Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

17 Jun 2006

Four Downs: NFC East

Best player available analysis by Sean McCormick
Remainder of Four Downs by Bill Barnwell

(Ed. note: For this round of Four Downs, we're pleased to present Sean McCormick's "Best Player Available" analysis for each division, along with the usual gang commenting on other moves by each team before and since the draft. The reasoning behind BPA analysis is explained in this article. Each player drafted is listed along with his position on four different independent draft boards and the Best Player Available according to each of those boards. Please note that two of these boards only ranked 100 players.)

Dallas Cowboys

Pick Player Player Rankings Best Player Available
18 LB Bobby Carpenter 18, 23, 27, 33 OT Winston Justice (3), DB Jimmy Williams
53 TE Anthony Fasano 53, 63, 74, UR DB Richard Marshall (2), OT Eric Winston, DB Ashton Youboty
92 DE Jason Hatcher 151, 176, UR, UR G Max Jean-Gilles, DB Ko Simpson, DT Gabe Watson, DB Darnell Bing
125 WR Skyler Green 153, 211, UR, UR OT Jonathan Scott, DE Mark Anderson, DB DeMario Minter, DT Babatunde Oshinowo
138 DB Pat Watkins 55, 93, UR, UR OT Jonathan Scott, DE Mark Anderson, DB DeMario Minter, DT Babatunde Oshinowo
182 DT Montavious Stanley 92, 127, 149, UR DT Rod Wright (2), DE Stanley McClover, RB Andre Hall
211 OT Pat McQuistan UR, UR, UR, UR DT Rod Wright (2), DE Stanley McClover, RB Andre Hall
224 OT E.J. Whitley 211, UR, UR, UR DT Rod Wright (2), DE Stanley McClover, RB Andre Hall

Bill Parcells has a long history of bringing in familiar players whenever he takes a new job. Now that he has been coaching for over two decades, it was perhaps inevitable that Parcells would take the next step and draft the children of his ex-players. So long as you are getting decent value on the pick, the strategy makes a good deal of sense. When a first-round pick flops, it often isn't because of a lack of physical talent but rather because of character issues of one sort or another. Parcells knows exactly what he is getting in Bobby Carpenter: a smart, technically sound linebacker who plays within the context of the game plan. Carpenter will be the anchor that allows DeMarcus Ware to concentrate on attacking the quarterback. Complementary starters are usually taken in the second or third round, but with Dallas having put together an excellent defensive draft last year, they had the luxury of bypassing players with higher ceilings for one with a high floor.

Anthony Fasano is another player Parcells has a thick dossier on. Fasano is a sound blocker and an excellent short-to-intermediate receiver who has drawn comparison to fellow Golden Domer Mark Bavaro. He has an impressive work ethic and comes with experience in Dallas' offensive system. Again, there were players with higher grades available at the position, but none came with the Charlie Weis seal of approval. Parcells believes that a two-tight end set is now better able to generate mismatches than a three-receiver set, and the expectation is that Fasano will be able to share the field effectively with Jason Witten.

While Dallas may have sacrificed some upside with their first day picks, they did find some good value on the second day with Pat Watkins and Montavious Stanley. Watkins is a bit taller than the norm for a safety, and his size gives him the ability to match up well in coverage against tight ends and big wide receivers. He'll contribute immediately in red zone packages and on special teams. Stanley is a traditional two-down tackle who can stuff the run and provide the occasional bull rush. He's a good enough athlete to rotate in at any of the three defensive line spots, but his future is probably at nose tackle.

Recent Free Agent Signings

Not wanting the abrasiveness of Terrell Owens to be the only thing irritating Bill Parcells' immaculate sunburn, the Cowboys added Mike Vanderjagt to be their kicker for the 2006 season. Adding a proven veteran kicker is a little bit of a sea change for the Cowboys, who haven't had a veteran kicker start the season for them since 1994 (Eddie Murray, who was ancient then and would come back to the Cowboys five years later).

Readers of Football Outsiders know how we feel about the fungibility of kickers not named "Adam Vinatieri" or "David Akers." The advantage the Cowboys got by spending the league minimum on a kicker allowed them to funnel that money toward depth elsewhere. Sure, those minimum-salary kickers were bad, but that's a function of Dallas scouting, not a lack of kickers on the market. Just ask Rob Bironas or Matt Bryant.

With the signing of Vanderjagt, the Cowboys are getting a kicker who was very accurate last (regular) season, but has also been an absolute cypher on kickoffs over the last three seasons, ranking 30th in our ratings for kickoff value in 2003 and 32nd in 2004. He did not even attempt a kickoff in 2005. It begs the question whether, for the veteran minimum, a 50-year-old Eddie Murray might not be a better value. Granted, it doesn't beg very hard.

Undrafted Free Agents to Watch

The Cowboys signed three linebackers: John Saldi from Texas Tech, Oliver Hoyte of North Carolina State, and Virginia's Kai Parham. Parham declared as a junior for the draft and promptly found that no one was actually terribly interested in drafting him. With the Cowboys linebacking corps lacking depth even after the drafting of Bobby Carpenter, expect Parham to stick as a nickel linebacker. Saldi, the son of former Cowboys tight end Jay Saldi, seems mostly like a bone being thrown to a local guy. Then again, his father went from being an undrafted free agent himself to earning a NFL pension.

The Cowboys also signed Yale quarterback Jeff Mroz; in his pre-draft diary, Mroz notes the success of Ryan Fitzpatrick (as in "3rd-worst in QB DVOA in 2005" Ryan Fitzpatrick) as a motivator for him, and even manages to get a Rob Johnson dig in. The report on his pre-draft pro day notes, "He threw the ball well, but was pushed for time as the scouts were hurrying to get across town to anther pro day being held at the University of Pittsburgh." If the scouts are bailing on your workout because they want to beat the traffic, well, let's just say you should become familiar with the fine eating establishments of Albany, Macon, and Bossier-Shreveport.

New York Giants

Pick Player Player Rankings Best Player Available
32 DE Mathias Kiwanuka 20, 31, 40, 48 OT Winston Justice (3), DB Jimmy Williams
44 WR Sinorice Moss 35, 36, 36, 36 RB LenDale White (2), OT Eric Winston, DB Ashton Youboty
96 LB Gerris Wilkerson 64, 86, 94, 96 G Max Jean-Gilles, DB Ko Simpson, DT Gabe Watson, DB Darnell Bing
124 DE Barry Cofield 90, 98, 107,115 OT Jonathan Scott, DE Mark Anderson, DB DeMario Minter, DT Babatunde Oshinowo
129 OT Guy Whimper 98, 141, 155, UR OT Jonathan Scott, DE Mark Anderson, DB DeMario Minter, DT Babatunde Oshinowo
158 DB Charlie Peprah 164, 207, UR, UR DT Babtunde Oshinowo (3), DE Mark Anderson
232 DB Gerrick McPhearson 143, 171, UR, UR DB Dee Webb (2), DE Stanley McClover, RB Andre Hall

The Giants have gotten more aggressive in recent years about positioning themselves to grab players they like at value, and they continued that trend this year, sliding down seven spots to land Boston College defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka and then trading up in the second round to take Sinorice Moss. Opinions were split on Kiwanuka, whose stock tumbled somewhat after D'Brickashaw Ferguson toyed with him during Senior Bowl week. Kiwanuka has terrific physical tools, but he plays too upright and without leverage. Boston College has a bit of a reputation for not adequately developing its prospects, and it's likely that a few years with Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora will improve Kiwanuka's technique tremendously. With Umenyiora and the talented Justin Tuck already on hand to pick up the slack should Strahan start to fade, the Giants didn't have a pressing need for a pass rusher, but they stuck by their board and took the player who they clearly felt was the best available.

While several of the boards weren't big on the Kiwanuka pick, they were unanimous in applauding the trade up for Sinorice Moss. Moss is a similar player to his older brother Santana, but his lack of production at the college level makes him a riskier selection. Moss will duke it out with Tim Carter for the right to have Eli Manning point at him in the huddle and say, "You go deep." He didn't handle the return duties at Miami, but Moss has the talent to be a quality punt and kickoff returner.

New York continued to find good value with just about every selection; four of their final five picks were steals on at least one of the draft boards. Gerris Wilkerson bounced around between defensive end, middle linebacker and outside linebacker, but with enough reps he could develop into a force on the weakside. Barry Cofield didn't make many plays at Northwestern, but he can stack at the point of attack. The Giants need bodies along the interior line with the departure of Kendrick Clancy, and Cofield figures to work his way onto the field during run downs. He may even challenge the disappointing William Joseph for a starting spot.

New York may have found some cornerback depth at the bottom of the draft with Maryland's Gerrick McPhearson. McPhearson's instincts are suspect but he has great athleticism. He probably won't amount to more than a nickel or dime back, but with the loss of Will Allen and Will Peterson, the team needs all the depth it can get at the position.

Recent Free Agent Signings

After shopping his services around the league and finding that he wasn't going to get the $10 million bonus he and his agents were asking for (a situation which, if you are so inclined, you can feel free to refer to as being "Postonized"), LaVar Arrington suddenly decided that he was willing to take a physical with the Giants. When that physical revealed that they'd only have to stuff a $5 million bonus into Arrington's pockets, the Giants had themselves a new starting outside linebacker.

What's interesting is that Giants defensive coordinator Tim Lewis is switching Arrington from the weak side to the strong side, feeling he's a better fit there. Tim Lewis knows more than I do about football. A lot more. That being said, Arrington's biggest weakness is his propensity to fall for play fakes, something that will only be exacerbated if it results in Jason Witten being open for a 15-yard gain.

The Giants also acquired some veteran depth, adding former Packers center Grey Ruegamer, former starting Giant linebacker Brandon Short -- who may take over on the weak side -- tight end Boo Williams, and former Bills quarterback Rob Johnson. Right. Read that again. Rob Johnson. The guy who hasn't been in the league since 2003, when he was one of the 47 quarterbacks who threw passes for the Raiders that year. Rob Johnson has become so irrelevant that an "I'm Feeling Lucky" Google search for Rob Johnson brings up the webpage of Rob Johnson, Ohio's premier rock guitar instrumentalist. Pro Football Prospectus 2006 features one last reminder of the awful mistake the Bills made by playing Johnson over Doug Flutie, and Johnson has been mostly injured and out of football since then. It is pretty much unfathomable that he got a gig without a Len Pasquarelli/Jason Whitlock Jeff George-level hype job. Maybe he will teach Jared Lorenzen pilates or something.

Undrafted Free Agents to Watch

The Giants only added a couple of undrafted free agents immediately after the draft, one of which was George Mason power forward Jai Lewis. Listed by the Giants at 6'5", 292, Lewis is being slotted in as a offensive tackle for the time being. A recent glut of signings revealed very few hopefuls for 2006 roster spots but, if you have a moment, pray for the continued success of former Oregon State defensive tackle Sir Henry Anderson. Yes -- Sir Henry Anderson. He will compete with Junior Ioane for a role as a backup run-stuffer.

Philadelphia Eagles

Pick Player Player Rankings Best Player Available
14 DT Broderick Bunkley 8, 9, 9, 10 DT Broderick Bunkley (4)
39 OT Winston Justice 10, 12, 12, 15 OT Winston Justice (4)
71 DE Chris Gocong 86, 212, UR, UR TE Leonard Pope, DB Ko Simpson, DT Gabe Watson, DB Darnell Bing
99 G Max-Jean Gilles 40, 48, 50, 61 G Max Jean-Gilles, DB Ko Simpson, DT Gabe Watson, DB Darnell Bing
109 WR Jason Avant 85, 114, 115, UR WR Demetrius Williams, DE Mark Anderson, DB DeMario Minter, DT Babatunde Oshinowo
147 WR Jeremy Bloom 181, 187, UR, UR DT Babatunde Oshinowo (2), DE Mark Anderson, DB DeMario Minter
168 LB Omar Gaither 102, 190, UR, UR DT Babatunde Oshinowo (3), DE Mark Anderson
204 DT LaJuan Ramsey UR, UR, UR, UR DT Rod Wright (2), DE Stanley McClover, RB Andre Hall

Boom. Boom. Cough. Boom. Perhaps no team's draft graded out better on the four boards than Philadelphia's. The Eagles got good value with almost every pick, but they were particularly impressive early on, taking the consensus best player available with both their first- and second-round picks. Broderick Bunkley turned a lot of heads at the combine with his chiseled physique, his 40 reps on the bench, and his impressive athleticism. Justice also tested well, and the feeling before the draft was that he would go in the top fifteen despite his uneven form at USC. Several mock drafts had the Eagles choosing between the two players, but in the end they landed both.

Bunkley will have the more immediate impact. He plays with great anticipation and a high motor, and defensive coordinator Jim Johnson figures to pair him with last year's first round pick Mike Patterson to form an undersized but disruptive interior line. Bunkley will rotate with Darwin Walker, but as he gains experience he figures to win more of the playing time.

Justice will spend the year apprenticing behind Tra Thomas. While some character concerns undoubtedly contributed to Justice's slide, the more pressing issue was probably Justice's tendency to do just enough to get by. A tackle with his measureables should eliminate his man on almost every play, but Justice was one of the least consistent players on the Trojans offensive line. Thomas had to shed an underachiever label coming out of Florida State, and Philadelphia would be very happy to get a similar level of production from Justice.

The Chris Gocong selection didn't go over well with the boards, but it was cleverly done nonetheless, as the Jets were poised to take Gocong with the 71st pick before receiving the trade offer. The Jets were on the phone with Gocong and told him to hold on, they'd be drafting him in a few spots; instead, the Eagles promptly snatched Gocong. The Cal Poly product was highly sought as a DE/OLB hybrid by teams employing a 3-4 defense, but Philadelphia will try him out at strongside linebacker.

After the Gocong blip, Philadelphia went back to grabbing recognizable names, generally at good value. Max Jean-Gilles was considered the top guard prospect for much of the pre-draft period, but concerns about his weight pushed him down. Jean-Gilles is immoveable when he gets set, and he has quick feet for such a big man. If he doesn't eat himself out of the league, Jean-Gilles could be a nice addition to the offensive line.

Jason Avant was productive at Michigan, but he doesn't have the quickness to consistently separate from defenders. He should help carry on the Philadelphia tradition of fielding nothing but #2 receivers. Jeremy Bloom will work in as a slot receiver and return man. The Olympic skier impressed scouts with his willingness to compete at the combine shortly after returning from the Winter Games.

Recent Free Agent Signings

The Eagles have made some moves to tidy up their depth after the injury-riddled fiasco that was their 2005, adding quarterback Jeff Garcia, wide receiver Jabar Gaffney, and defensive tackle Ed Jasper to one-year deals. Choosing a city that despises Terrell Owens was a good decision by Garcia's agent. Of course, finagling a five-year deal for Donovan McNabb to appear on the cover of Madden would've been an even better one.

The Eagles seem to be pretty set for the season at this point, hoping that the lack of Corey Simon and Owens-related drama in training camp will allow them a solid camp and preparation for the season. Expect them to grab a powerful running back as one of the training camp leftovers to provide a change of pace to Brian Westbrook, Reno Mahe, and Ryan Moats.

Undrafted Free Agents to Watch

Having mined Villanova's skill position players once for Westbrook, Philadelphia went back to the well by signing wide receiver J.J. Outlaw. An Eagles fan as a child, Outlaw will have to make the team on his special-teams skills. With 13 receivers on the squad and maybe three players (Reggie Brown, Greg Lewis, and Todd Pinkston) guaranteed spots, the fight between ten guys for the last two spots is worthy of an "Ultimate Fighter"-type show with Fred Barnett and Freddie Solomon as team coaches. Michael Gasperson will steal everyone's beanie, and it will be a good time for everyone involved.

Washington Redskins

Pick Player Player Rankings Best Player Available
35 LB Roger McIntosh 51, 77, 83, 96 OT Winston Justice (3), DB Jimmy Williams
153 DT Anthony Montgomery 275, UR, UR, UR DT Babatunde Oshinowo (3), DE Mark Anderson
173 DB Reed Doughty 174, UR, UR, UR DT Babtunde Oshinowo (3), RB Andre Hall
196 DT Kedric Golston 174, 195, UR, UR DT Rod Wright (2), DE Stanley McClover, RB Andre Hall
230 G Kili Lefotu UR, UR, UR, UR DB Dee Webb (2), DE Stanley McClover, RB Andre Hall
250 LB Kevin Simon 239, 244, UR, UR RB Andre Hall (2), DB Anwar Phillips (2)

On its face the decision to trade up for Miami linebacker Roger McIntosh looks like one of the worst decisions in the draft. Washington gave away a sixth-round pick and a future second-rounder so they could move up and take a player that every single board felt was more of a late second/early third round prospect. It's likely that the Redskins wanted to find an impact linebacker to replace LaVar Arrington and felt that there was a sizeable drop-off at the position after McIntosh, but even so, the price seems exorbitant. No team has exercised as few picks as Washington over the past five years, and needlessly trading away future picks will ensure that the trend continues.

That's not to say that McIntosh is a poor prospect. He's been limited by injuries, but when healthy he's a smooth and explosive linebacker with the coverage skills to stay on the field in passing situations. McIntosh may well fit Gregg Williams' scheme, but he's going to have to do more than just fit in order to justify the expensive trade up -- he's going to have to dominate.

Washington didn't have another pick until the fifth round, when they chose Minnesota defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery. There were a few scouts who liked Montgomery's consistent effort, but none of the boards felt he was especially good value. The other picks had a bit more support, as Reed Doughty, Kedric Golston and Kevin Simon were all minor steals on at least one draft board. Doughty is a true strong safety, effective in run support but with questionable coverage skills. He should make an impact on special teams.

Golston had injury problems at Georgia that limited his production, but if he can stay healthy he has the ability to hold up at the point of attack and to pressure the quarterback. He's not the physical specimen that Rod Wright is, but he'll be able to contribute this year. Kevin Simon is another player who dropped because of injury concerns, but he was extremely productive when he was on the field. Simon doesn't have the speed to handle tight ends or running backs in coverage, but he could find a role as a two-down middle linebacker.

