I don't care if you root for the Cowboys, another NFC East team or anyone in between. When you heard about the brawl that delayed the Philadelphia-Washington game, every NFL fan had to have the same question.
"If our quarterback took a late hit in a rivalry game, who's coming after the guy who did it?"
The Eagles fans got their answer on Sunday. All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters charged across the field to trade blows with Washington defensive lineman Chris Baker after Baker knocked Nick Foles to the ground on an interception return.
Fights are a bad thing. This game is violent enough without any excessive activity, and it paints the league in a bad light. All of that said, anyone would applaud a similar reaction from one of their players in that situation – Peters is being lauded as a hero in Philadelphia this week.
With the amount of importance placed on the passing game these days, you've got to protect the quarterback to stand a chance. It's entirely understandable why Peters, as rock-solid a tackle as there is in the NFL, would take issue with the hit. It sends an even better message about the Eagles' team chemistry and unity.
So from the press box at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, my natural first reaction was simple. If it's Tony Romo getting plastered to the ground during a returned pick – an even dicier proposition, given his back injury – who is cruising across the field to defend Dallas' fallen No. 9?
If the first thought isn't Dez Bryant, I think you're a crazy person. Considering the intensity and the passion he plays with, and we talk about him playing with frequently, I can't imagine Bryant is going to let anyone punk his quarterback – particularly if it was a division rival. Even if he wasn't the first guy into the pile, you're not keeping a high energy guy like Bryant away from that type of action.
There's room for alternative options here, though. The Cowboys have several highly-touted, highly-aggressive young guys on their offensive linemen. With the praise heaped on them since training camp began, I can't imagine they'd take kindly to that. I'm singling out Travis Frederick among those five linemen. He's one of the nicest, most accommodating members of the roster away from the field. But I would not want to cross him, or one of his teammates, within the confines of the game.
It's an interesting question for the Cowboys. You'd certainly never root for a fight in a game, but it gave a really interesting look into the makeup of the Eagles, and if I was a Philadelphia fan I'd definitely be encouraged about my team's cohesion right now. That type of togetherness can pay dividends as the grind of the season goes along. It helps explain how the Eagles are 3-0 despite facing large first half deficits in their first two games – not to mention a rambunctious Redskins team on Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the quarterback play in the division took a major turn for the better, as you might have noticed during the Eagles and Redskins grudge match. The NFC East boasts one of the best collective quarterback ratings in the league, with a collective average of 92.9 between the four current starters of Foles, Kirk Cousins, Tony Romo and Eli Manning. [embedded_ad]
Manning, who has probably struggled the most of the four, still has a quarterback rating of 84.3 – the best rating among fourth-placed quarterbacks in the league. The NFC East doesn't have the best collective rating, as it ranks behind the ultra-efficient NFC West and the virtuoso performances by Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers in the AFC West.
It's funny, because the division's two young guns are the ones bombing away, while the more established pair of Romo and Manning is leaning more heavily on the ground game. The Cowboys' and Giants' primary running backs are No. 1 and No. 3 in the league in rushing, respectively.
Alfred Morris continues to churn along, ranked No. 4 in the league. Meanwhile, 2013 rushing champion LeSean McCoy ranks 17th in the league with 175 yards on the season.
If Foles and Cousins continue the aerial show they put on in Philadelphia on Sunday, it's going to be interesting to see how those stats evolve.