Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

10 Feb 2006

Four Downs: NFC East

by Al Bogdan

Welcome to 2006's first edition of Four Downs, FootballOutsiders.com's off-season feature series. Four Downs will take a regular look at the goings on in each division through the eyes of the Football Outsiders staff. The first set of Four Downs articles will preview the upcoming free agent signing period, looking at holes that teams need to fill and making suggestions on how they should do so.

Dallas Cowboys

What Happened Last Year?

The Cowboys started the season 7-3, looking like a lock to make the playoffs in the NFC. An injury to tackle Flozell Adams ended up weakening both ends of the offensive line. The early season success of the passing game disappeared as Drew Bledsoe found himself on his back more often than he found himself throwing long touchdown passes to Terry Glenn.

According to the innovative DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) ratings from FootballOutsiders.com (click here for a further explanation), all three units in Dallas finished the year near the league average. Dallas had the #14 offensive DVOA, #12 in the passing offense and a lowly #22 running the ball. Defensively, the team jumped from #25 in 2004 to #14 in 2005 despite having the #20 rushing defense thanks to a pass defense that was #9 in the league. Special teams hurt Dallas, as they finished #20 according to our rankings, with the second worst field goal unit in the league.

Who's Leaving?

Dallas is slightly under the cap and will need to cut some salary or restructure some veteran contracts to make moves in free agency. La'Roi Glover and Larry Allen are the most likely players to have their contracts restructured, as the two veterans count for nearly $15 million against the cap. It is also doubtful that anyone whose foot came in contact with a football in Dallas in 2005 will be back with the team, except for punter Mat McBriar who will probably have to fight for his job in training camp.

The only potential free agent that Dallas may lose who was a significant part of its 2005 season is tackle Torrin Tucker, a restricted free agent. Tucker was significant to Dallas more for what he didn't do -- block oncoming pass rushers -- than for anything positive he did on the field. Bill Parcells has indicated some affinity towards Tucker, so the Cowboys will likely tender at least a minimum offer to the restricted free agent.

Who Should They Sign?

Dallas needs an upgrade at tackle, but there don't look to be too many quality options available on the free agent market. The best name out there will be the Atlanta Falcons' Kevin Shaffer, who is a nice tackle but will be vastly overpaid because of the lack of free agent options and the plethora of teams who could use an upgrade at the position. A lower cost option could be Detroit tackle Jeff Backus. The Lions offensive line was a disappointment overall in 2005, but Backus would be a huge upgrade over Tucker or Rob Petitti.

The Cowboys also could use an upgrade at safety over restricted free agent Keith Davis. Ideally it would be a safety that would excel in pass coverage, to complement Roy Williams' great run stopping abilities. As Football Outsiders writer Michael David Smith has noted, unrestricted free agent Corey Chavous of the Vikings isn't that great in run support, but can still cover a receiver one on one. Next to Williams, who struggled at times against the pass this season, Chavous would strengthen the middle of Dallas' pass defense, which was the second worst in the league in defending passes to tight ends in 2005.

Place kicker is another position of need for the Cowboys, who rotated through three below-average options in 2005. The biggest name on the market will be Mike “idiot kicker� Vanderjagt from Indianapolis, but he doesn't seem like the type of player Bill Parcells will be running out to sign. More likely, the Cowboys will bring in another group of rookies and veterans who can be had for the league minimum to compete for the honor of raising Parcells' blood pressure during field goal attempts in 2006.

New York Giants

What Happened Last Year?

Even the most ardent Giants fan didn't expect them to win the NFC East this season. That didn't erase the disappointment of a blowout loss at home in the first round of the playoffs to the Carolina Panthers. At different times during the year, the Giants were carried by exceptional passing, rushing, pass defense, run defense, and special teams. None of those exceptional units showed up against the Panthers, as the Giants were shut out at home, ending their surprising season on a sour note.

The Giants finished with the #9 offense in the NFL according to DVOA in 2005 (up from #24 in 2004), finishing with the #13 passing offense and the #7 rush offense in the league. The Giants were #11 in defense, ranking #18 in stopping the pass and #3 in stopping the run. New York's special teams were exceptional, finishing third overall according to our statistics, with only the punt return team coming in as below average.

Who's Leaving?

New York has a little room under the salary cap and quite a few options if they want to get further below the number to make a big splash in free agency. Cutting left tackle Luke Petitgout would save the Giants his $4.5 million in base salary in 2006. Petitgout has been among the league leaders in penalties the past two seasons, and has health questions related to his back. The Giants also have a potential replacement for him already on the other side of the line, standout right tackle Kareem McKenzie, should they not acquire a quality left tackle through free agency or the draft. Linebacker Carlos Emmons is another likely salary cap casualty, as he's scheduled to earn $2 million next season after missing half of 2005 on because of a chest injury. Backup Reggie Torbor could step in to fill Emmons' void if the Giants don't make a bigger acquisition in free agency.

New York stands to lose as many as seven players as unrestricted free agents. The Giants are unlikely to re-sign cornerback Will Allen, who was abused by Santana Moss in Week 16 for 160 yards and three touchdowns. The Giants should attempt to re-sign defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy, who was a big reason for the improvement on the interior of New York's defensive line. Clancy showed great ability at getting into the backfield to stop opposing runners, most notably in Week 13 against the Cowboys when he forced a fumble by getting to a handoff from Drew Bledsoe before the running back did. Linebacker Nick Greisen is another unrestricted free agent the Giants will look to bring back; he filled in nicely during the rash of linebacker injuries that befell New York last season.

Restricted free agent wide receiver David Tyree will likely be tendered an offer sheet, as New York brings back the best special teams gunner in football. Wide receiver/kick returner Willie Ponder is a tougher call. Ponder has been an exceptional return man, but fell out of favor with Tom Coughlin after fumbling the opening kick-off of the team's upset loss to Minnesota. The Giants should look to bring Ponder back as a return specialist, but it's more likely he'll be fielding high kicks elsewhere in 2006.

Who Should They Sign?

With the departure of Will Allen, and the continuing disappointment of Will Peterson, the Giants' top priority this free agent season will be cornerback. Luckily for them, there will be a plethora of quality options available to them. Charles Woodson, Sam Madison, Nate Clements, DeShea Townsend, and Ty Law are just five of the big names that will likely be on the market come March. The price to place the franchise tag on a cornerback has decreased by $3 million since last season, meaning unrestricted free agents like Woodson and Clements could be more likely to stay with their former teams. Madison and Law are most likely to be cut by the Dolphins and Jets respectively so those teams can get under the cap.

The Giants have also been rumored to be interested in San Francisco free agent linebacker Julian Peterson to play on the strong side next to Antonio Pierce. Peterson was a disappointment for the 49ers in 2005 after coming back from a torn Achilles' tendon which caused him to miss 11 games in 2004. Peterson is a step or two slower than he was before the injury but could be a fit with the Giants, who won't be relying on him to carry their linebacking corps. If he still has the speed to catch up with speedy running backs like Brian Westbrook racing towards the sidelines, Peterson would be a great addition to the second layer of New York's defense.

Philadelphia Eagles

What Happened Last Year?

Philadelphia entered 2005 as the reigning NFC Champion and the prohibitive favorite to make it back to the Super Bowl. It ended with half the team on injured reserve and/or doing cell phone commercials while being suspended for conduct detrimental to the team. Needless to say, it was a disappointing season for Philadelphia.

DVOA says the Eagles struggled across the board. On defense, they ranked 12th overall, finishing a solid eighth in the league at stopping the run, but a paltry seventeeth defending the pass. On offense, the team dropped from #7 in 2004 to #22 in 2005, finishing at #16 in rushing offense and #24 passing the ball. By contrast, Philadelphia was in the top 10 in both categories during 2004. A similarly large drop could be found in Philadelphia's special teams ranking, which plummeted from #3 in the league according to our stats in 2004 to #17 in 2005.

Who's Leaving?

The Eagles are an estimated $20 million under the salary cap including money that will be saved by the inevitable departure via trade or release of Terrell Owens. Philadelphia stands to lose three starters as unrestricted free agents, right tackle Jon Runyan, weakside linebacker Keith Adams, and defensive end N.D. Kalu. If the Eagles are to use their franchise tag on any of the three, it will most likely be Runyan. Because of Runyan's age -- 33 in November -- and the apparent lack of quality tackles on the market, Philadelphia could be interested in getting another year out of Runyan despite the approximately $7 million it will cost to franchise him. Rookie Trent Cole filled in admirably for Kalu after the veteran missed the second half of the year because of injury. Philadelphia could replace Adams with 2005 second round pick Matt McCoy. Punter Dirk Johnson is a restricted free agent and will likely be tendered an offer sheet by the Eagles.

Who Should They Sign?

Despite rookie wide receiver Reggie Brown's strong finish to the season (463 yards and four touchdowns over his last four games) the Eagles could use a wide receiver to somewhat make up for the departure of Owens. While they won't be able to find a wide receiver of his skills in the free agent market, there are a number of solid #2 receivers that will be available to give Donovan McNabb another dependable receiving option. Leading the candidates are two receivers that played in the Super Bowl, Pittsburgh's Antwaan Randle El and Seattle's Joe Jurevicius. Of the two, Randle El would be the best fit, as he would fill a need at both wide receiver and as a return man. The Eagles have had below average punt and kick return teams the past two seasons.