Recent Free Agent Signings

The Redskins strategy has been the same for several years now: identify targets of interest, (sometimes) wait for free agent signing period to open up, sign with financial prejudice. Since Al Bogdan covered the Redskins' 2006 signing spree in the last NFC East Four Downs, the only addition the Redskins have made is nabbing cornerback Kenny Wright from the Jaguars. Wright will compete with Ade Jimoh to be the Skins' nickel back next season.

Undrafted Free Agents to Watch

With the Redskins carrying so much dead money on their cap, they become more and more reliant on the production of undrafted and minimum-cost free agents each year. While their starters are usually the pick of the year's free agent pool, the shiny veneer is paid for by a lack of depth, particularly on defense. Of the 11 guys listed as primary backups on the depth chart, six were undrafted free agents from the last three years. In that vein, the Redskins added four defensive players who may see time on the Redskins defense this year. Cornerbacks Chijoke Onyenegecha (Oklahoma) and Chris Hawkins (Marshall) could win spots in a wide-open Redskins secondary.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 17 Jun 2006

276 comments, Last at 08 Aug 2006, 11:08am by BobL

Comments

1
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 06/17/2006 - 1:08pm

Expect them to grab a powerful running back as one of the training camp leftovers to provide a change of pace to Brian Westbrook, Reno Mahe, and Ryan Moats.

Not likely. Mahe isn't the 3rd RB: Bruce Perry is. Mahe's always been more of a special teams guy, and I've got a strong feeling that he might not make the team this year.

For a short-yardage back, they'll probably use Perry. He's built a bit stockier than Westbrook (5'9", 213 lbs vs 5'8", 203 lbs). Perry bounced on and off the roster last year, but when they finally put him on in the Washington game, he had a nice game (4.7 ypc, with a long of 11).

2
by Bill (not verified) :: Sat, 06/17/2006 - 1:37pm

Perry's listed (on Ourlads) at 5'8" 200; Mahe, 5'9" 212. Moats is 5'8" 210. That would make him their smallest back.

Even on the NFL site Mahe and Moats have ten pounds on Perry.

Then again - running type is probably more important than size. It just seems like the Eagles would be a little behooved to go out and get a situational back who's 220.

3
by Matt (not verified) :: Sat, 06/17/2006 - 2:44pm

Trust me, as someone who's seen all three players in person without pads, Moats is NOT bigger than Perry or Westbrook. He is TINY. Perry is a hard straight-ahead runner who may well prove adept at short yardage. Moats may prove capable as well, I expect a big-time emergence of Ryan Moats this season. The running game focus for the Eagles this offseason has come on the offensive line, not the backs. Even The Bus isn't an effective short-yardage back when he's running straight into five guys at the line of scrimmage.

The Eagles do also have 220-lb. training camp perennial Correll Buckhalter hanging around until his annual knee injury. He's proven a talented runner and very adept goal-line back when he's actually on the field, which is thus far 40% of his career.

4
by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 06/17/2006 - 3:04pm

Yes, they would. However, they would rather gamble that Correll Buckhalter, who hasn't played a meaningful snap in at least three years can be the big back. Rumor is that they're waiting for the Jags to cut Fred Taylor and I'm not sure which is the worse idea.

5
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 06/17/2006 - 3:15pm

That would make him their smallest back.

Except that he put on 13 pounds since then. He's at 213 pounds right now.

6
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 06/17/2006 - 3:17pm

Reference for that. I'll try to find the original article where it talks about him putting on a bit more weight, but that might take a bit. The measurements on NFL.com, philadelphiaeagles.com, etc. are all from last year.

7
by mattman (not verified) :: Sat, 06/17/2006 - 3:28pm

#4 - two years for Buckhalter, not three. And unlike previous years, they're not counting on anything. The last two seasons, Buckhalter was the preseason #2 back. This year he's listed as the #4 or 5 at best going into camp.

Followup to all the weight talk - I don't know why people bother to go by listed NFL weights. A lot of those are probably still combine measurements. I remember last year Corey Simon was listed at like 303 or something. Meanwhile his number was falling off the front of his jersey because the seams burst.

8
by charles 2.0 (not verified) :: Sat, 06/17/2006 - 4:29pm

A lot of those are probably still combine measurements. I remember last year Corey Simon was listed at like 303 or something. Meanwhile his number was falling off the front of his jersey because the seams burst.

even better corey simon was wearing tights with zippers on the ankles b/c he was too fat to fit the regular ones during the bengals game last year.

9
by charles 2.0 (not verified) :: Sat, 06/17/2006 - 4:34pm

also is whoever wrote this column a cowboys fan, he doesn't rip dallas for drafting an o-lineman like justice in the first round, when they gave up 50 sacks last year. then credits them for taking a player like bobby carpenter whose is familiar to parcells but rips the redskins for getting mcintosh from miami who if you haven't noticed, a sh**load of redskins went to miami and can therefore speak for mcintosh's character as well. And don't give me that 6th round this year and 2nd round pick next year crap, the titans have had the most draft picks out of any team the last three years and where has that gotten them, nowhere.

10
by tim (not verified) :: Sat, 06/17/2006 - 5:21pm

as an eagles fan, i found it encouraging that in the recent draft seemed to focus on the future of them team with the pick-ups on the OL, even though i was hoping they would pick up one of the higher rated receivers left on the board. it seems in recent years that their WR scouting seems to be poor in measuring talent, anyone else have any insight as to why? or reasoning in contrast?

11
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Sat, 06/17/2006 - 5:54pm

Re #9: I will agree that someone here is clearly showing a very strong bias... but I don't think it's the author of the story.

12
by charles 2.0 (not verified) :: Sat, 06/17/2006 - 6:40pm

Ah man, i thought i was disguising the fact that i'm redskins homer but you figured me out kibbles, your a very smart man... well except for the fact your a broncos fan.

13
by mathesond (not verified) :: Sat, 06/17/2006 - 8:16pm

Re: #12 - You have to admit that Kibbles also knows the difference between "your" and "you're". That should more than make up for the fact that he's a Broncos (won 2 Supes in the past 10 years) fan.

14
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sat, 06/17/2006 - 8:30pm

These Four Downs article are nice... except I'm getting sick of seeing the same players at BPA... and sick of projecting draft pick performance. The nice part about them is the information on other teams... and the comments from us diehard fans.

I doubt any of those UDFA rookies in the secondary see extensive time other than on special teams. Typically their rookies don't play until the middle of the season, and that's high round draft picks. Defensive secondary is quite a concern still... they are pretty thin at S.

I hope next season the BPA analysis from 2 years ago gets looked at to see if those players ended up being the best.

Anyway, this division is a dead heat... I can't believe how over-rated the Eagles are. They've gotten a complete mulligan for last year's performance, but have an aging team that might be demolished if the youth influx from the past 3 drafts doesn't live up to expectations. We'll see if the final weeks help/hinder their development.

Anyway, I'm working on some type of Guest Article that won't be done for ~ 2 months . Aaron, you must have quite a wife to go out and write a book and go on a book tour plus keep this website somewhat updated, with an infant at home.

15
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sat, 06/17/2006 - 8:45pm

I'm pretty sure Lavar has played WLB and SSLB at various points in his career. I thought Gregg Williams switched him to WLB, after he came over. Arrington made the Pro-Bowl as SSLB early in his career.

I just think the Giants will bring Lavar off the edge as a rusher most of the time and won't give him many assignments to blow. He's good when he guesses right, but brutal when wrong (See 20 yard pass he gave up to Gates to set up LT2 run in OT).

16
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Sat, 06/17/2006 - 9:14pm

It's Shreveport-Bossier, not the other way around. That area still sucks, but at least acknowledge the more famous of the two when talking about that area.

That I'm standing up for a city in Louisiana which is north of I-10 is saying a lot, by the way.

17
by Sporran (not verified) :: Sat, 06/17/2006 - 10:00pm

Who, exactly, is overrating the Eagles? If you look at all the early prognostications, there are more last-place predictions than first.

They do deserve a mulligan for a year in which absolutely everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. That's not to say they don't have holes, but if McNabb is healthy, they have as good of a chance to win the division as anybody.

18
by mattman (not verified) :: Sat, 06/17/2006 - 11:48pm

Re #14

Yeah, I guess the Eagles will have problems if nobody from three drafts pans out. I'll give you that. The Eagles are only aging in the sense that time is in fact moving forward for all things. They're quite young at CB, DT, OL, WR, TE, and RB. And the other positions aren't exactly old. The oldest starters are OT's William (aka Tra) Thomas and John Runyan, and the Eagles have already drafted their replacements in Winston Justice, Shawn Andrews, and Todd Herremans. McNabb, Trotter, Kearse, and Howard are pushing 30, but that's not panic time. The Eagles have been steadily turning over from the early Reid/McNabb era of '00-'03. It's largely a new team now with McNabb, Dawkins, and Akers the major holdovers.

19
by JasonK (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 2:31am

This should be a great division to watch this season. Every one of these teams could be a threat to run deep into the playoffs. A few Giants-related comments:

Re: William Joseph

I really feel that Joseph has been unfairly stuck with the 'draft bust' label. True, he didn't do much in his first couple of years (DTs usually don't), but over the last 2 seasons, he's been impressive when he's healthy.

Re: Arrington's position

I am also a bit alarmed by Arrington playing the Sam spot. Besides the concerns over his lapses in coverage, it leaves the team with a bit of a hole at WLB. They're left with 2 old, converted SLBs (Carlos Emmons and Brandon Short) as the top of the depth chart. The rookie Wilkerson is really the only natural WLB on the roster.

20
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 2:47am

The nfc east is a tough division but i think i know exactly what will happen.

New York: New York has a great defense with the aquisition of sam madision and lavar arrington, but along with that, they got a great offense too, tiki barber coming off an 1860 yard season and eli manning maturing and throwing too shockey, buress, and toomer, not to mention sinorice moss. they also got a record setting usi umenyora and michael strahan, and with strahan getting old, they drafted his replacement, too bad they got a tough schedule though.

Washington: The redskins also have a great team, but they made more offensive improvements, rather than defensive. nevertheless they are going to do great this year, they got the passing game, the rushing game, and the defense, they got everything.

Philadelphia: The Eagles are not doing so hot this year. i think they will do bad. they got no offense except for one man and a pretty good defense. i expect them to do worse this year. sorry mcnabb, but your time is UP!

Dallas: I think dallas might have gotten the best offseason with competition from the giants. They got TERRELL OWENS! their offense is going to be amazing and their defense shall be quite adequate. you are looking at a team to make a superbowl run, they didnt win the division, so they will have an easier schdule than they should have.

Overall, this is how i think the NFC EAST will pan out.

Dallas -12-4
Washington -11-5
New York -10-6
Philadelphia-4-12

21
by Bill (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 4:06am

RE# 20 Eagles Assessment.

4-12??? They didn't even do that last year with 14 injuries including their starting QB.

Dallas blows especially without a decent O-line ( they gave up 50 sacks last year) that they didn't upgrade in the off-season.

22
by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 5:22am

RE 21. That's not *exactly* true about Dallas. It's perhaps not the sexiest off-season move, but they picked up TE Ryan Hannam. Who destroyed pro-bowler Kyle Vanden Bosch in his game against the Titans. The guy blocks, and while he's not exactly going to leave flaming footprints when he runs he can catch the occasional pass. Does it make up for Larry Allen, no. But if the Cowboys go with a lot of 2 TE sets, there's going to be some feast and famine going on. With a kicker, better defense, another gap for their running game, TO, and another year of experienced for the inexperienced on their O-Line, that might be enough.

WRT the Giants, I'd worry about DT for them. Clancy was a reinforced concrete wall (covered in spikes and venomous snakes) last year if Football Outsiders articles are to be believed. How good is their Strong Saftey when he's all alone against the likes of Clinton Portis, Warrick Dunn or Shaun Alexander with their choice cuts? Cause Arrington guessing wrong behind DTs who aren't getting it done is probably how that ends up.

23
by Jak (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 11:05am

Re #20: Say Whaaat!... Totally wrong. Go back to fantasy football. Outside of their season ending inter-divisional records, there are two keys to winning this division: NFC South and AFC South. All four NFC East teams have a game against Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Indy and Jacksonville. Whoever has the better record against these five teams will be the division champion.
Division ends up like this:
Dall : 10-6
NY : 10-6
Wash : 9-7
Phila : 9-7
This is gonna be one tight divisional race. All of their schedule are roughly the same, although I think the NY -Seattle game in week 3 is huge.

24
by Bill (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 12:07pm

It’s Shreveport-Bossier, not the other way around. That area still sucks, but at least acknowledge the more famous of the two when talking about that area.

I was talking about the AF2 team, which is Bossier-Shreveport.

25
by Tim L (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 1:48pm

Interestingly enough, most Cowboys fans were shocked when Fasano went in the second round, as opposed to Winston or Jean-Gilles. They had (apparently) gaping needs on the offensive line, so why draft an (apparent) backup tight end?

This is the classic drafting for need argument, and since a divisional rival took both of those offensive linemen, we'll get to see over the next few years who was correct.

26
by ZS (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 3:33pm

In both attack and defense of the Giants:

Picking Up Arrington - Good idea. I thought after they signed Brandon Short they had given up on him, but hey, things happen.

Drafting Kiwanuka - Ernie Acorsi is great and all, but you can have too many pass rushers. I mean, besides LaVarrrrr, there's Strahan, Osi, and last year's 2nd rounder Justin Tuck, who I like. Since there were no decent DTs worth picking up at #32, someone should've thought to pick up a backup to the aging Mr. False Start.

Drafting Sinorice Moss - THEN WHY'D YOU GIVE TIM CARTER AND DAVID TYREE EXTENSIONS? Couldn't we have drafted him and not given Carter an extension? At least we know who the five recievers will be.

Not Doing Anything At Defensive Tackle - I have two words: Antonio Pierce. We'll be fine.

With that said... Giants win division. 16-0. I'm only as biased as #9.

27
by Tim L (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 3:36pm

Well okay then, as long as you aren't more biased than that.

28
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 4:01pm

#23: All of the teams look like they should be around 10-6 or 9-7 right now, but it's doubtful that it's going to be that cloes in the end. Some sort of disaster will probably kill one of the teams, allowing the other three to beat up on it. For example, a season-ending injury to Tiki Barber could cost NY four games. Tiki's somewhat replaceable in the running game, but he's a crucial safety blanket for Manning in the passing game.

It doesn't even have to be an injury. A single offensive lineman playing poorly can kill the whole unit, and destroy an entire season.

29
by jbindc35 (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 4:27pm

#20: The Eagles are not likely to win a Super Bowl this year, but they aren't going 4-12, either.

30
by JasonK (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 4:48pm

#26:

Tyree was extended to play special teams, not to be the 3rd wideout. Carter was re-signed (rather cheaply, I might add) because the team didn't know that they'd be able to get a player of Moss's caliber in the draft. Plus, you don't just hand the 3rd WR job to a rookie without some credible competition in camp.

And I wouldn't be so glib about the DT situation. Even the best MLBs struggle when a Guard is coming free at them on every running play. And, as much as I like Pierce, he doesn't have the strength of a Harry Carson-style MLB to break through blocks.

I think the 3-technique tackle postition is fine with Joseph & Robbins. The question is whether the team has a 1-technique tackle who can stand up to two blockers on running plays. Cofield, Robbins, Ioane, Damane Duckett, and Jonas Seawright will all get their shot; hopefully the coaches can craft a viable rotation out of that crowd.

31
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 4:59pm

but have an aging team that might be demolished if the youth influx from the past 3 drafts doesn’t live up to expectations.

Um. You know, we've posted this elsewhere, but the Eagles have the youngest starting lineup of any team in the NFC East, both in terms of real age and number of years experience.

The "youth influx" from the last 3 drafts already has lived up to expectations - namely Westbrook, Sheppard, Brown, Lewis, etc. The only part of their team which is getting older without a proven backup (proven, mind you, not drafted) behind him is free safety.

Aging Eagles? Please.

32
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 5:03pm

The eagles are a horriblle team! they barely got to 6-10 last year, i would be very suprised if the have a winning season this year.

also, i agree that the cowboys shouldve traded up to get winston justice with their second round pick and then maybe get fasano if he slips, or another blocking tight end with good hands. thee cowboys have a solid tight end in jason witten and i think they shouldve worked a lot on their defense as well. their defense and offensive line are the only things that prevent them from breaking this season open, because they have an excellent offense with T.O who also gives Julius Jones space to breathe and Terry Glenn more man to man coverage, also jason witten should get some more catches in and drew bledsoe may have a career season as hhis career comes to an end soon.

i dont know if they drafted a QB lately, but in next years draft i definately suggest picking one up. i dont think theyve had a great qb since TROY AIKMAN AND ROGER STOUBACH!

i dont see any reason why the giants arent a playoff team except for the fact of their tough schedule.

the redskins need to work on their defense a little, and they'll be back in the playoff hunt.

33
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 5:07pm

The oldest starters are OT’s William (aka Tra) Thomas and John Runyan

Philly's oldest starter is Brian Dawkins, followed by Runyan.

Dawkins's replacement isn't on the roster, but he likely still has a few years left anyway, and replacing a possible Hall of Fame player isn't exactly easy.

34
by jeffro (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 5:55pm

The Giants look real good on offense, but they are gonna miss Will Allen in the secondary

35
by Tim L (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 6:22pm

I don't want to scare the Giants fans or anything, but history has not been kind to running backs the year after they've rushed for 1800 yards of more. It's been done 16 times in league history, including twice last year, and on average the back's yardage declined almost 800 yards, from 1941 yards to 1143. The team on which he played declined from 10 wins to less than eight. The encouraging news, if you're a Giants fan, is that on four of the 16 occasions the team actually improved the next year. If Manning continues to develop, along with the young players from the good drafts of the last few years, I can see them maintaining or even improving on their record.

However, despite the fact I greatly respect Tiki Barber, given his age and the history of the other backs, there's plenty of cause for concern.

