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21 Mar 2006

Four Downs: NFC East

by Al Bogdan

Did you miss the first 2006 edition of Four Downs: NFC East? You'll find it here.

Dallas Cowboys

Don't Perceive the Hype

A frequent source of conflict between football fanatics and their significant others is vacation time. The non-football fan spouse may want to take some time during the autumn to travel north to see the foliage, or maybe south or to an island to escape the frigid weather in late fall. To the football fan, this is crazy talk. Who in their right mind would go away for any length of time during the football season, never mind on a game day Sunday? There are injury reports to read, highlight shows to watch, fantasy trades to be made. Who would ever want to leave the friendly confines of one's living room with a dozen sports channels and wireless internet access allowing one to read every newspaper and football-related column in the country?

Allow me to propose a compromise that will allow the non-football fan spouse a rare week's vacation in the fall and save the football fan spouse thousands in marriage counseling and divorce attorney fees. When this year's NFL schedule comes out, find out which week Dallas travels to Philadelphia, and plan your vacation accordingly.

Don't be worried about missing any vital football analysis that may be going on that week. In fact, we already have a summary of that week's football coverage, eight months in advance:

T.O. RETURNS TO PHILADELPHIA! MCNABB! OWENS! PHILADELPHIA! T.O! HAVE YOU HEARD, TERRELL OWENS WILL BE PLAYING IN PHILADELPHIA THIS WEEK! TERRELL OWENS AND DONOVAN MCNABB DON'T GET ALONG! EAGLES FANS BOOED SANTA CLAUS! HAVE I MENIONED YET THAT TERRELL OWENS WILL BE RETURNING TO PHILADELPHIA!

With their three-year, $25-million contract for Terrell Owens, the Dallas Cowboys have inflicted pain upon millions of innocent Americans, not to mention Bill Parcells. Maybe it would be worth it if wide receiver was a position of need for the Cowboys. But whatever weaknesses the Dallas offense may have had last season, wide receiver wasn't one of them.

In Philadelphia, Owens filled a clear, gaping hole in the offense. That team was in desperate need of a true number one receiver. In Dallas, Owens replaces Keyshawn Johnson, and while that's an upgrade, it's really just a small one. Over the past few years, Owens has better numbers, but he also got to play with better quarterbacks. Owens had 230 more yards and six more touchdowns in 2004 -- but he also had Donovan McNabb throwing him the ball, not Vinny Testaverde.

At Football Outsiders, our Defense-adjusted Value Over Average metric compares every play to the league-average, for both teams and players -- with quarterbacks being compared only to other quarterbacks, and wide receivers only to other wide receivers. Last year, the combined DVOA for Dallas receivers was 9.2 percent, which ranked eighth in the league. Add in Jason Witten and the combined DVOA for Dallas receivers and tight ends is 14.0 percent, tied for fifth in the league with NFC champion Seattle.

And yet, Drew Bledsoe had a DVOA of only 5.3 percent, which ranked him 18th among all quarterbacks with at least 250 pass attempts. Matt Hasselbeck -- getting roughly the same value from his wide receivers and tight ends -- had a DVOA of 28.4 percent, which ranked sixth. What's the difference? The Seahawks have a younger and more accurate quarterback, a better running game, and a far better offensive line. That means fewer sacks, fewer interceptions, and fewer balls just thrown away due to pressure.

If Bledsoe has shown the world anything in the second half of his career, it's that he is completely ineffective without solid protection in front of him. Yet only the Texans, Vikings and Jets allowed more sacks than the Cowboys did last season. Behind an offensive line that was old and injured, and then became young and inexperienced, Bledsoe was, at best, a mediocre quarterback in 2005. If you enjoyed T.O.'s tantrums after Donovan McNabb failed to see him open downfield, just imagine what will happen as Owens races clear down the sidelines only to look back and see Bledsoe on his back for the fifth time that game.

Dallas has not yet brought in a quarterback to compete with Bledsoe or to back him up in case the he goes down for a significant period of time from one sack too many. To address their offensive line woes, the Cowboys signed Jason Fabini from the Jets – one of the three teams to allow more sacks than the Cowboys. Fabini is 32 and coming off a season where he missed seven games because of a chest injury. If healthy, he will be an upgrade at right tackle from Rob Pettiti. Then again, almost anyone Dallas signed would have provided an upgrade over what Pettiti gave them last season, possibly including me.

The Cowboys also signed blocking tight end Ryan Hannam from Seattle. Hannam will replace Dan Campbell, who signed a five-year deal with the Lions. Guard Kyle Kosier was also brought in as a backup across the line, and a possible starter at guard should the Cowboys let go perennial Pro-Bowler Larry Allen, due a $2 million bonus on April 1.

(Ed. note: Looking for an alternative viewpoint on the T.O. signing? Michael David Smith argues that Owens provides a significant improvement for the Cowboys in this article on FOXSports.com.)

Draft Preview

Various mock drafts have had the Cowboys targeting a wide receiver with their first pick at #18, with Ohio State's Santonio Holmes as the most likely suspect. With the Owens signing, however, it's likely Dallas will shift its draft focus away from wide receiver and potentially towards another Buckeye, safety Donte Whitner. With Roy Williams' struggles last season defending deep passes, the Cowboys would be served by finding a safety to play alongside him who excels in pass coverage. After Dallas failed to sign any of the half-dozen quality safeties on the free agent market this off-season, Whitner would appear to be the prospect that could have the most immediate impact on improving the team.

The Cowboys could also decide to add some youth to their offensive line in either the first or second rounds. After consensus top-five pick D'Brickashaw Ferguson from Virginia comes off the board, it's anyone's guess as to when the next offensive lineman will be picked. Some mock drafts have Winston Justice from Southern Cal, the #2 ranked tackle prospect in the draft, going in the top 10, while others think Justice will be available for Dallas in the middle of the first round.

New York Giants

Secondary Thoughts

The Giants have spent the early part of the free agent signing period focusing on their secondary. New York brought in former Baltimore safety Will Demps to start alongside Gibril Wilson. Demps has played under the shadow of his more famous safety counterpart in Baltimore, Ed Reed, but Demps was just as effective as Reed was last season. Both only played in about 2/3 of their team's games because of injuries, Demps going down in November with a partially torn ACL. While Reed has gained notoriety for effectively stopping the pass, Demps was more involved in stopping the run in 2005. Demps was involved in 29 rushing plays in 11 games, while Reed tackled the opposing running back just nine times during the season. Demps stopped the opposing runner from having a successful run 48 percent of the time, above average among safeties in the league. (We define a successful run as 45 percent of needed yards on first down, 60 percent on second down, or 100 percent on third down.)

New York also signed veteran cornerbacks Sam Madison and R.W. McQuarters. Madison is expected to take over for Will Allen as a starter, who will actually end up replacing Madison in Miami, while McQuarters will be in the mix at nickel cornerback with Curtis DeLoatch and as a return man. McQuarters' signing likely means the end of the New York career of Willie Ponder, who, despite being one of the best kick returners in the NFL in 2004, fell into Tom Coughlin's doghouse after fumbling the opening kickoff in New York's loss to Minnesota last season.

Although Madison isn't the upper-level cornerback he once was, he should be an upgrade over Allen, especially when it comes to interceptions. Allen has only managed one interception over the past two seasons, and only four since his rookie campaign in 2001. Overall, the Giants were tied for 10th in the league in total interceptions, but also faced the second most number of pass attempts in the league. New York was only 18th in the league in interceptions per pass attempt.

New York's biggest loss in free agency has been defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy, who fled to Arizona. Clancy reportedly would have re-signed with New York had they offered him a similar four-year $8.1 million contract that the Cardinals offered, but New York refused to move off their initial offer of $5.7 million. Clancy was part of an effective tackle rotation early in the year with William Joseph and Fred Robbins, and filled in admirably when Joseph went down with an injury around mid-season.

It is unlikely that the Giants will be able to find someone left on the free agent market to fill in for Clancy on the interior of their defensive line. One area the Giants could still upgrade is at linebacker, where Lavar Arrington has been rumored as a possible fit. Known for his pass rushing ability, Arrington would be a good fit for New York not for his ability to get to the passer, but for his ability to stop opposing running backs. Among linebackers involved in at least 30 rushing plays last season, Arrington had the fifth highest rate at preventing successful running plays, doing so 81 percent of the time. Teaming Arrington up with Antonio Pierce and Reggie Torbor would give New York one of the best run-stopping linebacking corps in the NFL. If the Giants can piece together an effective secondary from their new signings, they could enter 2006 with a formidable defense.

Draft Preview

The loss of Clancy moves defensive tackle up to the top of the list of draft needs for New York. Gabe Watson from Michigan sounds like a defensive tackle who is the best bet to step in and provide some of what Clancy did for New York last season. Watson's stock has been dropping in the draft, as his inconsistent play led to his being benched at one point last season. He could be the second best tackle in the draft after Oregon's Haloti Nagata, or he could turn out to be a complete bust. With the Giants drafting in the last third of the first round, and not needing Watson to step in and be an immediate starter, he's the type of calculated risk New York should take to help them make a run at the Super Bowl next season.

Outside of defensive tackle, the Giants don't have any glaring positions of need to address in the draft. New York's linebacking depth became a major issue late in the season, so New York could spend a few picks there, even if they sign Arrington. DeMeco Ryans from Alabama or Ernie Sims from Florida State are some names New York could be looking at in the first round.

Philadelphia Eagles

Is This Thing On?

The Eagles made an early splash into the free agent waters by signing former New Orleans defensive end Darren Howard to line up on the other side of the line from Jevon Kearse. Howard is coming off a down season, missing the last four games because of a knee injury after sacking the quarterback a career low 3.5 times. Howard will replace Trent Cole as the starter. Cole will still get plenty of time at defensive end and could see some action at linebacker as well.

With over $20 million in salary cap space remaining after the Howard signing, Eagles fans waited in anticipation to see what other holes Philadelphia would fill by signing available talent. Those fans are still waiting. Sure, Philadelphia made some minor signings to add depth to their roster. Shawn Barber will return to Philadelphia on a one year deal after two injury plagued seasons in Kansas City. Jeff Garcia and Matt Schoebel were brought in to backup Donovan McNabb and L.J. Smith, respectively. Jabar Gaffney will compete with Todd Pinkston for the number two wide receiver spot opposite Reggie Brown.

One would think, however, that a team coming off a 6-10 season with more cap room than most teams in football would be a bit more aggressive in upgrading its talent. Injuries contributed mightily to the team's struggles last season, but injuries alone were not responsible for Philadelphia's across-the-board decline in 2005. Even when Brian Westbrook was healthy, the Eagles struggled to run the ball, yet they have not addressed their need for a running back to share duties with Westbrook this off-season. The Eagles seem willing to let veteran tackle Jon Runyan go elsewhere in free agency, without any obvious replacements still available in free agency.

On defense, the team has somewhat addressed its weakness at outside linebacker through the Barber signing, but he can't be counted on to stay healthy and effective for a full season. While big names like Arrington and Julian Peterson are still on the market, the Eagles have not been mentioned as potential suitors for either free agent linebacker. Most likely, the Eagles will once again enter the season as one of the few teams in the league with significant salary cap room to spare and do little to fill that space up.

Draft Preview

Since the Eagles haven't addressed their running game through free agency, it could be a position the team targets in the first round at the 14th pick. With Arizona signing Edgerrin James, former Southern Cal back Lendale White could slide out of the top 10 and be available for the Eagles at #14. He could complement Westbrook as a he complemented likely number one pick Reggie Bush at USC for this season, while taking over as the team's primary option out of the backfield in 2007.

Should White not be there at #14, the Eagles could look to improve their defense by taking a linebacker at #14 to start at the strong side if the Eagles fail to upgrade the position through free agency, or to serve as insurance should Barber fail to play a full 16-game schedule. The second best linebacking prospect in the draft, after Ohio State's A.J. Hawk, looks to be Chad Greenway from Iowa.

Washington Redskins

$10 Million Goes a Long Way

No team may have been happier for the CBA extension and subsequent increase of the 2006 salary cap than the Washington Redskins. The team used the extra space gained by the extension and the release of a number of veterans to make the biggest splash in the first few weeks of free agency.

Washington's biggest weakness on offense in 2005 was arguably the lack of a second option at wide receiver opposite Pro Bowler Santana Moss. Washington wasted no time bringing in two players the team hopes will take the pressure off of Mark Brunell's primary target. As many predicted, Washington was the winner of the Antwaan Randle El sweepstakes, signing the wide receiver/kick returner/option quarterback to a 7-year, $31 million contract. Washington also acquired Brandon Lloyd from the San Francisco 49ers for a third round pick in this year's draft and a fourth rounder in 2007.

Neither, however, is a sure bet to outperform David Patten, Washington's number two receiver in 2005. Randle El was only the fourth most productive wide receiver on the Steelers last season according to FO stats, worth less in terms of both total value and value per play than Cedrick Wilson and Quincy Morgan. Randle El caught only 50 percent of the balls thrown in his direction last season, a career low. Lloyd didn't fare any better in San Francisco, catching only 44 percent of the passes thrown his way -- even accounting for San Francisco's quarterback problems, that's really low. Opposing defenses will have little reason to stop double-teaming Moss if they know the other receivers on the field will fail to catch the ball most of the time it's thrown to them.

The Redskins didn't spend all of their money just on wide receivers. Washington also signed safety Adam Archuleta and defensive end Andre Carter to help reload Greg Williams' powerhouse defense. Archuleta replaces unrestricted free agent Ryan Clark next to Sean Taylor in the Washington secondary. Carter likely will push Renaldo Wynn to the bench, giving the Redskins the depth at defensive end they were missing last season.

It's unlikely Washington will make too many more free agent signings, as they are only about $3 million under the salary cap after Patrick Ramsey was traded to the Jets for a sixth round pick. Washington has had discussions with a number of their veterans to rework their contracts, however, so you can never be sure that the Redskins are through spending money just yet.