If Randle El is too rich for Philadelphia, a lower cost option could be Derick Armstrong from Houston. Among receivers with less than 50 receptions last season, Armstrong ranked second in DVOA. He's also caught 75 percent of the passes thrown in his direction over the past two seasons, despite having the vast majority of those passes thrown to him by David Carr.

Running back is also a big area of need for Philadelphia going into free agency. The Eagles struggled mightily moving the ball on the ground in 2005, even when Brian Westbrook was healthy. The biggest weakness of the Philadelphia running game was going up the middle. Philadelphia had the second lowest percentage of runs between the guards last year, ranking 28th in that direction according to our adjusted line yards statistic. Having just signed Westbrook to a new long-term contract last season, it is unlikely Philadelphia will look to spend a lot of money to fill their need for a power back.

One name they should consider is Washington running back Rock Cartwright. In 2003, Cartwright was one of the most productive backs in football sharing carries with Trung Canidate and Ladell Betts. Cartwright finished 11th in DVOA and 20th in DPAR, a statistic that rewards players for having more carries (further explained here), despite having ½ to 1/3 of the carries of the runners ranked below him. With the addition of Clinton Portis and Joe Gibbs in 2004, Cartwright's playing time was drastically reduced, although he remained productive when he did play. The Rock is exactly the type of north and south runner Philadelphia needs to complement Westbrook in 2006.

Washington Redskins

What Happened Last Year?

Washington made an improbable run into the divisional round of the NFC playoffs after starting the season 5-6. Improbable to most, but not to loyal readers of the FoxSports.com power rankings, which had them ranked 10th in the NFL before they began their run to the playoffs.

On offense, Washington was #12 in DVOA (up from #28 in 2004), #10 in passing offense and #9 in the league when running the ball. The Redskins defense was stellar once again, ranking only behind Chicago in our overall defensive rankings, finishing seventh in the league against the pass and fourth against the run. Washington's special teams were 14th in the league, despite an exceptional year from punter Derrick Frost and his coverage team, the second best unit in the NFL according to our rankings.

Who's Leaving?

When it comes to salary cap management, the Redskins are the polar opposite of their division rivals in Philadelphia. While the Eagles enter each off-season with more salary cap space than they know what to do with, Washington stumbles in millions over the cap, having to cut veterans or restructure their contracts to make up for the millions of dead money that inevitably finds its way into Washington's cap figure. Washington is reportedly $20 million over the cap, with two players – linebacker Lavar Arrington and tackle Chris Samuels – with cap values of over $10 million each.

Although the team does not have many potential unrestricted free agents (safety Ryan Clark being the only starter), the team could lose some familiar faces as it tries to cut at least $20 million off of its cap. The Washington Post has a nice article on Washington's salary cap situation, detailing the myriad of ways the Redskins can get under the salary cap. Some players will need to be cut (center Cory Raymer, safety Matt Bowen, kicker John Hall), others will need to restructure bonuses due them in 2006 (quarterback Mark Brunell, running back Clinton Portis, defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin), and Patrick Ramsey will likely be traded, just to give Washington enough room under the cap to make some minor free agent moves.

If Washington wants to make a major free agent acquisition, it's likely that Arrington will need to restructure his contract. Cutting or trading Arrington is not a realistic option for Washington, as either will cost the Redskins $12 million in dead money. The team did spend over $9 million in cap space last year so that Laveranues Coles could play for the Jets, so that option shouldn't be ruled out.

Who Should They Sign?

Washington's biggest need on offense is a wide receiver to take some attention away from Santana Moss. While Moss gained 1483 yards in 2005, the rest of the wide receivers on Washington's roster combined for only 529 yards. Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne is the biggest potential free agent on the market, but Washington will need to get extra creative with its restructuring to get far enough under the cap to afford him. The aforementioned Jurevicius and Randle El are more likely targets.

Another receiver name to keep in mind is New England Patriots receiver David Givens. Last year, the Redskins tried to bring some New England magic to Virginia by signing David Patten to serve as their second receiver. Patten was a huge disappointment, gaining only 217 yards in the air on a paltry 9.9 yards per catch. Givens, however, is a better bet than Patten was last year. Givens is six years younger than Patten and has much better hands. Since 1998, Patten has caught only 48 percent of the balls thrown in his direction; Givens who has managed to haul in 58 percent of passes thrown to him in his four-year career.

The Redskins will also need to acquire some depth on their offensive line through free agency. With Raymer a likely cap casualty, and guard Ray Brown's retirement after a 20-year career, Washington will be left with no backup with any NFL experience for guards Randy Thomas and Derrick Dockery and center Casey Rabach. Veteran lineman Bob Hallen, who has started 47 games in his eight-year career with the Falcons and Chargers at both center and guard, could be a good fit in Washington. The former second round pick was unable to hold onto a starting job in either Atlanta or San Diego, but his versatility -- and likely cheap price tag -- is exactly what Washington needs to beef up its offensive line.

Tuesday: AFC North by Ryan Wilson

Posted by: Al Bogdan on 10 Feb 2006

98 comments, Last at 09 Mar 2006, 12:51am by Jimi

Comments

1
by PhillyCWC (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 6:21pm

I would LOVE to see the Eagles sign Randle El. Not only is he a WR and good on special teams, but if McNabb goes done, he could back up at QB too! He certainly couldn't be worse than the McMahon/Detmer torture Philly lived through in 2005.

Seriously, I think he'd be a great fit for the Eagles. I hope they make a serious run at him.

2
by VarlosZ (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 6:28pm

Wow, great links to pages with info about contracts for the Eagles and (especially) the Redskins. How did you find those? And do you know of anything like that for the Giants?

3
by Miles (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 6:47pm

My feature request for next year. A way to generate those game by game DVOA graphs (like http://www.footballoutsiders.com/images/2005Playoffs/CAR03AND05.gif) for each team (offense, defense, ST, and overall). Reason it's here? I'd really like to see Dallas' offensive DVOA pre/post Adam's injury; their defensive DVOA pre/post their LB injuries.

4
by Bobman (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 6:57pm

I loved this piece; how else would an AFC guy actually read about four NFC teams 3,000 miles away? (The fact that there's precious little being written about the Colts these days might also have something to do with it. And right now, that's probably for the best.)

Oh yeah, and if the Eagles rebound and others hold serve, this looks to be a typical 1980s/1990s style NFL East--loaded with tough teams. Having Gibbs and Parcells back probably has a lot to do with that.

5
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 7:12pm

Bobman,

It just goes to show how important coaching is. Gibbs, Parcells, Reid...three coaches that could be arguably said to be in the top 5 list of active coaches. Coughlin is no slouch, either...

Compare it to, say, the NFC west, where the best coach of the lot is Holmgren...obviously the NFC east is and will be a tough division.

6
by GaryS (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 8:02pm

Dallas' biggest needs are OL. If Parcells keeps Tucker around, it can only be because he has a picture of the Tuna in uncompromising positions (bad visuals, don't go there). Pettiti was not as bad, but that is damning with faint praise. Allen is way past his prime, Rivera was a horrible signing ($9 mil for 34 yr old G?), and Al Johnson can't seem to hold onto the starting job. So, many new faces will be required.

Dallas also needs a young WR, as Me-shawn and Glenn aren't getting any younger, and Crayton is the only young talent on the squad. So a WR is very likely in round 1 or 2 of the draft.

Since it is unlikely that no more than 1 rookie will be able to start in the OL, that means at least 2, maybe 3 new starters must come in free agency. If they keep Allen and Rivera, and Adams comes back, I would try to sign Bentley at C and draft a OLT in round 1, moving Adams back to RT. Drafting a G in round 3 to provide depth and possible replacement for the future would also a wise move. I would also take a flyer on Mike Williams once he is cut by Buffalo. Perahps Parcells can motivate him to keep his weight down and work hard. He's done it with worse cases.

So in the first/second I'd look at Winston Justice, Jonathan Scott, Eric Winston for OT and Santonio Holmes, Sinorice Moss at WR. Add a guard in the third and draft Whisenhunt in the 4th as my development QB, as neither Henson nor Romo has shown the ability to play in the NFL.

7
by RH (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 8:07pm

Er... do you mean Whitehurst in the 4th?

8
by NF (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 8:30pm

"Leading the candidates are two receivers that played in the Super Bowl, Pittsburgh’s Antwaan Randle El and Seattle’s Joe Jurevicius. Of the two, Randle El would be the best fit, as he would fill a need at both wide receiver and as a return man."

Visions of the Randle El Experience in Philly just made me dizzy. And not in a good way.

Also, Runyan may be franchised this offseason, but there is a potential replacement in either Todd Herreman or Shawn Andrews coming up the pipe. He will either be franchised for one year and then let loose in FA, or he'll be signed to a contract. Also, I'm not sure how high the Eagles coaching is on Matt McCoy, so this may be an area where they draft an exceptional OLB if one emerges in the draft.

On the subject of power backs, Correll Buckhalter is supposed to fill this need, but he has missed the last two seasons. The Eagles seem to want him back, as they did extend his contract.