36
by Luz (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 6:45pm

as an non-nfc east fan my uneducated prediction is that the redskins end up finishing in last place. it seems to me that brunell has very little left in the tank and doesn't perform well when injured. behind him is jason campbell who has very little experience to speak of.

i also think that the giants will decline a bit from last year. their schedule is slightly harder, and i don't think that tiki will repeat his fantastic 2005 season, instead declining modestly. any slip in tiki's performance could be offset by an improvement in eli's play but i am not overly confident in that.

i expect the cowboys to play roughly equal to how they performed last year. which in my estimation was good but not great football.

i think the eagle will rebound very well from last year and will win the division again. that prediction hinges upon an improvement from the WR corps which is probably as realistic as expecting andy reid to convert to falun gong.

i will now head for the digitized hills and await the righteous indignation of matthew furtek and stephen yang.

37
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 7:49pm

Honestly, the thing that cracks me up is people convinced that any of the teams will have a bad year next year. Here's a hint: if you're convinced that one of these teams will fall apart next year, you're strongly biased for or against one of the teams. The NFC East is going to be won on injuries and luck.

Note that I'm not saying that one of the teams won't fall apart. One probably will. But there's no way of knowing which one beforehand, as it'll be injuries that do it.

38
by ZS (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 7:50pm

#30: You're absolutely right about Antonio Pierce and David Tyree. The only odd thing that struck me about David Tyree's extension was that after he got signed he repeated several times about how much he wanted to be a reciever, although he only gets about 10 catches a season. The Tim Carter thing does strike me as odd, though. I know the draft is unpredictable, but they had to have known they were at least looking at upgrading the position. Couldn't they have just given him a one-year thing?

#35: Meh. I am unperturbed. I mean, how much better did the other three teams ACTUALLY become? The Gmen now have a stronger secondary and linebacker corps. The Redskins did improve. The Cowboys? Their fans have already cleared up that their O-Line sucks.

Sucky O-Line, meet Umenyiora (I can't even spell that right), Strahan, Arrrrington, Justin Tuck, and Kiwanuka. You want 50 sacks? I got ya 50 sacks right here. Giants and Washington make it to the round of 16 against Franc-

DAMN YOU WORLD CUP!!

And #30? You didn't mention the Lord of Oakland, Sir Henry Anderson.

39
by ZS (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 7:52pm

#37 - That's what I thought about the AFC North.

40
by Tim L (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 8:29pm

38: In a sense, it doesn't matter how much the other teams improved (and I think all four improved). Losing 800 rushing yards is the equivalent of losing 80 points over the course of a season, and that's a huge loss to overcome.

I hear the chorus about how Dallas is going to give up 50 sacks this year all the time, and frankly I have to wonder if those people have any idea what their talking about. Prior to Flozell Adam's injury in week six, the offense was doing fine, and had given up 13 sacks in the first six games, even while starting a sixth round rookie at right tackle. Not great, but not awful. It was only after perennial underachiever (and since departed) Torrin Tucker entered the lineup that the wheels fell off: 36 sacks in the last ten games.

This year Adams will be back, Pettiti returns in (reportedly) better condition and certainly more experienced, and free agent Jason Fabini will at least add depth, if not win the right tackle job outright.

Larry Allen was a significant loss, but to anyone who watched the offensive line, they knew he whiffed far too many times. Marco Rivera was recovering from a major back injury last year, and while it's uncertain he'll return to his former Pro Bowl level, I don't think he'll be any worse than last season.

Is the offensive line a concern for the Cowboys? Sure. But to blithely assume that a) it sucks, and b) they'll give up 50 sacks this year, betrays more about the lack of knowledge of the observer (if not outright bias) than anything else.

41
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 10:39pm

anyone ever hear of a one man offense, i sure havent! and thats exactly whats going to happen to the eagles. mcnabb is a one man show! and if he gets injured, POOP, 0-16 the eagles shall go.

i have always said the nfc east is the strongest division, and i think they shall have three teams in the playoffs this season. its possible right? cowboys go 13-3, redskins go 12-4, giants go 11-5? they'll take the two wild card spots and let other teams battle it out.

Let me tell you my season predictions.

Colts
Dolphins
Bengals
Chiefs
Patriots
Steelers
Panthers
Cowboys
Bears
Seahawks
Buccaneers
Redskins

Those are my playoff predictions, they are very close to last years with some few changes, but i dont see any reason why the colts shouldnt win the division

42
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 10:43pm

and if he gets injured, POOP, 0-16 the eagles shall go.

So... apparently only the Giants would be fine with Rob Johnson, Jared Lorenzen or Tim Hasselbeck, the Cowboys with Drew Henson, and the Redskins with Jason Campbell?

Okay, Campbell, they might be okay with (but maybe not). But every team sucks horribly when they lose their starting QB.

43
by mattman (not verified) :: Sun, 06/18/2006 - 11:06pm

Just when I thought Stephen Yang's posts couldn't get any better, he incorporates the word 'poop'.

44
by Kevin (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 12:20am

#35. Despite the carries and yards Tiki has accumulated the past 4 years, I don't think his age is really a factor. Tiki averaged 8.5 carries/game his first 5 seasons in the NFL. That's much less early career wear and tear than you usually see from top flight backs. From whay I've read, the Giants want to dramatically increase Brandon Jacobs' playing time in 2006. I think injuries will be a major factor in who wins the division. In order to win the division... the Giants must play up to potential CONSISTENTLY, the Redskins must keep Brunell healthy, the Eagles must revert to the great defensive squads of 2001-04, and the Cowboys must keep Drew Bledsoe off his back.

45
by JasonK (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 12:37am

#40: "In a sense, it doesn’t matter how much the other teams improved (and I think all four improved). Losing 800 rushing yards is the equivalent of losing 80 points over the course of a season, and that’s a huge loss to overcome."

Just because the RB loses the yardage doesn't mean that the team will. Most of the dropoff in those statistics is due to an injury of one kind or another to the feature back. A backup, given the same number of carries, can probably get at least 70% of the yardage that the star would, so the impact isn't nearly as dire as you suggest. (And a median figure would be more useful than an average-- a handful of players who missed the all of the next season are probably skewing the average.)

However, I do think you're right that the concerns about the Dallas O-line are overblown. Petitti & Fabini aren't great, but if Adams is back and fully healed, they can compensate for the relative weakness of the right side schematically.

46
by Bill (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 1:55am

Before we all go crazy talking about the Giants incredible defensive line - and this is coming from a Giants fan - this is a team that ranked 22nd in Adjusted Sack Rate last year.

47
by Bill (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 1:59am

#45 - You can't simply ignore the backs who got hurt and didn't play the next season because that's one of the side effects. That sort of workload eventually leads to more injuries.

48
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 10:17am

By the way, did anyone notice the list of backup quarterbacks I listed above?

Are those honestly the quarterbacks that the Giants are going into the season with? Are they insane? Johnson, Lorenzen, and Hasselbeck?

Dallas's backups look pretty awful too. Those teams are in a lot of trouble if the starting quarterback goes down for much time at all.

Wait, wait - I just got the image of Terrell Owens having Drew Henson throwing to him. Oh, that'd be just hilarious.

49
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 11:38am

Well, Pat, if your dream is against the Giants, you know that Owens will be open over the middle -- because Will Demps will blow the coverage.

50
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 11:49am

The nice thing about it is that it's not a crazy dream. At least in the Giants' defense, Manning's young, so there's not a serious injury worry there. With the Cowboys, I'm really surprised that with a 34 year old QB, the most experienced backup QB on the roster is the one that the head coach thinks is crap.

Then again, I'd have to rate Drew Henson as better than any of Lorenzen, Hasselbeck, or Rob Johnson.

51
by Kevin (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 3:26pm

#50. Based on what exactly would you rate Henson ahead of the Giants' backups? Henson/Romo is really no better than Lorenzen/Hasselbeck/Johnson. Let's put it this way, if any team in the division gets a QB injury, they're screwed. Jeff Garcia sounds great, but he was terrible the past 2 seasons. Todd Collins is a career backup and Jason Campbell is a rookie. The only way you can win with a rookie in this league is to only throw the ball 12-15 times a game.

52
by Drew630 (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 3:30pm

RE:41 Does Westbrook not count in the offense? Or LJ Smith? Your "analysis" is laughable, bordering on being a troll. I'm onboard with Pat, there is no way anyone could predict the winner of this division until the games start. Injuries and luck. going 3-3 this year in the division for any of these teams might win the division.

53
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 4:17pm

Although I agree with you regarding the Eagles' abilities, it is a mathematical impossibility for 3-3 to be the best record in a 4-team division, unless all the teams finish 3-3, which would then eliminate its potential use as a tiebreaker.

54
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 4:50pm

#50. Based on what exactly would you rate Henson ahead of the Giants’ backups?

The fact that Henson has at least thrown a pass for the team he plays for.

Let’s put it this way, if any team in the division gets a QB injury, they’re screwed.

If the QB is out for the season, yes. If the QB is only out for the rest of say, one game, likely not. If I have to rely on Jeff Garcia for one game, that's a little more comforting than relying on Jared Lorenzen.

Jeff Garcia sounds great, but he was terrible the past 2 seasons.

All backup QBs are horrible. If you have to rely on them for a season, you're in deep trouble. One or two games, though, and it's not so bad - see the Steelers in 2005, for instance.

That being said, Garcia has definitely been the "least awful" of any of the backup QBs in the NFC East. By a few thousand miles: Garcia's been about the definition of "replacement level", which is fantastic for a backup QB.

55
by Keith Cockrell (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 5:19pm

Don't wanna mess up the jokes, but Tony Romo is the backup in Dallas, not Drew Henson. And Parcells sounds pretty damned definite about that.

I have to assume that losing the first string quarterback would be bad for any team. I remember it was one of the things that really (reluctantly) impressed me about Andy Reid and the Eagles a couple of years ago. I seem to remember them being down to the third string QB (Detmer) and still winning.

Not too many Tom Brady's in waiting out there.

56
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 5:33pm

Feeley was the backup QB who won a bunch a few years ago, not Detmer. Detmer came in in 2002 and positively ripped things up. It was fairly insane, and this was versus San Francisco, who in 2002 were still a pretty decent team. He then dislocated his shoulder in that game.

Still though, I always thought it was great that Philly had two quarterbacks on the MNF horse trailer.

Don’t wanna mess up the jokes, but Tony Romo is the backup in Dallas, not Drew Henson. And Parcells sounds pretty damned definite about that.

That's why I said above "the most experienced QB is the one the coach hates the most." What scares me is the selection of quarterbacks that the Giants and Cowboys have all sound like 3rd QBs to me, not 2nd. The Redskins get a pass because Campbell's a future hopeful, but there's just no excuse for backin up a 34-year old with a guy who's sole NFL experience has come in the preseason and who you don't have a lot of hope for in terms of maximum upside anyway.

57
by Tom Brady (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 5:45pm

"All backup QBs are horrible. If you have to rely on them for a season, you’re in deep trouble."

I don't know about that. Worked out okay for me.

58
by Big Ben (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 5:45pm

Me too.

59
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 5:54pm

Young rookie != backup QB. Brady's a fair response. Roethlisberger isn't. That's why the Redskins get a pass for Campbell.

I don't think that the Giants think Jared Lorenzen is the next great QB.

60
by Drew630 (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 5:57pm

it is a mathematical impossibility for 3-3 to be the best record in a 4-team division, unless all the teams finish 3-3, which would then eliminate its potential use as a tiebreaker.

Good point. Guess I got a little carried away with driving home the point of equality in the division. In any case, I'm hoping the Eagles can get a 4-2 mark in the division at least.

61
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 6:12pm

Now you've got me thinking -- this new setup has devalued divisional games some, to the point where even a 4-2 record is not enough to be a tiebreaker, except in one instance. To follow:

Philly finishes 4-2, say, in the division. There must be a total of 12 wins in any 4-team division, so the remaining teams must win the other eight. Given that we are using whole numbers, if one team is 1-5, the other two are 4-2 and 3-3, tying one with Philly. If one team is 2-4, the others must be either 4-2 and 2-4 again, or they will both be 3-3, which is the only scenario where a 4-2 record will win the division outright.

I'm no statistical maven, but I'll say that is becasue 3/4 of the team's games are now played outside the division. Basically, the NFC East will be won by playing the NFC South, North and West, unless you happen to go 5-1 in the East. Then you're a lock.

And stop piling on my buddy Keith for getting Feeley and Detmer mixed up. Do you know how hard it is for a Cowboy fan to respect ANYTHING about Philly? :)

62
by BB (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 7:04pm

Scary to say but after seeing the jokers employed by these teams the Bears are one of the few teams in decent shape if the starter goes down this time around. They don't take much of a step back at all, though that's probably as much an indictment of Grossman as it speaks to the quality of Griese. That said, Griese is substantially than the gallery of horrors employed in the East. No more Captain Neckbeard (at least we hope) this time around.

63
by Travis (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 7:14pm

Re: Giants backup QB

I've seen a bunch of articles that have suggested the Giants will audition Jay Fiedler once he's healthy enough to throw. Tim Hasselbeck's days with the Giants are numbered.

64
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 7:18pm

I agree. Most every team in the league is done if the starting QB blows an ACL in training camp, or whatever. Brady and Rothlisberger were examples of young, unproven QBs stepping up their games and coming up big.

65
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 06/19/2006 - 9:32pm

Travis:

That's what I would figure, really - especially after seeing Coughlin dance around defending his current QB corps. And to me, that would make a lot of sense.

What about Dallas? Anyone hear anything there, or are they seriously thinking Tony Romo/Drew Henson is good enough if Bledsoe gets a little woozy from a sack?

I agree. Most every team in the league is done if the starting QB blows an ACL in training camp

Yeah, but that's not what you need a backup QB for. It's not that uncommon - or that bad - to lose a QB for a set of downs, or maybe even an entire half. You'd like to not have to sacrifice an entire game in those situations.

66
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 12:54am

ok look people. if a team loses their starting QB, they usually are in bad shape, the eagles are in 10 times worse shape!!! because they have a one man show! the falcons are similar but matt schaub has shown signs of being a pretty good QB.

anyways without donovan mcnabb, the eagles are a horrible team. westbrook gets injured, and they have no wider recievers! if that happens to dallas, they'll be ok because of terrell owens making it easier for henson or romo and julius jones to take off the pressure.

the redskins have jason campbell who could be ok, and has valuable recievers and a good back to hand off to. 1500 yards the last two seasons for MR. PORTIS

and the giants are a solid team. the eagles are all over the place!!! you think tom brady wouldve been tom brady playing for a mediocre team?? no he was playing for a play off team like dallas, washington, and new york, and i havent seen the eagles in the playoffs for like 20 years! am i right,? am i right?

i kid, i kid, they got killed in the superbowl

67
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 2:42am

One way you can be sure that when the starting QB gets injured your team is still competitive is by having a great defense and a joke of an offense. Look at the Bears last year and the Ravens for the past 6.

68
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 2:55am

Pat,
I think 1 team get knocked out due to luck and 1 team knocked out due to injuries... similar to last year.

To me it seems like all of Philadelphians yutes are concentrated on the offensive and defensive lines. Speaking as a Redskin fan, Westbrook doesn't scare me like he should, neither does Reggie Brown. I just don't see the offensive weapons to go with McNabb.

Dallas' season depends on keeping Bledsoe upright. Not easy to do when you look at the other teams defenses.

The Giants and Redskins have to stay the course... although you wonder about Barber and Portis taking a beating through the season... were all the RBs banged up from the NFC east last year (save Barber?).

Not so sure backup QB would be Jason Campbell at this point. Todd Collins could be a better fit for that offense. Who knows, because training camp hasn't arrived... but I have absolute faith Gibbs is not going into the season with a scrub at QB. He's paranoid about that type of thing... probably ever since Theissman was put on the path towards becoming a broadcaster.

The only thing we can all agree on is the hatred each team has for the others and it's going to be fun to watch.

69
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 9:52am

Tom Kelso #61:

To say that winning the NFC East depends on the record against the AFC and NFC South is a little off base or going 5-1.

Last year, outside division records were:

Giants 7-3
Eagles 6-4
Cowboys 6-4
Redskins 5-5

But the Eagles weren't "close" to winning the division by being just one game back of the Giants in non-divisional games, nor were the Redskins way out of it, because division records were:

Redskins 5-1
Giants 4-2
Cowboys 3-3
Eagles 0-6

Frankly, last year was really a strange year in the division because of the record of the Eagles (good out of the division, terrible within it). Had they just gone 2-4 in the division (winning, say, the flukey losses in the 2nd match-ups against the Cowboys and Giants), the Redskins would have won the division, and the Cowboys would have been in last place.

The most likely outcome of the division, however, is going to be less parity than last year, because it is highly unlikely the Eagles are going to lose all six division games again. People always read way too much into the last year's results in projecting a coming year.

70
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 9:55am

Speaking as a Redskin fan, Westbrook doesn’t scare me like he should, neither does Reggie Brown. I just don’t see the offensive weapons to go with McNabb.

That's because we're apparently too far removed from 2003. McNabb's always been spreading things around. That's what he does. It's fine. It works.

And why does everyone forget Todd Pinkston, anyway? He had a really good 2004, and that's not even counting all the pass interference penalties he drew. Pinkston's proven himself to be a really good deep threat - even in 2003, he had 5 40+ yard catches (6 in 2004). That's a big part of the offense that was missing last year.

Everyone likes to pretend the Eagles don't have any offense after the disaster that was the latter half of 2005. But it's not like their offense was bad in the first half. You should know that - McNabb put up 300 yards passing against the Redskins without Owens.

If he had actually been able to move without feeling his insides rip apart, they probably would've won that game.

Not so sure backup QB would be Jason Campbell at this point. Todd Collins could be a better fit for that offense

My God! Is Campbell ever going to get a chance? They basically trade the farm to get the guy as if he's in demand by every team in the country, and then leave him at emergency quarterback for two years?

71
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 10:05am

Incidentally, I'd also like to point out that Philly was still the best last place team in the league according to DVOA, and that's with half a season of a disaster on both offense (2nd half of the season) and special teams, which most people forget.