Draft Preview

It's a good thing Washington filled a few holes in free agency, because it is unlikely they will get much immediate help from the draft. Denver has Washington's first- and fourth-round selections from the Jason Campbell trade, while San Francisco acquired Washington's third-round pick in the recent Lloyd trade. That leaves Washington with only one first day selection, pick #53. After that, barring any further trades, Washington won't select another player until nearly 100 more have been taken off the board. Should make for a pretty dull draft day party in Washington. Does a team even bother to hold a draft day party when they only draft once during the first 40 hours of the draft?

It's foolhardy to try and figure out who the Redskins will take late in the second round or with one of their five picks in the last three rounds of the draft. Offensive line would be a good position to target with their early pick, as the Redskins have little depth behind their solid group of starters. Look for Washington to spend at least one late-round selection on a defensive back who can hopefully get some time as a nickel corner this year.

Next week: NFC North by Michael David Smith

Posted by: Al Bogdan on 21 Mar 2006

170 comments, Last at 31 May 2006, 3:07pm by ben

Comments

1
by Kevo (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 4:53pm

Great article, Al. I'm generally an optimistic Eagles fan, but given the results of last year and the Eagles' lackadaisical free agency strategy...I think Terrell Owens slammed the window shut behind him.

Since I'm not anticipating a return to the Super Bowl, all I can hope for is that they beat the pants of the Cowboys a couple times and make the playoffs.

2
by Yakuza Rich (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 4:53pm

WR wasn't a big need, but the addition of Owens should greatly help the offense. Bledsoe had a 100 QB rating with Flozell Adams in the lineup. When Flozell tore his ACL, Bledsoe's QB rating plummeted to a 72. In the same game that Flozell went down, Patricky Crayton broke his ankle. Crayton was very good at helping punish teams who blitzed, but once he went down he never really regained his form. Even still, it's clear that Flozell going down was a huge factor in the dropoff in production of Bledsoe and the offense in general.

What Owens provides, as shown by KC Joyner's recent column on ESPN, is that he's a huge threat on short routes, especially hot routes and taking those passes for big gains. So if teams want to blitz Dallas next year, it's very possible with a healthy O-Line and a healthy WR corp, they could obliterate defenses.

I'm not saying the offense will automatically improve with Owens and there's no risks with signing Owens, but I think with his abilities as a WR and the way the contract was structured, the positives outweigh the potential negatives and Jerry Jones took a smart, calculated risk.

3
by charles (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 5:03pm

IMO, Carter doesn't really help the defense much. Wynn is much better at stoppinng the run and can play tackle and end, and the redskins coaches are obsessed with stopping the run first which makes sense. I see carter only getting in on obvious 3rd down passing situations. Archuleta is probably going to play the Matt Bowen role in williams defense which means staying near the line of scrimmage and blitzing alot since you can't cover anybody for too long. Al is right that the redskins need to do something about their depth at cb because springs started to decline last year.

4
by charles (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 5:06pm

Also, has T.O. said anything about being teammates with "Horse Collar" Williams who tried to end his career two years ago? So a qb who gets sick during a game bothers him but he has nothing to say to a safety who broke his leg.

5
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 5:12pm

I'll be the first jerk to make a correction. The Redskins gave up their 1st and 4th round pick in the trade for Jason Campbell last year.

I'm looking for the Redskins to draft a LB with their first pick. I'm glad they have the flexibility to take best player available. They filled the need for WR and DE with free agency.

It wouldn't surprise me if they were willing trade partners to get extra picks. Other teams are always looking to target specific players, and it would be nice to have more "lottery tickets".

The Redskins will be drafting in the 2nd, 5th, 6th, 6th, 6th, and 7th rounds... and perhaps a compensatory pick. Ironic that both Rod Gardner and Patrick Ramsey garnered a 6th round draft pick. They traded their 3rd this year for Brandon Lloyd (who still hasn't signed his 6 year $30 M deal).

6
by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 5:17pm

"Lloyd didn’t fare any better in San Francisco, catching only 44 percent of the passes thrown his way — even accounting for San Francisco’s quarterback problems, that’s really low."

Are you sure we are fully accounting for SanFran's QB problems? Lloyd showed up more than a few times on the highlight films with some amazing circus catches, so the guy certainly does have hands. Does he have concentration problems on easy catches? Any 49er fans with some insight here? I agree 44% is low, but I'm not quite yet prepared to rule out lousy quarterbacking.

7
by Yakuza Rich (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 5:21pm

#4 - To Roy's credit, the horse collar tackle was perfectly legal at the time. And when you think about it, that tackle help propel the sequence of events that led T.O. to being a Cowboy. T.O. despises the Eagles organization because he wanted to restructure his contract, especially after he risked ending his career to play in the Super Bowl. I could see Owens looking at the horse collar tackle as something that wound up exposing the Eagles front office for what they really are.

8
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 5:22pm

Among linebackers involved in at least 30 rushing plays last season, Arrington had the fifth highest rate at preventing successful running plays, doing so 81 percent of the time.

I'd like to see how these stats line up with Arrington's teamates (Lemar Marshall, Marcus Washington) and backup (Warrick Holdman). Arrington has the reputation of being a liability against the pass. It would make an interesting article to see if that is actually true... and then next year to see how his replacement fills the big shoes.

9
by Michael David Smith :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 5:30pm

Lloyd had the lowest DVOA of the four 49ers receivers who had enough passes thrown their way to qualify, so he certainly can't blame all of his problems on the quarterbacks. My scouting report on Lloyd, and I've been watching him since he was in college (he and I both went to Illinois), is that he's like the kid who is so smart that he can solve the hardest problem on the math test, but so careless that he turns the test in without noticing that he left one page totally blank. I mean, if I made a list of the most spectacular catches I've ever seen, both in the NFL and the NCAA, his name would probably appear on it more than anyone else's. But spectacular catches aren't really the best measure of a receiver's quality -- Jerry Rice wasn't known for making incredible one-handed catches; he was known for running such perfect routes that he was always in position to catch the ball without needing to do anything acrobatic. Lloyd needs more of that.

10
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 5:32pm

Q. OK is TO a good pick up for Dallas?
A. Yes

Q. Will TO create a presnece on the filed to draw a double team and only allow 7 men in the box for DAL RB's?
A. Yes

Q. will TO get pissed if he feels like he is being used as a decoy to draw a double team and open up the other recieving positions?
A. Yes

Q. Is Jerry Jones/Bill Parcels really that much smarter thean the Brain trust in Philly (Sorry I could not remember the owners name in philly)
A. TBD in 2007

11
by JasonK (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 6:00pm

re: Giants' Needs

I agree that the Giants have holes at WLB and DT. The problem at DT is that both Robbins and Joseph are 3-technique tackles; they only line up together on passing downs. Right now Kenderick Allen would start as the best 1-technique tackle on the team. I don't know if he's ready to be a full-time starter, but he looked decent in limited time last year and probably is better than any draftee would be in his rookie season. There are also talks that the team is interested in Grady Jackson for this spot.

If no deal for Arrington comes through, WLB will almost certainly be a major draft target. It'll be interesting to see how Julian Peterson's big payday impacts Arrington's price. I'd like to see him in Blue, but only for the right price (and that price is far less that what Seattle paid Peterson).

The one non-hole that should be a concern is a Left Tackle to replace Luke Petitgout in a year. If the team goes into the draft confident that it has filled its holes on defense, this could be a major target in round 1 or 2.

12
by DJAnyReason (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 6:26pm

Good article, but both mocked drafts linked in the Dal part have serious flaws. The first was last updated before the Brees and Ramsey signings. The second has GB taking Leinart. Neither comes close to reality, for those reasons.

13
by James Thrash (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 6:31pm

Great article Al. I agree with you that T.O.'s addition is not exactly what the Cowboys need. To Michael David Smith - I think you're absolutely right that T.O. won't act up or cause locker room problems, but do you believe acquiring him was the best move for the Cowboys?

It's unquestionable that he'll upgrade their passing attack, but as Al points out, his advantage over Keyshawn Johnson is much less than it was over Philly's #1. I know in the free agent market a team's choices are limited, but do you think Dallas would have been better served using the T.O. money somewhere else? Al wrote about their O-line problems, maybe that would have been a better place to spend their money. On the other hand, maybe Parcells assumes this is his last year and wants to swing for the fences. That wouldn't really be in the team's best interest, though.

14
by Sporran (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 6:31pm

Anyone who has followed the Eagles even remotely closely should know that they won't pick Lendale White. Either Bunkley or Justice will be the pick, assuming either one is available.

15
by Sporran (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 7:05pm

Also, could someone tell me who else the Eagles should have gone after that would have clearly upgraded the team?

16
by GaryS (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 7:09pm

Whether or not signing TO is a good move is TBD. As for Dallas contending for a Super Bowl, the OL has to be fixed, a free safety has to be found and a kicker needs to be signed.

Since there does not appear to be any FS left in free agency, that spot will have to be filled in the draft. After Huff, there does not appear to be any FS types worthy of a first, althought there are quite a few, including Whitner, who would be solid picks in the second.

While Fabini, Gurode and Kosier provide depth, the Cowboys need youth on the O line as well. I would hope they look at Winston Justice, aas well as Eric Winston, who if his knee checks out, would be a solid addition as well as insurance if Adams is not fully recovered. Joseph from OU would be a great fit, as Allen and Rivera are both on the wrong side of 30, but I would not take him in the first.

Before they signed TO, I would have thought that Santonio Holms would be the guy, but now I see Parcells stocking up on OL, just like he did DL last year. Right now, I think Dallas goes OL in the first, FS in the second and OL or perhaps WR (Avant?) in the third, as the WRs are over 30 as well.

17
by empty13 (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 7:09pm

No OL help? Bledsoe wont last all season again.

T.O. wont be that much help for a Pokes squad QB'd by Romo or Henson.

18
by Yakuza Rich (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 7:11pm

#13.

Dallas is still $12 million under the cap and that's not even counting whatever they do with Larry Allen and Al Singleton.

As far as taking the TO money and spending it on O-Linemen, I'm not sure where they'd go. LeCharles Bentley was pretty much dead set on going to Cleveland and the amount the Vikes gave Hutchinson is too much.

They wound up getting Fabini, who was one of the best tackles available in FA. There was Kevin Shaffer, but I don't believe he fits their system, plus Cleveland could've outbid him.

The only problem is that they didn't look for a FS or a Kicker. But, I think with a healthy O-Line and a healthy WR corp, TO will have a ton of influence on the Dallas offense.

19
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 7:13pm

RE 18

for a kicker there may still be a chance to grab Vanderchoke!!! :-)

20
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 7:16pm

What's the difference between the Cowboys addition of Terell Owens and the combined effect of adding Antwaan Randle-El and Brandon Lloyd to their offense, and David Patten returning?

Terrell Owens is replacing Keyshawn Johnson, but the new Redskins are replacing the much worse combination of Taylor Jacobs and/or Jimmy Farris.

Clinton Portis should also have some more space to work with if a 3-WR set can open up defenses.

When you factor in Al Saunders playcalling... the Redskins offense is due for an even bigger explosion. Isn't that why the Giants are loading up in the secondary (and TO to Dallas).

The one question Mark is Brunell... he played great early in the season but wore down and then wasn't the same after tweaking his knee late in the season. That's two years he's "broken down". I'm hoping he can play great early on, and Campbell is ready to step in late.

The NFC Beast is going to be fun to watch again. I'm not going to underestimate the Giants and Cowboys, but Philly doesn't scare me half as much.

Does this sound logical or just like marketing hype?

21
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 7:18pm

Should White not be there at #14, the Eagles could look to improve their defense by taking a linebacker at #14 to start at the strong side

Weakside. Shawn Barber's a weakside linebacker.

Dhani Jones will still be the starting SAM, and I don't know why people think he still can't start there. He's fine.

Linebackers weren't the problem last year (though Keith Adams was not really effective) - the pass rush was. That's why the Howard signing was so nice. Philly's pass rush should immediately improve, and take a lot of pressure off of the secondary. And Howard has the frame to shift over on longer-yardage downs, meaning that there'll be hell to pay if Philly gets you into 3rd and 10.

Of course, this should make the Dallas/Philly games fun, with TO throwing a temper tantrum as Bledsoe gets knocked silly. That'll be great fun.

I'm not sure the Eagles won't go with an OL in the draft. They still have to deal with the loss of Runyan. The LB need and the RB need aren't that big, although they're "trendy". Philly's happy with Westbrook and Moats, and they're fine with Jones/Trotter/Barber with the hope that Matt McCoy actually makes progress this year. The offensive line - that's a much bigger need.

So to answer the question of: yet they have not addressed their need for a running back to share duties with Westbrook this off-season. - yes, they did. Last year. Moats is fine.

22
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 7:22pm

The one question Mark is Brunell…

Actually, I'd worry more about Washington's aging offensive and defensive lines. I'm fairly surprised that in free agency, they really only tackled skill players. I'd be surprised if the offensive line makes it through the year intact.

23
by Yakuza Rich (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 7:30pm

I actually believe Dallas will go OLB, FS, and NG in the first day of the draft. They've targeted NG's and OLB's in the draft. By getting an OLB opposite of Ware, they can punish teams that sent TE's in motion to Ware's side and forced him into coverage or gave him a double team. I think it's all but a given that Dallas drafts OLB in the first round.

24
by GaryS (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 7:32pm

Re 20:

The biggest problem Washington has is at QB. Brunell is what, 36 now, and last year he was barely able to finish the season. Campbell is untested, and although Gibbs has done wonders in the past with subpar QBs, his success has been with veterans, not inexperienced first/second year QBs.

25
by James Thrash (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 7:41pm

# 20 Matthew - I think you might've put your finger on the Redskins dilemma this upcoming year at quarterback. I'm not confident Brunell can last the whole year, but I think that whenever Campbell begins starting, he will struggle, just because almost every first-year QB does. So the nightmare is if the 'skins are doing well, but then Brunell gets hurt and then Campbell mucks stuff up. It almost makes me think Campbell should start from week 1.

About the difference between adding Owens and adding El/Lloyd, my gut tells me upgrading your #2/3 WR is of a lot less benefit than upgrading your #1, particularly if the new #1 can draw double coverage and the old one couldn't. I don't know why I think that though.

