he still has much room to grow.

Last week when Washington played the Baltimore Ravens they avoided third and long scenarios by playing penalty-free football.

This in turn took the stress off of Quarterback Dwayne Haskins (to make a big play when one simply was not available). As a result, the Washington Football Team managed to hang around (to an extent) in a game in which the Baltimore Ravens were heavily favored.

In order for Washington to improve this year they must avoid putting Dwayne Haskins in difficult scenarios. The upcoming return of defensive end Chase Young could help put the offense in many favorable scenarios.

The Philidelphia Eagles (1-2-1)

Through four weeks Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has been sacked 14 times. Now one may want to point the blame to a deteriorating Eagles offensive line (Jason Peters has been struggling).

However, when one looks into the analytics it becomes more clear that the decision-making of Wentz is more at fault.

During the Eagles week, one loss to the Washington Football Team Wentz chose to throw the football away zero times.

As a result, he was sacked eight times in that contest. In that game, Wentz also threw for a pair of interceptions. Through four weeks Wentz also leads the league in interceptions and ranks among the bottom of the league in pass accuracy.

As a result, it is fair to assume that despite the injuries of Alshon Jeffery, Desean Jackson, Jalen Reagor and J.J. Arcega Whiteside, Carson Wentz is still mostly to blame.

If the Eagles want to remain competitive this season, Wentz must learn when to give up on a play.

Quarterback Nick Foles is not in Philidelphia anymore, and the Eagles simply do not have the talent available to be able to afford to make the mistakes they have made so far this season.

New York Giants (0-4)

To date this year the New York Giants have scored a total of 47 points (last in the NFL). Last week the Cleveland Browns scored 49 points.

Guess who the Cleveland Browns were playing against? They were playing against the Dallas Cowboys.

The extent of the New York Giants’ offensive problems should be put to the test this week when they play the Dallas Cowboys (a team that ranks last in points given up).

Through four weeks each of the New York Giants opponents has ranked in the top half of the league in yards per game given up.

Part of the New York Giants’ offensive problems can be explained by a lack of production in the run game.

To date, this season quarterback Daniel Jones leads the team in rushing (with 137 yards).

The New York Giants also rank second to last in the NFL in rushing yards as a group in total.

But, last season the New York Giants had an MVP caliber running back in Saquon Barkley available. This season it is unlikely Saquuon Barkley will return to the playing field (after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a Week 2 loss to the Chicago Bears).

Having an elite running back available, opened up the playbook to allow for play-action passes and so forth.

With the running game struggling, Jones has thrown for just two touchdowns and five interceptions. Last season Jones threw for 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

If the Giants want to find a way to remain semi-competitive this year the team must find a viable ground game option outside the young quarterback.

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