Honestly, in an NFC East thread, I don't get why Philly's being brushed off. The Giants had to go to OT to beat Philly. Dallas needed a late turnover, and so did Washington (twice). Without Owens in all of those games - and with Mike McMahon under center for two of them.

It's not like Philly just got bulldozed over every game. They were like a wounded bear all year.

72
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 10:48am

Re: 71

I think Philly has a good chance in this division. I like Dallas a little more, but I've got a lot of confidence in Reid keeping Philly playing at a very high level.

I think Washington will also be good, but making the playoffs again will depend on Brunell playing as well as last year. I'm skeptical.

I'm guessing the Giants will take a step back. How far are they into the Coughlin shelf life?

73
by Yakuza Rich (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 11:31am

My guess is that Dallas felt that since they kickoff coverage unit has been very good under Parcells the last three years, they could get away with Vandy's kickoffs. They couldn't afford to keep having awful FG kicking, especially since Texas Stadium has been the easiest place to kick field goals at in the last four years. On top of that, there's a decent chance Keith Davis could return to special teams full times, and they added Rocky Boiman for ST help and will return guys like Kevin Burnett, Terrence Copper and Scott Shanle. One guy to watch out for? Jason Hatcher. The guy is a beast.

74
by Drew630 (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 11:48am

Matthew Furtek,
I can see where as a Redskins fan you don't share the same optimism about the Eagles offense that I (as an Eagles fan) does. But I would be really scared if Brunell went down this year. Collins may fit in the system, but if he gets in there, Portis will need to carry the load until teams respect him to connect with the recievers. Not only that, but 2 of your 3 WR's are new to the system and one (Llyod) has loads of talent, but sticks of butter for hands.

BTW, if Collins is a better fit for the system than Campbell, then why did they pay so much to draft him? Just curious.

All in all, I think that every NFC East game is going to be a dogfight, no one should blow out the opposition, which will make this a great season to watch.

75
by Drew630 (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 11:52am

So Stephen Yang, are you a Dallas fan or a Redskins fan? Based on your "analysis" I would go with Dallas, but your incoherent bias against Philly could make you either.

btw, how effective is TO going to be when Bledsoe is backpeddling to throw or getting sandwiched on the turf? Dallas still had O-line issues that will hamper their overall effectiveness.

76
by 72 (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 12:19pm

I agree with post 75, you can have as many superstar receivers as you can get and you can get the best QB available to throw them the ball but if the offensive line cannot be relied on to keep him upright for long enough to throw the football then the offense is going nowhere. With as immobile a QB as Dallas have I cannot see them getting any better without a major improvement in their offensive line.

Every team in this division has potential issues and I belive it will be won by the team who stays healthiest and gets a few breaks along the way. I expect Philadelphia to improve after injuries derailled their season last year outside that all the other teams could (in my opinion) go either way it is far too early to tell what will happen.

That said could we please end all talk of three teams from any one division making the playoffs. This would require the rest of the teams in the conferencve to be equally horrible and I just cannot see it happening.

77
by Steve (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 12:37pm

"That said could we please end all talk of three teams from any one division making the playoffs. This would require the rest of the teams in the conferencve to be equally horrible and I just cannot see it happening."

I agree it's unlikely, but looking at the NFC (and conceding that things can change wildly from year-to-year), I can't see a wild-card coming out of the North or the West. So I'd say there's a decent (10-20%) chance that three teams in the East (or the South) could make the playoffs.

78
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 1:00pm

My guess is that Dallas felt that since they kickoff coverage unit has been very good under Parcells the last three years, they could get away with Vandy’s kickoffs.

Wait, wait: they aren't talking about Vanderjagt actually kicking off, are they? I thought the punter could kick off!

No team can get away with Vanderjagt's kicking. None. His last kickoff bounced to the 35. Philly's long snapper had a longer kickoff. Regardless of how good the kick coverage is, Vanderjagt kicking off = better than average starting field position for opponents.

79
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 1:06pm

Drew,
My pessimism is based largely on the 2 games played last year. Westbrook bottled up (although Reggie Brown went off), followed by a feel good playoff clinching victory in the end of the season (against a McNabb-less undermanned team).

As a fan those are huge victories when you consider recent Redskin success against Philly. McNabb had always been a magician, but in the one game he didn't get it done. More important than actually stopping the Philly offense was breaking the defense down with some good drives and even one of my favorite Portis runs of the season. I've felt like every game against Philadelphia since Spurrier was something like 28-6 or 30-14... or some game against replacements that Ramsey pilfers away with a dumb interception.

Don't get me wrong about Campbell... preseason will tell if he's ready, and all indications are he's going to play a lot in preseason. Last year he was hindered by the whole Ramsey-Brunell competition. Ramsey played long stretches in the 2nd half. Whoever steps in won't be a huge step down from Brunell.

I believe adding Lloyd, Randel-El, and getting a healthy Patten in will go leaps and bounds towards providing Campbell enough weapons to be effective when he comes in. Defensives won't be able to key in on Porits, and even their 4th WR would be a little dangerous. I'm drooling to think about what Saunders can do with a better set of WRs than he had in KC.

Gibbs has always used his talent well. When he had Riggins, the 'Skins were largely a running team. When the Posse came along... their passing game took off (that stats might be surprising).

This might be the most talented offense Gibbs has to work with. Whereas Philadelphia has surrounded a star QB with decent talent, Washington has surrounded a decent QB with all-star talent. It's going to be hard to double team Moss and put 8 men in the box when the 'Skins are running so many 3 WR formations.

Even if Portis or one of the WRs go down, there is more than enough depth to make up for it.

Sure their offensive line is thin, but it was last year as well (Randy Thomas going down really hurt them).

It's going to be fun to watch... even if we're all rooting for different teams and get a bit defensive.

80
by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 1:39pm

We ARE too far removed from 2003, Pat. No one remembers that the Eagles went to the NFC championship game with Pinkston and Mitchell as their starting wide recievers. Brown is definitely an upgrade over Mitchell. Besides that we've got LJ Smith starting at TE instead of Chad Lewis, and a couple of OLine changes. So how is this offence not dangerous? Oh yeah, because all anyone can remember is TO in the last couple of years and now that he's gone suddenly the Eagles have no weapons.

We'll see.

81
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 1:55pm

My pessimism is based largely on the 2 games played last year.

Wait, so why are you pessimistic about the Eagles again? Two struggles against a team that was laden with injuries and still, in the end, Philly was still very in it in the fourth quarter in both games.

Incidentally, as for bottling up Westbrook: 17 runs, 24 yards definitely sucks: but 4 catches, 55 yards is a little more punch. In total, 21 touches, 79 yards isn't fantastic: but in comparison, Portis was 24 touches, 75 yards.

More important than actually stopping the Philly offense was breaking the defense down with some good drives and even one of my favorite Portis runs of the season.

Well, Portis was pretty contained (just like Westbrook was) in the first game. In the second game, though, the defense really was halfhearted. They were missing Sheppard and Kearse, which left them with a weakened secondary and a nonexistent pass rush (as teams managed to get enough scouting info on Cole), which meant all of the linebackers were staying in short coverage.

End result? Well, it worked, for a while. Brunell went 9/25, but Portis got a decent amount of yardage. That being said, though, the Redskins only scored 10 points not off of turnovers, and even those 10 points only came from long bombs (linebackers don't help much there).

I don't really think it was "breaking down" the defense. It was just a defense missing its biggest threat - a pass rush - trying to compensate.

82
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 2:27pm

I think the two most likely teams to fall off in the east are the Giants and the Cowboys. On paper, all the teams are very similiar right now and people are saying the Boys have shored up their O-line - but they just don't have the depth there. Injuries WILL happen, and if any happen to the Cowboys O-line, they might be screwed.

Tiki Barber also isn't going to run for 1800 yards. He had an MVP caliber season last year and to a lot of people, was the real MVP since he didn't gain his yards against Arizona, San Francisco, St Louis (all twice) and Houston. The division is too talented to let him run the way he did last year - let alone factoring in age, carries, and prior cases of this happening. Eli will need to improve to make up for the less production.

I think going into the season, you have to like the Skins or the Eagles. I think Brunell will be on the bench at some point, but I think Jason Campbell will be a very good player. The Eagles have a lot of depth, are young, and its unlikely they're entire team will be injured again.

83
by Drew630 (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 3:04pm

My pessimism is based largely on the 2 games played last year. Westbrook bottled up (although Reggie Brown went off), followed by a feel good playoff clinching victory in the end of the season (against a McNabb-less undermanned team).

Understandable, but remember that the Eagles were in both games till the end, as Pat mentioned, and for that last game half the O-line for the Eagles was rookies filling in.

I believe adding Lloyd, Randel-El, and getting a healthy Patten in will go leaps and bounds towards providing Campbell enough weapons to be effective when he comes in. Defensives won’t be able to key in on Porits, and even their 4th WR would be a little dangerous. I’m drooling to think about what Saunders can do with a better set of WRs than he had in KC.

Gibbs has always used his talent well. When he had Riggins, the ‘Skins were largely a running team. When the Posse came along… their passing game took off (that stats might be surprising).

gibbs is at least learning that Portis isn't Riggins and he can't pound him inside all the time. That being said, I still don't believe that Gibbs used his receivers beyond Moss and Cooley all that well.

This might be the most talented offense Gibbs has to work with. Whereas Philadelphia has surrounded a star QB with decent talent, Washington has surrounded a decent QB with all-star talent. It’s going to be hard to double team Moss and put 8 men in the box when the ‘Skins are running so many 3 WR formations.
Here is where aI disagree most. I don't see him running 3 WR sets, mostly cause I think Lloyd won't be used like a 2, but Randel-El will be. Also, regarding Philly's talent level, it may be decent talent, but there are some all-stars there and the important thing is that they play well as a team. that is the biggest beef I have with the 'Skins is Snyder's annual attempt to build a pro-bowl team.

Even if Portis or one of the WRs go down, there is more than enough depth to make up for it. Yeah, there is decent depth with Betts and the WR's, but if you guys lose a lineman, it would be a big problem.

It’s going to be fun to watch… even if we’re all rooting for different teams and get a bit defensive.

Absolutely. I don't mean to come off sounding offended, nor do I try to offend. This is the only place I can come where fans of all teams for the most part are level headed and realistic. No blind homers and only a few trolls.

84
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 3:26pm

Re: The comedic stylings of Stephen Yang

Wow, you’re a real genius (and apparently so am I since I just posted this over in the NFC North Four Downs thread). Of course the Eagles are going to suck without Owens. How could we have all forgotten all the stud wide receivers McNabb’s been throwing to his entire career.

Pre-Torn Ovaries:

2003
WRs: James Thrash/Todd Pinkston
Record: 12-4; NFC East Champ; NFC Champ. Appearance

2002
WRs: James Thrash/Todd Pinkston
Record: 12-4 (6 games minus McNabb); NFC East Champ; NFC Champ. Appearance

2001
WRs: James Thrash/Todd Pinkston
Record: 11-5; NFC East Champ; NFC Champ. Appearance

2000 (McNabb’s first as a starter)
WRs: Charles Johnson/Torrence Small
Record: 11-5; NFC East Runner-up; Won Wild Card Playoff Game

85
by BobL (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 3:34pm

All that matters is that the Eagles get two shots to destroy T.O.'s career like they did to Irving! LOL!

86
by EaglesFan9877 (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 5:47pm

84 - Don't forget 2004 playoffs w/o TO. Got to the Super Bowl with Pinkston, Mitchell & Lewis. Were the Eagles better with TO - definitely. But they still had enough to get by without him. To overcome the mediocrity at WR, Westbrook needs to stay healthy (maybe 5+ per game for Moats, maybe Buckhalter, or even Staley comes back); AND Donovan needs to run much more than he has the past 2 years - at least enough to keep D's on their guard.

The key for the NFC East this year could be play against the NFC South. Everyone's talking about how tough the East is, rightfully so, but the South is Strong. With NO adding by subtracting (Haslett, Brooks) and by adding (Brees, Bush), there's not an easy game in the bunch. You'd benchmark 2-2 vs that division and anything above or below that may decide your fate...

At least this season will be a ton of fun for the NFC East. A few years back it was getting kind of boring. I can't wait.

87
by Tim L (not verified) :: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 9:06pm

So...how about those draft picks, hmmm?

88
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 2:06am

YOU'RE ALL WRONG. WRONG I SAY! WRONG! THE EAGLES ARE A TERRIBLE TEAM, NOT AS TERRIBLE AS THE 49ERS, BUT THATS A DIFFERENT THREAD. THE COWBOYS ARE GOING TO WIN THIS DIVISION, AND IF THEY DONT, THEN THE REDSKINS SHALL, BUT I DOUBT IT BECAUSE THEY LOST LAVAR ARRINGTON BUT THEY DID ADD ADAM ARCHULETA SO I THINK EVERYTHING WILL WORK OUT FINE FOR THE REDSKINS. IF THE COWBOYS CAN GET A GUARD OR A TACKLE WHO IS WORTH MENTIONING, YOU ARE LOOKING AT A SUPERBOWL TEAM. JUST LOOK AT THE STEELERS, THERE ARE NO PARTICULAR STARS ON THE STEELERS, BUT THEY HAVE NO HOLES IN THEIR OFFENSE, DEFENSE, OR SPECIAL TEAMS. THEY ARE JUST A SOLID TEAM, AND SOLID TEAMS WIN SUPERBOWLS.

THE SEAHAWKS, HOWEVER HAVE A SOLID TEAM, PLUS EXTRAORDINARY TALENT AT RB, S, LB, TO NAME A FEW. I THINK THE SEAHAWKS WILL BE BACK IN THE PLAYOFFS AND POSSIBLY IN THE SUPERBOWL. I THINK THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME WILL BE THE SEAHAWKS VS. THE COWBOYS, WITH TERRELL OWENS EITHER GETTING INJURED OR SHUT DOWN, AND SHAUN ALEXANDER SCORING A FEW TDS, WITH HASSLEBECK WITH A RATING OF 120+

THE EAGLES ARE GETTING EXPONENTIALLY WORSE NEXT YEAR. I GURANTEE IT.

89
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 2:13am

EXPONENTIALLY WORSE

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

90
by Marko (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 2:39am

Stephen Yang, your comments constitute some of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent comments have you been even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone who has read your comments is now dumber for having read them.

91
by Zug Zug (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 3:56am

Re #90: Thats not true! I just finished reading his last post and I don't think I is dummer 4 raeding NEting he rote. Add to dat, um.....1 sec plz kthx....hmm.....

Anywho, as much as it kills me to say this, being a Giants fan and all, the Eagles are certainly not as weak as a lot of people are making them out to be. I can say for certain that with the Giants's schedule, if they win the division they would have earned it.

92
by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 8:59am

Eagles did look like a great draft, and Washington had another of their terrible drafts.

The other picks had a bit more support, as Reed Doughty, Kedric Golston and Kevin Simon were all minor steals on at least one draft board.

According to the boards, Reed Doughty was more a reach than a steal.

93
by Dan Snyder (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 12:15pm

I still have more coaches than you! And with the 10,000 seats we adding to FedEx field this year we'll make a killing selling hubble telescope replicas to see the field (from around the large support structures).

94
by Drew630 (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 12:16pm

Re: #90 Well put, love the Billy Madison reference. Btw, FO can we get a Stephen Yang version of the troll template to use? If I wasn't swamped at work I'd do it myself, but I need something in call caps that would allow me to name great players on a team, reference a team that isn't built the same way, then use the circular logic to say that the first great team is going to lose because they are built using stars. Oh and the Eagles have to suck apparently.
Follow all that? :)

95
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 12:24pm

Re: 88
THE COWBOYS ARE GOING TO WIN THIS DIVISION, AND IF THEY DONT, THEN THE REDSKINS SHALL, BUT I DOUBT IT BECAUSE THEY LOST LAVAR ARRINGTON BUT THEY DID ADD ADAM ARCHULETA SO I THINK EVERYTHING WILL WORK OUT FINE FOR THE REDSKINS.

That sentence ran on for so long that I ran out of breath even though I was reading it silently. Heavens, you don't so much speak the language as you chew on it and spit it out. Look, here's a shiny sixpence if you'll keep your mouth shut and go away.

96
by Steve (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 12:51pm

"JUST LOOK AT THE STEELERS, THERE ARE NO PARTICULAR STARS ON THE STEELERS"

I can't believe I'm actually responding to this (if just reading a Stephen Yang post makes one dumber, what of responding of one?), but anyway....

If, at a minimum, Roethlesberger, Ward and Polamalu (not to mention Faneca, Farrior, Porter) aren't "stars", I'm not sure what the term means. Once you define a "star" as one of the 5 or so most headline grabbing players in the league (Manning, Brady, Moss, TO, Favre, maybe Vick/McNabb/Ray Lewis), you really have to include those guys. To put it another way, if you were to put together a list of the 50 "best" players in the NFL (to the extent that comparing players across different positions is a worthwhile exercise), I'd be shocked not to see those three not on there. Well, maybe if *you* were putting together the list I wouldn't be, but let's assume someone with a basic level of football knowledge was putting together the list.

97
by Steve (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 12:53pm

"Once you define a “star�"

Once = Unless

98
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 1:04pm

He called Pittsburgh players underrated and good, get him!

99
by Steve (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 1:22pm

Re: 98, FYI, I'm not a Steelers fan. I'm simply saying that the adage that stars are overrated and all you need is a solid "team" to win Super Bowls is not really borne out by the facts. The clear majority of Super Bowl winners featured at least a couple of players who were among the best in the league at their position. Like I said, perhaps they're not "stars" if you're talking about publicity, but that doesn't make Richard Seymour, Jonathan Ogden or Derrick Brooks any less valuble (to use three recent examples from SB winners).

You could make the case that the 01 Pats didn't really have any stars and I'd probably agree with you, but time has shown that they really did have several great players, they just weren't recognized as such at the time.

100
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 1:46pm

Like I said, perhaps they’re not “stars� if you’re talking about publicity

Even that doesn't stack up with regard to the Steelers. The Jerome Bettis butt-kissing and Roethlisberger marketing was at insane levels last year in the media. I think it's safe to say that there were quite a few "public" stars on the Steelers.