26
by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 7:47pm

#11:
"The one non-hole that should be a concern is a Left Tackle to replace Luke Petitgout in a year. If the team goes into the draft confident that it has filled its holes on defense, this could be a major target in round 1 or 2."

I'd be just fine with replacing Petitgout now instead.

27
by Theo (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 8:02pm

NOooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! No love for Dallas! It's NOT the 90's anymore.
I hate them. Big time.

28
by MdM (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 8:52pm

RE #15, upgrading the Eagles team. I have to admit I never even knew who he was, but LeCharles Bentley seems to be a large upgrade over Honeybuns. I know he wanted to go to Cleveland, (yada yada yada), but money talks.

29
by Larry (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 9:08pm

MDS makes a great point on Owens. The Rosenhaus effect works in the right direction for Dallas in 2006. The impact Rosenhaus had on blowing the situation last year probably shouldn't be understated. This is, strangely, the most persuasive point to me, along with the having actually been on the open market to get this contract.

I was never so excited about a center being on my team's FA target list, and definitely never so sad to find out they didn't get one.

30
by Sporran (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 9:48pm

Re: 28

Bentley signed a monster deal with Cleveland, on the order of $6 Million a year. In order to get him to even consider Philly over his hometown Browns, the Eagles would have had to offer at least 50% more than that.

Do you REALLY think the Eagles should be paying their center more than their QB?

31
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 10:13pm

Besides, Fraley's not exactly 'bad'. He made the Pro Bowl (deservedly) in 2004 to tons of accolades. He had a less than stellar 2005, but it was cut short by injury.

Bentley would've been extremely nice because the O-line could've been shuffled to allow Herremans time to develop. That would've taken care of Runyan's exit.

32
by Kevo (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 10:16pm

I'm okay with missing out on Bentley. Andy Reid's Eagles have done a pretty great job of developing their young OLs, so I think Fraley (who should have made the Pro Bowl a couple years ago) is fine at Center, Shawn Andrews will do well replacing Runyan at RT, and whoever they get to replace Andrews at Guard will be suitable.

Pat, do you really think Moats fits the needs they have at RB? Or are you counting on Correll Buckhalter to not get injured in training camp again? I think if they have Westbrook, Moats, and Buck healthy, they're in good shape at RB.

All this said, at best this team is going to fall short of the Super Bowl, unless Reggie Brown becomes Terrell Owens Part II.

33
by Kevo (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 10:19pm

And by "should have mad the Pro Bowl a couple years ago" I meant "last year." He did make the Pro Bowl a couple years ago.

34
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 10:36pm

Pat, do you really think Moats fits the needs they have at RB?

Yes. I'm trying to remember what game it was that I finally believed that, but Moats is not a Westbrook clone. They run differently.

Besides, losing Buckhalter isn't what hurt their running game. It was the fact that McNabb couldn't move. Regardless of how he tried to defuse that in the media, he was limited in how he could move, which really took a dimension away from the offense.

All this said, at best this team is going to fall short of the Super Bowl

I think that's selling this team a little short. I don't see any serious holes on the team, and the one thing that 2005 allowed them to do is find very good depth - assuming some of the players can come back from injury.

That's the one thing I'm worried about - that McNabb, Westbrook, Pinkston, and Sheppard won't return to form.

I've been saying for a long while (which you know!) that probably the best option for the Eagles to go after is Howard, who's the perfect way to shore up the defensive line. Keep in mind that the Eagles have wanted Howard for a while now.

35
by Harris (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 10:54pm

When was the last time C-Buck played a football game that mattered? 2004? 2003? His career is over and it's time everybody realized it. Moats is a smaller version of Westbrook and I'm still mystified why they wanted that.

I have no doubt the Eagles will draft an OL first. They put little to no value on RBs and LBs, took a WR in the 2nd round last year, took a DT in the 1st round and got a DE in free agency. They have no need for a DB (maybe an heir apparent for Dawkins but there is no obvious choice out there) or a QB (but the clock is ticking)

The maddening thing about T.O. leaving, not that him going to Dallas isn't bad enough, it's that the Eagles didn't get anything for him. Even a 7th round pick would have been better than that. This front office has a nasty habit of letting Pro Bowlers walk away and getting nothing in return.

36
by ElJefe (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 11:07pm

I'm not sure Honeybuns is even going to have a starting job this year. I think the Eagles are rather high on Jamal Jackson, who replaced Fraley when he was injured. I'm also not sure it's an accident that the Eagles have struggled against 3-4 teams, indicating a need to improve the interior of their line. (Hence the excitement over LeCharles)

I guess the plan is Fraley at Center, Jackson at Guard and all 385 pounds of Shawn Andrews at Tackle. Of course, if Andrews is still that fat they'll have to push Herremans out to RT. I also wouldn't be suprised if Runyan is back. He obviously wasn't a priority for any other team, so unless some bridges were burned the Eagles can probably make him as good an offer on a short contract as he could get elsewhere.

If it were me I would want to draft LenDale White, but the Eagles won't. They're fools if they are counting on Correll Buckhalter, but they also have no interest in spending 1st round money on a RB. They'll just look to pick up some scraps in June.

I also don't think Ryan Moats is much of an answer. The staff had such confidence in him that they played a guy who they picked up off the street ahead of him (Lamar Gordon). I don't think it was a coincidence that Moats didn't see the field until they were down to the disposable quarterbacks, since he was an absolute disaster in pass protection (see vs. Arizona). Have to figure they thought he would get McNabb knocked out if they let him play.

For the same reason I also don't think Moats and Westbrook can really play much together. Neither is particularly capable of lead blocking on a run, so a defense should treat the formation as 3-wides and play nickel, making it more difficult for the Eagles to get a good matchup for Westbrook in the passing game. And if they do split/motion Westbrook out, then they'll be heavily biased to running since otherwise they'll have Moats in pass protection. The alternative is splitting Moats out and he hasn't shown he can catch passes nor do you really want Westbrook blocking. Westbrook and LenDale would be a more versatile combo. (The guy I really wanted the Eagles to get was the fullback from Rutgers, but he didn't come out).

I actually think the Eagles will play a lot of 2-TE this year. Both of their TEs are good pass catchers, so they can keep the defense in base and still play the modified chuck-and-duck that Reid prefers.

My guess on the draft is the DT from FSU (Corey who?).

37
by Bjorn (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 11:11pm

What happened to Bill Parcells' loyalty? Keyshawn is cut? Never thought I'd see that happen. Maybe he'll head to Philly then? That would be the biggest grudge match of all time.

38
by JasonK (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 11:36pm

#26: "I’d be just fine with replacing Petitgout now instead."

So would I, but with whom? There aren't any quality LOTs out there in free agency, and I'm not crazy about counting on a rookie to protect Eli's blindside all year. (At least, not any rookie the Giants could get at #25.) They should pick someone to take Bob Whitfield's role this year (top backup on the left and right), and move into Luke's spot in '07.

39
by Ellsworth (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 11:37pm

I almost fell out of my chair laughing after reading Michael David Smith's pro-T.O. to Dallas column! It's amazing how naive some football columnists are regarding the Team Obliterator! If I may use T.O.'s line regarding Jeff Garcia: "If it smells like a rat...." I'll thoroughly enjoy watching him take Dallas down the crapper!

40
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 03/21/2006 - 11:46pm

Of course, if Andrews is still that fat they’ll have to push Herremans out to RT.

Herremans is still listed as the starter at RT. That's the position I'm a bit worried about.

The staff had such confidence in him that they played a guy who they picked up off the street ahead of him (Lamar Gordon).

Gordon had experience in the offense used at Philly - Moats didn't. That's why they went with Gordon originally.

Moats will be fine. It takes time for RBs to learn pass protection anywhere in the league.

Honestly, I don't get why Runyan hasn't attracted interest elsewhere. The only thing I can think of is that he knows what the Eagles are willing to offer, and no one has matched it yet. The guy hasn't missed a game in forever. That's value right there.

41
by Omar (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 3:18am

Re # 37

Parcells traded Keyshawn to Tampa so it's not the first time they've parted ways.

42
by MdM (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 3:33am

Hmmm... Fraley seems to be a weakness of the Eagles O-line to me. In the Superbowl, he was annihilated if I remember correctly, also the Pittsburgh game (ancient history, 2004, right?). I didn't say that the Eagles should have paid Bentley more than McNabb, I was just mentioning him as a piece that could have upgraded the team.

I think one flaw in the Eagle's policy of obtaining a bunch of less-expensive "good" players is that you miss out on the physically dominating packages... part of it is drafting 30th or whatever.

Speaking of physically dominant, wouldn't it be great to pick up Larry Allen for a few years? That would make the TO defection a little less painful.

43
by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 5:12am

Re 39: Every time Owens has been on a halfway decent team, they've made the playoffs and won playoff games, often on the strength of Owens' play. It's not like we're talking about Stephon Marbury or Steve Francis here- Owens has translated into victories for every team he's been on.

Re 41: Parcells traded Keyshawn to Tampa because he saw what was brewing between Groh and Keyshawn and thought it would be the best thing for the player (and yes, he landed a terrific deal in the process). Parcells absolutely was considering Keyshawn's interests in 2000; one gets the impression that this cut was Jerry Jones riding in to make cap room to bring on Owens.

44
by Brian (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 6:43am

Even if Owens didn't play in said playoff games :)

45
by PDBIP (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 7:48am

Al, great article, I emailed the link to the other literate fans I know.

MDS, this might be the first time I've seriously disagreed with something you wrote. You justify your position by saying "TO knows what's at stake." Oh? Do you know him? Haven't we made fun of this idea to the point where we all see it's silly?

46
by Yakuza Rich (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 10:58am

#43

After cutting Larry Allen, and they still haven't made a decision on Al Singleton yet, Dallas is almost $15 million under the cap. I'm not quite sure how much they saved by cutting Keyshawn, but I'm 99% sure that cutting Keyshawn had nothing to do with making cap room for T.O. They already had enough cap room as is. I expect Dallas to make a pretty hard push at Seattle kicker Josh Brown, now.

47
by Jason (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 11:39am

"About the difference between adding Owens and adding El/Lloyd, my gut tells me upgrading your #2/3 WR is of a lot less benefit than upgrading your #1, particularly if the new #1 can draw double coverage and the old one couldn’t. I don’t know why I think that though. "

Yes but they already have Santana Moss as a number 1, you can't upgrade much from him, at least if he replicates his 05 numbers which I'll admit I have doubts about, not because of him because of Brunnel who wasn't just bad he was horrid in the playoff and in the last couple weeks of the regular season.
I find myself wishign that Joe Gibbs had kept Ramsey and put him in this year, I know that sounds crazy but I believe he can be a good QB, look back on some of the games he's had since he came in and you'll be surprised at some of the stuff he was able to do.

"Actually, I’d worry more about Washington’s aging offensive and defensive lines. I’m fairly surprised that in free agency, they really only tackled skill players. I’d be surprised if the offensive line makes it through the year intact."

Hmm? The offensive line is made up of late twenties players, and I'd consider it the strength of their offense. Chris Samuels is a pro bowl left tackle, Jon Jansen is a team leader and considered one of the better tackles in the league. Randy Thomas was regarded last year as one of the biggest pro bowl snubs. Casey Rabach was considered the best center in FA last year, and Derrick DOckery is a freak of a LG at 6 7.

None of them are over 30.

48
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 12:42pm

22:

What about Washington's Fantasy Football-esque signings surprise you? That they did it yet again?

49
by John (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 1:07pm

48:

The difference now is Joe Gibbs is the Coach, I wouldn't bet against him if I were you. He's in the HOF for a reason and last season he showed why, he took a proven LOSER, and turned it into a winner something no other coach has done in the last 5 years. also keep in mind they made it further into the playoffs then any other team in the NFC East.

They are a better team now then they were at the end of the year, if people don't see that they are morons.

THey are the favorite whether you think so or not. Signing the most volatile player in the NFL does not catapult a non-playoff team ahead of a playoff team, and doing nothing: see the giants and philly, does not help either.

50
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 1:17pm

"The big problem is Washington's old offensive line."

Huh? All their starters are under 30.

It's all about Brunell. But I actually think skins fans will see Collins before Campbell if Brunell falters early and the Skins are still in the hunt -- Al Saunders loves him, he knows the system, and he filled in admirably for Trent Green in the few games he actually played.

51
by MRH (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 1:37pm

Todd Collins "filled in admirably for Trent Green in the few games he actually played"?

Huh? Green hasn't missed a start in KC. Off the bench, 2001-2005, mostly in garbage time, Collins was 18-27, 229, 1 TD and 0 INTs. That adds up to one efficeint game performance - total, in FIVE seasons. He didn't throw a pass in 2005 either. And he had three years on the bench '98-00 as the #3 QB without throwing a pass. Yes, he knows the offense. He could even surprise if he gets playing time in WAS. But he never did anything in KC but hold a clipboard and finish out games after TMQ closed his notebook.

I never liked Al Saunders play-calling that much. I think he did a great job orgainizing and preparing the offense. And he avoided the 7 yard pass in the flat on 3rd and 9 that was a specialty of Martyball. But it seemed like he would often call reverses and weird-design running plays that would lose yardage when standard runs and passes had been working fine. He also tended to get a little pass-happy for my taste.

I posted something similar on another thread, but re Lloyd and ARE: They were pretty poor wrs based on their 2005 DPAR/DVOA - not much better than Patten. But if you think of wrs on a spectrum left to right from wr1 to wr2 to wr3, they both should be moving to the right: Lloyd from wr1 to wr2, ARE from wr2 to wr3. Facing less-capable cbs, less defensive attention in general, and being asked to carry a lighter load in the offense, they may improve their performance. The opposite effect was the Peerless Price move to the left, from wr2 in BUF to wr1 in ATL. That didn't work out; these signings might from a performance standpoint. Maybe not from a best use of cap point of view, though.

