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NFC East: Cowboys Are The Only Team Causing Chaos On D

Posted Oct 22, 2013


With all the dust having settled, and every team in the NFC East having earned at least one win this season, here’s my main takeaway from Week 7:

For all their past history of success and their two big names at defensive end, the New York Giants boast as many sacks as a defense as Jason Hatcher does by himself. Hatcher, in his first season as a 4-3 defensive tackle, is out-sacking Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck, who have been largely considered as two of the better ends in the league.

Tuck got his first complete sack of the season Monday night against Minnesota, giving him 1.5 for the year. If not for that, the Giants would actually be trailing Hatcher. Combine his six sacks – best among defensive tackles in the league – with four and a half from George Selvie, four from DeMarcus Ware, two from Bruce Carter, two from Kyle Wilber, one from Orlando Scandrick and a half-sack from Jarius Wynn, and you’ve got 20 as a team.

Sad as it is to admit, the Giants do not have a player with two sacks – not one. Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka each have 1.5. Pierre-Paul has one, as does linebacker Spencer Paysinger. The Giants starting defensive tackles have combined for one sack.

That says a lot about how futile the Giants are – not just as a pass rush, but as a team. It might say even more about the type of season Hatcher is having as the lone healthy starter for Rod Marinelli’s defensive line.

While we’re on the subject of futility – or lack thereof, in this case – we can also talk about takeaways. With three interceptions in Philadelphia on Sunday, the Cowboys jumped into a tie for No. 6 in the league with nine on the year.

If you’re keeping track, it means this secondary has bested last year’s tally of seven picks after seven weeks. Factor in six fumble recoveries, and the Cowboys have 15 takeaways on the year – tied for fourth in the NFL alongside Arizona, Buffalo and San Francisco.

The rest of the division isn’t keeping pace. Not surprisingly, given the defense I’ve maligned frequently in this blog, Washington brings up the rear with nine takeaways – tied for No. 25 in the league. The Giants’ 10 takeaways ties four ways for No. 24. Philadelphia has 12, which ties the Eagles for No. 22.

As you might guess, the takeaway disparity contributes in a big way to turnover margin. Dallas is once again leading the way at plus-five. The Eagles are the only other team with a positive margin – plus-one. Washington sits at minus-one.

The Giants, despite their 10 takeaways, are minus-14 in turnover margin – a direct correlation to their banged-up offensive line.

When you look at those type of stats, it’s not surprising they’ve been blown out of the water three times. It’s actually pretty incredible that they’ve lost by respectable margins in three of those six losses.

Here are some more noteworthy division stats after Week 7:

  • LeSean McCoy’s day against Dallas was a stinker by the standards he has set for himself. Despite rushing for just 55 yards in the loss, he still leads No. 2 rusher Marshawn Lynch by more than 100 yards.
  • DeSean Jackson’s lackluster effort of 21 yards against the Cowboys did cost him his top spot, however. He went into the game No. 1 among wide receivers in total yardage. His 610 yards now rank behind Torrey Smith, Erick Decker and A.J. Green.
  • Victor Cruz and Dez Bryant are also now within striking distance of Jackson, as they trail him by 19 yards and 41 yards, respectively.
  • New York’s third wide receiver, Rueben Randle, caught the Giants’ only touchdown against Minnesota, and his fourth in the last three weeks. Cruz has not found the end zone since the second quarter of the Week 4 loss to Kansas City. Hakeem Nicks has yet to score this season, period.
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