9
by JasonK (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 8:59pm

Re: Giants' moves.

I highly doubt they'll cut Petitgout. Yeah, he draws a lot of flags, but he's a good run blocker, and even if they think McKenzie can switch to LOT, they'd still be one tackle short in a tight market. More likely they'll draft someone on day 1 for immediate depth, hoping he can replace Luke in a year or two.

Likewise, I think Peterson is a longshot to end up in blue. The Giants have spent a lot of free agent $$ on LBs in recent years (Pierce, Emmons, Barret Green). They'll go with what they have currenty (possibly cutting Emmons), and get some depth in the middle of the draft. They may go after a mid-priced FS, though, as Brent Alexander is probably retiring.

They also may have to replace a retiring Jeff Feagles, which will not be easy.

10
by Matt (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 10:07pm

I've believed for some time that Jon Runyan wouldn't be back. Now I'm not quite so sure. They drafted Shawn Andrews in 2003 to eventually take over the RT position, but since he missed virtually all of his rookie year and his weight ballooned during the rehab, they might not feel he's ready to move from guard. One more year of Runyan for the franchise price sounds like the best option, but will it work? Every time the Eagles use the franchise tag, they end up cutting the player (Trotter, Simon) and Runyan is one of the more outspoken guys on the team. The Eagles have depth at the interior line positions, with Andrews, Artis Hicks, Adrien Clarke, Hank Fraley, and Jamaal Jackson all capable of starting at G or C, so if Andrews moved to RT it wouldn't create a hole at G.

Either way, I predict a MUCH improved run-blocking O-line in Philly next year. The injury fill-ins from '05 (Jackson at C, Clarke at LG, Herremans at LT) all proved better at the run than the starters they replaced. In fact, the overall line play didn't take that much of a hit even as they lost three starters (and then the #2 LT as well) to IR. Add the bigger running back that Reid has, despite perceptions, always planned on having going into the season (the problem has been that it was Correll Buckhalter) and the nightmare that was the 2005 Eagles offense should remain but a painful memory.

11
by MdM (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 10:16pm

All I know is Kareem McKenzie cooks a mean apple crisp.

12
by joel in providence (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 10:45pm

i could kind of picture the eagles taking emmons back... similar things have happened before (see trotter, badassador).
and i really hope the eagles go after lendale white on draft day (they pick #14). if buckhalter does try to come back, we could see his knee bones actually explode in week 1 of preseason.
oh yeah... keep Runyan! don't be stupid. andrews is too fat and slow to play outside. and you could need herremans to replace Tra.

13
by Jim Diggity (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 11:32pm

The Redskins really aren't in that bad of a position. They have a ton of roster bonuses that can be converted to signing bonuses for a savings of 15 million. Combine that with cuts of overpaid players like Matt Bowen and trading/releasing signaPatrick Ramsey and they will be fine.

More details in the link in my name.

14
by RMoses (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 11:37pm

I find it quite interesting (especially this past season) that the Iggles were most successful running to the left (i.e like Seattle) than to the right. Runyan was the first big FA signing of the Reid era and was known as a devastating run blocker. Added with Andrews and I thought the Iggles were primed to run the ball at least 15% more than usual. And Runyan has been quite vocal in the past about the Eagles pass-wacky (thanx TMQ) ways. I believe they let Runyan go since they have a nucleus of young players that fit Lurie/Banner/Reid mantra. "Good and Cheap".

I also wonder why opposing teams never anticipated a run to the left from the Iggles since their only audible is a run play when the QB pats his hip on both sides. In fact, based on FO's data the team lead the league in running the ball to that side. Odd. Maybe Mike T. can cover that phenomenon in PFP 2006.

The team's main problem defensively is the WIL and SAM positions. Dhani Jones is not good at covering above average tight ends. Other than the second Redskins game where they double teamed Chris Cooley, Jones has been scorched by this guy. I say move him back to WIL where he played with the Giants and take advantage of his blitzing skills. Then acquire Ayodele (Jags) or Wilkerson (Panthers)through free agency. If that fails try their best to secure Chad Greenway (Iowa) as the first pick. I think Matt McCoy is too slow. If he does anything with the Iggles he'll need to beef up and play MIKE. After Trotter, of course.

15
by Liam (not verified) :: Sat, 02/11/2006 - 1:30am

"The price to place the franchise tag on a cornerback has decreased by $3 million since last season, meaning unrestricted free agents like Woodson and Clements could be more likely to stay with their former teams."

Won't Woodson's price be close to $12m, seeing as he was franchised from$10m last year?

Re: Runyan ...

One of the biggest declines from the eagles last year was along the Oline. They just seemed a step too slow, and when you're not going to call many straight-ahead rushing plays why bother with someone like Runyan.

A more mobile guy like Schaffer is a perfect fit for the present and a capable replacement for Tra Thomas at LT when his wheels fall of in a few years.

16
by Teximu (not verified) :: Sat, 02/11/2006 - 2:37am

Re: 14

I find it quite interesting (especially this past season) that the Iggles were most successful running to the left (i.e like Seattle) than to the right. Runyan was the first big FA signing of the Reid era and was known as a devastating run blocker... In fact, based on FO’s data the team lead the league in running the ball to that side. Odd.

There are a couple of reasons for the Eagles' success running to the left this year. First, even though Runyan has been a great run blocker in the past, he's starting to get old. The guy still has a surfeit of attitude, and he doesn't suck by any means, but he's not the bulldozer that he was in past years.

The second thing has to do with all the injuries. Tra Thomas, the usual starting left tackle, can't run block to save his life. But the period from the start of the season until the time Thomas went on IR was pretty much that string of games where the Eagles were going with an 20/80 run/pass ratio. After Thomas went down, his replacement was Todd Herremans: a big, strong rookie run-blocking fiend. Soon after he came in, the Eagles began to run the ball a lot more (at least compared to their first several games). Then Herremans also got put on IR, and in replacement, Artis Hicks moved over from left guard. At the same time, the new left guard was Adrien Clarke: a big, strong, second-year run-blocking fiend.

So anyway, not to drag this out TOO long, I think the team's strong running to the left is a result of:

1) the addition of players who were better at run-blocking than pass-blocking to the left side of the line, PLUS
2) the fact that the defensive line's right side tends to be occupied by smaller pass-rushers, PLUS
3) the fact that the Eagles didn't really start to run the ball until the run-blockers were in there, minimizing the influence of Tra "The Gentle Giant" Thomas's run blocking.

17
by Al Bogdan :: Sat, 02/11/2006 - 11:36am

#2: None of the Giants sites that I know of have a detailed cap breakdown like the Eagles or Redskins sites. So, you'll have the market to yourself if you want to start one.

18
by Al Bogdan :: Sat, 02/11/2006 - 11:46am

#9: Unfortunately, the Giants only had 4 draft picks last year and couldn't take that approach so that they could more safely cut Petitgout this year. He has a good rep as a run blocker, but I've never been impressed by his pass blocking. He always seems to be a holding penalty waiting to happen against fast defensive ends. I wouldn't underestimate the impact of his penalties, though. It's not like this was the first year he was one of the most penalized players in the league. We plan on doing a lot of penalty research in PFP 2K6, and one of the things I want to look at is to try and figure out a way to measure exactly how much Petitgout has hurt the Giants with his frequent flags.

#15: Yeah, you're right. It would cost Oakland more to franchise Woodson because he had the tag last year. My bad for forgetting that.

19
by MdM (not verified) :: Sat, 02/11/2006 - 1:38pm

The problem defensively with the Eagles is on the D line. There is no pass rush. Game after game, teams had time to set up on the lawn chair and sip Margaritas before launching a bomb to burn one of the poor cornerbacks. There was no pressure from the line, certainly not from Kearse. Actually the rookie Trent Cole had a few good games there.

Lendale white would be a horrible mistake. The problem with the Eagles was not the offense this year, it was the D. I wouldn't be surprised to see them pick up a DT. Although Andy likes the Oline too, so that is always a possibility.

20
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 02/11/2006 - 7:55pm

There was no pressure from the line, certainly not from Kearse.

Kearse was double-teamed up until the middle of the season, when they had to dedicate some attention to Cole. Hence the reason why Kearse's numbers start going up mid-season.

Cole then calmed down by the end of the season because the "novelty factor" had worn off - defenses had scouted him enough and shifted protection back against Kearse.

The main thing the Eagles need is someone who's going to be adequate, not necessarily "great". N.D. Kalu was just not adequate last year. Neither was Walker, really. The best thing they could do is get a DE who can shift inside and play DT if needed, as next year they have at least 3 DEs (Kearse/Cole/McDougle) that have the potential to be very good, but both Cole and McDougle are question marks. If they both pan out, then they need a DT more. Darren Howard from the Saints is a good fit - especially considering Howard's got injury concerns, and so he'll be cheap.

It's entirely possible the D-line next year will be very, very good out of the blue. I think there's a good chance 1 of the 4 positions will need help. I also think that they need a WLB more than another defensive lineman. There's a reason the Eagles never gave Keith Adams an extension.

The problem with the Eagles was not the offense this year, it was the D.

The defense wasn't that bad last year. Had the offense been at anywhere near 2004 levels, that defensive performance would've been good enough to get them into the playoffs.