52
by Josh (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 1:51pm

Old Redskins O-Line may refer to depth, specifically the fact that Ray Brown was playing at significant points last season

53
by JonL (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 2:12pm

RE: #47

the problem with the O-line isn't age, though, it's consistency. Rabach may have been the "best center in FA last year," but once the season started he didn't play particularly well. They also enjoyed an uncharacteristic bout of health last year (Chris Samuels, I'm looking in your direction). I don't think they necessarily needed to "upgrade" anywhere, I just don't expect as good a year next season.

I'm not very high on the Archuleta signing. He doesn't play the pass well anymore, and let's not forget there's still a chance Sean Taylor could face some jail time. That secondary really looks shaky to me.

54
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 2:15pm

MDS has the better part of the argument regarding Owens' value to the Cowboys. The key to Bledsoe being productive is to go max protect early and often, and to do that, a team needs receivers who can fight through coverage while still getting deep when the opportunity arises. Johnson isn't a bad player but he just doesn't have the speed to do the things that Owens can do, which makes it harder to use maximum protection schemes. Owens is an idiot, no doubt, but even idiots can be conditioned somewhat, and his losing roughly a million dollars during the next year or so, due to his behavior, will likely keep his behavior in check for a while. What would worry me most if I were a Cowboy fan is that Owens has't played a full season since 2002, and he ain't any younger now. If he only plays ten or eleven games this year, the Cowboys will likely be up the proverbial small tributary absent a locomotive device.

55
by JRM (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 3:26pm

I don't get the entire "Terrell Owens doesn't fill a hole for Dallas" thing. I say if a team has a chance to aquire a great player, you aquire him.

Yes, there are exceptions- for example, there would be no point in Indianapolis going after Drew Brees. But every single team in the NFL would be improve by adding a star WR.

56
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 3:36pm

Will,

Did you miss the TO Rap?

To the haters who said I wouldn’t get my money
I laugh, say ‘Ha ha, that’s funny’
I’m back and I’m better than ever
I’m back and I’m getting this cheddar
This time I’m a Cowboy
And I’m got ‘em sayin’ wow, boy.

Really sounds like someone who learned a lesson about losing some money due to his behavior.

57
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 3:46pm

Old Redskins O-Line may refer to depth, specifically the fact that Ray Brown was playing at significant points last season

Exactly. Also note that I said "offensive and defensive line" - I didn't mean to single out the offensive line as old (I said 'I don't think the offensive line will make it through the season intact' but that was a typo). The defensive line is actually noticeably older, although signing Carter helped a bunch.

But every single team in the NFL would be improve by adding a star WR.

Are you sure? What about Houston? Keep in mind what Al said above - Dallas finished in the bottom of the pack in terms of sacks allowed. By a large margin.

Quarterback DVOA is strongly correlated with adjusted sack rate (*really* strongly correlated). If Dallas's offensive line doesn't improve (and really, what makes you think it would?) then it's hard to believe that Bledsoe would be able to do significantly better than last year. Regardless of whether or not he had a decent target.

I don't see Dallas improving significantly without a major improvement in their offensive line. Randy Moss in Oakland wasn't able to keep Kerry Collins upright, and lo and behold, he didn't have much of an impact. (Note that the Vikings also had a high adjusted sack rate in 2004, but Culpepper also was extremely effective scrambling).

58
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 4:17pm

"To the haters who said I wouldn’t get my money
I laugh, say ‘Ha ha, that’s funny’"
(spoken) I don't see anyone else in here smiling though.
Are you sure?
(singing) You wanna catch balls from Drew Bledsoe?
You wanna catch what-ever Bledsoe throws?
You wanna turn and see a flattened Bledsoe,
You wanna play for a guy who's . . . old and slow?
(spoken) But he didn't . . . hear a thing -
singing He just smiled and flashed his bling.
Go on holdout for a year,
Call your old QB a queer,
Do some push-ups in the yard,
Show them you're still training hard,
But still you'll never get it right,
You'll catch every ball in site,
Be the toast of Dallas then,
But in twelve months time, you'll be . . . at it again, oh,
You'll never get another contract,
You'll get another paycheque through,
Never play another game of football,
Have to watch your life . . . slide out of view
And pout, and preen, and sue
Because there's nothing else to do-oo-oo-oo-oo.

59
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 4:18pm

Dunno if Jarvis Cocker and the gang ever really made it across the Atlantic, but hey ho.

60
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 4:28pm

That is quality entertainment, right there. That might be the funniest thing I've read in a long time.

61
by SJM (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 4:33pm

Re: JRM

I don’t get the entire “Terrell Owens doesn’t fill a hole for Dallas� thing. I say if a team has a chance to aquire a great player, you aquire him.
Yes, there are exceptions- for example, there would be no point in Indianapolis going after Drew Brees. But every single team in the NFL would be improve by adding a star WR.

Oh, really? Arizona would improve by adding a star WR? How about Oakland? St Louis? And those are bad teams with room for improvement, I haven't even mentioned Indy or Seatle or Cincy, who couldn't get much better.

WR is the offensive position which at which it is LEAST important to have a star.

62
by James Thrash (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 4:45pm

Although I didn't think signing T.O. was the best move for the Cowboys, I JRM #55 is right when he says every team in the NFL could improve by adding a star WR. If by star we mean top-5. Even if the team already has a top-5 receiver, that means they'd have a top-5 in the #2 spot, which would be an absolutely nightmare for defenses. With teams that already have a great 1-2 combination, the #3 receiver would become lethal. I'm not thinking about whatever chemistry problems might arise, by the way.

And I don't really understand the comment that WR is the offensive position where it's least important to have a star. Surely that honor might go to guard, or tailback, or fullback, or blocking tight end? I'm not saying that having great players at those positions isn't a vast help, but in general I'd rather have the best WR in the league than the best fullback.

63
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 4:54pm

JRM #55 is right when he says every team in the NFL could improve by adding a star WR.

Oakland? I mean, yah, adding Randy Moss improved the passing offense: from -4.4% DVOA to 4.4% DVOA. That's statistically insignificant.

Just like adding Edgerrin James to Arizona isn't going to result in them having a 1500-yard rusher, adding Owens to a team with Bledsoe and a porous offensive line isn't going to massively improve the offense.

64
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 5:00pm

SJM, there has been regression analysis done which suggests that an injury to a star wide receiver is most predictive, compared to injuries at other positions, other than quarterback, of a team suffering a decline in wins. Now, this doesn't necessarily disprove your contention; it could mean that teams with rosters constructed around a star wide receiver are more vulnerable to a singular injury. I don't think that your contention can be entirely supported, however.

My guess would be that running back is the offensive position where having a star is least important. Also, given the degree to which Seattle has suffered from dropped passes in the recent past, with improvement over the past year, I really think it is a stretch to say that Seattle wouldn't benefit from having a star wide receiver. I'm pretty confident that if Holmgren's fairy godgeneral manager were to appear before him today, and tell him that he could have Steve Hutchinson back or have Steve Smith, and either at manageable cap numbers, he'd pick Steve Smith in a heartbeat. The gap between median guard peformance and Hutchinson's, is more narrow than the gap between median wr performance and Smith's, in terms of increasing the odds of winning.

Pat, I have real doubts about adjusted sack rate, in terms of it measuring offensive line pass blocking performance. I saw just about every snap the Vikings took in 2004, and there is no way, absolutely no way, that the Vikings were below average in pass protection. Culpepper scrambles well, but he also holds the ball for a very, very, long time. Until somebody starts putting a stopwatch on each pass play, and gets the median time bewteen snap and pressure applied, and publishes the results, I am very suspect of using sack numbers of any kind to measure pass blocking performance.

65
by SJM (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 5:21pm

SJM, there has been regression analysis done which suggests that an injury to a star wide receiver is most predictive, compared to injuries at other positions, other than quarterback, of a team suffering a decline in wins. Now, this doesn’t necessarily disprove your contention; it could mean that teams with rosters constructed around a star wide receiver are more vulnerable to a singular injury. I don’t think that your contention can be entirely supported, however.

I think that's exactly what it proves. Consider the pre-TO the Eagles teams which were winning the NFC East every year with lousy WRs. Sure, TO made them better, but they were good without him. Now consider Arizona or Oakland this past year, loaded at WR but never a threat to make the playoffs. I know these are only a few examples, but they are fairly recent which makes them more applicable. I know the Panthers would have been sunk without Steve Smith, but how much better did the Eagles do with TO than after they benched him?

66
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 5:34pm

This is the problem with using a couple of anecdotes, SJM. it doesn't prove anything. Corey Dillon's teams in Cincy always sucked. Doesn't that then prove that having a star running back is unimportant? Especially since one year after he left, the Bengals experienced their best year in ages? Until this past year, Walter Jones' team had only sporadically made the playoffs, and had never won a playoff game; did this inform us in July 2005 about the importance of a left tackle in any meaningful way?

Do you think that Holmgren would rather have Hutchinson back, or Steve Smith on his roster?

67
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 5:45pm

I am very suspect of using sack numbers of any kind to measure pass blocking performance.

Eh. I think it works on the whole pretty well. You have QBs which hold onto the ball too much, and you have QBs which get rid of the ball too quickly. But you've got enough data that you've got QBs which get rid of the ball very quickly on teams with bad offensive lines, and QBs which get rid of the ball very quickly on good offensive lines, so you get a trend with spread around it.

Like I said, if you plot QB DVOA against adjusted sack rate, there's a very, very clear correlation. While there's certainly spread within it, and there's certainly a QB component to adjusted sack rate, that doesn't mean that it's still entirely likely that moving Peyton Manning from an ASR of ~3% to a team with an ASR of ~10% won't very likely result in a sharp drop in performance. The resulting team probably won't have an ASR of ~10%, either, but likewise it won't be 3%.

Heck, there's plenty of spread in it from just statistics, anyway.

It's definitely a crappy indicator, but that doesn't mean that it isn't an indicator.

Culpepper scrambles well, but he also holds the ball for a very, very, long time.

I think the two are linked. Most scrambling QBs hold onto the ball for too long. I'm pretty sure if you did a 3D analysis with pass DVOA, QB rush DVOA, and ASR, you'd see that QBs with a positive rushing DVOA have a higer pass DVOA in high ASR conditions.

Certainly that helps explain David Carr, Ben Roethlisberger, and Culpepper as well, who are all on the very high side of where you would expect them to be based on their team's ASR.

68
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 5:55pm

Way off topic here:

From the Amazon preview it looks like the coverboys for PFP 2006 are:

Tom Brady, Frank Gore, Ike Taylor, Patrick Crayton, Tony Gonzalez, and Marvin Harrison!

Doh... I deciphered that from squinting at the small picture ignoring the "Click for Larger Image".

69
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 5:56pm

Now, this doesn’t necessarily disprove your contention; it could mean that teams with rosters constructed around a star wide receiver are more vulnerable to a singular injury.

Actually, as I tried to argue when this was first brought up a while ago, there's a much simpler conclusion as well: teams take longest to adapt to changes at QB and at WR (and at OL).

This actually makes sense: if a WR changes, a QB has to adapt his timing to know where the WR is going to be, and where the ball needs to be put. If you put in a new RB: who cares, the RB needs to run, and the offensive line doesn't really need to change its blocking philosophy. A hole is a hole is a hole.

Determining if a "good" WR is more valuable than a "bad" WR is a bit more tricky.

70
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 5:59pm

Well, I guess what I am saying is that I am very suspect about using crappy indicators to lend insight, and that people who don't really wrestle with the data are nearly sure to use crappy indicators in a manner, either unintentionally or intentionally, in a manner which obstructs rather than clarifies. Thus, crappy indicators should be used only as a last resort, and even then only with multiple disclaimers.

71
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 6:18pm

and that people who don’t really wrestle with the data are nearly sure to use crappy indicators

Hey, hey - that may be true, but the converse isn't necessarily. In this case sack rate is really one of the few indicators we actually have.

After all, pass protection quality will always depend on the QB. If the QB takes 4 seconds to throw, "good protection" means something different than to a QB who takes 6 seconds to throw.

72
by Stevie (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 11:07pm

Mr Shush that was great now pass the mic over....

"I know whats expected and I wont let you down"
Thats what I told big Jerry when I first came to town
But now I got a book deal and a reality show
Now these Texans are already sick of TO
I got a ticket out of town for Mr Keyshawn Johnson
Even though I kill teams like my name was Charles Bronson
Ill slap you like Hugh Douglas when im coming to whack you
Not afraid to catch pases from the humanoid statue
Now Im calling Jerry Jones he's my golden boss
Said "go work out a new contract with Drew Rosenhaus"

(Drew takes the mic)
While Im calling and Im scrawling while Im balling for my client
Cos from 31 other teams my mobile phone went silent
But big daddy Jerry stepped up to the golden arse plate
And paid out cold hard cash like we had a clean slate
We destroyed the Eagles, now we're in your town
Drew Freakin Rosenhaus best agent around

(TO)

Yah I dont drink or smoke I dont chew or cuss
But It'll take me 5 minutes to throw Bledsoe under the bus
I wasnt the one who got tired in the superbowl
I wasnt the one who went down like a dirty ho
When the pass rush came blitzin
Into Drew's kitchen
I thought he was queer the way he lay on his rear but I got my 10 mil and more for the book that I shill the Vikes aint got no poison pill like me
Mother freekin TO biatch

73
by JRM (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 11:09pm

Oh, really? Arizona would improve by adding a star WR? How about Oakland? St Louis? And those are bad teams with room for improvement, I haven’t even mentioned Indy or Seatle or Cincy, who couldn’t get much better.

Yes to all, and I think the notion that there are six NFL franchises with near-perfect WR corps is laughable.

What were the Cowboys supposed to say- "we stink, so let's not add anyone"?

I could go along with a argument along the lines of "Dallas would have been better off signing a superstar OT than a superstar WR", but since there were no superstar OTs available...

The 1996 Florida Gators won the National Championship in part to having three superstar WRs- Ike Hilliard, Jacquez Green, and Reidel Anthony. All three went in the top 35 of the NFL Draft- imagine a college team having their third CB covering one of these guys. It was an amazing strength that Florida exploited.

