Quarterback remains a tough call on this week's edition of the NFC East All-Division Team. I started by eliminating the turnover machines in Dallas and Philadelphia from contention (though their non-turnovers numbers aren't bad, and Michael Vick did just manage to go without a turnover in the biggest game of his season so far) and focus on the Giants' Eli Manning and the Redskins' Robert Griffin III. And I did so while keeping in mind the disclaimer that no one ever reads, in spite of the bold type and capital letters:
This is an All-Division Team based on season performance to date. It is not -- repeat, NOT -- simply a recap of the best performances of the past week. That is why Jason Witten is not on it.
That in mind, how to compare what Manning has done so far with what Griffin has done? Both are 2-2. Manning has 250 more passing yards, but he's put it in the air 36 more times, and besides, Griffin has 249 more rushing yards, so that's a bit of a wash. Griffin has the far better completion percentage, a slightly higher yards-per-attempt average, one interception to Manning's four and the same number of fourth-quarter comebacks. Manning has more touchdown passes, 7 to 4, but again, Griffin's rushed for four. Manning had the spot on the team last week, so you'd think Griffin would have to have done something in Week 4 to overtake him. I say he did enough.
This week's team is a bit unbalanced, and isn't going to help me in Dallas. It has nine Eagles, nine Giants, seven Redskins and just two Cowboys. I guess that doesn't look too ridiculous after the way the Cowboys played their most recent game, but I assure you it's based on all four games so far and not any sort of punishment for what we saw Monday.
Anyway, here's the team. More comments to follow:
Quarterback: Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (Last week: Eli Manning)
Running back: Alfred Morris, Redskins (Andre Brown)
Wide receiver: Victor Cruz, New York Giants; DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles (Cruz, Miles Austin)
Tight end: Martellus Bennett, Giants (Bennett)
Fullback: Darrel Young, Redskins (Young)
Left tackle: Trent Williams, Redskins (Williams)
Left guard: Evan Mathis, Eagles (Mathis)
Center: Will Montgomery, Redskins (Montgomery)
Right guard: Chris Snee, Giants (Snee)
Right tackle: Todd Herremans, Eagles (Herremans)
Inside linebacker: Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys; DeMeco Ryans, Eagles (Ryans, Lee)
Cornerback: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eagles, Brandon Carr, Cowboys (Carr, Rodgers-Cromartie)
Safety: Kenny Phillips, Giants; Nate Allen, Eagles (Phillips, Gerald Sensabaugh)
Kicker: Lawrence Tynes, Giants (Tynes)
Punter: Sav Rocca, Redskins (Chris Jones)
Kick returner: David Wilson, Giants (Brandon Banks)
Punt returner: Rueben Randle, Giants (Damaris Johnson)
No, I am not simply penciling in the same offensive linemen week after week. I do watch the games and evaluate. For example, I thought Tyron Smith and Nate Livings did a much better job on the left side of the Cowboys' line on Monday Night, and I have been extremely impressed with the work of the Giants' Will Beatty at left tackle since he returned from his injury. But I do not, to this point, believe the season-to-date body of work of any of those players has been better than that of Williams or Mathis. I am keeping an eye on it, though, I promise.
And yeah, I mean, I'm sorry. I have ample respect for the work and the career and the brilliance of DeMarcus Ware as one of the dominant defensive players in the NFL. But the Kendricks kid in Philadelphia is simply playing too well to take off the list. He was all over the place Sunday, covering Bennett, covering Cruz, even pressuring Manning into throwing the ball away on the Giants' final drive of the game. He's a little bit like Lee in Dallas in his ability to not just recognize what's going on (i.e., the poor snap on that play I just mentioned) and react to it, but also to maintain his composure and technique and actually make the play once he gets to where he needs to be. The rookie is playing linebacker as well as anyone in the league right now (other than maybe Kerrigan, who's a complete animal), and he deserves this spot, no matter how fantastic a career the other guy has had.
Carr had a horrible game for the Cowboys on Monday, but his four-game body of work still merits the spot. Part of it was that I couldn't find anyone else who was crying out to deserve it. The guy I looked at most closely was Prince Amukamara of the Giants, who (like the aforementioned Beatty) has been very good since finally getting on the field.
Safety play has been an issue this year, in that few in the division have played it well. And Phillips, who's the best one, is likely to lose his spot in the coming weeks as he misses time with a knee injury. I welcome suggestions on safety. I feel like Allen has played pretty well.
Running back was close between Morris and LeSean McCoy, and touchdowns were my tiebreaker... Jackson took Austin's spot but not by much... Brent Celek nearly knocked off Bennett at tight end, and I looked at Trent Cole, Fletcher Cox and Linval Joseph at defensive tackle... His early-season blocks behind him, Rocca has ascended back to the top of the NFC East punter heap on the strength of four fair catches and five punts inside the 20.
So that's the team for this week. As ever, I welcome your thoughts.