21
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 02/11/2006 - 8:01pm

Wow, great links to pages with info about contracts for the Eagles and (especially) the Redskins. How did you find those? And do you know of anything like that for the Giants?

Miguel's Patriots unofficial salary cap information has links to all of the fan-run salary-cap sites, as far as I know.

Unsurprisingly, the fan-run sites are usually far more accurate than ones like askthecommish.com, which don't actually list the details of the calculation they used. The only reason I realized why they were wrong on the Eagles' calculation is because they state that the Eagles might not save money by releasing Owens due to the acceleration of his "$10M bonus". TO's prorated bonus was much less than that.

22
by SJM (not verified) :: Sun, 02/12/2006 - 12:41am

One other thing the Skins need is a young DE or two. They haven't drafted one in years, and it shows. I'm praying that they use 2 first-day picks on that position (right now they have 2, they might get another for Ramsey). Wide receivers can come in free agency. I, for one, would much rather have Jurevicious or Givens than ARE. Randle El isn't the great WR that many seem to think he is, and he is certain to be overpaid. (He would be a good fit on the Eagles though b/c of his extreme versatility.)

23
by tim (not verified) :: Sun, 02/12/2006 - 1:56am

i would personally like it if the eagles picked up a solid weakside linebacker, preferably someone who can actually break up a screen and play in the cover 3 well enough.

24
by MdM (not verified) :: Sun, 02/12/2006 - 3:06am

Pat,
that's interesting, I didn't perceive Kearse as being seriously double teamed. When I was able to watch (I'm in AZ), it seemed he would run upfield, get pushed way past the quarterback, and kind of just run himself out of the play that way. I thought it looked like he needed to get a spin move or some other way to get inside. And then, if the DTs aren't going to make any noise, that speed rush thing is a bit harder to pull off, right?

The D was missing something this year, Pat, some kind of mojo. They just didn't make the plays, the goal line stands, they got them to 3rd and 15s and couldn't get off the field. This isn't a scientific thing of course, just my impression. Here's hoping it turns around next year!

25
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sun, 02/12/2006 - 3:19am

SJM,
The state of the Redskins at WR behind Moss is so dire that ARE would be a major upgrade. I mean comon... Taylor Jacobs as 2nd WR?! They should've signed Jerry Rice!

It seems like whoever they draft or pick-up plugs right into their defense. A defensive end would be nice, but he better be able to play the run as well as he rushes the passer.

I'd like to see them draft a TE with their 2nd round pick. You don't necessarily need a great 2nd WR to open up the defense. There were rumours Gibbs was interested in Winslow (ended up with Cooley), and last year perhaps Heath Miller.

26
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 02/12/2006 - 3:23am

it seemed he would run upfield, get pushed way past the quarterback

That's because of an initial double-team, forcing him to the outside. Stop, you're making me remember painful things.

Look at Kearse's stats. His sacks and tackles (tackle = not being forced away from the play) really start to spike around Week 8 or so, and then cool about 4 weeks later.

Unsurprisingly, Trent Cole started getting significant playing time... Week 8. His sacks also cool off about 4 weeks later when other teams adapted to him.

The D was missing something this year, Pat, some kind of mojo.

Yup. A pass rush. They were fine against the run, which is what helped keep the Eagles in so many games. But as I said above, by the end of the year, 1/2 of the Eagles starting D-line were rookies. It's entirely believable that the pass rush will develop next year on its own. Which is why I hope the Eagles don't devote too much to the D-line, because there's a good chance it'll be wasted.

i would personally like it if the eagles picked up a solid weakside linebacker, preferably someone who can actually break up a screen and play in the cover 3 well enough.

Mother of God yes! There's a reason Keith Adams only got a 1-year tender.. But please, stop the painful reminders. :)

27
by MdM (not verified) :: Sun, 02/12/2006 - 12:02pm

Pat,
sorry for reliving the horror. I just saw something the other day that made me smile, feel real good. It's a montage of Brian Westbrook clips. I put it here in my post on the "Website" place, if you click on my name, otherwise you can cut and paste this:

http://www.startrekfans.net/video/Bwest.wmv

28
by Englishbob (not verified) :: Sun, 02/12/2006 - 7:12pm

At the risk of sounding completely mad on this site if the Skins want a top WR they should look to sign a bloke called Jamie Noon. He is a rugby plaeyer at centre for England and Wasps and has fantastic hands and break of pace. You'd get him for less than $500,000 pa and I'm sure he would deliver. This is obviously a complete wild card but I swear he would be a great WR. Otherwise have to completely agee we need a new 2nd WR and also back up for the line- great article. Where does eeryone expect TO to go?

29
by PhillyCWC (not verified) :: Sun, 02/12/2006 - 11:29pm

RE: 27
Thanks for sharing that link! Good times, good times.

30
by cxl72 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/13/2006 - 2:56am

The 2005 Eagles defense was a huge disappointment. Letting Derrick Burgess go FA was crazy. Cutting Corey Simon for nothing was very dumb. The LB were exposed as average to below average. Rocky Bernard DT Seahawks should be the #1 target. At WR the Eagles will be stuck with a bunch of #3 quality players. Maybe Charles Johnson and Torrence Small are available. They need a big RB. A Zack Crockett type. They should have stuck to their guns and NOT given Westbrook the money. He's too injury prone. 11&5 next year and the division title for the Birds. Rest of NFC East will be exposed in 2006.

31
by Will (not verified) :: Mon, 02/13/2006 - 10:44am

DAL despararately needs OL help. I am surprised that Jones and Parcells haven't addressed this need better. It's not like they haven't in recent years - since 2001 DAL has drafted 9 OL but only 3 of those guys were on their roster at the end of 2005. Parcells has, I think, only one successful OL pick and it's marginal at that - Rob Petitti. Go hard for Steve Hutchinson or LeCharles Bentley, draft a manster OT at #18, and then fill in with lower round draft talent from there hoping to find a diamond in the rough.

Aside from OL, DAL has a big need at K and I'd be frustrated if they went the bargain basement amatuer K route again. There were 3 games in 2005 where missed FG cost them in the final score - the MNF game versus WAS, DAL missed a FG early and lost 14-13. Then they missed another (and close, I think) FG at SEA and the game goes to OT and they lose 13-10. Then there is the T-Day game versus DEN where they miss another makeable kick and lose 24-21. I'm not saying that if they make those kicks they win, but the 3 points would've made a big difference in any of those games and 3 wins puts them in the playoffs and maybe even wins them the division.

32
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 02/13/2006 - 11:11am

The Eagles will probably make a serious run at Jurevicius. Among the bigger-name free agents this season (Wayne, Givens, Randle El, Jurevicius), only Jurevicius* currently plays in some variation of the West Coast Offense. As someone (Pat? Andrew?) pointed out last year, Andy Reid had a bad experience with the last non-WCO free agent receiver he picked up (James Thrash), so he's been reluctant to go down that path again.

*Terrell Owens is a likely free agent, who also plays in a WCO-style offense. But something tells me he might not be a good fit in Philly right now.

The Redskins would probably like another decent-to-good WR, but they probably won't be able to match what other teams will be offering those big-name receivers. Either that, or they gut some other part of the team to make cap room, which isn't out of the question for Snyder.

Dallas could use a young WR prospect, but they have enough at the position now, to be able to wait for the draft and develop one. I wouldn't be surprised if they took a look at Vanderjagt. It's not like they're afraid to waste a roster spot on a kickoff specialist, and they could kinda use Vandejagt's middle-to-short-range accuracy at the figgies.

The Giants sure could use a linebacker. Maybe they go for Ray Lewis? It's not like they're allergic to paying for hype. Then again, can the Giants afford what he wants to be paid?

33
by bowman (not verified) :: Mon, 02/13/2006 - 11:59am

32. To me, the most interesting thing about the Redskin's offseason will be Snyder's posture on revenue sharing and the CBA. On one hand, if the CBA goes away, or is substantially modified away from the Salary Cap, than the Redskins will have a huge short-term hit, with the limitless possibility of uncapped 2008. (Remeber, by making the final 8 in the playoffs, WAS can't rely on an uncapped 2007.) Also, his ability to restructure will be vastly reduced, and will have to cut veterans who can be picked up by cap-healthy teams at vastly deflated prices.

If Snyder wants to stay competitive in 2006+7, he will have to compromise on revenue sharing, which keeps the small-market teams like JAX and IND competitive. You can see how Snyder feels about this by the coaches salaries, which are currently higher than JAX's head coach. (The argument is by driving up coachs' salaries, the small market teams will either 1) have inferior coaches, 2) not be financially viable, or quite possibly 3) both.)

Now, what will Snyder do? Will he take one for the team, keep the NFL strong and competitive, and give up some revenue to keep the CBA in place, or will he give up short term success in order to turn his team into the Yankees of the NFL?

34
by D.B. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/13/2006 - 1:15pm

RE #28 : I really have no idea whether or not a rugby player, Noon or any other, could make a good wide receiver. I do know, though, that the skills catching the ball in rugby are not necessarily the same as football. You mentioned great hands and speed - but lots of receivers here have those. I'd guess the route running and adjustments (leaping, timing, beating a guy off the line, other techniques) figure in just as much. It'd be really interesting to see how he would do trying out for the 'Skins though.