101
by Rodrigo (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 2:03pm

RE: 93
Have you ever been to FedEX field? There isn't a bad seat in the house. I've forgotten my glasses and still been able to see from the upper deck.

102
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 2:29pm

Firstly, the "steelers are underrated" comment was in reference to an article written back in 04 on this site where MDS praised the members of the Steelers defense, which cause a backlash of vitrol from many self-proclaimed Steeler fans.
Secondly, the 01 Pats had a half-dozen players who were in the top five at thier position, and at least two legitimate "stars." This isn't actually refuting anything Steve said, but I just had to say it anyways.

103
by David (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 2:59pm

Dude these are the playoff teams
(i always get at leaast 11 out of 12 right)

New England
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis
Denver
Kansas city
Baltimore

New york
minnesota
carolina
seattle
dallas
arizona

last year i was 12 for 12

104
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 3:05pm

Kansas City? Minnesota? No Philly? I think you're not going to go 11/12 this time.

105
by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 3:45pm

RE: 9

McIntosh cost them 2 2nds and a 6th. Ridiculous. He was not worth that.

106
by Drew630 (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 3:45pm

New England
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis
Denver

Kansas city - You think that without Al Saunders and Vermeil they can outlast Martyball?

Baltimore - you're pinning a lot of hope on McNair....

New york
minnesota - lol, um no.
carolina
seattle
dallas
arizona

interesting choices. i think ARI and STL are a toss up for 2nd in the West.

And I would love to see Miami challenge the Pats, but that is more of a wish than anything else.

107
by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 3:49pm

RE: 20

The nfc east is a tough division but i think i know exactly what will happen.

You know exactly what will happen? I'd be willing to wager a lot of money on the stuff you said NOT happening.

108
by james (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 5:46pm

The average NFL team scores 20 pts a game therefore a....
Def win = 20 pts or less
Off win = 20 pts or more

Last Year
Philly-7 def wins,8 off wins...neither unit got much better but, they have a favorable schedule with their last place finish
Dallas-11 def wins,10 off wins....both units seemed to have improved this off season
Washington-11 def wins,8 off wins....Gregg William's defense is the best in the division no matter who he plugs in until proven otherwise, improvements at wr position and new coach enough to spark a better offense?????Probably didnt get worse
NYG- 8 def wins,13 off wins...offense = tiki barber = old, is Eli good enough not to need him....This is an 8-8 team if they dont have a spectacular offense

Not going to far out on a limb, I would have to call Dallas the favorite to win the division. They were right there last year and have gotten better with the kicking game, and at WR.

I think this division will be lucky to have another playoff team. If only because the other teams will beat up on each other too much.

The wild card is the Redskins Passing game.

The Redskins have the best oline, the best wr core, and the best defense IMO. If they produce in the passing game then they have the best offense to go along with the best defense. They went 5-1 in division play last year with only one steal. They went 0-4 in the AFC with several unlucky breaks. Was that a ceiling 10-6 year or the floor?

As a Redskins homer I'm praying for the passing game to come along but am not counting any chickens. I think the boys are the best team going into the season.

109
by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 8:59pm

RE: 41

mcnabb is a one man show! and if he gets injured, POOP, 0-16 the eagles shall go.

I guarantee the Eagles will not go 0-16.

Hey, where did we get this ying-yang? Can we mark "RETURN TO SENDER"?

110
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 9:13pm

Philly-7 def wins,8 off wins…neither unit got much better but, they have a favorable schedule with their last place finish

Whew! It's good of you to tell us that neither unit got much better.

Otherwise we might've been fooled by the fact that of the starters by the end of the season last year, on defense, 5/11 will be different, and on offense, 7/11 will be different. Crazy us, thinking that Pro Bowl players will be an improvement over backups and first-year rookies.

111
by Mike (not verified) :: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 9:18pm

RE: 108

Last Year
Philly-7 def wins,8 off wins…neither unit got much better

I know this has been said over and over again. But I think it has been made pretty clear that /both/ units have gotten much better! From what I hear, Donovan McNabb, David Akers, Brian Westbrook, Darwin Walker, Sheldon Brown, Javon Kearse, Jerome McDougle, Dirk Johnson, and Dexter Wynn are /all/ better, while Todd Pinkston, Lito Sheppard, Tra Thomas, Hank Fraley, and Thomas Tapeh expect to be all better by training camp.

This list obviously doesn't include any players who managed to stay /healthy/ last season, some of whom (mainly last year's rookie class) I expect will show at least moderate improvement from last year to this year.

112
by mattman (not verified) :: Thu, 06/22/2006 - 12:07am

Mike, I love the Eagles as much as anyone, but waving Dexter Wynn and Thomas Tapeh in the faces of doubters isn't exactly making a strong case.

113
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Thu, 06/22/2006 - 1:08am

OK, OBVIOUSLY A LOT OF PEOPLE DOUBT MY REASONING. UFORTUNATELY I CAN ONLY POST ONCE OR TWICE A DAY, BUT HERE I GO. BTW THE CAPS JUST MAKES ME HEARD AND IS MORE CONVIENIENT SO I DONT HAVE TO KEEP PRESSING THE SHIFT KEY.

NEXT, THE COWBOYS ARE WINNING THIS DIVISION. END OF STORY. TERRELL OWENS IS A WINNER, HE WILL MAKE THE COWBOYS A SUPERBOWL TEAM.

NEXT, THE VIKINGS ARE A HORRIBLE TEAM. THERES NO WAY THEY'RE MAKING THE PLAYOFFS, KANSAS CITY HAS A SHOT, BUT ARIZONA DOES NOT. ARIZONA IS A GOOD TEAM, THAT MADE A LOT OF IMPROVEMENTS LAST OFFSEASON, BUT THEY NEED TO MAKE THAT LINE A LITTLE BETTER, AND MAKE THEIR DEFENSE A LITTLE BETTER AND THEY WILL BE A PLAYOFF TEAM.

THE RAVENS ARE NOT GOING TO BE IN THE PLAYOFFS. THEIR OFFENSE IS WEAK AND ONE MAN ISNT GOING TO CHANGE EVERYTHING. STEVE MCNAIR IS NOT THAT GOOD, AND HE IS WELL PAST HIS PRIME.

WHAT I SAID ABOUT THE STEELERS IS TRUE.
THEY HAVE NO REAL STARS, JUST A BUNCH OF VERY GOOD PLAYERS, BUT NO STARS, AND NO HOLES EITHER.

BEN ROETHLISBERGER, HINES WARD, WILLIE PARKER, ALAN FANECA, AND JAMES FARRIOR DIDNT MAKE THE PRO BOWL. ONLY THREE STEELERS MADE THE PRO BOWL: JEFF HARTINGS, JOEY PORTER, CASEY HAMPTON,(WHO WAS ONLY THERE AS A INJURY REPLACEMENT) TROY POLOMALU. OH AND MAY I MENTION HARTINGS, AND PORTER, AND HAMPTON TOO WERE BOTH RESERVES??

POLOMALU IS A PRETTY GOOD PLAYER AND I DO CONSIDER HIM ONE OF THE BEST SAFETIES, BUT HE IS THE ONLY STEELER I CONSIDER A STAR.

OH AND I THINK MIAMI IS GOING TO BE IN THE PLAYOFFS, THEY HAVE A GOOD QB, GOOD WR, AND OVERALL A SOLID TEAM.

114
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 06/22/2006 - 1:22am

Okay, now I'm definitely convinced there's no reason not to have an all caps filter. It's either spam, or someone who wants to use a cheap gimmick to be heard rather than actual interesting points.

115
by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 06/22/2006 - 1:31am

BTW THE CAPS JUST MAKES ME HEARD AND IS MORE CONVIENIENT SO I DONT HAVE TO KEEP PRESSING THE SHIFT KEY.

No, it just makes you sound like the [redacted] that you are.

This is sheer lunacy.

116
by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Thu, 06/22/2006 - 2:05am

Re 115, Sid, if that 'sentence' you quoted didn't make you laugh you are a robot. A robot incapable of crying at Steel Magnolias.

117
by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 06/22/2006 - 2:08am

No, of course it made me laugh. But he didn't mean it to be humorous.

118
by Zug Zug (not verified) :: Thu, 06/22/2006 - 3:13am

re: 116 Another robot on this board! After the whole robo-team debates I think we will need to move this forum to the AV room after chess club.

119
by BobL (not verified) :: Thu, 06/22/2006 - 8:32am

RE: 113 "THE COWBOYS ARE WINNING THIS DIVISION. END OF STORY. TERRELL OWENS IS A WINNER, HE WILL MAKE THE COWBOYS A SUPERBOWL TEAM."

Yang, Your lack of football knowledge is only surpassed by your lack of typing skills and grasp of the English language...LOL!

T.O. has been in the league since 1996...have any idea how many Superbowl rings he wears?

He’ll be in a wheelchair way before Superbowl Sunday, most likely October 8th!

120
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 06/22/2006 - 10:15am

Re: Stephen Yang — 6/22/2006 @ 12:08 am (NFC East Four Downs Thread)
NEXT, THE VIKINGS ARE A HORRIBLE TEAM. THERES NO WAY THEY’RE MAKING THE PLAYOFFS, KANSAS CITY HAS A SHOT, BUT ARIZONA DOES NOT.

Re: Stephen Yang — 6/22/2006 @ 12:28 am (NFC North Four Downs Thread)
BUT THE CARDINALS DEFINATELY HAVE A SHOT AT THE PLAYOFFS WITH EDGERRIN JAMES RUNNING THE BALL.

Did I miss some huge trade that took place early this morning???

121
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Thu, 06/22/2006 - 10:27am

It's fun to read Mr. Yang's post with a "Billy Mays Filter".

122
by Ray (not verified) :: Thu, 06/22/2006 - 10:57am

As soon as I see an all-caps post, I just skip it. It's not worth the headache. I guess it's not a bad thing. All-caps posting is a great way for someone to inform me up front that their post is worthless and I can save valubable minutes of my life by ignoring it.

123
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Thu, 06/22/2006 - 11:09am

arrg. you guys have forced me to this. now instead of all capital, its all tiny. thanks to you guys not wanting to listen to my keen ideas. arizona does have a shot in the playoffs, but its not a very big one. seattle is definately going to win the division, without a doubt.

terrell owens is a great wide receiver, and just because he doesnt have a superbowl ring, doesnt mean that he sucks and is unworthy. he is getting dallas into the playoffs.

124
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Thu, 06/22/2006 - 11:12am

You forgot to sign that one "William Yin".

125
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 06/22/2006 - 11:30am

terrell owens is a great wide receiver, and just because he doesnt have a superbowl ring

No, but the fact that he's been in the league since 1996 means that he's old.

I really wouldn't be surprised if this was the year that the shine started wearing off of Terrell Owens. DVOA wasn't too keen on Owens last year, and he was only ever playing with McNabb throwing to him, and I don't buy that he would perform half-assed just because he's pissed. He's too competitive for that.

126
by Bob Howes (not verified) :: Thu, 06/22/2006 - 1:13pm

I was under the impression that the Redskins record against the NFC East was 5-1 last year. What I'm hearing is that two me-first guys named Terrel and Lavar are going to change all that?

127
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 06/22/2006 - 1:36pm

Re:126

IIRC, like three of those five wins (maybe it was only two, but still...) were miracles. Sure, a win is a win. But if you're going to look at a team's record to try and extrapolate how they'll fare this coming season you also have to look at how that record was achieved.

128
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 06/22/2006 - 2:17pm

I'd say three were really lucky breaks - the first Dallas win, and both Philly wins. The other wins were pretty solid.

Here "lucky" = "hinged on basically one or two very rare plays". I think it's fair to say that if you change one play that happens very rarely to a play that happens often and the team goes from winning to losing, that's a lucky win.

That's not to discredit the Redskins at all, but the Atlanta Falcons can tell you what happens if you rely on rare events happening to you to win.

129
by JasonK (not verified) :: Thu, 06/22/2006 - 4:17pm

I’d say three were really lucky breaks - the first Dallas win, and both Philly wins. The other wins were pretty solid.

(And the 1 loss was an extraordinarily solid 36-0.)

130
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Thu, 06/22/2006 - 8:27pm

the eagles arent going to do good. period. the giants, redskins, and cowboys are going to do better. this is why the nfc east is the strongest division. it features 3 playoff teams, and one almost playoff team. (eagles)

131
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 06/22/2006 - 10:28pm

the eagles arent going to do good. period.

Whew! Can't argue with that argument. Rock solid deduction, there.

132
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 1:44am

look. the eagles have no RB, and no WR. brian westbrook cant carry the load!

brian dawkins is getting old. the eagles are decomposing.

this bird has flown.

133
by TGT (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 8:50am

"It begs the question whether, for the veteran minimum, a 50-year-old Eddie Murray might not be a better value. Granted, it doesn’t beg very hard."

Begging the question does not mean that someone should ask the question. Begging the question is an informal logical fallacy caused wherein the point you are trying to prove is assumed in your argument. I thought the Football Outsiders were supposed to be more informed than the Terry Bradshaw's of the world.

Otherwise, that was a great article.

134
by Sporran (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 9:02am

I just want to thank Stephen Yang for the he's provided to this thread.

135
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 9:14am

Re: 133

And I thought the Football Outsiders readers were supposed to be intelligent enough to comprehend a joke when they read one.

Otherwise, great post.

136
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 9:27am

look. the eagles have no RB, and no WR. brian westbrook cant carry the load!
The Eagles went to the NFC Championship in the 2003 postseason, with worse receivers than they have now, and Westbrook injured.

That doean't mean they'll do so this year, but McNabb and Reid have also taken a collection of inanimate carbon rods at receiver to the NFC Championship after 2001 and 2002, and went to Superbowl XXXIX with T.O. splitting time between a hyperbaric chamber and cheering from the sidlines as Fabulous Freddie Mitchell & Co. won the playoff games.

Brian Dawkins may be getting old, but he's still quite effective, and the rest of the team is fairly young.

Reports of their decomposition are greatly exaggerated.

137
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 10:18am

look. the eagles have no RB, and no WR. brian westbrook cant carry the load!

Yeah, because no team has ever rode its defense to the Super Bowl with a lackluster offense.

Oh, wait...

brian dawkins is getting old. the eagles are decomposing.

1: Dawkins made the Pro Bowl last year as an alternate. Clearly the coaches and players still think he's fine.

2: Dawkins is a little less than two months older than Terrell Owens, but Owens will carry the Cowboys to the playoffs, and Dawkins will break down? Even though safety is a position where speed (which you lose with age) is much less important than wide receiver? That's some consistent logic right there.

3: You can name one player on their defense who's getting old (because, uh, there's no one else even near Dawkins), and the entire defense is decomposing?

Yeah, I'm missing something.

138
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 10:21am

Brian Dawkins may be getting old, but he’s still quite effective, and the rest of the team is fairly young.

Defense is the youngest in the NFC East, by a wide margin.

Offense is young too, although the Redskins have a freaking young offense. Their defense is another story.

139
by Sporran (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 10:56am

My last post should have read "I'd like to thank Stephen Wang for the [b]humor[/b] he's provided to this thread."

140
by jcabana (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 12:32pm

What Eagles fans seem to be conveniently forgetting in their analysis of the glory days is how they managed to get to those title games. They did it during a period when the rest of their division was GARBAGE. Easy to win the division and have a shot in the playoffs when you're going against Schotty, Spurrier, Dave Campo, Parcells in his first year back, Fassel when his team gave up on him, and Coughlin before his team bought into what he was doing. I'll give them credit for what they did after making the playoffs, but let's face it - their road to get there wasn't exactly all that daunting the past few years.

The division ain't like that anymore. Reid actually has some coaching competition. The talent level of the competition has grown. And the Eagles' attempts to keep up in the arms race only worked for one year, then backfired last year thanks to typical T.O. crap and Kearse injuries.

Can the Eagles rebound this year? Sure they can. But please, don't look at their poo-poo WRs and lack of a power runner and say "Well, they did it before with crappy WRs, so they can do it again." That was then. This is now. And with those wideouts and that running game, they have to hope for some surprise performances to go from playoff contender to SB contender.

141
by jcabana (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 12:43pm

I'm not trying to deliberately tweak Eagles fans. All I'm saying is that, on paper, they seem to have the most question marks. The Giants' question seems to be Eli and the secondary. The Redskins? Brunell and depth. The Cowboys? Offensive line and secondary.

But the Eagles? Wide receivers, o-line, d-line and 1-2 LB spots. They lacked a lot of things last year, and it wasn't just due to injuries; they had one of the lowest sack totals in the NFL, and without their typically-fierce pass rush the secondary got exposed. Losing Burgess and Simon hurt a LOT more than anyone anticipated.

Now the question is: will the Eagles' draft class pick up the slack? Because their FA signings probably won't be enough. If it does, the Eagles will be golden. If not, it'll be another long year. I think a conference title game loss is the absolute ceiling for the Eagles this year -- and that's only if everything goes perfectly. By contrast, I can see all the other NFC East teams having a shot at the SB title if everything works out for them.

142
by Sporran (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 1:21pm

Philly won their division from 2001-2004.

2001 DVOA Rank - 2
2002 DVOA Rank - 3
2003 DVOA Rank - 9
2004 DVOA Rank - 4

Yeah, the only reason why they made the NFCCG and Superbowl is because the rest of their division sucked.

143
by jcabana (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 1:31pm

Spare me. Look at those coaches. You think those coaches were a match for Reid, fine. You think that division was so great, particularly in 2003, 2004 and 2005, fine. Be my guest. Spurrier, Fassel and Campo were terrific. Gibbs and Parcells needed no adjustment time. Yeah, right.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist - or one statistical measure that is far from the be-all-end-all of football analysis -- to figure out that Reid was far and away the class of coaching in the division before the rest caught up.

I never said it was the ONLY reason the Eagles made those title games. I said that it made the road to get there a hell of a lot easier. So stop putting words in my mouth and face the facts.