UGH- as a Vols fan I hated writing that.

74
by jason (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 11:36pm

I don't understand why folks are heaping praise on the skins for signing Randle El and acquiring Lloyd and writing off the Eagles signing of Gaffney. Just looking at DPAR and DVOA, Gaffney is as good if not better than both. Raw stats are also very comparable even considering the disparity of the strength of Randle El and Gaffney's teammates.

While the Eagles haven't met fan expectations this offseason, they still have upgraded some needed positions. Admitted their biggest question mark is the o-line and it is a significant question, but they are not that far removed personnel wise from the team that went to the Super Bowl. Writing them off due to a season where everything possible went wrong as some have done here is, well, short-sighted.

75
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 03/22/2006 - 11:44pm

Yes to all, and I think the notion that there are six NFL franchises with near-perfect WR corps is laughable.

Er? C'mon, Oakland's the crazy one. Oakland already got a star WR that's easily Owens's equal, and he didn't do squat for the team. What, they need two? Then if that doesn't work, three? Four? It's the All-WR team?

The 1996 Florida Gators won the National Championship

This doesn't surprise me, because college football often has seriously bad mismatches. But in the NFL the difference between a starting CB and a nickel CB has less to do with physical speed and more to do with discipline and actual understanding of the game.

but since there were no superstar OTs available…

Did the Cowboys go after Bentley, or Steve Hutchinson? Hell, Runyan would've been a better pickup from the Eagles - he's still available, as well (Runyan's started ten straight seasons without injury. How many offensive tackles can say that?).

True, Runyan's not young, but hey, neither is Owens. Saying "why would they pay big bucks for a 32-year old OT?" is funny while trying to defend paying big bucks for a 32-year old WR.

Of course, I'm sure now that I say this, they'll go out and sign Runyan, so maybe I should shut up.

76
by kevin (not verified) :: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 1:46am

#11

The Giants MUST sign a DT in free agency so that they can use their 1st round pick on the deep class of OLBs. I would be more worried about Clancy leaving if he had been a big name before last season. The Giants signed him to a 1 year deal and he played well. I'm sure they can find a similar player this year. I think they need a OLB, DT, and WR in their 1st day picks. A OT can wait until day 2. There's even a possibility Diehl could play RT with McKenzie moving to LT in 2007 if Luke gets released.

77
by MdM (not verified) :: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 2:12am

Stevie,
that rap was great! Hilarious!

78
by Tom (not verified) :: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 8:09am

#34 Re: Moats,

I'd bet you're thinking of the Eagles vs the Rams. Sure, the Rams had their troubles stopping the run. But Moats tore them up pretty good.

With respect to the Eagles in 2006: Am I the only one who wonders if Eagles fans would trade a season where they went 15-1 to host another NFC Championship game, for one where the Eagles went 1 and 15 but that 1 was their last home game, where they eliminated Cowboys from the playoffs, and gave Owens a Michael Irving send-off?

79
by MJB (not verified) :: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 10:54am

Re: #78

It depends, who was the one loss to in the 15-1 season?

80
by Harris (not verified) :: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 11:37am

Re: #78

Assuming a Super Bowl victory is off the table, I'll take 1-15. The Vikings lost the NFC Championship game after a 15-1 season and I need something to shut up Cowboy fans when they start talking about five Super Bowl wins. Throw in a crippling Trotter-Owens-Dawkins sandwich and that's the stuff of a great mastabatory fantasy.

81
by JasonK (not verified) :: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 11:48am

#76:

If the class of OLBs is, as you say, "deep," wouldn't that mean that the Giants could find a competent starter in a round below #1?

As for a FA DT, who would you suggest? I mentioned Grady Jackson above, and I think he could fill in well for a year or two. There have been whispers about interest in Brentson Buckner, too, but I don't have as high an opinion of him.

82
by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 12:11pm

Regarding MDS' Owens article.

Drew Bledsoe is not Donovan McNabb. Therefore, Dallas Ownes won't be quite as good as Philadelphia Owens.

83
by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 12:44pm

Sean #43:

Owens record in playoffs:

4 wins, 5 losses, and that includes the Giants-49ers game that the refs blew. Exactly one game playing for a trophy.

48 catches for 676 yards and 4 TD's. Comparable to the regular season except for scoring, which is the whole point of the game.

84
by SJM (not verified) :: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 12:45pm

Will,

I know I'm just using a couple of anecdotes. Your Cincy/Seatle examples indicate that you need MORE than just a good RB/LT to have a successful team. Similarly, my Oakland and Arizona examples indicate that stockpiling top WRs will not necessarily improve your record unless you address the other weaknesses of your roster (and coaching staff).

The success of the Eagles pre-TO is particularly interesting because it indicates that the converse is also true, that a team CAN be successful WITHOUT a star WR. This "anecdote" is really more of a counterexample to the claim (not that you necessarily claimed this) that you need a top WR to have a good offense.

None of this addresses the research you cited that teams stuggle to overcome injuries to starting WRs, because that in itself does not imply that you need a top WR, only that WR depth is often weak (and just because I am arguing that top WRs are nonessential, that doesn't mean that starters are not better than replacements) or maybe what Pat said, that it takes time to adjust to a different WR.

The six teams I mentioned (Arizona, Oakland, St Louis, Indy, Cincy, Seatle) do not have perfect WR corps. But the improvement TO would provide is marginal, for the first three because they are otherwise bad teams, and for the second three because they are already good and have good receiving, so there is less room for improvement and more risk of decline. (Maybe take Seatle off that list, but only since they lost Jurevicious. Joey is not equal to TO but he provided excellent depth that they no longer have.)

85
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 1:41pm

I'm not sure how people can talk about TO as a 'star wide receiver' without including the fact that in addition to being a star WR he destroys his own team in a fashion that would make Matt Millen jealous.

86
by kevin (not verified) :: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 2:07pm

#81

I meant deep in terms of 1st round talent. Players like Sims, Carpenter, Ryans, and Howard will likely be available at pick #25 and all could become excellent players. I haven't really watched Grady Jackson, Buckner, or Sam Adams enough to have an educated opinion on them. I would prefer the best run stuffer of the group and Accorsi draft a DT on day 1 because I have an intense hatred for William Joseph.

87
by JRM (not verified) :: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 2:13pm

Will Owens "destroy" the Cowboys? Maybe he will, maybe he won't. I'm betting on the latter. Heck, there are people here who think he didn't destroy the Eagles.

To clarify my earlier point, Owens is a spectacular, MVP-caliber WR. Everyone has room for one of those.

88
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 4:17pm

JRM (#87 )--

Minor disagreement: Owens is a spectacular, MVP-caliber talent at WR. He has also undermined his teammates (specifically two different Pro Bowl quarterbacks) when he was unhappy with his contract, feuded with his coaches, and sometimes taken plays off while he was unhappy during a game. That sort of thing is not nearly as spectacular, or valuable.

You get Owens, you get the good and the bad together. And not everyone has room for the whole package.

89
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 8:51pm

Everyone has room for one of those.

Having room for someone doesn't mean they'll make you a better team. Adding Owens to Oakland, for instance, is not going to make Oakland a significantly better team.

Haven't we learned from the Randy Moss example?

90
by empty13 (not verified) :: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 11:23pm

Maybe. Maybe not. Moss didnt say a thing to defend old Norv but... Norv didnt help himself much either.

If T.O. would dynamite the locker room in Philly, a successful team, what would he do on one that isnt so successful...

T.O. in Oakland? I wonder what Jerry Porter or Ronald Curry would say...

91
by RMoses (not verified) :: Fri, 03/24/2006 - 12:38am

Hey Iggles fans let's start the chant for April 29th.

LenDale! LenDale! LenDale! LenDale! LenDale! LenDale! Lendale! LenDale!

92
by Kenny Sanders (not verified) :: Fri, 03/24/2006 - 7:14am

What many people are forgetting about last year's Cowboys team is that they were chip shot field goals away from beating Denver and Washington (the comeback in the last couple of minutes would have been fruitless if they were down 16-0), and they missed a field goal that would have sent the Seattle game into OT. They should have finished 11-5 or 12-4 last year. They solved their most glaring need with Vanderjagt and regardless of what people think about TO he is either the best or second best receiver in the league. If he behaves in Dallas (like he did his first year in Philly) then Dallas could be a legitimate Superbowl contender next year. Washington (as they do every year) spent a lot of money in free agency, but overpaid for both Randle El and Lloyd. Throw in the fact that Archuleta can't cover anyone, the fact that Arrington is going elsewhere, and that Brunell is 36 going on 56 makes me wonder if Washington will even win 8 or 9 games next year (oh yeah, and Sean Taylor is probably going to jail). Philly sucks badly, so the only team that Dallas should worry about in the division is the Giants.

93
by Kenny Sanders (not verified) :: Fri, 03/24/2006 - 7:31am

And another thing, the only coach in the NFL who could handle a diva like TO is Parcells. He handled Lawrence Taylor and Keyshawn quite well, and the rings on Parcells fingers already have TO salivating. Say what you will about TO, but he gives it all on the field and does everything he can on the field to help his team win games. TO's prior coaches (Andy Reid, Dennis Erickson, and Steve Marriucci) are nothing compared to Parcells, a man who demands respect and receives it. To all of you Redskins, Eagles, and Giants fans out there it's going to be disappointing once you see how well TO performs AND behaves next year.....all the way to the division title. I know everyone outside of Dallas hates the Cowboys, but that is only because of our 5 rings and our penchant for beating your teams in the past.

94
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Fri, 03/24/2006 - 9:18am

"regardless of what people think about TO he is either the best or second best receiver in the league.

Well then I guess that's regardless of me thinking he's clearly not as good as Steve Smith or Torry Holt, and only arguably better than Chad Johnson, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald or a healthy Randy Moss, as well as being older than any of those players and hence more likely to show decline this season. Of course, being in the same category as that second group of four still makes him a heck of a player, but I don't think there's any sensible case for claiming him to be the best in the league.

95
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 03/24/2006 - 1:13pm

re93

since when does TO give his all on the field?

Last time I checked, he doesnt even show up because hes too busy complaining, and dogging it because he doesnt think hes being paid enough.

96
by VFK (not verified) :: Fri, 03/24/2006 - 3:06pm

#92-The Eagles do not suck badly, people will count them out and praise all the foolish over-spending for mediocre players other teams have done and the drama of morons like Me-O, Me-Shawn et al, but in the end they will be a factor. Last season came down to health, Me-O, SB hangover, some bad coaching and bad performances...

They have started to fix those areas and will draft 10-11 players again this year...

They also have one of the best track records with UDFA, finding players like Akers, Fraley and Rayburn among others to help their team win...

They always have money to spend when the right pieces come available as they did with Runyan, Me-O, Kearse and Howard and wanted to do this year also with Bentley, but he went to his hometown to lose instead...

Last season was the perfect storm...it will not happen again this year.

97
by Tom (not verified) :: Fri, 03/24/2006 - 3:50pm

The Eagles just have to watchout for those home games against Seattle. That's developing into a nasty pattern

98
by MJB (not verified) :: Fri, 03/24/2006 - 6:34pm

News for Eagles fans...Jon Runyan has resigned with the Birds.

The bi-annunal Strahan/Runyan match-ups are still on!

99
by MJB (not verified) :: Fri, 03/24/2006 - 6:35pm

http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com/homeNewsDetail.jsp?id=46237

Here is the press release from the Eagles from thier website.

100
by Kenny Sanders (not verified) :: Fri, 03/24/2006 - 7:53pm

The Eagles do suck. They have no running game, no wideouts, a mediocre linebacker corps, and an overrated quarterback. Throw in the fact that Andy Reid is still coaching them and you have the recipe for a team that will win 6 or 7 games next year, that is if they don't splurge in free agency and sign some pieces (which I doubt they will)

101
by Kenny Sanders (not verified) :: Fri, 03/24/2006 - 8:09pm

95:

The reason why he was "dogging it" as you say was because he thought he wasn't making enough money. That's a fair assessment, but he still gave his all when he played. He's a competitor, and although he has been an asshole off of the field he wants to win. A lot of people hate TO (understandably), but those people are just fooling themselves if they don't think TO wants to help Dallas win. He may be selfish, but he still wants to win and still performs at the highest level. Does anyone remember the superbowl 2 years ago? TO was a force, catching 9 passes on a broken leg. How many other players in the NFL would perform that well 6 weeks removed from breaking his leg? I'll tell you how many...0. Say what you will about TO (and you probably will be right), but don't say he doesn't give his all on the field. That would be just flat out wrong.

102
by Omar (not verified) :: Fri, 03/24/2006 - 8:15pm

I must agree with Kenny Sanders. The Eagles are done. McNabb lost that lockerroom when T.O. whupped his "Badassador", punked him to his face and after all that still had teammates openly wanting T.O. back on that team. I find it hilarious how Eagle fans can now use stats (posts #82 and #83) to point out how little T.O. did for them. Amazing. And please get off the idea that McNabb is great. What has he ever won? And remember that before T.O. got there he was a sub 60% comp. rate passer in the west coast offense with a decent/very good O-line. They won with defense and now the defense is old and suspect. Stick a fork in that bird! It's done...

103
by Kenny Sanders (not verified) :: Fri, 03/24/2006 - 8:19pm

94:
I will have to admit that Steve Smith is better than TO, but I don't think Randy Moss, Chad Johnson, or either of the Arizona receivers are as good as he is. These are just my opinions, but the fact that TO is better than Moss is a fact. Moss has admitted that he doesn't even run his patterns sometimes when he knows that the ball isn't going his way, he doesn't block, and his production has gone down since he went to the Raiders.

104
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Fri, 03/24/2006 - 8:19pm

So . . . correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't this same team, with the same head coach and similar personnel, win thee straight NFC East titles from 2001-2003? In fact, if anything, weaker personnel, most notably in terms of the pass rush.

I don't want anyone thinking I don't hate the Eagles - I really do - but to believe they won't rebound this year is just wishful.