35
by Patrick (not verified) :: Mon, 02/13/2006 - 1:46pm

This is a random comment, but please do me a favor. Stop using the modifier "innovative" before every use of DVOA. It comes across as extremely arrogant after about the 100th, and if you want to be taken seriously as a populist sports website, it's good not to hold anything over your potential fanbase. Unless you only want to cater to elitist snobs. In which case continue to use innovative as much as you want. Maybe you can mix in some other adjectives as well. I suggest "perfect," "holy," "way-too-complicated-for-you-to-understand," and "HIV-curing"

36
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 02/13/2006 - 2:09pm

Patrick (#35 )--

No, they shouldn't stop.

DVOA, as a metric, is less than five years old. Since its introduction, the Outsiders have been constantly revising and updating it. Either should suffice to make it "innovative."

Complaining about a properly-used word, makes you sound cranky. And I'm pretty sure FO is not supposed to be populist, but rather elitist.

37
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 02/13/2006 - 2:19pm

Where does Patrick Ramsey end up? Miami?

Second question, what seemingly one-sided deal will the 'Skins have with the Broncos prior to the draft this year?

38
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/13/2006 - 2:26pm

mawbrew:

I'm betting it involves a first-born child, a pack of Cheetos, two draft picks, and the rights to Reggie Bush's sweat.

Of course, afterwards, the Broncos will discover that the Redskins don't have the rights to sell the rights to Reggie Bush's sweat, and the Redskins will laugh and call them suckers. And then hand over the kid and two draft picks for the pack of Cheetos.

(Seriously, though, I've heard Redskins fans say that the Skins 'suckered' the Broncos because the first-round pick they gave up in 2006 ended up being "only 22nd". Yah. Okay.)

39
by Jon (not verified) :: Mon, 02/13/2006 - 3:01pm

Great read, but a question about Petitgout and the Giants. Yes they save his $4.5 mill in base salary but his signing bonus $9.75 mil so the accelerated hit would be $4.875 mill, a net loss of $375K, right?

40
by geoff (not verified) :: Mon, 02/13/2006 - 3:18pm

Veteran lineman Bob Hallen, who has started 47 games in his eight-year career with the Falcons and Chargers at both center and guard, could be a good fit in Washington. The former second round pick was unable to hold onto a starting job in either Atlanta or San Diego

The Patriots thought he'd be a good fit too, in 2004. They cut him in the final roster cutdown. I don't think he's the answer.

41
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Mon, 02/13/2006 - 4:50pm

Pat,
But you're missing the point. If the Redskins had a high 1st round draft pick they would have to pay his salary, making their cap situation worse.

Seeing as how the Redskins improved their record by 4 wins, the trades with Denver can't be considered a total loss.

I agree Denver has gotten the best of the deal so far. The 2 1st round draft picks *should* help them get over the top.

But...Washington's defense didn't suffer a great decline, and they will have Portis through his prime... just as they had Bailey through his prime.

Portis has been a great team player so far, and we've yet to see what Campbell can do. How will Denver fans feel if Campbell turns out to be better than Plummer?

Washington and Green Bay got great value for their picks last draft. I know someone here saying that Rodgers is a bust (NFC C Freak?), but if you were to draft the next Ryan Leaf, it's better to do so in the mid-20s than in the Top 5.

42
by Sid (not verified) :: Mon, 02/13/2006 - 9:08pm

The Giants also have a potential replacement for him already on the other side of the line, standout right tackle Kareem McKenzie, should they not acquire a quality left tackle through free agency or the draft.

No, they don't. If McKenzie was willing to play LT, he would've played there last season. Petitgout's only value is at RT. I have to believe that the reason Petitgout continued to play LT was because McKenzie was unwilling to move. That, or the Giants didn't feel he could play LT better than Petitgout, which is pretty damning in it of itself.

43
by Will (not verified) :: Mon, 02/13/2006 - 9:12pm

Umm... Isn't Randle El getting a little too much love??

He looks like the overpriced Super Bowl FA of the offseason.

44
by charles (not verified) :: Mon, 02/13/2006 - 10:37pm

RE: 40
Matthew don't engage in redskins conversations with Pat, he hates the redskins and will not give them any credit. The truth about the denver-washington trade will be determined by how good jason campbell is and how good whoever the hell denver gets with the 22nd pick this year.

And the redskins might as well pick rod gardner back up, given the crop of free agent wr this year.

45
by charles (not verified) :: Mon, 02/13/2006 - 10:42pm

isn't koren robinson a free agent, does any other redskin fan but me like him over david givens and randle el. And don't give me that koren robinson has bad hands, we all know that. People act like givens and el catch every pass that's thrown their way.

46
by SJM (not verified) :: Mon, 02/13/2006 - 11:44pm

44,

Koren Robinson? Are you kidding me? He is guarranteed to be way overpaid this offseason, even more than Randle El. And he's much, much worse than Givens or El. I'd still like Joey Jur, though.

47
by charles (not verified) :: Mon, 02/13/2006 - 11:58pm

Re: 45
I have no problem with you liking el or givens over robinson, but come on much, much worse than el or givens. No, taylor jacobs is much, much, worse that steve smith. Koren Robinson is not much, much worse than randle el or givens. El or givens are not much, much better than anybody who plays receiver in the nfl. Robinson has no. 1 receiver potential with his size and speed, el is destined to be a glorified slot receiver and if givens leaves tom brady he will venture the same fate that alvin harper did in tampa bay. Now don't get me wrong i'm not saying koren robinson is a beast i'm just saying for the right price he would be a good free agent pick up.

But seriously, i'm a redskins fan, i expect to see terrell owens in burgundy and gold next year, damn the salary cap, damn the character issues, dan snyder is the owner you don't think he wants this to happen.

48
by Stevie (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 12:15am

Id take Antinio Bryant over ARE, Givens, Koren, and Joey J anyday. What type of salaries these guys get will be interesting

49
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 12:50am

If the Redskins had a high 1st round draft pick they would have to pay his salary, making their cap situation worse.

Draft picks don't really hurt a team in their first year. The rookie pool really is not a large portion of the salary cap. The idea that first round draft picks cost "insane" amounts of money is due to the amount of dead money the team risks by cutting them, not the amount they incur initially.

Besides, the huge problem with the trade for Campbell is the fact that they overpaid. No team for at least the next 5 or 6 spots would've taken Campbell. No way.

Seeing as how the Redskins improved their record by 4 wins, the trades with Denver can’t be considered a total loss.

Drafts only somewhat affect the year in which they occur. They really affect a few years down the road. A poor draft means you're either trying to get more value out of undrafted free agents (hit and miss) or you're bringing in other team's free agents (expensive).

he hates the redskins and will not give them any credit.

Oh, for crying out loud. I hate the Cowboys. I don't hate the Redskins. If I hated the Redskins I would've thrown that Redskins mug I have away a long time ago.

I just think the Redskins just keep treading water too close to the edge. For the most part they've been doing fantastic with what they have. 2004's draft, with 3 starters out of 4 draft picks. That's pretty darned good. But they're not really leaving themselves any margin for error for the future. Their entire defensive line from 2005 is very close to the edge (years: 9/6/7/10), and as Al pointed out, the OL is also near the edge too.

I just don't see the Redskins building a Super Bowl caliber team the way they're going. They're building a "good" team, but not an elite one. It should be noted that I thought they were a good team in 2004, as well, just without a "decent" level QB.

50
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 12:56am

cxl72 #30:

The 2005 Eagles defense was a huge disappointment. Letting Derrick Burgess go FA was crazy. Cutting Corey Simon for nothing was very dumb.

Derrick Burgess had been injured every year since 2001 (his rookie year) for significant amounts of the season, or the whole season (2002 and 2003). Why would you resign a player constantly on IR to big money and take the risk of losing all that money? Especially after you brought in Kearse to replace him? Its also a fallacy to think that Burgess would have performed the same way in the Philly scheme as he did in the Raiders scheme.

Simon didn't do much of anything for the Colts. What would he have done for the Eagles? Buckled the bench with his excess weight while waiting to take his handful of snaps per game?

51
by SJM (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 1:13am

Re: 47

My anti-Robinson stance is due to his character issues, not his skill set.

Re: 48

Antonio Bryant would be welcome in Washington.

52
by Bill (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 1:55am

Oakland DL were 30th in the league at runs at RE last year, too. Not to say Burgess had a bad year, but that cancels out some of the pass rush.

53
by Teximu (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 5:40am

The Eagles' resident publicist/"journalist," Dave Spadaro, recently shed some light on the team's real failings in 2005.

A few choice tidbits:

It sounds like a solid objective, but it is certainly an elusive goal and not easily attained. You don't just gain a swagger by talking about it. You get it by, well, how do you get it?

See, I think the loss of that swagger is something that hindered the Eagles so much last year. And I think that the Eagles must get it back to make a championship run in 2006, but I am not sure I have the tell-all answer to how it happens.

[...]

You can talk all you want about Position X, Y and Z for the Eagles in this upcoming free agency and the draft, but I am keeping my senses open to feel the swagger. To see it. To know that it's here.