144
by jcabana (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 1:33pm

Sorry, I meant to say 2001, 2002 and 2003.

145
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 1:55pm

They did it during a period when the rest of their division was GARBAGE.

Whew! Yeah, Parcells in his first year back - man, the Cowboys were terrible then. It wasn't like they went 10-6, split the series with Philly, and made the playoffs or anything.

But the Eagles? Wide receivers, o-line, d-line and 1-2 LB spots

You can stop at wide receiver.

Offensive line? Injuries caused problems last year, but that was a benefit rather than a drawback: it meant that the backups got properly evaluated in game time. Which means now they're going into next season with 5 experienced starting offensive linemen, 2 more who have started (recently) as well, and 2 high draft picks. What're the questions there? "Will William Thomas make the Pro Bowl again under his new name?"

Defensive line? I'll agree there are questions as to how they'll perform, but it's not like they haven't done enough to address the situation. Major free agency acquisition, top draft pick, and guys coming back from injury. Yeah, I think it's safe to say it's reasonable to expect them to be fine there. It's not like Philly sucks at defensive line evaluation.

Linebackers: Enough with the criticism of Dhani Jones. He was fine. He wasn't the problem. Total number of sacks from the SAM position since 2000: five. Hint: it's not the SAM's job to sack the QB. As for the WILL linebacker, there are three possible starters there: McCoy, Simoneau, or Barber. Any one of them would do fine - WILL's not that critical anyway.

Losing Burgess and Simon hurt a LOT more than anyone anticipated.

No. Having McDougle get shot was what hurt a lot more. McDougle had looked great in minicamp, and then was shot just before training camp started. Imagine losing a starting defensive end a month from now. Find me a team that wouldn't get hurt by that. That, and Darwin Walker wasn't anywhere near healthy most of the year, and you've got a situation where half the defensive line was ineffective.

146
by C (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 2:48pm

Losing Burgess hurt. It's hard to criticize the Eagles for letting him go, however. He had serious injuries in 3 of 4 seasons and the Raiders just threw insane money at him. The Eagles were wose last year for not having him and the defensive line's lack of pressure on the QB was the number one problem the team had last year, except for injuries. I'm not prepared to say that McDougle is anything special at all until I see him produce on the field. That being said, their D Lineman for this year are: Kearse, M. Patterson, Bunkley, D. Howard, Trent Cole and Darwin Walker. That's a group that has potential to be good to very good. They have added depth at LB, with S. Barber and Gocong, although LB is not very important within the scheme.

I think they are a playoff team this year, probably by wildcard. I think they win it all in 2007-8.

147
by jcabana (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 2:54pm

So Parcells had a first good year back, making it two good teams in the division. Congratulations, you win the prize. I notice you said nothing about how bad the other two teams were, or about how the 'Boys had average seasons after that first one.

There's no need to get defensive. I've given the Eagles all the credit they deserve for accomplishing what they did in recent years (particularly in the playoffs), and for all the suffering they went through last season where nothing went right.

Regardless, I stand by what I said about their weaknesses. After last season, those units are unproven. McDougle has yet to prove himself over the course of a regular season. Perhaps all their additions and recoveries will take them from worst in the league in sacks to near the top again. Perhaps it was just injuries that created the falloff in offensive line play. We just don't know yet. We won't know until they put the pads on and play some games.

Look, you could be completely right about their OL and DL. But until I actually see some EVIDENCE ON THE FIELD DURING THE SEASON, all you're doing is speculating. That's fair. You can "expect" anything you want to from the DL, linbackers and OL. All the Eagles have to do now is execute it.

Like I said, if everything breaks right for the Eagles, they will probably end up in the NFC title game. Remember back when the Redskins upgraded their defensive line with Stubblefield and Wilkinson? Remember when the Falcons got Peerless Price? When the Chiefs got Johnnie Morton? Remember how that worked out? Sometimes, even past production on a different pro team isn't enough to project how a player will do once they move and the season starts.

Every year, there are teams that perform above and below expectations. Almost any team could end up in either category this coming season. The Eagles are defiintely one of those teams in the middle. As is the rest of the division...but since the Eagles finished at the bottom last season with the flaws I listed, they get the lowest benefit of the doubt.

148
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 3:21pm

the ‘Boys had average seasons after that first one.

"Seasons" would imply more than one. They had one. 2004. They were better than average in 2005.

I notice you said nothing about how bad the other two teams were

Would you like me to point out that the Giants also went 10-6 and split the series with Philly in 2002? So let's recap: 2001: Philly, 3 mediocre teams, 1 bad team. 2002: Philly, 1 good team, 1 mediocre team, 1 bad team. 2003: Philly, 1 good team, 2 bad teams. 2004: Philly, 3 bad teams.

That's not what I would consider "garbage." Seems pretty normal.

Regardless, I stand by what I said about their weaknesses. After last season, those units are unproven.

You might want to reread what I said: the offensive line is proven. Was it bad in 2004? Uh, no. The offensive line in 2004 had a nice Every Play Counts about it entitled "He's Got All Kinds Of Time". The version in 2005 will be strictly better.

The defensive line is where they've spent the most effort in the offseason. Are there questions there? Sure. But they've done plenty to address them. It's not like Washington's defensive line depth, the Giants at defensive tackle, or the Cowboys offensive line. (Philly's worry of that variety are their WRs).

Criticizing the Eagles defensive line is like criticizing the Cowboys wide receivers. "Oh, yeah, you went out and got one of the best receivers in the game. But how do you know he's going to work out?"

McDougle has yet to prove himself over the course of a regular season

McDougle's a backup now. They went out and got Darren Howard, who proved himself pretty freaking good in New Orleans. And if you'd like to point out that Howard didn't have a good year last year, feel free - neither did Owens, and I think most people are content to believe that Owens will perform at a high level in Dallas.

all you’re doing is speculating.

Unless I missed something, we're all speculating. Terrell Owens could have the worst year of his life. Eli Manning could throw 40 interceptions. Brunell could explode during a two-QB trick play and take out Jason Campbell as well.

Philly wasn't even nearly as bad as you made them out to be last year:

Perhaps all their additions and recoveries will take them from worst in the league in sacks to near the top again.

Philly had 31 sacks last year, making them 26th in the league, not last. The worst team in the league last year in terms of sacks (adjusted for number of passing attempts) was Denver.

149
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 3:43pm

I’m not prepared to say that McDougle is anything special at all until I see him produce on the field.

I wasn't suggesting he is, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was. The previous suggestion was "Losing Simon and Burgess hurt a lot more than anybody anticipated" - and that's where McDougle comes into play. It wasn't Burgess being lost to free agency that caused N.D. Kalu to be the nonexistent pass rush force of the first half of the season. It was McDougle getting shot.

Losing Simon didn't hurt much at all. Patterson had a perfectly good year.

Now, I'll admit that losing Burgess hurt in the sense that he's pretty much proved that he is one hell of a DE, but losing him wasn't the cause of the problems at DE.

150
by jcabana (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 4:14pm

Again with the nitpicking -- yet at the end, you basically end up repeating the same points I made, casting them as somehow being in opposition to what I said.

"Would you like me to point out that the Giants also went 10-6 and split the series with Philly in 2002? So let’s recap: 2001: Philly, 3 mediocre teams, 1 bad team. 2002: Philly, 1 good team, 1 mediocre team, 1 bad team. 2003: Philly, 1 good team, 2 bad teams. 2004: Philly, 3 bad teams.

That’s not what I would consider “garbage.� Seems pretty normal."

Might I also point out -- yet again -- that the Eagles had BY FAR the best coaches during that span, besides Parcells? How is this even debatable? How can you not acknowledge this as the biggest reason for the Eagles' success? Even my friends who are Eagles fans accept this. It's a good thing. Why can't Eagles fans just accept this as a compliment and move on?

Plenty of mediocre to above-average teams with mediocre coaches finish seasons 10-6 and above. Exhibit A: Herm Edwards. Exhibit B: Schotty, particularly after he left the Browns. Which do you think is the better bet: a 10-6 team led by Schotty, Fassel, Turner or Coughlin? Or a team with the same record led by Reid? The Eagles coaching staff alone made them EASILY the class of the division. And they had arguably the single best player in the division, at the most important position (McNabb) to boot. But once they birds ran up against comparable talent and coaching (Gruden, Martz(?), Fox), things didn't go so smoothly.

There's more to evaluating a team than won-loss records - but of course, the Eagles dominated there too during that span. I'm not going to bother finding out strength of schedule or injury hitsories during that period; if you want to, be my guest.

You might want to reread what I said: the offensive line is proven. Was it bad in 2004? Uh, no. The offensive line in 2004 had a nice Every Play Counts about it entitled “He’s Got All Kinds Of Time�. The version in 2005 will be strictly better.

And you might want to re-read what I said. I don't care what they did in 2004, because I saw the debacle that was last year. Could they improve? Sure. WILL they improve? We'll see. But they've got to show me that last year was a fluke, and not the beginning of a trend. Those draft picks and reserves have to perform, or the show stops before it starts. Other teams in the division have more proven talent at those spots, aside from the Cowboys' o-line.

"The defensive line is where they’ve spent the most effort in the offseason. Are there questions there? Sure. But they’ve done plenty to address them. It’s not like Washington’s defensive line depth, the Giants at defensive tackle, or the Cowboys offensive line. (Philly’s worry of that variety are their WRs).

Criticizing the Eagles defensive line is like criticizing the Cowboys wide receivers. “Oh, yeah, you went out and got one of the best receivers in the game. But how do you know he’s going to work out?�

So Darren Howard and some draft picks is approximately the same as adding T.O. to Terry Glenn and Jason Witten? Don't make me laugh. Oh wait, too late. T.O. had a good to great 2005 during the time he was actually on the field. The Eagles decided not to play him any more. That can't be held against T.O.'s numbers. A strawman argument -- and a weak one at that.

D-line is not WR, where one player completely transforms your unit. Not usually, anyway. There are exceptions -- but not in this case. Darren Howard is really, really good. But he's not so amazing that his presence changes everything - which might be one reason why the Saints' all-around defense was so mediocre last season, despite his presence.

Unless I missed something, we’re all speculating. Terrell Owens could have the worst year of his life. Eli Manning could throw 40 interceptions. Brunell could explode during a two-QB trick play and take out Jason Campbell as well.

Which is exactly my point, of course. My other point was that the Eagles have slightly more ground to make up than the three teams who finished above them do. Most would call this a pretty reasonable conclusion, based on the events of last season. Then there's you.

"Philly had 31 sacks last year, making them 26th in the league, not last. The worst team in the league last year in terms of sacks (adjusted for number of passing attempts) was Denver."

Oh, so they were 26th! Wow. My bad. That's soooo much better than 32nd, I'm surprised they didn't make the playoffs! Again with the nitpicking. Sorry - I actually knew they weren't at the bottom, and I should have said MONG THE worst in the league in sacks." If I'd been wrong and they'd ranked, say, 20th, I'd understand your gripe. But proving that they were really bad and not the worst doesn't really amount to all that much, does it?

Enough with the nitpicking. I've given a lot of credit to the Eagles. Props, even. I'm just injecting a dose of reality into the fanboy predictions. Many other birds fans would agree that, based on their finish last season, the Eagles have to show that the events of 2005 were a blip rather than a trend.

That's what usually happens when your team completely implodes, both on and off the field. And make no mistake: despite all your excuses, justifications and legit reasons, that's exactly what happened to the 2005 Eagles.

They have to prove the issues were a sign of just wrong place, wrong time rather than an indictment of Reid's management style, Reid's personnel philosophy and McNabb's leadership. That we won't have former players getting into fistfights on behalf of current players after accusing them of faking injuries. That the Eagles' lack of a power runner and lack of significant WR play doesn't become a greater handicap, because the teams in their division aren't as easily exploited by the Eagles' west coast offense and McNabb's scrambling as they used to be.

People who love the Eagles are asking the same questions I am. Come September, we'll start to see what the answers are.

151
by jcabana (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 4:20pm

I'm really not trying to pick a fight with Pat, or any other Eagles fan. All that needs to be said, IMHO, is that the Eagles have more to prove than the rest of the division because they finished last, and because of HOW they finished last.

Last season was a complete disaster, both physically and psychologically. Can the Eagles reverse everything they need to reverse to have a shot at the Super Bowl in just one offseason? Crazier things have happened, but we'll see. The other teams? Though their wheels could also fall off just as spectacularly, they simply don't have as much making up to do. For now.

152
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 4:48pm

Might I also point out — yet again — that the Eagles had BY FAR the best coaches during that span, besides Parcells? How is this even debatable?

Because the other teams did pretty decently on their own? I don't subscribe to the "good coaches kick bad coaches butts" theory.

I don’t care what they did in 2004, because I saw the debacle that was last year.

Last year was last year. When you make any predictions about this year, you're making a reasonable extrapolation from previous years given the offseason. As far as I can tell, you're totally focused on the latter half of last year, and completely neglecting the offseason (i.e. the fact that injured players recovered).

Heck, the Philly offensive line was good at the beginning of last year. Is that recent enough? And this year's version will be strictly better than the beginning of last year's version.

T.O. had a good to great 2005 during the time he was actually on the field.

DVOA says he was akin to Anquan Boldin. That's 'good'. It's not 'good to great'. Same deal with Howard. And with regards to a defensive line, adding Howard (who, in 2004, had close to half of New Orleans' sacks by himself) seems not so far from adding Owens, except in the fact that the public fawns over Owens.

D-line is not WR, where one player completely transforms your unit. Not usually, anyway.

Wait, then why did it matter that they lost Derrick Burgess? If losing Derrick Burgess 'hurt them more than anyone (also known as you) could anticipate', why wouldn't gaining Howard 'help them more than you could anticipate'?

I don't get your point. Defensive line can, and has been, changed by the presence of one player quite often. It's easy - lose strength on the left side, and they double team the right side. Not many defensive ends can beat two, three guys on him.

which might be one reason why the Saints’ all-around defense was so mediocre last season, despite his presence.

Or it could be the fact that Howard only played a few games last year, and was injured? Or possibly the fact that the rest of the defense was pretty freaking awful?

I’m surprised they didn’t make the playoffs!

You do realize that the team ranked 32nd did, in fact, make the playoffs. All the way to the AFC Championship, in fact.

Most would call this a pretty reasonable conclusion, based on the events of last season. Then there's you

Actually, most people here (other than a few fans of other NFC East fans) seem to be agreeing with me.

Philly in the first half of last year was still a very good team. Look at the Week 8 DVOA rankings, for instance, where Philly's 14th: and that's with a huge -11% ST DVOA (from Akers getting injured) yanking them down.

You seem to be judging them by the second half of the year, where they were extraordinarily bad (see the Playoff DVOA rankings: note the weighted offensive DVOA of ~-30%). But the team that played in the second half of 2005 isn't going to be playing in the first week of 2006.

153
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 4:49pm

Actually, amusingly, by the last DVOA rankings of 2005, Dallas was worse than Philly. Wow.

154
by jcabana (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 5:19pm

Pat, I think we're really disagreeing over not much of anything. If you don't subscribe to the coaching thing, fine.

Explain the Patriots, then. Actually, forget I said that - we'll pretent that the Patriots routinely field the most talented team in the league, and the coaching isn't nearly as important as I say it is. Heck, it's not like the Patriots had any injury problems last year. Oh wait...

As for the Broncos, that was a fluke in just about every way possible. I haven't looked it up, but the Broncos were very good against the run and very sound in pass defense. Usually, teams that have no pass rush at all don't make the title games. Watching both the Broncos and the Eagles last year, I'd say the Broncos had no sacks but created decent pressure at times - while the Ealges lacked sacks AND pressure. But hey, let's throw my amateur analysis out the window: if you want to use the Broncos as the one example that defeats the stereotype, again, be my guest. But I daresay that's not the norm.

Wait, then why did it matter that they lost Derrick Burgess? If losing Derrick Burgess ‘hurt them more than anyone (also known as you) could anticipate’, why wouldn’t gaining Howard ‘help them more than you could anticipate’?

I don’t get your point. Defensive line can, and has been, changed by the presence of one player quite often. It’s easy - lose strength on the left side, and they double team the right side. Not many defensive ends can beat two, three guys on him.

Okay, fine. Don't get it. Forget about my Stubblefield/Wilkinson example. Perhaps you missed my "not usually" addendum to my original statement. It is the exception, not the rule. It's really a matter of opinion, because I can come up with just as many examples of a line not changing due to the addition of one (or even two) players as I can come up with examples of it actually working.

The Burgess comment was unnecessary, too. Along with everything else that happened to their d-line, adding Burgess' loss kinda tips the scales, wouldn't you say? Not to mention Simon's loss, which I also mentioned. And the injuries you keep going on about.

So no -- it's not that easy. But I'll give you this: adding a player like Howard to Kearse (IF Kearse stays healthy) is something I hadn't considered.

You're totally right - the Eagles team that finished the season won't be the Eagles team that started the season. The Lions team that finished the season won't be the Lions team that starts the season, either. Nor will the Giants, Redskins or Cowboys.

You're also right that I am ignoring the first half of last season, for the most part. The seeds of the implosion were planted well before then, but it hadn't manifested on the field yet. The reason I put so much focus on the second half is because it WAS the second half. If they had improved as the season progressed, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

I'm not denying the valdity of alot of your points. But as I keep saying, it remains to be seen whether this Eagles team has improved both physically and psychologically to turn things around this season after the disastrous way they finished the last one.

155
by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 5:35pm

Eagles don't have to prove anything to this Seahawks fan. Before things went catastrophic for them on MNF, they played my Seahawks nearly to a standstill.

Plenty of teams have worse options than Moats and Westbrook. They've got quite the up and comer in Brown, and the beginings of a spectacular O-line.

Redskins have father time chasing them all over the field. Brandon Lloyd will be in a lot of highlight clips. Sadly, if a play isn't destined to be on Sports Machine, his hands turn into pumpkins. We still don't know if the Giants have a QB who can complete better than 52% of his passes. The Cowboys are probably the only team in the division other than the Eagles which is definately better on paper. And like the Eagles, there are a few lingering questions for them too.