105
by Omar (not verified) :: Fri, 03/24/2006 - 8:22pm

When the Eagles stink it up next year, will Rush Limbaugh get an apology? Even though Rush is a drug addict and racist, truth is truth. McNabb is overrated. The real McNabb is the one who hit a wide open Roy Williams in the Monday Night game and then faked a hernia to avoid the beating that the Philly media and fans were about to put on him. The window is closed in Philly. It's your karma for cheering a paralyzed Michael Irvin. Serves you right.

106
by Kenny Sanders (not verified) :: Fri, 03/24/2006 - 8:31pm

88:
You said that TO undermined 2 pro bowl quarterbacks and you are right, but neither of those QB's are pro bowlers without TO. Both Garcia and McNabb had their career seasons throwing to who? TO.
He is a great player that makes his quarterback better wherever he goes. He might be a diva but he is a superstar as well.

107
by Kenny Sanders (not verified) :: Fri, 03/24/2006 - 8:49pm

104:

Yes the Eagles won the division title three straight years from 2001 to 2003, but that was when the rest of the division (and the conference) sucked. All of the other teams in the NFC East (and the NFC in general) have improved, while Philly hasn't. You say that those division winners in Philly pretty much have the same roster as they do now and that is correct, but they lost their running game when Duce Staley departed to Pittsburgh and their defense is getting older. Their LB's aren't any good, their RB's and their WR's suck, and their QB is overrated. The only reason Philly won those division titles (besides the fact that the rest of the teams in the division sucked) was because of their defense, most notably their secondary. That was when Bobby Taylor,Troy Vincent, and Brian Dawkins terrorized opposing offenses. Only Dawkins is left from that group and he has lost a step. The only parts of the Eagles that are above average are their OL, their DL, and their kicker. The Eagles suck and like 105 said they deserve it for cheering for the injury ending Irvin's career.

108
by kevin (not verified) :: Fri, 03/24/2006 - 10:12pm

I think the entire Eagles organization was able to slide under the radar with all the attention payed to T.O. last season. The media and fans didn't realize the front office stripped the DL of the depth, which has been one of the defense's strengths during the Reid regime. Reid's outright refusal to run the ball put a banged up QB at even more risk and made them easier to play/scheme. The defense was worse last season than it's been in a long time. I heard the offense used as an excuse, but the Eagles gave up TDs on the first drive of the game quite a few times last year. This team really needs a playmaking WR, more talent at OLB and DT, and an actual RUNNING back. If McNabb is healthy and they run the ball some, the Eagles will definately contend for the playoffs. However, I wouldn't put them as favorites for the division.

109
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 03/24/2006 - 10:26pm

Kenny Sanders (#106 )--

I believe McNabb has made the Pro Bowl at least four times (he missed 2003 due to injury). Exactly one of those seasons was with Owens catching the ball for him.

(#107 )--

The NFC sucked in 2001? "The Greastest Show on Turf" was still open for business.

2002? I believe the NFC team won the Superbowl, and the Giants went to the playoffs.

2003? Dallas went to the playoffs.

I'll give you 2004: the NFC in general and the NFC East, specifically, sucked. Except for Philadelphia, which won two playoff games with Owens waving a towel on the sidelines, and lost the one he played in. During which game, he was the second-best receiver in yards and catches both.

Facts, sir, please stick with facts. Spurious claims do not help your point.

110
by thad (not verified) :: Fri, 03/24/2006 - 11:00pm

re 107
I think the Eagles secondary was pretty damn good last year, and probably will be again.
re 109, hey I was thrilled when Dallas went to the playoffs in 2003, but they really weren't that great a team. They definately had their moments, but I was not that surprised when the Panthers thrashed them.

111
by VFK (not verified) :: Sat, 03/25/2006 - 1:05am

LOL...wow you are clueless...yea Westbrook is a terrible RB who had over 600 yards on the ground and through the air in 12 games last year and over 800 yards in both categories in 2004 after 13 games...plus they have Moats, Perry and will pick up another one this off-season...

McNabb...over-rated...laughable...even for a total hater, that is absurd logic...McNabb has done more with less than any QB not named Brady since he was drafted...

Trotter is not a mediocre LB and many people know that DL and CB are the most important positions on defense which is why the Eagles defense has been consistely very good since 2000 and helped them win 4 straight NFC East divisions and to represent the NFC in the SB in 2004...if you have a pass rush and good secondary, you win....plus are we supposed to have PB players at every position? What are you a Redskins fan? LOL...enjoy the FA Cup again this year.

No wideouts? You mean the guy who led WR in yards per catch and drawn PI penalties in 2004? Or the guy who as a rookie last year showed he could be a #1? Yea, Gaffney sucks too, right? He only caught 55 passes in Houston with David Carr throwing to him...when he was actually on his feet that is...

Reid must be a terrible coach...lets see, most wins in the NFL between 2000 and 2004, most playoff wins by any Eagles coach, most RS wins by any Eagles coach, 4 straight division titles, 4 straight NFCCG appearances and 1 SB appearance since 1999...awful record and he is such a slacker too.

6 or 7 wins this season!? LOL...how much do you want to lose on that bet?

112
by VFK (not verified) :: Sat, 03/25/2006 - 1:09am

Omar-

You need serious psychiatric help...faked a hernia so he would not have to catch Roy Williams?? LOL...what a joke. Keep thinking he is over-rated...you look foolish now and will be even more so as each year passes...

113
by Kenny Sanders (not verified) :: Sat, 03/25/2006 - 1:13am

109:
Okay, you're right that the entire NFC didn't suck from 2001 to 2003, but I'm pretty sure that the NFC East had the worst record outside of their division out of all of the divisions in the NFL. My main point in my rambling was that all of the other teams in the NFC East have improved since that time period while Philly hasn't. If they use their cap space on a LB or two, a RB, and a WR then they might challenge for the playoffs, but regardless of how many pro bowls McNabb has played in he is overrated. He is a good player, but he is not great by any means. You were right about him making the pro bowl 4 times, but there weren't that many alternatives in the NFC. The AFC has been the dominant conference since the late 90's, but with all the changes over this off-season (and the collapse of New England) the NFC is improving. It's funny that the NFC East went from being the worst division in football to being tied with the AFC West for having the best combined record in the NFL at 36-28.

114
by Len (not verified) :: Sat, 03/25/2006 - 1:17am

re 57 (Pat)

Whole year stats are misleading when Dallas played games 7-16 with 2 guys at OT who shouldn't even be 2nd string. If you want facts, look up their sack ratio in games 1-6 before Flozell's injury. Also look up their offense in games 1-6. Top 5 in the NFL during that stretch. Flozell's injury devastated Dallas last year.

It's so facile to pull out the Bledsoe statue statements. Much harder to actually pay attention to the details.

115
by Kenny Sanders (not verified) :: Sat, 03/25/2006 - 1:38am

VFK:
McNabb is overrated. I'm not going to go as far as Limbaugh, but he is definitely not a superstar (like so many Eagles fans claim he is). He's definitely good, but I can name 10 QB's in the NFL better than him. Don't believe me, here they are (in no particular order):
Peyton Manning, Brady, Brees, Palmer Hasselback, Roethlisberger, Delhomme, Green, Culpepper, and Leftwich.
If I was a GM or owner of an NFL franchise, I would rather have any of those guys than McNabb if money wasn't an option

116
by Kenny Sanders (not verified) :: Sat, 03/25/2006 - 2:37am

VFK:
You're right that Trotter isn't mediocre, but Barber and Jones are.
Westbrook has yet to play a full NFL season to my knowledge and he has yet to have a season with 200 carries. All he is to the Eagles is a receiver out of the backfield albeit a good one. He remind me of a less talented version of Warrick Dunn. Moats is inconsistent. You mention Perry, but he only carried the ball 16 times last year. Regardless of what you say, Todd Pinkston is a joke and Reggie Brown (although he looked good at the end of the year last year) is a #2 receiver at best. Jabar Gaffney may have caught 55 balls last year, but only averaged 8.9 a catch and scored only two touchdowns last year. Philly will finish last in the division next year. If you think I am wrong then tell me which team in the division Philly can finish ahead of. The only team Philly has a chance to finish ahead of is Washington, and that is only if Brunell gets hurt. The bottom line is that Philly will probably lose 4 of their 6 division games next year (they lost all 6 of them last year). That would mean in order to finish .500 Philly would need to win 6 of their other 10 games. It could be done if the schedule is nice, but I doubt it. Like I said before, Philly will win 6 or 7 games because they are a few pieces away from competing for a playoff spot.

117
by Kenny Sanders (not verified) :: Sat, 03/25/2006 - 2:56am

Here's 2006. Dallas and New York will make the playoffs.

Dallas 11-5
N.Y Giants 10-6
Washington 9-7
Philladelphia 7-9

118
by Omar (not verified) :: Sat, 03/25/2006 - 4:54am

Re #112

Ok, VFK -

The proof that McNabb is overrated is in the results. He was a mediocre passer (albeit a great running threat) in a system that's very quarterback friendly. He never posted higher than a 58% completion rate (in a system where 60% is considered below average) until T.O. came to Philly. Without T.O., he immediately reverted to form. For comparison sake, Our Statue Bledsoe completed 60% of his passes last year with two unproven tackles, and little help from his running game in an offense not predicated on dinking and dunking.

So, what I really need in lieu of psychiatric help is for someone to explain to me what makes McNabb so great? Losing 3 straight NFC title games? That would put him in the same category as Danny White but at least Danny lost to the great Redskin teams and the beginnings of the 49er dynasty. His Super Bowl victories? None to speak of. Is it the respect he commands in his own lockeroom? Nah...he went bitch and his team deserted him. Was it that masterful clock management in the Super Bowl? I wont even go there. Dont tell me anything about Pro Bowls. Undeserving players go all the time.

The funny thing is, knowing the way you Philly fans turn on your "greats", I wouldn't be surprised to see you aping my points in two seasons.

119
by Kenny Sanders (not verified) :: Sat, 03/25/2006 - 7:23am

Omar's right. Any QB in a west coast offense that doesn't complete 60% of his passes isn't worthy of having pro bowl credentials.

120
by Matt (not verified) :: Sat, 03/25/2006 - 4:07pm

I know Omar and Kenny Sanders are probably separate people and not one guy responding to his own points under a different login, but reading the thread is much more fun if you pretend that's the case.

121
by Omar (not verified) :: Sat, 03/25/2006 - 5:06pm

Re #120

I dont even know Kenny Sanders, but it seems we're both Cowboy fans united by a common goal of reminding Eagle fans that they're the only non champion in the greatest division of the super bowl era.

They may have won back when guys wore leather helmets, though...

122
by empty13 (not verified) :: Sat, 03/25/2006 - 8:22pm

McNabb is overrated, there are several QBs who are better than him. But he is still good. He can make plays when they are needed, and other than T.O. and some of their TEs, the rest of their prime WRs are named... Westbrook. Philly probly would have stood a better chance against TB if someone else started in that championship game... And obviously the media loves McNabb unduly, but saying so can get ya fired from yer job.

All that aside, I dont think that many Philly players will miss T.O. They may have missed winning last year, but once McNabb went down, and with all the other injuries and Burgess/Simon gone... that was that.

Westbrook is plenty explosive but he isnt a 30 touches per game back. Philly coaching is still awful suspect for not trying to run the ball more last year. When ST. Loo was like that under Martz, Martz never heard the end of it. Reid gets a pass.

Reid is wearing too many hats...

Trotter is on the down side and is not an elite backer anymore. But he gives his all in stopping the run game, which they need badly.

/////////////

Even with T.O., Dallas isnt going to do well unless they get some blockers to keep Bledsoe upright. Signing former Lions will not help. They better sign Collins because if Drew goes down and there is only Romo/Henson... no WR or RB will save them.

///////////////

Next year the div champ is in the capitol. I mean, when everyone gets the same # of home games...

123
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Sat, 03/25/2006 - 9:28pm

Am I the only person in this debate who's not a fan of a team in the NFC East? How is it, that in a division that contains one team I hate (Eagles), one team I resent somewhat for being in-state and better than us (Cowboys) and two teams I actually quite like, I find myself sticking up for fricking Philly? I think this will probably be the best division in football next year, but I think the chances that the unlucky team that underperforms is the Eagles are quite slim. They draft extremely well, and, yet again, they have a lot of picks. This leads to depth, which is the best insurance possible against the unexpected. Not infallible - if you're suffering from a Superbowl hangover, your pro-bowl starting QB gets Maddenised, your elite no.1 receiver goes nuts and your all-pro kicker gets hurt, that's the beginnings of a bad season. One team in this division is going to end up with a substantially worse record than it should. Maybe not quite as bad as last year's Raiders in a similar situation, but not good. However, I think a collapse due to QB injury in Washington or Dallas (ageing players get hurt more) or QB schitzophrenia in Jersey (I still don't know what the hell to make of Junior) is more likely than anything similarly disastrous in Philly. Sadly.

124
by MdM (not verified) :: Sat, 03/25/2006 - 9:49pm

Shush,
as an Eagles fan, I find myself rather puzzled by this Omar/Kenny person/team. It looks to be a rather gleeful trashtalking session here, not discussion of football. It's puzzling to hear a pro-bowl quarterback trashed like this, and also strange to see that a team that went to 4 straight NFC title games is considered a joke.

I think it's the same kind of thinking that sometimes emerges about how the Patriots weren't that good because they only won their SBs by 3 pts/each.

125
by empty13 (not verified) :: Sat, 03/25/2006 - 10:39pm

The last team I remember before Philly to lose 3 straight conference championships was... DALLAS.

To Philly, SF and Washington...

126
by Omar (not verified) :: Sat, 03/25/2006 - 11:42pm

Re - Empty13 & MdM

Re #124 -

I will cop to some gleeful trash talking. But what got me started was someone telling me I needed professional help after I laid out some pretty cogent arguments about why I feel McNabb is overrated. Please reference post # 118. Not a single post since that one has tried to refute the points made therein. I have never once called McNabb a bad QB - I just think he's overrated.

Re #125

I actually pointed out Dallas losing 3 straight NFC title games. The reason I did so was to make a comparison to a very good but not great QB that history would have viewed differently had he won a title.

