We've thoroughly exhausted the AFC and we gave you a day to digest that. And today we crank up the NFC starting with the NFC East (because, just like the AFC, that's where it all ended last year). So without any further delay, here we go.
Dallas Cowboys - When Bill Parcells took over the New England Patriots, they...well...to be honest..sucked. A few years later, they were in the Super Bowl against Brett Favre and Mike Holmgren's Green Bay Packers. Parcells left there and went to coach the Jets. Their team wasn't that bad....but they weren't that good either. He ended up making Vinny Testaverde look like a good QB, and took the Jets as far as the AFC Championship game, only to lose in a heartbreaker. So logic would tell us that the Cowboys' time should be right around the corner right?.....Right?...For some reason I just don't believe it.
Parcells' approach hasn't changed since he was coaching the Giants, Pats, and Jets. It's his way or the highway. Just about every good player that he's had in Dallas is no longer with the team. Last year, while the Cowboys were hurting for a running back, Rashad Lee stepped in and played the role of running back and kick returner. He did an admirable job. Lee is no longer with the team. The man who has been the staple on defense for years, Dexter Coakley, has now bolted to St. Louis. And Marcellus Wiley is gone to Jacksonville. Midway through last season, he shipped Antonio Bryant to Cleveland. This was a dumb move, but Parcells did it because he and Bryant had had a disagreement that was border line physical earlier in the season. Parcells pushes his players to great lengths, and some of today's athletes just can't take it.
But enough about Parcells, let talk about his players. He brought it Drew Bledsoe to hold down the QB position until the other Drew (Henson) is ready to take over the helm. Until then, Julius Jones can look to see lots of carries. When he gets tired, Parcells brought it Anthony "A-Train" Thomas to give him relief. And if he can't cut the mustard, look for Marion Barber III out of the Univ. of Minnesota to be the man. Barber is a physical specimen, and a hell of a running back. He's 5'11" 221 lbs. of all muscle. Ripped like a steroid freak.
That'll pretty much be it. Drew Bledsoe often gets happy feet in the pocket so don't be surprised if by Week 4 Keyshawn isn't calling him out for underthrowing passes. The receiver who'll benefit the most from Bledsoe, though, is Terry Glenn. They had an excellent chemistry in New England, and I don't see why it shouldn't work here. Also, Jason Witten became a serious threat at tight end last season. Look for him to continue his excellent play, as he'll see a lot of passes coming his way, since Bledsoe likes to get rid of the ball fast.
Defense is where the Cowboys have placed ALL of their emphasis. And they look like they're gonna have one of the top defenses in the league. They brought in Jason Ferguson from the Jets to play at Defensive tackles, and to man the outside, they used their first two draft picks to bring in pass rush specialists DeMarcus Ware from Troy St. (that's in Alabama, by the way) and Marcus Spears from LSU. They also draft Outside Linebacker Kevin Burnett from Tennessee to replace Dexter Coakley. Burnett is a big, fast physical linebacker who plays a lot like Coakley.
To help its secondary, the Cowboys took Aaron Glenn way from Houston and signed Anthony Henry from the Cleveland Browns.
The Cowboys will win some big games this season, but look for them to be a middle of the pack squad again this year.
Record: 8-8 either way. I'll explain why at the end of this report.
Philadelphia Eagles - Philly has been knocking on the door for the past three years. Could it be that they're the newest version of the Buffalo Bills? Of course not. Donovan McNabb is a young brilliant talent with his best years still ahead of him. They re-signed Correll Buckhalter. Michael Westbrook will be back. And Brian Dawkins, Jeremiah Trotter, and Jevon Kearse still anchor that defense.
So all the stuff that you hear in the news now about T.O. wanting more money, and him not liking Donovan McNabb..Don't pay any attention to it. While T.O. is an excellent player, he's an attention whore. He's doing this sh*t to get attention. This is D. McNabb's team, and that's the way it'll be with or without T.O. He got them the NFC Championship game two years straight without T.O. and with half-ass receivers.
The Eagles didn't make many "sexy" moves in the off-season, but that's what class organizations do. They try to keep continuity. So they made some not so big media splashes that will make BIG splashes on the field. They extended the contracts of Hugh Douglas, Jeremiah Trotter, and fullback John Ritchie. They added by subtracting when they let Freddie Mitchell go. To replace him, they drafted Fred Brown from Georgia. He'll easily catch 50 passes this season, and he's effective AFTER the catch (something Fred Ex couldn't be). And the biggest re-signing that they made was to re-sign Def. Coordinator Jim Johnson to a four year extension.
And when Week One rolls around, T.O. will be in an Eagles uniform. He'll get over himself soon enough.
Record: 12-4 as long as McNabb is healthy. 8-8 if he goes down.
New York Giants - This is the year that Eli Manning starts to look like he looked in college. The Giants cleaned house and placed all the support around Eli that he'll need. They got rid of Ike Hilliard and brought in Plaxico Burress. They brought in two veteran offensive tackles in Karim McKenzie from the Jets and Bob Whitfield from Jacksonville. Tiki Barber is still in the backfield and the Giants should be okay this season.
The defense looks good, and I think that this team can seriously give Philly a run for the division title as long as Eli is healthy.
Record: 10-6 if Eli is healthy 6-10 if not.
Washington Redskins - The Redskins didnt' really make any earth shattering moves either. They traded L. Coles back to NY for Santana Moss. They drafted Carlos Rogers (to play alongside Sean Taylor. That'll be the best safety tandem since Dennis Smith and Steve Atwater). They signed Jason Campbell (who won't play right away). And they managed to piss off LaVar Arrington. So I don't think the Redskins will be in playoff contention this year either. They'll win a big game or two, but I don't think they'll make it. And a lot of it will have to do with Joe Gibbs having the same coaching style as he had 20 years ago.
Record: 7-9 either way.
So let's recap. The Eagles will win the division. The Giants will contend. The Cowboys and Redskins won't. The following is a story to explain exactly why Dallas and Washington won't win because of their coaches.
Laura noticed that on every Thanksgiving, her mother would cut both edges from the side of the ham before she put it into the pan to place it in the oven. She'd noticed this for the past couple of years. So on this year, Laura asked her mother, "Mom, why do you cut the edges off of the ham before placing it in the pan?" Her mother's reply "Because that's the way that your grandmother showed me how to do it." Laura's mother gave her that response, but she still wondered herself why she did it. So she called up her mother, and asked "Mom, why did you always cut the sides off of the ham when I was younger" and her mother replied, "Because our pan was always too small for the entire ham."
So the point of that story is to say that times have changed. If there are better methods in place, you should use those methods as opposed to what once worked. Joe Gibbs & Bill Parcells won't conform, and thus...they won't win.
NL Notes: Cubs, Weaver, Reds, Mets, Nats
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