The Philadelphia Eagles still don't really know who they are so far. Eagles fans like myself can't figure out if they are a real winning team, as their 3-1 record indicates, or if they are just the luckiest team in football so far. We don't know who the real Birds are - but luckily, no one else in the NFC East knows who they are yet either.
The Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and Washington Redskins have also stumbled and soared out of the gate in equal measure, just like the Eagles. As such, the entire NFC East has an identity crisis a quarter of the way through the season - and the first one to solve it should win it all.
The Cowboys jumped out huge by upsetting the Giants on Sept. 6, yet their bad versions have taken over since then. Dallas is licking its wounds during this week's bye, as it is 2-2 after a disastrous Monday night performance against the Chicago Bears. What's worse, the Cowboys have to face the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 14, which is hardly a promising cure for what ails them.
The Giants are nearly as inconsistent with their own 2-2 start. Bitter losses to both the Cowboys and Eagles have been sandwiched in between explosive wins over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers. It seems if Eli Manning isn't throwing for close to 400 yards or scoring 30 or more points, New York can't do anything.
The only NFC team happy to be 2-2 right now is the Redskins, since they barely sniff .500 in most years. In addition, having Robert Griffin III makes this year a success in Washington already. But while he has excelled pretty early, he still could have done much better. They have blown winnable games to the St. Louis Rams and Cincinnati Bengals, proving that the same old Redskins are still lurking around.
There is little doubt that the NFC East is the most competitive division in football again thus far, just like in the old days. But if all four teams keep being inconsistent, it could be another year where the champion is lucky to win nine or 10 games. That didn't stop the 9-7 Giants from winning the Super Bowl last year, but they can't come from nowhere to win it all every season.
Will one of these clubs finally pull away and prove they are an elite club from week to week? Or will the entire division stay cluttered like this for two-three more months? The Eagles are currently the undisputed leaders of the NFC East, but it has been by the very skin of their teeth - and they can't win like this forever.
If the Eagles find better ways to win while the Giants, Cowboys and Redskins keep struggling, then they could open up a pretty big lead. At the least, the window of opportunity is still there - but if Philadelphia keeps waiting around to jump through it, then Dallas, New York or even Washington could take the leap first.
One of these four teams will be a champion in some way, and eventually, one of them will look like it for more than a week or two. The Eagles paid for waiting too long to get consistent last season, and it would hurt even more for this much better Philadelphia team to blow its chance too.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.
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