Swaggerologists of the world salute you, Dave Spadaro.

54
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 9:30am

Englishbob (#28), I am English and played rugby for my schools' teams for 11 years. I also recently took up American Football. I assure you that the transition is a lot harder than you might think. A wide receiver has to catch balls that move faster than any rugby ball ever does, at a massive range of angles from which no rugby ball would ever approach him, and he will in all probability be hit by a defender as he is catching the ball. To put it another way, almost every pass he catches will be what in rugby would be called a "hospital pass". He will have to do this while wearing pads that restrict the movement of his arms and make body-catching - the approved rugby technique for a ball coming into your torso from in front - impossible. On top of all that, Noon would have to learn to run crisp routes, to stay in-bounds on sideline catches, to know when to break off a route and come back to help his QB, to block correctly on running plays . . . and so on and so on and so on. I'm not denying that he is a gifted enough athlete that he could succeed in the NFL, but it would take him years on a practice squad to learn to play the game to a level where he could start, and that is just not going to happen.

The rugby player who could and might make an instant transition to the NFL is Jonny Wilkinson, who at some point is going to wake up and smell the roses and realise his body cannot take the punishment of regular professional rugby any more, but that he would be worth a couple of million bucks a year to some NFL team as a kicker (and possibly punter).

55
by charles (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 11:43am

Re: 3
A healthy donovan mcnabb for 16 games is the swagger the eagles need.

56
by dryheat (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 11:45am

Seems to me that Jonathan Wells would be a nice affordable addition to the Eagles. Or Patriots. Or Packers. Or Cardinals. He always seems to perform well in DD's absences, then goes back to the bench.

57
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 12:50pm

Any of the UFAs listed above are going to be too expensive... especially when you consider that Brunell might not even look their way.

This could be Taylor Jacobs breakout year, now that he's finally shed all the expectations weighing him down!

Here is who I think they should look at among lower tier FA WRs (in order):
Keenan McCardell
Az-Zahir Hakim
Josh Reed
Jabar Gaffney
Reche Caldwell
Corey Bradford

I fully expect the Redskins to sign:
Marc "I got Jacked up by Derick Frost" Boerigter

Speaking of Frost.. I wonder how Tupa is feeling now. I swear Frost's punting cost them a game last year (San Diego, Oakland).

Randel El to Philadelphia seems like a really nice fit. A WR core consisting of Brown, Pinkston, and ARE doesn't sound dangerous at all, but I think it could be.

58
by SJM (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 1:18pm

Matthew,

I pray you are wrong. The only guy on that list I would want is McCardell, and the Chargers aren't going to let him go.

As for the rest, you might as well just stick with Patten, he's just as good as any of them.

59
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 2:23pm

Everyone else named:
Jurevicious, K. Robinson, Antonio Bryant, Randle-El are going to be overpriced.

I don't know how much Givens will cost... but I think he'll go pretty high as well.

That leaves my list plus any cap casualties. Jimmy Smith and Moulds are the potential casualties that I'm hearing about. I want to wait and see who gets cut. I can't remember Snyder picking up anyone after June 1 however.

60
by Yakuza Rich (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 4:54pm

McBriar won't be competing with anybody. His stats weren't bad when you look at his net, gross, and % of punts returned. By my formula which considers those three categories, he was about the 10th best punter in the game last year. They instructed him to kick the ball higher instead of longer, he obliged and teams had a tougher time returning against anybody.

Glover will almost certainly be cut. He's a $7 million a year guy and doesn't fit the 3-4 scheme. Expect Dallas to draft a Nose Guard in rounds 2-5.

For kickers, I think they'll go after either Matt Bryant or Joe Nedney. I think Nedney is their guy since Parcells loves good kickoff guys. But, they had Bryant through their camp before and Parcells really liked him. Supposedly Vanderjagt's agent wants for him to be the highest paid kicker in the league and told Jerry Jones that, and Jones pretty much put a stop to that. Even still, they need to improve the FG kicking. They ranked last in % of FG's from 30-49 yards and considering they play in dome-like conditions, that's horrendous.

I doubt there will be a good OT available in FA, so I could see them picking up a guy like Anthony Clement and then draft an OT in the first round.

61
by NF (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 9:19pm

33:"Now, what will Snyder do? Will he take one for the team, keep the NFL strong and competitive, and give up some revenue to keep the CBA in place, or will he give up short term success in order to turn his team into the Yankees of the NFL?"

My god, it all makes sense now. Snyder wants to be the next George Steinbrenner. It should have been obvious when he signed everyone at top coaching positions to huge contracts. Most of the current disagreement about a new CBA is between owners. How much is that formented by Snyder?

62
by Tim L (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 9:50pm

Rather draft a tackle, I'd prefer Parcells hire someone to coach the offensive line who knows what he's doing. There are any number of excellent offensive lines that were built with few first day draft choices, the current Patriots and the 1990's Cowboys, to name two. Not that I think Petitti or Tucker is the answer at right tackle.

63
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 11:45pm

They already give up revenue... why should Snyder be penalized for how well he markets locally?

The owners who are complaining are the ones who don't put money back into their team... kick them out of the league or contract.

64
by Anthony Brancato (not verified) :: Wed, 02/15/2006 - 8:13am

Rock Cartwright?

The Eagles need another scatback like Custer needed more Indians!

And if they don't get their hands on some kind of deep threat at WR, Donovan McNabb's career figures to be over this time next year, courtesy of a blitzing linebacker.

65
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Wed, 02/15/2006 - 9:41am

#56 - I really hope Wells stays in Houston, especially if they draft Bush. I think he's currently the best back on the roster - DVOA suggests he's of similar value to Davis as a runner and receiver, but we all know he's a vastly superior pass-blocker, and he can lead-block a bit as well, notably on special teams. A two-back set with Bush and Wells would give you credible inside and outside rushing threats, the option of running Bush behind Wells, and the possibility of motioning Bush out to run a route while Wells stayed in to block. It would have a really nice balance. If Davis hadn't got that new contract last year, I think there's every chance he'd be tendered and traded at this point, with Wells given a new deal.

66
by Yakuza Rich (not verified) :: Wed, 02/15/2006 - 10:55am

I think Tucker is wildly out of position at left tackle. He seems to have some run blocking skills and skills in general. He *might* make a decent right tackle, but I think he could be a pretty good guard, the position he played at college.

I studied some game film and put some stats together, Petitti showed some glimpses of run blocking. He might be better off at guard as well.

67
by SJM (not verified) :: Wed, 02/15/2006 - 12:27pm

Re: 59

Moulds will definitely be too expensive also. Jimmy Smith is a possibility (Mark Brunell connection), as is Isaac Bruce if he doesn't accept a pay cut from the Rams.

Re: 64

Cartwright may be short, and quick, but he is shaped like a bowling ball. He's NOT a scatback. He's a FO darling because of his success rate, and is pretty decent in short yardage situations, which is exactly what the Eagles need. Unless you think this is finally Buckhalter's year. I wouldn't bet on it.

68
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Wed, 02/15/2006 - 8:34pm

And if they don’t get their hands on some kind of deep threat at WR, Donovan McNabb’s career figures to be over this time next year, courtesy of a blitzing linebacker.

I wouldn't go that far and saying his career is over. i have watched him play and he seems to be able to pick up on what the defense is doing about 75% of the time. I also have seen him pick and pull at the easy passes under the coverage. No the Eagles do not need a real "deep" threat kinda person they need a couple of WR or maybe even a decent TE that can get under the coveage and eat up yards along with time off the clock. Look for them to go into the FA period looking for that type of person and maybe going to the draft to get someone who has decent speed and hands to be thier #2 reciver.

Any word on how westbrook is faring? or is Philiy looking for another back as well?

69
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/15/2006 - 9:32pm

Westbrook's fine. They keep trying to compare it to Dawkins's previous injury (which needed surgery) but Westbrook's doesn't need surgery. Besides, Moats is mostly a Westbrook clone.

And I agree the Eagles don't need a deep threat. They have one. That's what Todd Pinkston does, and he's fine with that. What they need is a medium threat. That is, a big guy with rapid acceleration - that is, a #1 receiver.

Someone that more often than not, on the first read, will be open on every passing play. That's not the same as a deep threat.

70
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Wed, 02/15/2006 - 11:29pm

That is, a big guy with rapid acceleration - that is, a #1 receiver.

I'm curious why you think a #1 WR has to be big. Is that a WCO thing? An Eagles thing? Or a personal preference thing?

71
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 02/16/2006 - 1:10am

CaffeineMan:

Note that I said "a big guy with rapid acceleration". If I wanted to build the perfect wide receiver I would've tacked on "with high top-end speed and great hands" as well.

And I should've said "a guy with rapid acceleration who is, preferably, big", as the acceleration is the important part. The "big" part is just to hedge bets, because they just need a little less separation in order to make the play.

Bigger guys also do have an advantage in that size sticks around, whereas top end speed fades a bit. There are plenty of #1 WRs who are smaller, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone did a study and found out that smaller #1 WRs tend to have shorter careers than larger ones.

72
by MdM (not verified) :: Thu, 02/16/2006 - 1:01pm

It seems to be in vogue to be a small receiver for the last year or two--but how long will this last?