156
by jcabana (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 5:39pm

I think all the teams are better on paper. It's the "on paper" part that's always the rub, isn't it? The Redskins have been great on paper (on and off) for years, but it didn't amount to much before they finally put it together last year.

157
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 5:50pm

The Burgess comment was unnecessary, too. Along with everything else that happened to their d-line, adding Burgess’ loss kinda tips the scales, wouldn’t you say? Not to mention Simon’s loss, which I also mentioned. And the injuries you keep going on about.

Uh, there weren't many injuries to the defensive line last year, other than Darwin Walker missing 3 games. Kearse missed the last game. Those injuries took the situation from "bad" to "worse", but they weren't the root cause.

Simon's loss didn't do anything. Patterson played about exactly as good.

It really was the fact that instead of having two actual pass rushers, Philly had one pass rusher and an inanimate carbon rod for 8 games. Then they put in Trent Cole, and suddenly everything worked again - for a few weeks, before people realized that Cole was a rookie.

Really, go look at the game logs for the games where Trent Cole started playing (11/06 to 11/27) - Kearse had nearly one sack a game those four weeks (Cole had 7 himself!), and a bunch more tackles. More importantly, the defense held again - opponents scored 17, 21, 27, 14 points against them (as opposed to, uh, a lot at other times). They still lost three of them, but those losses were extremely close.

After that, teams got enough scouting on Cole that they could neutralize him, and so *poof* go Kearse's sacks again.

The reason I put so much focus on the second half is because it WAS the second half. If they had improved as the season progressed, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Their defense didn't collapse. What collapsed was their play from the quarterback position. He's not there anymore. Substituting a healthy McNabb for McMahon makes Philly a wildcard playoff contender last year. The other work in the offseason (getting Howard, other players coming back) makes them a Super Bowl contender this year.

There's a really good article about what happened to the Eagles here - it was at the time of their first loss to Dallas, which is when the wheels started coming off.

One thing you're neglecting is that the Eagles would've been a really strong team in the beginning of the year if their special teams hadn't collapsed. Their special teams didn't entirely collapse due to Akers: it was hurt by the loss of Ike Reese to the Falcons, and then by the loss of Akers. By the end of the season, though, another player had stepped up to fill Reese's place (Mikell) and Akers was healthy, and in the Playoff DVOA rankings, Philly again had the 2nd ranked special teams in the league.

Anyway, if it's the collapse that bothers you so much, why do you think that Dallas has a chance? Dallas actually collapsed worse than Philly did. At midseason, Dallas's DVOA was 23.7%. By the last ranking, Dallas's weighted DVOA was -12.8%. That's actually significantly worse than Philly's.

Curiously, their situation is similar: they had two glaring faults (Philly's was their DL and their WRs), one of which they didn't address, one of which they did. One was their offensive line (which they didn't significantly address - note that I'm not saying whether or not it will be better, just that they didn't significantly address it) the other was their special teams.

Part of the reason why I think Dallas will end up the odd man out in the NFC East is because I think Mike Vanderjagt sucks, and Dallas will again have shoddy field goal kicking and likely awful kickoffs as well.

The seeds of the implosion were planted well before then

That I really don't agree with. I'm not a big fan of "motivation" or "they didn't play like a team" if it can be explained by much simpler reasons. Occam's Razor: if I can explain it by something I can see, why bother invoking something I can't?

158
by Electric Mayhem (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 5:54pm

I don't understand all this Cowboy love. The addition of T.O. isn't going to make Drew Bledsoe any younger or more mobile. Are they better than last year with some minor OL upgrades? Probably. Superbowl material? Not likely.

159
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 5:56pm

More importantly, the defense held again - opponents scored 17, 21, 27, 14 points against them (as opposed to, uh, a lot at other times).

Actually, let me be clearer here: the defense allowed 17, 14, 20, and 14 points. The other points came on offensive turnovers.

The striking difference is Dallas: 456 yards in the first game, 241 in the second game. That's what Philly's defense is capable of with two competent pass rushers, and what happens to them when they only have one.

160
by jcabana (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 6:05pm

Pat,

Fair enough. You certainly know more about the nuts and bolts of the Eagles than I would, since they aren't my favorite team. Your data concerning Cole and Kearse is very compelling. And I didn't really put much stock into the special teams explanations until you pointed them out.

I think we'll just have to agree that I'm a firmer believer in intangibles than you are. Some teams play above their apparent talent levels, some teams/units play above the sum of their parts, and some teams suffer loads of injuries yet continue to perform in those areas and overall. But I guess intangibles aren't what FooballOutsiders is all about, right?

161
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 6:33pm

Fair enough. You certainly know more about the nuts and bolts of the Eagles than I would, since they aren’t my favorite team.

Absolutely. Note that that tends to be why I'm very careful about stating things about other teams. I'll get into very loud arguments with Matthew Furtek about the Redskins, though. The lack of depth on the Redskins line has got to bite them at some point soon.

I will say, though, that I'm not being that defensive about Philly just because they're my favorite team. I have a bunch of other favorite teams that I'd love to see do well, but I have no belief that the 49ers or Chiefs will be decent this year.

I think we’ll just have to agree that I’m a firmer believer in intangibles than you are.

Sure, that's fine. I don't mind other people believing in intangibles if it's for pointless speculating. It's when the season starts that I get very defensive about objective vs subjective rankings.

162
by Charles (not verified) :: Fri, 06/23/2006 - 7:34pm

Just a thought for Redskin fans about Archuleta. While I like him a whole lot, this seems to be the wrong division for him. His biggest weakness is coverage, and he is now going up against 3 teams that all feature TE sets prominately, not to mention Westbrook and Barber coming out of the backfield. While he is very good in the box and on a blitz, this could be a long year in that seconday, especially when teams send out a 2 TE package that has both going out.

163
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Sat, 06/24/2006 - 1:49am

look people. criticize me all you want, but i speak the truth. i appericiate mr. cabana for agreeing with me, but i dont need any help.

MARK MY WORDS. the eagles are not getting into the playoffs, or even close. THE NFC EAST IS TOO TOUGH OF A DIVISION. i mean do you see the eagles beating any of the elite teams?

i see them going 5-11 with wins against the texans, titans, packers, 49ers, and the titans again. they will probably lose to the giants x2, redskins x2, cowboys x2, buccanneers, jaguars, colts, falcons, panthers.

they might go 6-10 if they upset the falcons which seems possible. their schedule is actually pretty tough now that i see it. but they dont play the pats, broncos, hawks, steelers, bengals, but still, they are not doing better than 6-10 or maybe even 7-9 if their extremely lucky. and who knows, they might lose to the titans or the packers.

164
by Zug Zug (not verified) :: Sat, 06/24/2006 - 2:47am

Re: 142 Your case seems strong, but as someone else mentioned, DVOA isnt a perfect statistic. Additionally, if you rely soley on statistics you are missing the bigger picture of the game. This isn't baseball or basketball, where 1 on 1 matchups happen often and statistics can be compiled and a team judged based on a collection of individual performances.

The fact that they were playing against weaker opponents would naturally give them better performances, which will increase their statistical performance. Before you kill me, I know that DVOA takes this into account. However, individual plays will be have greater disparities than I believe DVOA allows for when you are going up against opponents that are so weak they are totally ineffective. Football is more than what can be measured by their statistical performances, if you simply look at the numbers you miss out on the gestalt. Yes its messy, and hard to quantify, but if you only look at a collection of individual plays you miss out on the how they got those numbers.

Thats not to say the Eagles were bad. Quite the opposite, they were nearly the ONLY team in the NFC those seasons to deserved to get that far from 2001-2004. Other posters have said this as well, they had an easier time getting there, and that gave them better statistical performances, not the other way around.

165
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 06/24/2006 - 12:44pm

Thats not to say the Eagles were bad. Quite the opposite, they were nearly the ONLY team in the NFC those seasons to deserved to get that far from 2001-2004.

Do people only remember 2004? 2001 had the Rams - you know, 'greatest show on turf' Rams, 2002 had the Bucs, who, y'know, won the Super Bowl. 2003 had the Cowboys, the Panthers... look, we've had the rest of this discussion already. Read post 148: even Philly's division was only bad in 2004.

Where in the world did this "Philly just beat up on bad teams" idea come from? Are people's memories really so short?

i mean do you see the eagles beating any of the elite teams?

Considering they very nearly beat the Redskins, Cowboys, and Giants in 2005 (and two of them with Mike McMahon) I think the answer to that is "yes".

If you would offer any comments other than "I'm right, you're wrong" you might convince a few people.

166
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Sat, 06/24/2006 - 2:15pm

what i meant by that is. do you see the eagles beating the colts? is there any chance in hell that donovan mcnabb is going to out QB peyton manning? joseph addai is going to do pretty good running behind that line with the defense focused against the pass.

next, the cowboys, redskins, giants, all improved greatly over the past offseason. all the eagles did is get a DL with their firrst pick and thats it.

cowboys: got T.O and jason allen to help in the secondary.

Redskins: got Archuleta, Brandon Lloyd, Randle El, and little if any help from the draft.

Giants: gott lavar arrington, sinorice moss, sam madison, and a talented de to replace strahan soon.

i dont see how the eagles are going to win this division.

167
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 06/24/2006 - 4:56pm

do you see the eagles beating the colts? is there any chance in hell that donovan mcnabb is going to out QB peyton manning? joseph addai is going to do pretty good running behind that line with the defense focused against the pass.

Even if they can't beat the Colts.. that's what, 15-1, then?

In any case, I do think Philly could beat the Colts. If you poke around here enough, you'll find very detailed articles (more than just 'Do you think McNabb can out-QB Peyton Manning?' as if the game was just a passing competition) including one that points out that, in fact, Philly is a team that's built to beat the Colts. To quote: remember back to my preview from last year’s Super Bowl, when I predicted that the Patriots would beat the Eagles because nearly all of Philadelphia’s offensive weapons are designed to take advantage of teams with bad linebackers. Which position is Indy’s obvious weakness? Yep.

Think about it. Two receiving tight ends? A RB who's basically a short-yardage receiver? Yeah. They're still targeting linebackers.

all the eagles did is get a DL with their firrst pick and thats it.

If you ignore the addition of Howard to fix their biggest problem from the previous year and every draft position after the first round, sure, that's all they did. The other additions they have are low key, but they'll probably have just as much impact as the Redskins adding Brandon Lloyd (seriously, Brandon Lloyd? The guy that the 49ers were happy to lose?), for instance: Matt Schobel was a good tight end from the Bengals, which gives Philly two receiving threats at tight end. Hell, Jabar Gaffney (who Philly also picked up) had a better year according to DVOA than Lloyd did - Lloyd's yardage looks better, but that ignores the huge amounts of passes that came his way which weren't caught.

Howard's a big addition. In the weeks where Trent Cole was a pass-rushing threat, Philly's defense improved tremendously. Sticking someone who will be a constant threat means that it's not a question whether or not Kearse or Howard will reach the QB. It's a question of when.

168
by jcabana (not verified) :: Sat, 06/24/2006 - 7:04pm

Where in the world did this “Philly just beat up on bad teams� idea come from? Are people’s memories really so short?

Pat, let me repeat this one more time, and maybe it will sink in:

NOBODY IS SAYING THAT PHILLY ONLY BEAT UP ON BAD TEAMS.

Nobody is saying that because everyone realizes that it's not true.

What people ARE saying is that the Eagles did benefit from the fact that the NFC East was not exactly providing the stiffest competition during the Eagles period of dominance. If you think for one second that the NFC East was anywhere near as tough from 2001-2004 as it is now, you are entitled to your opinion. And the rest of us are entitled to think you're nuts.

So you might want to take a step back and a couple of deep breaths instead of seeing red anytime anyone said anything "bad" about the Eagles. Especially when what is being said isn't really bad at all.

169
by jcabana (not verified) :: Sat, 06/24/2006 - 7:46pm

One thing that bothers me is the way fans often don't bother to look more deeply into the personnel moves (and the rationale) of teams other than their own, but then they rip on those other teams' moves and cite stats to back them up.

As someone who thinks coaching, psychology and intangibles matter just as much as names, numbers and statistics, I'm going to point out some glaring examples of teams that make moves that the numbers often don't explain until after the player gets there: Belichick's Patriots, Parcells' Cowboys and Gibbs' Redskins.

The coaching staffs of the NFC East are all better than they used to be, with the possible exception of Philadelphia's. But perhaps the biggest difference is that every team in the division now has a coach and a system the players believe in.

The Redskins never had that until Gibbs' return. The Giants had it in 2000, and lost it for a few years. Campo's Cowboys were a joke before Parcells came in, but cleaning up the mess took time despite his first-year success (which I am inclined to think was a fluke, since he hadn't had the chance to rebuild the team in his image yet).

Wht does this have to do with player analysis? Simple. Different coaches use different methods to succeed -- and different players. Joe Gibbs has never put very much stock in the draft, he's always preferred 'proven' veterans over younger players, and he has always gotten the most out of talent that on paper seems inadequate. Parcells does more with the draft, but he still favors older players over younger ones and he still gets more out of his talent than you'd expect (paging Vinny Testaverde).

Gibbs is unique, because unlike Parcells, he has a horrible draft history -- even when he had GMs. For every Darrell Green I remember from the 80s, there were a bunch of Desmond Howards, Tom Carters, Bobby Wilsons... you get the idea. Nonetheless, Gibbs succeeded because he went after and overvalued players that he could get the most out of in his system.

A lot of people will never let Daniel Snyder live down his early-ownership spending sprees. I happen to think Snyder is a first-class jerk. But I've also been tracking his team's progress.

And to be fair, the Redskins aren't doing now what they did back Snyder first took over. Literally, the only difference now between the Redskins and other teams in free agency is that the Redskins give out a couple million more in guarnateed money per contract. Given that Washington generates more cash and revenue than any other team in the league, that's hardly a surprise.

Everyone talks about Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Mark Carrier, Laveranues Coles and Chad Morton when they want to rip on Snyder. Strangely, these same people never mention their increasing success with FAs and trade acquisitions, especially the last two years: Santana Moss, Clinton Portis, Casey Rabach, Cornelius Griffin, Marcus Washington, Shawn Springs, Antonio Pierce, Warrick Holdman, Ryan Clark, Phillip Daniels, Joe Salave'a, and a whole bunch of other so-called "bums" and no-names -- particularly on defense, but also cropping up here and there on offense.

The difference? Joe Gibbs and Gregg Williams. Like Parcells, they don't care what the stats say. All they want is a performer within their system. People act as if their reliance on undrafted free-agents is a weakness that will put these teams in a bind -- as if there was this huge gap in talent level between lower-round picks and undrafted FAs. You hear it all the time on TV; "The only backup they have available for so-and-so is undrafted free agent so-and-so,; this could be a big problem!" Unless someone falls in the draft, there usually isn't such a big difference between a 5th-round pick and an undrafted FA. The draft is an inexact art; I wouldn't even call it a science.

On paper, both the Redskins and Cowboys lack depth on both lines. In reality, that means absolutely nothing until they show a dropoff in performance. The Redskins' backup d-linemen are complete no-names, yet they perform well when called upon with little dropoff thanks to superior coaching and insightful personnel selection. Sometimes it really is the system.

The Eagles had some no-names play well for them over the years on both lines, particularly on defense. Some of their linemen were highly touted coming out of college, but certainly not all of them.

As for the Redskins, when they traded Coles for Moss, everyone (including me) thought they were smoking crack. Who's laughing now? Who was one of the top 5 WRs in the league last year? Whose season would you rather have had: Laveranues Coles, Randy Moss, or Santana Moss? Who was a threat to hit a home run every time he touched the ball? Most of us never saw it coming.

Except for Joe Gibbs. He saw it coming.

Cornelius Griffin was an underachieving DT with more talent than effort. The Giants couldn't get any consistent play from him. The Redskins threw money at him; cue the laughter and fantasy football jokes. Now he is the anchor of the defensive line that is partly responsible for one of the league's top defenses. Who's laughing now?

Vinny Testaverde was a 40-year-old washed up has-been when Parcells called him to Dallas. When Parcells named him the starter after Quincy Carter flamed out, everybody laughed. Yet Parcells coaxed a seemingly impossible level of play from Vinny. In fact, Vinny was called by the Jets AGAIN when Pennington and Fiedler went down. Looks like we were mistaken there, too.

I think I've made my point. With good coaches and systems, you can make seemingly bad situations into good ones. You can flout conventional wisdom and statistics. And you can prove the naysayers wrong.

If you do, you'll end up with the 2005 Washington Redskins But when you don't have those things in place, you end up with the 2000-2004 Washington Redskins.

170
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 06/24/2006 - 8:51pm

NOBODY IS SAYING THAT PHILLY ONLY BEAT UP ON BAD TEAMS.

That's not what I was saying, either.

What I was responding to was this:

Quite the opposite, they were nearly the ONLY team in the NFC those seasons to deserved to get that far from 2001-2004.

Which, quite frankly, is an idiotic statement if you look at the DVOA rankings of the teams (or even just remember that in 2002 the Bucs won the Super Bowl).

If you think for one second that the NFC East was anywhere near as tough from 2001-2004 as it is now,

The statement wasn't regarding the NFC East. It said the NFC. Could've been a typo, sure. But even if it did say the NFC East, I wouldn't've been that surprised if the Giants or Dallas made it to the Super Bowl in 2002-2003. The Patriots did win the thing in 2001 with a worse team.

But the idea that the competition in the NFC has never been this good is just ridiculous. In 2001 the best four teams in the NFL were in the NFC.

171
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Sat, 06/24/2006 - 10:50pm

eagles are not going to do good this year. their schedule is too tough.

they play colts, giants, panthers, redskins, and jaguars. and those are just the playoff teams.

they also play the falcons and cowboys. thats about 10 losses right there.

172
by jbindc35 (not verified) :: Sun, 06/25/2006 - 7:23am

Stephen, why do you assume that the Eagles will lose every tough game? Sure, those are tough matchups for the Eagles, but the Eagles are a tough matchup for the other team as well.