So tell me MdM, how do you rate a QB like Danny White? Wouldn't McNabb have to be thought of in the same light at this point in his career?

127
by empty13 (not verified) :: Sun, 03/26/2006 - 12:16am

He's (McNabb) probly top ten. I wouldnt venture much higher. Quick + disciplined defenses seem to give him issues.

Another thing about early 80s Dallas was that they were getting old and didnt replenish their talent base in the early/mid 80s like they did in the 70s. If they didnt like White... well, Hogeboom wasnt an improvement.

128
by Andrew (not verified) :: Sun, 03/26/2006 - 12:45am

Omar and Kenny Sanders:

The difference between completing 58% of your passes and 61% is one additional completion per game. McNabb sucks because say, a Brady or a Bulger completes one more pass per game than him on average? Could this possibly have something to do with the quality of receivers MaNabb had in 2000-2003?

Also, if TO was responsible for McNabb's improvement in 2004, why didn't that improvement hold up through 2005, when TO was still playing? It seems to me that the lower completion percentage in 2005 was from Westbrook catching fewer passes. You can confirm that with FO's innovative statistic of percentages of passes caught by looking under the various Philly receivers in 2004 and 2005.

OTOH, McNabb throws about 1 less interception per game than most Quarterbacks, and part of the reason he does so is probably because of his tendency to put the ball in low to make it difficult to intercept, but also makes it tougher to catch. Surely fewer interceptions has some value.

129
by Andrew (not verified) :: Sun, 03/26/2006 - 1:04am

empty13 #122:

They may have missed winning last year, but once McNabb went down, and with all the other injuries and Burgess/Simon gone… that was that.

Why do people continue to make a big deal about Burgess and Simon going?

ND Kalu and Trent Cole both outproduced in half a season what Burgess did for the Eagles in a full season in 2004. Burgess had spent the 2003 and 2002 seasons on IR, causing the DE crisis in Philly that lead to the Kearse signing. You just can't say that he would have produced what he did in Oakland if he had stayed in Philly, because he probably wouldn't have.

As to Simon, his continued decline with the Colts from his peak performance in his rookie year was expected and unremarkable. Rookie Mike Patterson was a more than adequate replacement for what Simon would have brought. What was missing up the middle at Defensive Tackle was a healthy Sam Rayburn (he played with an injured arm all season) and a healthy Darwin Walker, who missed several games with a very deep thigh bruise and was never in the same form afterwards, combined with losing back-up Grasmanis, forcing practice squaders and the like onto the team and into the game.

2005 was sunk for the Eagles as soon as McNabb got injured early in the season. All the rest of it was just a big pile on with that critical injury.

130
by Kenny Sanders (not verified) :: Sun, 03/26/2006 - 4:56am

Andrew:
You say that McNabb throws 1 less interception per game than most quarterbacks. That would mean he averages 16 less interceptions than the average QB and I'm not buying that. Also, let me clarify what I said about McNabb. I never said he sucks, I said the Eagles do. Clearly McNabb is a good QB, but he is not a great one. I listed 10 QB's better than him up at 115. While he's better than average, by know means is he great.

131
by Kenny Sanders (not verified) :: Sun, 03/26/2006 - 5:25am

Empty 13:
On 122 you make good arguments for as to why Philly and Dallas won't win the division, but you forget to list the weaknesses of the franchise you think will win the division. Washington will not be as good as last year's club because they have not done well in the offseason. You may say that they have added Archuleta, Randle El, Lloyd, and Carter, but of those signings the only good one is Carter. He will improve the Redskins pass rush definitely. Randle El is a great punt returner and a decent deep threat, and Lloyd makes outstanding catches, but neither one of those guys is a possession receiver (especially not Lloyd, who only caught 44% of the passes thrown to him last year). Washington already has a great deep threat in Moss, so why did they sign more deep threats? Archuleta, can stop the run but he can't cover anyone. Throw in the fact that Sean Taylor could very easily spend time in jail and the Redskins secondary won't be as good as it was last year. Throw in that Arrington won't be back and that's a recipe for disaster for that defense. Arrington is a special player, yet Dan Snyder decides not to resign him. Instead he goes after 2 WR's (neither of which will make much of an impact at receiver), a safety that can't cover anyone, and a DE that will actually improve the DL. They should have gotten a backup for Brunell because he is old and showed signs of aging at the end of last year. The Redskins are a good team, but yet again Dan Snyder and his fantasy football mentality has screwed over his team's chances of competing for a superbowl (which I might add that those chances were real if Snyder would have been smart during free agency). I hate the Redskins, but even someone that hates the Redskins would have to admit that the Redskins had an opportunity to be great next season. They just dropped the ball during this offseason. Dallas is the best team in the division, followed very closely by the Giants. The Redskins are definitely better than the Eagles, but not as good as New York and Dallas.

132
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Sun, 03/26/2006 - 8:34am

"Peyton Manning, Brady, Brees, Palmer Hasselback, Roethlisberger, Delhomme, Green, Culpepper, and Leftwich"

P. Manning yes, Brady yes, Palmer yes.

Hasselbeck arguably, Roethlisberger arguably, Green arguably. Brees arguably - assuming he recovers.

Culpepper . . . hmm. We'll see what he's like without Randy Moss.

Leftwich? Delhomme? Give me a break.

Delhomme has had Steve Smith, the best receiver in football, to throw to two years out of the last three, and has never managed a passing DPAR much above 40, which is about what McNabb got in his last year without Owens (and of course McNabb's rushing DPAR is invariably much higher than Delhomme's). When he finally got an elite receiver to throw to, McNabb posted a passing DPAR of 107.1, which is more value above replacement thn the sum of Delhomme's three best seasons.

McNabb is one of a number of guys with claims to the title of "Fourth best quarterback in football". Now, admittedly that group is a good way behind the top three, and it is probably worth acknowledging that the only member of this B group who could reasonably be expected to progress into the A group is Roethlisberger, so let's count him as definitely above McNabb too. That still leaves him as arguably the fifth best quarterback in football, and absolutely no worse than 8th.

Oh, except you did forget Kurt Warner . . .

133
by Kenny Sanders (not verified) :: Sun, 03/26/2006 - 10:54am

Mr. Shush:
McNabb's stats might be better than Leftwich and Delhomme, but he is not the leader that those two are.

134
by empty13 (not verified) :: Sun, 03/26/2006 - 11:05am

They wont miss Arrington on defense. Williams has them running like a machine.

Offense is a concern as I would have kept Ramsey. For possession catches, meet Mr. Cooley. And they resigned their backup RB...

Frankly it looks like WAS will put a bunch of small fast wideouts out there and spread Ds out for Clinton.

////////////////////

Dallas has no OL.

////////////////////

I dont see NYG winning 11 games again. They only get 8, count them, 8, home games this year! Burress is overrated and has found Coughlin's doghouse. Their LB and secondary still suck out loud. One injury to Shockey, Tiki or Strahan and they become rather ordinary. Like in 04.

Eli looks to me to be more of a gunslinger. Eventually he will bag the big one that big bro hasnt. Not this year.

135
by JasonK (not verified) :: Sun, 03/26/2006 - 3:23pm

Can we finally move beyond the whole "N.Y. benefited from an extra home game last season" thing? Yes, the league wasn't particularly nice to the Saints & their fans, but lets not forget that they're still the Saints, and the Giants won the game by 17. Does anybody seriously think they would've lost if it were played in New Orleans/Baton Rouge/San Antonio?

As for calling the division, frankly I haven't got a clue. At this stage in the offseason, you can make a credible case for each team. Ask me again in August.

136
by Omar (not verified) :: Sun, 03/26/2006 - 4:24pm

Re #128 -

Completing 61% of your passes in the west coast offense is still pretty weak. I beleive I heard Steve Young say that a QB needs to be at 65% in that offense to be at max efficiency.

Re #134 - Dallas has No OL?

That might be true. But remember they lost their best player on the OL against the Giants in week 6. Up until that point they (especially Bledsoe) were pretty proficient in the passing game. They started a rookie at RT. They upgraded there with Fabini in FA. Larry Allen is gone but he was a big part of the problem on the OL.

So whatever they were on the OL last year I'd have to think that the return of Flozell coupled with some veteran depth and the possible improvement of the rookie RT would at least get them back to the form displayed in weeks 1-6 if not better.

Re #135 -

It's really hard to let that extra home game go when you consider that the Giants played much better at home than on the road. They didn't win away from NY until November and that was against SF. After that their other road victories came against Philly (when they were clearly done) and Oakland.

So that game (maybe in another NFC East city like Dallas- to give local fans added incentive to root against the road team) was no gimme. The reason that ONE GAME is such a huge deal is that they won the division by ONE GAME.

137
by Omar (not verified) :: Sun, 03/26/2006 - 4:29pm

Re #134

I forgot to add that Dallas is a much harder team to blitz now with T.O. in the lineup. And let's assume that Witten wont be stuck babysitting the RT this season. Sounds like the OL situation is a little improved over what had actually been good before week 7.

138
by kevin (not verified) :: Sun, 03/26/2006 - 5:06pm

#134
#136

Let's not act like the Giants were outclassed on the road. The 2 worst teams they lost to on the road were 9-7 Dallas and 9-7 San Diego. They lost 2 road games by overtime field goals. NO was a bad team anyway.

The Giants have 1 of the NFL's top 3 offenses and it will only get better when Eli improves. With that offense, the defense doesn't need to be great. Frankly, it just needs to stay healthy. It doesn't hurt to have the division's 2 best defensive players from 2005.

As far as injuries go, every team is likely to get hurt by them. The 'Skins will be done if Brunell is hurt, which is possible for such an old player. In fact, any NFC East team that suffers a QB injury has no chance.

139
by JasonK (not verified) :: Sun, 03/26/2006 - 5:07pm

#136:

The Giants' did poorly on the road early in the season because they were playing good teams (SD, and the OT loss @ Dallas), especially when compared to their early home schedule (AZ, NO, StL). Moving the game to Dallas, Detroit, or Timbuktu wasn't going to turn Aaron Brooks into Joe Montana.

140
by empty13 (not verified) :: Sun, 03/26/2006 - 8:18pm

Check Dallas' ranks in FO's page if ya dont believe me. They havent done much to fix anything.

2 playoff teams were worse in power rank, Chicago who had no pass game at all (to play decoy with), and the Colts, who rarely had to depend on making short gains. If Wash, for instance, cant afford to lose Brunell, then... why havent anyone but Philly signed a backup...

Only TB was anywhere near Dallas in sack rank. Dallas has to improve mightily or hello Romo/Henson.

141
by empty13 (not verified) :: Sun, 03/26/2006 - 8:28pm

Also, without 2 starting DL from the year before, the pressure on the Philly LBs went up exponentially. people ran all over Philly early in the year. As Burgess had a pretty good year for the Raiders, one tends to think Philly is kicking its self over losing him.

//////////////////////////

Then people, #139, should never lose to bad teams. Having a home game for NO in NYG stadium wasnt so much a disad for NO as it was a huge advantage for NYG and their young QB. Someone above said very astutely: they won the division by one game.

142
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Sun, 03/26/2006 - 9:13pm

"The Giants have 1 of the NFL’s top 3 offenses"

Kevin, please. I was with you up to there. Let's start by talking about who had a better offense than the Giants last year. I appreciate that's not exactly what you're talking about, but bear with me.

According to DVOA, that would be Indy, Seattle, Kansas City, Denver, San Diego, Cincinnati, New England and Pittsburgh. Eight teams. Now, I think DVOA is pretty good at measuring the overall strength of a unit, but to be on the safe side, let's discount Pittsburgh, because they were only slightly better by DVOA and they've lost a couple of important cogs in Bettis and Randle El. Last year, all those others were clearly better.

Now let's assume that Alexander ends up on the front of Madden and breaks his leg in week 2, and that the remaining Seahawks suffer from Superbowl hangover, leading to a year not unlike the 2005 Eagles. And let's suppose that the KC offensive line finally falls off the cliff and into the retirement home, leading to an offensive collapse in Kansas. We're down to five. Brees is out of San Diego, and maybe Rivers sucks. Four. Let's also assume that no other team has a breakout offensive season compared to last year - not Dallas, Miami, Philly, St. Louis, whoever.

So, which two of Indy, Cincy, Denver, and New England do you think are weaker on offense than Jersey/A? Seriously?

143
by kevin (not verified) :: Sun, 03/26/2006 - 9:53pm

#142

You know DVOA isn't a perfect system because it tells you more about how the Giants' offense finished the season than their overall numbers. They finished the season rather poorly due to a significant drop off in the passing game. Overall, the Giants were the NFL's 3rd highest scoring team, 4th overall in total offense, and had more drives inside the opponents 20 yard line than any other team.

144
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 03/26/2006 - 10:18pm

P. Manning yes, Brady yes, Palmer yes.

Can we please avoid anointing Palmer as the next God of Quarterbacking until he has two good seasons? Especially after, y'know, shredding his knee at the end of last season?

Even anointing Brady as a God is a little premature, if it wasn't for the distorting view that multiple Super Bowls gets you.

(Incidentally: Trent Green 'arguably'? c'mon! the guy's been stellar since 2001. How many years do you have to shred defenses to be considered a good quarterback?)

145
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 03/26/2006 - 10:23pm

It’s so facile to pull out the Bledsoe statue statements. Much harder to actually pay attention to the details.

Er? All that tells you is that Dallas doesn't have depth on the offensive line. They haven't exactly added to it, either, and depth problems get worse with age.

In fact, the fact that their offense/sack percentage was so good in the beginning of the year is part of the worry. By the end of the year they were Texans-esque. That's really worrisome. Especially when those guys are the ones you're counting on to produce more this year to make up for the starters declining.

Now, I'll give you, young guys do usually improve, but that's not a great audition.

146
by Omar (not verified) :: Sun, 03/26/2006 - 11:19pm

Re #141 -

Empty13,

Hey, I think we agreed on something! The Giants extra home game has to be considered a factor because they won the division by that one game.

