The NFC East is 3-12-1: Here is the big issue and a fix for each team ESPN logo
Tuesday, October 6, 2020

The NFC East is the NFC Least. It's not just bad -- it's worse than last season.

The Dallas Cowboys can't stop a nosebleed, the New York Giants can't reach the end zone, the Philadelphia Eagles barely have a recognizable offensive lineman or wide receiver and the Washington Football Team doesn't even have a real nickname. Their combined records: 3-12-1.

No wonder the leader of the division -- Philadelphia -- has one win through four weeks. The last time after Week 4 a first-place team in any division had one or fewer wins was the 2005 NFC North.

But the Eagles do have a tie. Only in the NFC East is a tie as good as a win.

NFC East reporters Todd Archer (Cowboys), Tim McManus (Eagles), Jordan Raanan (Giants) and John Keim (Washington) break down the biggest issue facing each team and how it can be fixed.

Dallas Cowboys (1-3)

The biggest concern for the Cowboys is an easy answer: It's the defense. When you have allowed 146 points in four games, the most in franchise history to start a season, how could it not be the answer? The Cowboys do not get consistent pressure. They struggle to get off blocks. They have difficulty covering in the secondary. They have not tackled well. That adds up to what looks like the worst defense in team history statistically. Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has brought a multifaceted scheme to a unit that played mostly one coverage in 2019. It is not working, but simplifying things is not the answer for coach Mike McCarthy, either.

How the Cowboys can fix their issue: Play complementary football. The offense cannot turn the ball over; it must protect the defense. -- Archer

New York Giants (0-4)

The biggest concern for the Giants is they can't score points. The Giants are averaging 11.8 points a game. Is that even possible in today's NFL? It starts with their inability to make big plays. Without running back Saquon Barkley, they don't seem to have any playmakers who truly scare the opposition. That makes life difficult for quarterback Daniel Jones & Co., who have gone consecutive games without scoring a touchdown and are last in the league in red zone production (20%). Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett better come up with something -- fast! -- before this gets really ugly.

How Giants can fix their issue: Get the ball to tight end Evan Engram. He's the most explosive weapon they've got. -- Raanan

Philadelphia Eagles (1-2-1)

The biggest concern for the Eagles is they're decimated by injuries on offense -- again. Quarterback Carson Wentz is operating without four of his top five receivers and tight end Dallas Goedert. Only two members of the original offensive line are playing now and one of them, right tackle Lane Johnson, is hobbled by a lingering ankle issue that required surgery before the start of the season. Unsurprisingly, the Eagles rank 26th in points per game (21.0). Every drive feels like a gigantic test of will. The good news is Wentz showed signs he's coming out of his funk Sunday night against the San Francisco 49ers.

How Eagles can fix their issue: Keep rolling Wentz out, allowing him to create. (Or, alternately, hire Mr. Miyagi as a medical consultant.) -- McManus

Washington Football Team (1-3)

The biggest concern for Washington is Dwayne Haskins' inexperience and overall youth on offense: Haskins ranks last in the NFL in Total QBR at 30.7 and next to last in completion percentage for throws 6 air yards or longer, so there isn't much attacking down the field. He's enduring the growing pains that come with youth: Haskins has started 11 games with a 2-9 record. Washington wants him to handle situations better. The team knew his development would take time. The rest of the offense lacks a lot of pop, aside from receiver Terry McLaurin and developing running back Antonio Gibson. They need more, including a consistent ground game.

How Washington can fix its issue: Patience or, if Haskins doesn't improve, a quarterback change. -- Keim

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