It seems that in the playoffs, size does matter. Big strong teams beat smaller quick teams. (usually?)

73
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 02/16/2006 - 1:07pm

Eh. I wouldn't extend it that much. I don't think there's a real problem for a #1 receiver to be small, so long as they're very quick. I think it also puts a higher demand on the quarterback, as well, which would explain why Marvin Harrison can succeed so well in Indy.

But if you've got a quarterback who's only moderately accurate (which McNabb is), that it helps a bunch to have a receiver who has as much of an advantage over their competition as possible.

74
by Chuck-O (not verified) :: Thu, 02/16/2006 - 2:26pm

Someone asked a while ago about a good Giants salary cap website. Click on my name for one I like.

75
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Thu, 02/16/2006 - 11:24pm

True, if you can have size along with everything else in your #1 WR, then no reason not to take it. :D There are some good #1 WR's that are smaller (under 6 feet), though, like Steve Smith, Branch, and Santana Moss. I like the minimalist criteria for WR's: get open and catch the ball.

76
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Fri, 02/17/2006 - 7:36am

"I wouldn’t be surprised if someone did a study and found out that smaller #1 WRs tend to have shorter careers than larger ones"

My expectation was actually the opposite - I figured bigger guys put more stress on their frames with every landing, leading to more injuries, and were also less likely to learn to run precise routes, as early in their careers their height advantage would enable them to make catches in coverage in a way that later they could not, as they lost some leaping ability.

However, having actually looked into it briefly, here are the years pro and heights of some high profile older WRs:

Isaac Bruce 12yrs 6'0
Marvin Harrison 10yrs 6'0
Keyshawn Johnson 10yrs 6'4
Derrick Mason 9yrs 5'10
Eric Moulds 10yrs 6'2
Muhsin Muhammad 10yrs 6'2
Terrell Owens 10 yrs 6'3
Jimmy Smith 13yrs 6'1
Rod Smith 11yrs 6'0

Mason is the only one under 6 foot, and he's also the one who's been in the league for least time. I'm guessing that if you look at NFL wide receivers as a whole, the proportion under 6 foot is a lot higher than 1 in 9. So basically what I'm saying is, based on this small and unscientific sample, it looks like Pat's right: there is some correlation between height and career length for NFL wide receivers.

77
by Anthony Brancato (not verified) :: Fri, 02/17/2006 - 10:55am

Re: 69

If Todd Pinkston was such a deep threat, he'd be taking it to the house a lot more often than he has: For example, as the Eagles' #1 receiver in 2003, he had one touchdown - the entire season! And now he's coming off a devastating Achilles injury.

Re: 67

Why the Eagles didn't draft Brandon Jacobs last spring is beyond me - and did Rock Cartwright move the chains 19 times and score 7 TDs the way Jacobs did for the Giants in 2005?

The Eagles have been utterly pathetic running the ball against teams that use the 3-4 defensive alignment (see the San Diego and first Dallas games in 2005, the Super Bowl, and the Pittsburgh game in 2004).

78
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 02/17/2006 - 11:47am

If Todd Pinkston was such a deep threat, he’d be taking it to the house a lot more often than he has:

Followed by...

For example, as the Eagles’ #1 receiver in 2003

Deep threats aren't the same as #1 receivers. Pinkston is a deep threat. Even in 2003 his average yardage per catch was 16 yards/catch, and in 2004 it was 18.8 yards/catch.

That's higher than Terrell Owens's yards per catch in 2004 (much higher).

What Pinkston is not is a #1 receiver. He can't get open immediately. He can get open if given a bit of time - that's a #2 receiver.

And, incidentally, Pinkston had 2 touchdowns in 2003 - one vs Green Bay, one vs San Francisco. If you're going to disparage the guy, disparage him right. :)

And now he’s coming off a devastating Achilles injury.

Eh. He suffered it in preseason. He'll have had a long recovery period. He'll be fine.

79
by bobzmuda (not verified) :: Fri, 02/17/2006 - 1:12pm

re #77: Brandon Jacobs missed a number of short-yardage conversions because he runs so upright and so inline. The knock on him coming out of Auburn/Southern Illinois was that he ran too high and lacked much wiggle. Both of those factors led to his being not nearly as effective as he could in short yardage. You would have thought the Giants would have been a bit wary given the great Ron Dayne experiment. If Jacobs can learn to run with some lean he could be a great short-yardage back with his size.

80
by Chuck-O (not verified) :: Fri, 02/17/2006 - 5:05pm

re #79: This is what some announcers and writers said as well, but I don't buy it. I do agree he ran too high on one goal-line play leading to a fumble, but in my opinion (having watched all of this year's Giants games, but not doing any analysis), the times he was stuffed in short-yardage was usually poor blocking.

Not specifically relevant to the Cartwright discussion, but my two cents nonetheless.

81
by Milt (not verified) :: Sat, 02/18/2006 - 5:22am

I think the Boys should draft Ngata and make a strong run at Levar Arrington. With Ngata in the middle and ware on one side and arrington unleashed on the other safety won't be an issue

82
by Anthony Brancato (not verified) :: Sat, 02/18/2006 - 7:04am

Re: 78
Oh, big deal: Pinkston had two TDs in 2003 - two of the five the Eagles' WRs had all that season, and none in September or October - which was the first time since 1945 that an NFL team did not get a TD from its WRs in the first two months of the season.
Pinkston has no talent, and no heart. The Eagles should sign Antwaan Randle El, who has an abundance of both.

83
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Sat, 02/18/2006 - 7:26am

#81 - no chance in a million years does Ngata fall as low as 18. Are you calling for the 'Boys to trade up? What would you be willing to give up for the guy?

84
by Fnor (not verified) :: Sat, 02/18/2006 - 1:17pm

#82: Give him some courage and a brain and you've got the complete package!

85
by Kevin (not verified) :: Sun, 02/19/2006 - 4:38pm

I think people totally underestimated Brandon Jacobs' performance this season. He did have more rushing TDs than any other rookie RB. Most of his failures were due to an OL not noted for driving people off the ball.

I can't see Petitgout being cut, but I am intrigued by the extension given to Rich Seubert. Do they expect him to start and if so, will that mean moving Diehl to RT or Snee to Center?

I highly doubt they will spend money on any position other than CB and re-signing Clancy and Greisen.

86
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/20/2006 - 12:13pm

Pinkston has no talent, and no heart.

No talent? He led the NFL in completions for 40+ yards in 2004. Yes, that's a cherry-picked stat - but given his yards/completion, it's easy to see that Pinkston does have talent - he's a deep threat.

Also note that Pinkston's stats are a bit lowered due to the number of pass-interference calls against him, as well. Which, again, is common for a deep threat.

The Eagles should sign Antwaan Randle El, who has an abundance of both.

To complement Pinkston or replace him? Randle El averaged about 40 catches/year in his career. Last year was in fact the first year he's ever had a catch over 40 yards, and they happened in the first three games of the season, and never since.

There's not an abundance of evidence that Randle El is a viable #1 receiver. Last year he played with Burress and Ward, two extremely viable receiving threats, and he did well. This year he played just with Ward, and did... a fair amount worse, dropping half the balls that came his way, and he had a quarter of the touchdowns he did last year. This isn't the hallmark of a viable #1 receiver. It's what you'd expect from a #2/#3 receiver.

87
by JasonK (not verified) :: Mon, 02/20/2006 - 2:43pm

Re: #85

I think it's more likely the Seubert's extension means they want Seubert to move to Center. Look for him to be the primary backup at all 3 interior line positions this year, and the starter at C in '07 when O'Hara's contract expires.

As for the Giants' FAs, the latest rumors have both Griesen and Clancy pricing themselves out of the Giants' range. I think they can replace Griesen in the draft. If Clancy walks, they'll likely go for a FA DT (Bernard? Kemoeatu?) as well as a CB. There's an outside chance they'll chase a mid-priced WR like David Givens, too.

88
by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 7:41pm

Chuck-O:

Thanks for the link, it's good to see the Giants have a cap site as well.

...And I think it's hilarious that Eagles fans are wishing they had Brandon "Stuffed For No Gain" Jacobs. Shows you just how bad their running game is.

89
by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 11:23am

RE: 32

The Giants have a very good MLB in Pierce. No way they go for an overrated, overhyped, egotistic LB, especially one that thinks he's worth more than the large amount of money he's already being paid. They'll either sign a moderately priced FA OLB, or draft one.

90
by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 11:29am

RE: 33

Snyder has never and most likely will never consider the league as a whole. He thinks about himself and his team. He's going to continue to fight against increased revenue sharing, but eventually, he may be overruled. I wish that paranoid controlling jerk would get out of the league. Yes, I do have a dislike of the man, and for good reason, too.