147
by Omar (not verified) :: Sun, 03/26/2006 - 11:27pm

Re #140 -

Having watched most of the Cowboys games last year, I can say that they've improved without doubt on the OL. Larry Allen was getting by on name only and was getting beat routinely by quicker DT's. Gurode is a better fit at the center spot even if he might be prone to penalties. Evn if Fabini is just better than mediocre he will be an improvement over Pettiti at RT. And we may see improvement from Pettiti - a guy was thought of highly before an injury plagued senior campaign at Pitt. The Cowboys are defintely better on the OL going into next season.

148
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 03/27/2006 - 12:00am

Wait wait - how can you say that given the fact that the Cowboys declined in terms of the number of sacks allowed greatly over the season?

They were better at the beginning of the season than they were at the end. By a lot.

149
by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Mon, 03/27/2006 - 4:10am

#134:

The Giants CB's aren't much better after their bargain-basement CB pickups, but they are a little better, which given our non-ideal cap situation is a good position to be in. No way in hell the LBs sucked last year: the starters were very effective at run-stopping, and it only declined when they got hit with a million injuries late in the season, and had to start picking up street free agents by the truckload. Antonio Pierce in particular had a monster year, and he should be recognized soon as one of the game's elite players. The loss of Nick Greisen means there's certainly a hole to fill, but a healthy NYG LB corps is an effective LB corps.

#142:

Yeah, but their red zone efficiency was atrocious. We got to see a lot of Jay Feely last year.

Personally, I'm not sold on Eli as anything potentially more than an young Drew Bledsoe, but Bledsoe did get to a Super Bowl, so I think Eli could do it.

The big key, the elephant in the room here, is Tiki. If he can remain healthy and effective (along with Pierce and Strahan), the Giants will win the division with 11-12 games and have a realistic chance at a Super Bowl run. But he's getting old, so the window is quickly shutting. Load up and go for it all this year, or it could be a few more before we're back in potential championship contention.

150
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Mon, 03/27/2006 - 6:58am

Pat (144) - I don't know if you read the comment I was replying to. In 115, Kenny named 10 quarterbacks (the ones in italics) who he thought were better than McNabb. My view was that three of those ten would be regarded as fairly uncontroversially better at this point (without wanting to get into the Manning-Brady warzone, my view on Brady is that while there is a distorting effect from the Superbowls, that distortion is to make people believe he was as good earlier in his career as he was in 2005, when he carried the team). If you think less highly of Palmer than I do, or think it's possible he won't recover fully from the injury, fair enough. Five more could conceivably be fairly legitimate subjects of a "X is better. No, McNabb's better" debate. Two were just farcical.

151
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 03/27/2006 - 10:34am

If you think less highly of Palmer than I do, or think it’s possible he won’t recover fully from the injury, fair enough.

Oh, I know. But even if you think Palmer is a "definite, absolute, c'mon" lock, you can't put him up there yet. You just can't. Trent Green would be up there before Palmer right now.

Note, incidentally, that this reminds me of an argument on here about whether or not Jamal Lewis should be in the "top 50" players in football, or something like that. Several people kept saying "but... but... look at this one year he had!" and I said "one year simply can't make a top player." I was even high on Lewis at the time - I thought he'd be fine, and was willing to forgive 2004 as injury-laden. Looks like I was wrong, which is why I'm really sticking to the "you need more than one year" mantra.

There should absolutely be a minimum "2 fantastic years minimum" before a QB gets placed in the "absolute top X". Note that this does put McNabb out of there, although I still believe that if he wasn't injured in 2005, he would've been fine. It's not like he was bad in 2005, and c'mon, he was playing with tears in ligaments in places that guys don't even want to think about.

152
by MRH (not verified) :: Mon, 03/27/2006 - 12:16pm

Re #115: Peyton Manning, Brady, Brees, Palmer Hasselback, Roethlisberger, Delhomme, Green, Culpepper, and Leftwich

If championships are your criteria, only two of those qbs can be considered to be better than McNabb. If it’s completion percentage, then all these qbs are better than McNabb except Leftwich who is substantially equal (58.7 vs. 58.4). He’s the one qb on the list who I cannot see the argument for. I also would not take Delhomme over McNabb: his comp pct is only marginally better and his championship game resume is shorter (both have one SB loss, McNabb has 3 NFC championship losses to Delhomme’s 1). Of the others, Green is too old to build around now and Brees too much of an injury question. Despite his higher comp pct, Culpepper turns it over more than McNabb (every year, 2001-2005), I’d take McNabb. For building a franchise right now, my opinion is McNabb is top 10 but not top 5 (Peyton, Brady, Palmer knee and all, Roethlisberger, and Hasselbeck).

Re #136 Completing 61% of your passes in the west coast offense is still pretty weak.
Hasselbeck’s entire career has been in the WCO and his career comp pct is 60.9%

Re the Eagles running game “sucking�:

I’m not a fan of how Reid uses the running game, but it was pretty good in 2004 (6th in DVOA – passing game was 9th) and mediocre in 2005 (16th in DVOA –passing game was 24th). I don’t think it’s quite as bad as “sucking�.

Re #122 Westbrook is plenty explosive but he isnt a 30 touches per game back.

There are no 30 touch a game rbs. If Carl were still posting, he’d point out James Wilder did it once, 492 touches in 1985. No other back has averaged 30 touches in a year, because they would get hurt before that happened. Westbrook may not even be a 20 touch a game rb but his contributions are so valuable anyways that it probably doesn’t matter IF the Eagles have a back to take up some carries. They didn’t have this in 2005.

As for where the Eagles will finish, I don’t recall anyone picking them to go 6-10 in 2005. I don’t think they will do that poorly again, simply because they: a) under-performed their estimated wins of 7.7 and b) won’t have the 6th hardest schedule in the league. Of course, the Redskins and Eagles will probably have easier schedules as well while the Giants have a tougher one (not even considering the extra home game issue). I think the Giants are poised to take a step back this year at least partly do to their schedule. Besides the intra-division games, and the NFC South and AFC South, the Giants have the Bears and Seahawks. WAS has MIN and STL. DAL has DET and ARI. Neither of those pairs looks as tough as the Giants’ matchups. The Eagles look to have the easiest two: GB and SF. I think the floor for the Eagles season is 8 wins if McNabb stays healthy, 9-10 wins is likely, probably 11 wins is the top I’d predict at this point.

153
by MRH (not verified) :: Mon, 03/27/2006 - 12:19pm

Of course, the Redskins and Eagles will probably have easier schedules as well

Should say Redskins and Cowboys.

154
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 03/27/2006 - 1:28pm

I’m not a fan of how Reid uses the running game, but it was pretty good in 2004

It was fantastic in 2003. Second in the league to only (you guessed it) Kansas City.

Reid's Eagles are impressive for mastering nearly every phase of the game at some point on the past 6 years. Passing game (2004), running game (2003), passing defense (2001-2002), rushing defense (ditto), special teams (take your pick).

The only phase where the Eagles haven't been stellar has been kick returns and punt returns.

Just a comment. :)

155
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Mon, 03/27/2006 - 1:37pm

N.D. Kalu is a Texan. Is he any good? I don't think he's projected to start, and I don't suppose he's getting payed that much for his one-year deal. ESPN suggests he will be a situational pass-rusher, which seems slightly odd, given that the two holdovers the team has at end - Babin and Peek - are both guys who were college ends, but have been 3-4 OLBs to date in the league, and who are both clearly better edge-rushers than run-stuffers. Naturally Weaver will get the start as strong side DE, but as yet there doesn't seem to be a back-up for him.

Back to McNabb - why would you use either completion percentage or championships as a measure of QB ability? I mean by ability something like "marginal contribution to win-probability". Both my impression from watching the guys in question play and FO's stats, which while far from perfect are the best thing out there that I know of, lead me to believe that McNabb increases his team's chances of winning by more than Delhomme or Leftwich. The others are closer calls.

Pat, any number of RBs have broken down after a season with a high touch count. Lewis's collapse was not, in hindsight, surprising. I do not know of any precedent for a QB whose career profile through three years in the league looked like Palmer's and who then suddenly collapsed (other than through injury - and I don't see why a knee injury should be a permanent problem for a QB who does not rely overly on his mobility - or major change in playing environment). On the scouting level, Palmer is accurate, has the arm to throw any ball in the book, is technically very sound and makes reads well and quickly (unlike the last huge-season-and-collapse guy, Culpepper). That the lack of preparation time may impair his performance in 2006 I would acknowledge as quite possible. In the longer term, I find it hard to see his career to date as anything other than the straightforward upward developmental curve it appears to be.

156
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Mon, 03/27/2006 - 1:38pm

Will Demps' coverage deficiencies aren't going to help the Giants secondary, either. As good as he is as a run defender, he needs major help from his corners to avoid getting burned, even by the likes of Tyrone Calico. He doesn't have McAlister and Baxter/Rolle in front of him in New York, or Ed Reed next to him. This is not a good situation for Will.

157
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Mon, 03/27/2006 - 1:39pm

Oh, and if I'm suspicious of Trent Green it's because the KC O-line is so good he seldom has to deal with much pressure. If they deteriorate on that front this year (as seems likely) and he's still good, I'll be impressed.

158
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 03/27/2006 - 3:17pm

N.D. Kalu is a Texan. Is he any good?

As a backup, he'll be okay. Not great. Philly let him go because he's getting prone to injury, and the Eagles have a freaking plethora of DEs that they're very fond of.

Oh, and if I’m suspicious of Trent Green it’s because the KC O-line is so good he seldom has to deal with much pressure.

How does that identical argument not apply to Peyton Manning?

159
by kevin (not verified) :: Mon, 03/27/2006 - 3:40pm

#156

You have to take into acoount the fact Will Demps is replacing an old Brent Alexander. The Giants aren't asking him to be Ed Reed or Ronnie Lott. They're asking him to be better than Alexander and at 26 years-old, there's a real good shot Demps will be.

160
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Mon, 03/27/2006 - 8:32pm

I think the KC O-line is, or at least hass been, a lot better than the Indy one. I just get the impression, from what I've seen of both guys, that it's a case of Manning making a solid O-line look great with well-judged audibles and quick reads, while in KC the great O-line allows a very good quarterback to play at the absolute highest level he is capable of. So I guess the suggestion is that we don't know what the highest level Brees, McNabb and the rest can play at is because we've never seen them play behind an O-line that would allow them to play at it (not that their lines have been bad - just less good). Swap Green and Kurt Warner's teams last year, and I think their numbers would pretty much swap too - whereas McNabb, if healthy, might have coped better with the situation in Arizona, but not been as good as either in KC.

I guess it all comes back to the question of value-in-system again.

161
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 03/27/2006 - 9:03pm

That's a kind of trap for Indy, though: when Indy does well (and overall, they have), it's not the line's protection, it's Manning's ability to make quick decisions and get rid of the ball. When Indy does poorly, it's not Manning's fault, it's because they had 'protection problems.' See what I mean? It's a little unfair.

As far as I can tell, the only difference between Green and Manning either comes from pure opinion (which, okay, is fair, but are you sure you're being objective? one is lauded by the press as the best QB in the game - the other is never even mentioned as the best player on his own team) is that Green had an off year in 2001, whereas Manning hasn't had one ever. But, then again, Manning's pretty much the only QB who hasn't, so far. And he will, eventually.

162
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Mon, 03/27/2006 - 9:16pm

Yeah, sorry, at some point in that last comment I did mean to say that I could just be (or partially be - in fact almost certainly partially am) influenced at some level by commentators raving about Manning in a way they don't about Green. That sort of bias is really hard to correct for, and we all have it.

And don't get me wrong (and we're skirting the damn Manning-Brady debate here) - I'm not that much of a Manning fan. I think that when he suddenly gets sacked a bunch against the more complex Ds, it certainly is partly due to him finding the reads more difficult (although against Pitt it clearly was mainly a combination of crazy protection schemes and Hampton being a beast).

Heck, maybe they'll both suffer a spree of O-line injuries this year and we'll find out.

163
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Mon, 03/27/2006 - 9:19pm

On the

164
by Jason (not verified) :: Mon, 04/03/2006 - 7:11pm

ya the line for the redskins is young and sound, both lines actually, what are u talking about?

165
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 04/05/2006 - 2:21pm

both lines actually

DE: Wynn, 10 years
DT: Griffin, 7 years
DT: Salave'a, 8 years
DE: Daniels, 11 years

Remind me again how this is 'young'? Carter likely replaces Wynn, but he's a 6 year veteran as well.

With the offensive line, the age issue is mainly in terms of depth.

166
by Dan Snyder (not verified) :: Thu, 04/13/2006 - 12:17am

I'm tired of hearing about the Redskins playing Fantasy ball with player acquisitions. In my fantasy league its the team with the most coaches.

167
by Jim Haslett (not verified) :: Thu, 04/13/2006 - 2:31pm

Dude. Call me.

168
by Greg (not verified) :: Wed, 04/26/2006 - 2:24pm

T.O. won't have a chance to be effective with Bledsoe on his back.
Who's seen Brandon Lloyd catch before - Incredible. Yea he drops some but he is a big improvement from Jimmy Farris.
The Eagles, well unless their D does something special will struggle.
The Giants and the Skins will battle for first place and it will be really tough.

169
by Kenny Sanders (not verified) :: Fri, 05/19/2006 - 1:24am

Greg:

Brandon Lloyd makes some outstanding catches, but led all NFL receivers in drops last year. Also, Brunell is old and his age showed in the second half of last year and on into the playoffs. He'll only last half the season before Jason Campbell takes over (due to injury or ineffectiveness). The Redskins will finish third in the much improved NFC East behind New York and Dallas (in no particular order).

170
by ben (not verified) :: Wed, 05/31/2006 - 3:07pm

The only real weak spot I can see on the Eagles (assuming the outside LB's look better due to the improved pass rush) is the WR position. I don’t see how a team can bring in a guy like TO and realize what a true pro bowl caliber receiver can do for the offense, and then go into next season with a young and unproven (although promising) wideout like Reggie Brown as the #1. Are there any veteran wideouts that may be cap casualties that the Eagles may be interested in?