ARLINGTON, Texas -- As we prepare for tonight's "Monday Night Football" showdown between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, here are a few observations about the two teams that played Sunday. The Redskins and Eagles have identical records (4-3), but they don't have the same mindset today:
There's no excuse for giving up 27 fourth-quarter points to the Tennessee Titans -- even when the great Kenny Britt's involved. Eagles coach Andy Reid took up for defensive coordinator Sean McDermott during his news conference earlier today. Reid said he thought McDermott had a "heck of a game plan, doggone it." Unfortunately, that game plan didn't include any answers for Britt, the former Rutgers star who was bouncing back from a bar fight Friday. Reid said he understood why McDermott couldn't simply put his best cornerback, Asante Samuel, on Britt to stop the bleeding. But the explanation didn't really hold water. Nate Allen and Ellis Hobbs had no chance against the speedy Britt, so McDermott should've tried something different. McDermott's a talented young coach, but he deserves all the heat he's taking in Philly today.
A lot of us picked Brandon Graham to be the rookie defensive player of the year, but he's not showing up a lot on film. Graham appeared on the injury list with an illness and ankle problem. Maybe that explains why he was only on the field for 18 snaps. This is way too early in the season for Graham to be hitting some type of rookie wall, so this is a situation that bears watching. The Eagles need Graham to be more consistent.
Defensive tackle Antonio Dixon had the best game of his career. You wondered if there would be some fall off when Brodrick Bunkley suffered an elbow surgery, but Dixon continues to raise his level of play. He was on the field for much of the game Sunday and he responded with seven tackles, a sack and two tackles for a loss. Dixon was a big reason the Eagles did a nice job against Chris Johnson. He's too quick for some of the enormous guards in this league. I don't see his playing time going down a bit once Bunkley returns.
You hate to single out center Mike McGlynn, but he sort of made it easy. McGlynn was man enough to claim responsibility for that fumble on the Titans' 3-yard line that turned the game around. Jason Jones was apparently his man on the play. Sometimes a defense can do things to confuse an offensive lineman, but there's really no excuse for not accounting for Jones. He didn't do anything that tricky -- other than basically taking a handoff from Kevin Kolb. Just an awful mental mistake at the most crucial point in Sunday's game.
If I'm Mike Shanahan, film of that loss to the Lions from '09 is playing on a continuous loop at Redskins Park. This is the ultimate trap game with the bye week followed by a rematch with the Eagles. The Skins had a letdown against the Rams earlier this season. The Lions are a similar team to the Rams. If you allow them to hang around for a little while, there's a decent chance you'll take the loss. This is no time for the Skins to feel all that great about themselves. Yes, the four wins are impressive when you take last season into consideration. But a loss to the Lions on Sunday would be pretty difficult to overcome.
Make Ryan Torain carry a football around campus all week. Torain has emerged as a dynamic player for an offense that's short on playmakers. But he can't fumble the ball in the red zone -- or anywhere else for that matter. I remember hearing about former Rams and 49ers running back Wendell Tyler being presented with a football that had a handle on it. That's the kind of gag gift that might grab Torain's attention this week. But if Torain will secure the football, he has a chance to have a big-time season. Like I told you during training camp, Torain and Arian Foster are going to be huge. Wait, did I forget to actually put that in print?
It's time to cue the Rocky music in Ashburn, Va. If Rocky McIntosh plays like that on a regular basis, the Redskins will have a formidable defense. McIntosh looked so much more comfortable in Jim Haslett's defense Sunday, and I think he's ready to do that on a consistent basis. I'm trying not to overreact to all these standout performances on defense because of the Jay Cutler factor, but it's tough.
Speaking of standout performances... Albert Haynesworth was brilliant in Sunday's game. The play he made to stand up Cutler at the goal line turned the game around for the Skins. When Haynesworth's at his best, he's unblockable. Haslett has done a nice job of making Haynesworth feel like he's in the Titans' defense. If not for the play of DeAngelo Hall, Haynesworth would've been the defensive MVP. By the way, can we go ahead and give the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award to DeAngelo Hall?