91
by marko (not verified) :: Sun, 02/26/2006 - 3:29am

first:this is a great site.Eagle's fans should pray that Andy makes a serious run at Rocky Bernard. As usual they will be gunshy when it comes to the olbs.Lets hope Mr.Bowtie can play better on the weakside and McCoy can contribute on the stronside.It would be a dream come true if they chased after Peterson or Arrington(if he is cut,which I doubt).This team is hurting for a blitzing OLB,who can cover. Adams is a special teamer,Simineau is a backup.How good would Emmons look now. With the right sam linebacker,Dawk would become a monster again. Knowing they won't use their first pick on a linebacker,I hope they use in on a DE,like PSU's Tamba Hali.He was a little gassed in the orange bowl,but he excelled against good talent senior week and in the senior bowl. He has the motor of a young Hugh Douglas,and should be able to help the defense hold Tiki under 150 yards per game.(I hate Tiki,but I would love to see him in an Eagle's uni.,he is the most underrated talent in the NFL) Adios to Kalu and Juqua Thomas.Keep Trent Cole.I wish they would cut their losses with McDougal,but Andy would never admit that he traded up for a bust. There are at least five midlevel FA def.ends with more game than McDougal.Kalimba Edwards can be had for not much more money than McDud is getting. We can't lament the losses of Simon or Burgess to FA. Burgess was too injury prone to invest a lot of $$ in and Simon is a perrenial fat pig who doesn't even get in shape until week 8.He lucks into 5 or 6 sacks and starts bitching about more money. Mike Patterson had better numbers than Simon last year anyway. Simon couldn't even get his ass on the field full time.He is better against the run than Patterson,for now. If we get Patterson some help(BERNARD)he will shine.Hollis Thomas is done and Darwin Walker's performance has steadily dropped each year. We didn't get sacks because our front seven as a unit sucks. Trotter,dawkins and lewis along with Kearse and a couple of important additions will have this defense playing up to the level of 04. Sheldon Brown and Lito will only play well if we can put the teeth back in our pass rush. Forget dealing for John Abraham or Darrin Howard,they will be way too overpriced,Abraham has no heart and Howard will be hurt by week 2. I think there are enough core players on this defensive unit to allow them to dominate next year.Draft Hali RD.1,lock-up Bernard as your #1 f.a. priorty,keep the Bowtie Man on the weakside,and pray McCoy is not another Barry Gardner. If FSU linebacker Nicholson slips to rd.4,use one our mult.4th rd.picks to grab him. Off field issues have caused his stock to plummet,but he is better right now than any OLB on the roster.He is a poor man's Derrick Brooks. A vicious player,with good size and decent speed.Whoever takes him is getting a steal.He has legal issues,so Andy may steer clear of him. NOW FOR THE OTHER SIDE: We all know with a healthy McNabb,this team in it's current state is 4 wins better. We can all assume that they will be no worse than 10 & 6.Whether that is good enough to win this division is in doubt.It is reasonable to assume that they will at least split with their division rivals,if this happens then they will be NFC champs in 2006. I was impressed with Todd Herremans at LT,and Hicks can be a steady LG if they can keep him there.Jammal Jackson is a much more physical player at center than Hank "Honeybun"Fraley.Jackson's presence at center gave us a slightly better running game,hopefully his pass blocking improves,I would part ways with Fraley and make Furio wy back-up center,he can also play both guard spots. Andrews is a stud at right guard and they should leave him right where he is at.I don't know how it affects the cap,but I would let Tre Thomas walk and take my chances with Herremans at LT. I think Tre counts around 7 mil.against this year's cap.Use that money to resign Runyan.This team has demonstrated some ability to develop off.linemen,and we are sitting on a surplus of NFL caliber guards.Darilek,Young and Clarke are all multi-position players.They also think they can develop the monstrous Calvin Armstrong to play r.t. at some point. There are no real top level off.lineman left untagged in free agency.I trust Andy to draft at least one tackle and one guard in the middle rounds.Unless one of the top 5 tackles slip to round 2,if they trade up to the beginning of rd.2,they might find Marcus McNeil there. They need to cut Reno Mahe,Buckhalter and Parry. Westbrook is still their best weapon out of the backfield,Moats probably isn't as good as everyone thinks but he definitely fits their scheme. Perry is a keeper if only for his return skills.I agree with most people who say they can't run betw.the tackles.They won't invest a high pick or big money on a bigger running back.Tapeh is still a question mark,I would take a chance in the 4th or 5th round on Cedric Hume or Riggs Jr.What are they gonna get 5 carries a game if they are lucky? Don't buy a ferrari if your not gonna take it out of the garage.No Lendale White or DeAngelo Williams for this team.No first day picks for a running back this year.They definitely will not tender any offers to any high level FA halfbacks this year. If Tapeh is healthy let him take over the fullback duties,if not find one in FA who can block and catch,sign him for 1 year and next year overvalue Rutger's Brian Leonard and take him on the first day of the draft and we will be set at fullback for 5 years. Use this year's 3rd pick in the draft to take Joe Klopfenstien,the TE from Colorado.He is a Novacek clone. He will give McNabb a steady target who will always make the routine catches and most time will make the tough catches.He has great hands,he holds on to the ball and he is an underrated blocker.He is also deceptively fast.At 6'6" and 260 he will be an awesome target for #5. I think he could take major time from LJ Smith. I do like LJ Smith,but he fumbles and has his share of drops. He is also a poor blocker,which with coaching can be corrected. I don't think we need a top five TE and hopefully he is still around when we pick in RD3. Our wide reciever core is not even in the top 10 in the nfl.We have had our share of problems at this position.(FREDEX,TO)If we don't take an OT in round 2,I would consider Derek Hagan or Stovall here. I do like ARE,he has been in a run oriented offense for his whole career and has been in the shadow of ward and burress,I think he could get 60 balls in this offense.Who doesn't think he is better than Pinkston or Lewis ? He also is a major upgrade for our return game.Harbaugh would love to have this guy. If ARE is too much $$$,I would focus on Antonio Bryant,who I think is better than Pinkston and Lewis.He is ready for a breakout season. Billy McMullin and McCants have got to go. One last option is to talk to Arizona about the availability of Bryant Johnson in a trade.He is stuck behind Bolden and Fitz.for ever. He catches the ball well,has great size and speed and great yards per catch.He is a leaper,a good redzone player.The Cards need help on both lines,maybe Sam Rayburn and a pick can pry him loose.We can spare next years picks,we have had 21 picks between 05 & 06,plus comp.picks this year.Give them Rayburn and next years 2 & 3 for Johnson. I know i have been ranting,but this has been my first chance to vent.My future posts will be shorter.If anyone reads this please tell me where i am right or wrong.Thanks.

92
by marko (not verified) :: Sun, 02/26/2006 - 3:41am

sorry,I said NFC Champs in prev.post.I meant to say NFC East champs.I'm not on drugs.

93
by Miguel (not verified) :: Sun, 02/26/2006 - 10:33am

There is a Giants cap site at
http://mysite.verizon.net/giantscap/index.htm

94
by Kevo (not verified) :: Fri, 03/03/2006 - 6:45am

Re 88:
I think only one person mentioned Brandon Jacobs in reference to the Eagles. Right now, I'm personally praying for Mike Anderson and for Reggie Brown to turn into Jerry Rice.

95
by Anthony Brancato (not verified) :: Fri, 03/03/2006 - 9:14am

91.

We all know that with a healthy McNabb ... this team is 4 wins better.

Just like the 1986 Cardinals were 4 wins better with a healthy Roy Green and Ottis Anderson? (They were actually half a game worse). Just like the 1991 Vikings were 4 wins better with a healthy Wade Wilson and Keith Millard? (They were actually 2 games better playing one of the easiest schedules in NFL history).

You just don't come back next year as if nothing happened. It doesn't work that way in the real world.

96
by Jerry (not verified) :: Sat, 03/04/2006 - 9:07am

How can you say when talking about the Cowboys that the only quality LT in the FA group is Kevin Shaffer who is mediocre at best, and then in the next paragraph, about the Giants, that they should cut Pettigout and get a quality left tackle...? of whom you just said there are none. THis is why your analysis stinks!

97
by Jon Levine (not verified) :: Tue, 03/07/2006 - 1:19pm

I have to agree on what you said about the New York Giants. I feel that by getting rid of Will Allen which will not only help their cap number, but get rid of a corner that will beaten at countless times. I just hope that after the release of Allen they decide to pick up a quality corner like Sam Madison of the Miami Dolphins. I think after they get quality corner, the addition of Julian Peterson would be another substantial improvement. Last year the Giants linebacking core was stricken with many injuries. I think by the addition of Peterson would help the defense dramatically especially due to the facts the other teams in the NFC east have some great running backs. With Antonio Pierce, and Peterson that would be a great tandem. I think with the improved defense and Eli Manning improving in his third year the Giants could make a run for the Super Bowl. I think all the Giants need is consistency. Last year one of the biggest problem was the play of Eli Manning. He at times played like an All Star, and at times looked like a rookie. No matter who they sign, the Giants will live and die by the play of Eli Manning. Unfortunately with the salary cap they may have to lose one of their prime lineman. I know Pettiquot had a few penalties, but for the most part he was very consistent. I think the loss will hurt but can be fixed with time. I after watching the last few Super Bowls, the most important thing is team unity. As long as the Giants select team players who want to work as a team they should be fine. A team is only as good as they play as a unit and with quality people the Giants should have a good team for years to come.

98
by Jimi (not verified) :: Thu, 03/09/2006 - 12:51am

#91:

Argh! Ye text brick causes me grave headache!