173
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 06/25/2006 - 12:08pm

What I'm wondering is when he realizes that the Giants, Redskins, and Cowboys also play all of those teams (besides themselves, of course).

The strength-of-schedule games the Eagles have are the Packers and the 49ers. That's not exactly a tough schedule.

174
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Sun, 06/25/2006 - 12:21pm

their scheduless are similar, but the redskins can take on the buccanners, while the eagles dont stand a chance. the cowboys can crush the lions, while the eagles cannot nescecerrily crush the falcons.

the giants, cowboys, and redskins can go 2-0 againsst the eagles. i dont know if anyone wants to argue that, but its true.

the giannts and the cowboys might split, and so on and so on.

the eagles have 6 guranteed losses.

175
by Scott (not verified) :: Sun, 06/25/2006 - 1:19pm

Hindsite is 20/20. Division games are ALWAYS tough. You are saying that the Giants, Redskins and Dallas all laid down against the Eagles during their run! NO WAY!
As for speculation - yes, all the teams are improved in the East - but guess who is battle tested??
Eagles to the Super bowl (yes I am an Eagles fan!)

176
by Scott (not verified) :: Sun, 06/25/2006 - 2:14pm

Oh and by the way Stephen - it's obvious that you have been a suffering Dallas fan, but please be objective instead of STUPID!

177
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Sun, 06/25/2006 - 2:58pm

im not a dallas fan. im a broncos fan. and division games are not always tough.

i dont think the colts have any problem beating the texans or titans. i dont think the sea hawks have any problem beating the cardinals, 49ers, and rams. i doubt anyone in the nfc south has any problem beating the saints. the bears can beat everyone in their division easily. the browns and ravens are no challenge for the bengals and steelers.

with T.O and donovan mcnabb the eagles last year went 4-2 in their first 6 games, losing to the falcons and the cowboys. beating the chargers, chiefs (before larry johnson), raiders, and 49ers. all non playoff teams. they went 0-6 against their division.

SPECTACULAR.

178
by Englishbob (not verified) :: Sun, 06/25/2006 - 3:19pm

Hi Stephen, you have been getting a lot of stick from fellow readers but don't take it too much to heart. I am assuming you are fairly young and maybe new to this website. Can I just say that if you want to put forward strong opinions that's great but you'll get more respect from others if you can also put up firm evidence for your views. For example, why are six of the Eagles games certain losses? Funny things happen and if you were to gamble with that philosophy you'd soon be a poor man. Why must they lose all inter-division games? Since when was going to Philly to win easy?
I'm for my sins a Redskins fan so have a bias against the Eagles, but be honest, they had a lot of injuries to key players last year and managed without a top recognised WR prior to Owens. I think there are also serious questions over all the teams in the NFC East. The Skins have clear depth issues and a problem at QB. I watched them a lot last year and although his stats were decent I felt Brunnel played poorly in a lot of games. I also thought the O-line under-performed a lot. NY Giants have a question mark at QB too and if Barber regresses as is possible the offence goes backwards. Dallas has well documented issues protecting their QB (maybe addressed, maybe not) and I am personally not convinced by their secondary. It's possible these teams can basically play eachother to a stand still and ensure no one in the division makes the Championship game by preventing any chance for a record good enough for homefield in the play-offs.

179
by Englishbob (not verified) :: Sun, 06/25/2006 - 3:22pm

Seahawks lost twice to the Rams two seasons back- most of the players at both sides still there so relevent.
I think the Saints will take games from Carolina, Atlanta and Tampa at the Superdome.
Didn't the Ravens beat the Steelers last year?

180
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 06/25/2006 - 3:28pm

the cowboys can crush the lions, while the eagles cannot nescecerrily crush the falcons.

The Cowboys play the Falcons as well. The Giants face the Bears and the Seahawks. I think the Giants will have a tougher time beating them than Philly will with Green Bay and San Francisco.

they went 0-6 against their division.

They played 3 out of 6 division games with Mike McMahon at the helm, and still 4 of those games came down to the fourth quarter, and one went into overtime.

They went 0-6 due to bad luck - much like the Falcons went 6-2 due to good luck. Luck evens out.

181
by Sporran (not verified) :: Sun, 06/25/2006 - 4:16pm

Actually, in a football season, luck usually doesn't even out. There aren't enough games for luck to even out over a whole season.

The most rediculous football analysis I've ever heard is "You are what your record says you are."

182
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Sun, 06/25/2006 - 9:58pm

the seahawks were different two years ago.

the steelers changed a lot over the postseason and offseason.

the giants are not going to win this division, ive said that before. the cowboys are. the redskins might get the wildcard spot with the other one going to carolina/tampa bay

the giants have a very tough schedule because they play the winners of the division. the eagles play the losers so their schedule might be easier but that doesnt mean they're going to beat the colts, jaguars, cowboys, or falcons.

the cowboys will probably beat the falcons. i think julius jones will come back to ggreatness this season. terrell owens will probably torch them for 10 cathces and 150 yards and 2 tds.

drew bledsoe isnt going to have an amazing season, but T.O. is, because hes promised to behave, and he misses football. when he gets on that field he is going to be determined and he is going to torch every single defense and have one of his best seasons yet. i expect him to have:

100 catches
1650 yards
15 tds.

183
by DC Rant (not verified) :: Mon, 06/26/2006 - 1:49am

The Cowboys won't need to throw that much to TO - because their defense is going to be rock solid - however - TO could put them in contention for a long playoff run - to follow all the action - check out www.mysportshomepage.com

184
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 06/26/2006 - 11:14am

Actually, in a football season, luck usually doesn’t even out. There aren’t enough games for luck to even out over a whole season.

I wasn't trying to claim it evens out over one season. I said it evens out.

the eagles play the losers so their schedule might be easier but that doesnt mean they’re going to beat the colts, jaguars, cowboys, or falcons.

For crying out loud, everyone else plays those teams too. Your argument seems to be "the eagles aren't going to win the division because their schedule is too hard." Why is their schedule too hard? "because they can't beat the colts, jaguars or falcons." Why can the other teams beat them, but not the Eagles? "because they're better than the eagles."

So, to summarize, the Eagles won't win the division because the other teams are better. No reason why, just because.

185
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Mon, 06/26/2006 - 12:07pm

The other teams ARE better.

are you saying eli manning with mr. burress and jeremy shockey, and tiki barber and michael strahan and osi U. and sam madision and LAVAR ARRINGTON arent going to beat donovan mcnabb and .... and.... those other guys?

are you saying that drew bledsoe and julius jones and Terrell Owens and that solid defense arent going to beat donovan mcnabb, jeremiah trotter, brian westbrook (who cant stay healthy or carry the load)

are you saying the mark brunell, santana moss, brandon lloyd, adam archulata, antwaan randle el, clinton portis, and that pretty good offensive line arent going to beat the eagles?

OF COURSE, THEY'RE ALL GOING TO SWEEP THE EAGLES JUST LIKE LAST SEASON.

AND THE GIANTS CAN BEAT THE FALCONS, CONTEND AGAINST THE COLTS, AND BEAT A LOT OF OTHER TEAMS. THEY WENT 11-5 LAST SEASON FOR A REASON, and now they're better this year than last year with LAVAR ARRINGTON AND SAM MADISON. AND SINORICE MOSS!!!!!!!

why should last year be any different than this year for the eagles?

186
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 06/26/2006 - 1:07pm

The other teams ARE better.

See? That's all I've been trying to point out. For all your attempts at showing why the Eagles won't win due to their schedule, or whatever, the real reason you're down on them is because you think they're a bad team.

No reason why. You just throw out a bunch of names ("these guys are good") and ignore players on Philly ("these guys are bad") ... for no particular reason whatsoever.

It's just annoying.

why should last year be any different than this year for the eagles?

Because the Eagles who played the latter half of last year aren't going to be playing anymore. Philly went 0-6 with Mike McMahon for half the games. You rated McNabb as one of the 5 best QBs in the game - you don't think replacing McMahon with McNabb will result in them getting one more win? Even considering the fact that they very nearly won, even with McMahon?

187
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Tue, 06/27/2006 - 1:25am

if i said that donovan mcnabb is one of the five best qbs in the game, i take that back. hes not. hes in the top 10, but not the top 5.

but with your logic, you say that if you get a good qb, much better than mcmahon, but worse than mcnabb, they would win those games? because thats your logic.

and also, what else would be my reasons for philly not getting into the playoffs?

if i said they were a good team, why would i think they are not getting into the playoffs?

oh and btw, donovan mcnabb lost agains the cowboys and the redskins last year. cowboys, twice, once with t.o

ALSO, the only time donovan mcnabb produced a great season, was with t.o, which was the only time ever in his career where he got above 60% percentage rate, ABOVE 3500 yards. more than 25 tds, and more than 90.0 qb rating. now that he lost t.o, HMMMM

hes going to be average.

the eagles might win one or two games against the division, not likely, but possible. that means 4 losses not counting their games against the colts, and jaguars. that means, if they win every other game, they will have a record of 10-6 which isnt a gurantee for the playoffs. the cowboys and redskins might get 11-5, or 10-6 each. so the best the eagles can do is the 5th or 6th seed of the playoffs.
WOW

188
by BobL (not verified) :: Tue, 06/27/2006 - 10:54am

The Eagles only lost 4 games the season before they picked up TO, and one less with him...not a big difference!

The Eagles will win every home game, there's no place every team talks about besides Philadelphia...no one says "I hate playing at Dallas!"

So 8 home wins plus wins at Houston, San Francisco, and New Orleans = 11 Wins even if they lose the other 5 games!

Don't forget to mark your calendars "To's last game!" on October 8th...LOL!

189
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Tue, 06/27/2006 - 11:04am

why do they win every game at home? and if so, how come they won 6 games last year? did their schedule get mixed up or something? did they get only 6 wins?

also, they lost to the cowboys twice last year, both with dnovan mcnabb, and one of them was with T.O. HMM.

are you saying the eagles are so good they'll beat the panthers, jaguars, and falcons at home? i dont think so.

will they beat the giants at home? i dont think so. donovan mcnabb isnt that great a qb to take the whole team single handedly.

190
by Bill (not verified) :: Tue, 06/27/2006 - 12:54pm

Anyone else read the Stephen Yang posts and feel like he's going to ask for TP for his bunghole next?

191
by Drew630 (not verified) :: Tue, 06/27/2006 - 1:41pm

Stephen,
Unlike Pat, who seems like he is going to go on a homicidal rampage soon, I am trying my best to ignore your "analysis". Reason being, I would be just a frustrated as Pat. The reason that people come to FO is because we can talk frankly and honestly about all teams, not just our favorites, and those opinions for the most part are backed up with some statistical evidence. By repeatedly posting again and again that the Eagles will lose because they are bad or the other teams are better, you are just being a troll. Say it once, fine. If that is your opinion, fine. But at FO, people come not for the opinions, but WHY people have those opinions. I don't care that you think the Eagles suck. I want to know WHY you think the Eagles suck. I want to know WHY you think that the Falcons will come into Philly and beat the Eagles. I think that the Eagles play well at home and that the Falcons got a serious advantage against the Eagles by playing at home as well (not to mention having their MLB ejected before the game started). regardless or that, the fact that you are repeating the same tired opinions (sometimes contradicting yourself) is what is driving people like Pat, nuts.

I admit that I am an Eagles fan and probably have a bias towards their outlook against the rest of the teams in the division. for people to have a varying viewpoint or not like the Eagles doesn't bother me. What bothers me is posters like yourself who dilute the intelligent discussion on this site with random, unsupported opinions. If I want that, I'll go read a team messageboard full of homers.

so please, either provide some insight as to WHY you think the things you think, or simply enjoy the batner of people who put thought into their opinions.

192
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 06/27/2006 - 1:42pm

ALSO, the only time donovan mcnabb produced a great season

McNabb, DPAR, 2003: 36.8 passing, 10.6 rushing, total 47.4. Puts him at 9th in total DPAR if my math is right. Just above Tom Brady - note that Brady's first great statistical season was also 2004. Completion percentage and yardage are biased - 9th ranked in total DPAR is still a borderline great season.

Even if that McNabb replaced McMahon, it still would've been an utterly fantastic upgrade. McMahon was awful last year: scaling to roughly equal number of games (McNabb played in 9, McMahon 7), McNabb would've provided an estimated 40 DPAR above and beyond McMahon.

both with dnovan mcnabb, and one of them was with T.O. HMM.

Read this for the first game. Some of us actually watch and break down the games to see what actually happened, rather than just blandly assuming that one team was better than the other. Philly's first loss was a defensive line and special teams failure - both of which, incidentally, have been fixed - special teams by the end of the year (Philly had the 2nd highest ST weighted DVOA by the last ranking) and the defensive line in the offseason.

For the second game, Dallas took the lead on a last minute turnover returned for a touchdown by McNabb - not exactly the kind of play you can expect to happen with regularity. And then, McMahon was actually able to drive Philly for a 60-yard field goal attempt, which missed. You don't think McNabb could've gotten them ten more yards?

The Any Given Sunday is actually a really interesting look at what caused Philly to struggle in the early part of the year (and then again in the later part of the year).

The Eagles defensive scheme is pretty simple: leave the corners on an island, and ensure the WRs don't have enough time to separate from the corners with blitz variations from the linebackers and the safeties. Without that pressure, Philly's secondary can easily be picked apart.

and also, what else would be my reasons for philly not getting into the playoffs?

Well, let's give my reasons why I don't think Dallas will get into the playoffs - first, I think their quarterback depth is really, really shallow, and given Bledsoe's age and the performance of the offensive line at the end of the year, I think it's likely that Dallas around midseason will have to start one of its backup quarterbacks for a game or two.

Second, one of Dallas's big weaknesses last year was their special teams, and I don't think they've improved them at all, especially if they allow Vanderjagt to kick off at all. If they do that, they're giving their opponents a free ten yards on every kickoff.

Third, Dallas, even by the end of the season, still had a weak run defense, and with a schedule that includes Atlanta, Washington twice, the Giants twice, that's not going to be an easy weakness for them to have - that's the 4th, 9th (twice), and 7th (twice) ranked rushing teams in the league. (Granted, it could've been much worse for them). That's not even including a few teams which could dramatically improve their rushing, like Arizona, for instance.

Now, would I be surprised if Dallas got into the playoffs? No, because if their offensive line improves, which it could, then the quarterback depth won't be an issue, and I could see their run defense improving, too. Plus, it's entirely possible they'll realize that Vanderjagt can't kickoff before it costs them any close games.

Do I think Dallas is a bad team? No, of course not. None of the teams in the NFC East are. I just think Dallas has a pretty strong potential to be a bad one.

193
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 06/27/2006 - 1:49pm

I want to know WHY you think that the Falcons will come into Philly and beat the Eagles. I think that the Eagles play well at home and that the Falcons got a serious advantage against the Eagles by playing at home as well (not to mention having their MLB ejected before the game started).

Trotter being ejected was huge: Atlanta's got the 4th best rushing offense in the league, and the 20th ranked passing offense: and what's the key to Philly's rush defense? Middle linebacker - without Trotter, Philly's rush defense was terrible in 2004. With Trotter, it massively improved.

Philly vs Atlanta should've been a gimme for Philly - Philly held Alexander to 49 yards, and Tomlinson to 7 yards - but Warrick Dunn runs for 117 yards, and Vick for 68?

Yeah, something went wrong there.

194
by Englishbob (not verified) :: Tue, 06/27/2006 - 1:53pm

Well said Pat.
It's well documented that teams perform better at home, Philly are a prime example of this and can be expected to pick up at least four wins there, in my opinion. I refuse to rule them out of play-off contention, nor anyone in the East- this is why it's such an interesting division.

195
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 06/27/2006 - 2:55pm

Oh, and incidentally, for Yang:

ok these are the QBs better than culpepper:

Peyton Manning
Tom Brady
Donovan Mcnabb
Carson Palmer*

You actually said McNabb was top four.

nor anyone in the East- this is why it’s such an interesting division.

Yeah, I agree. The other divisions have at least one punching bag, and the NFC West and North have two.

One funny thing I just noticed: why does Stephen Yang keep touting Atlanta as an elite team? The NFC South had Carolina, which again showed continued improvement through the year, and Tampa Bay, which was at least better than average the entire year. Atlanta's easily the second weakest team in the NFC South. Do I think Philly can beat them? Um. Yes? Green Bay beat them last year, for crying out loud.

196
by Drew630 (not verified) :: Tue, 06/27/2006 - 3:03pm

Pat, you noticed that little blurb about mcNabb too? nice to see that yang is consistent at being inconsistent.

197
by Englishbob (not verified) :: Tue, 06/27/2006 - 4:26pm

Second weakest? Look out for New Orleans this season (at this point I appear to have completely lost the plot)!

198
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 06/27/2006 - 4:47pm

Second weakest? Look out for New Orleans this season (at this point I appear to have completely lost the plot)!

To be clearer, I meant "easily at least the second weakest". I don't see how Tampa Bay or Carolina have hurt themselves enough to be considered weaker than Atlanta, and it's not like Atlanta had a ton of bad luck last year (far from it!).

199
by Englishbob (not verified) :: Tue, 06/27/2006 - 5:30pm

fair enough, no criticism meant- I am acutely awaremy suspicion that NO could make the play-offs is considered mad by most.

200
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Wed, 06/28/2006 - 12:26am

FIRST OF ALL, AS ALL OF YOU CLEARLY REMEMBER WHAT I WROTE IN THE FIRST LINE OF POST 187,

"if i ever said that donovan mcnabb was a top five qb, i take that back"

that quote proves to me that some of you are arguing my point, simply because some of the more intelligent people actually want to argue what im saying and you just want to fit in with the crowd.

now that thats said. i am going to back up my reasons for why i think the eagles suck.

the eagles are without T.O., and they play 6 games (3 at home, 3 away) against some playoff bound teams, not to mention the colts, and jaguars. (forget about the falcons for now.)

last season, the eagles had donovan mcnabb and T.O and they lost to dallas and they lost to washington, both games were with donovan mcnabb. in fact they got sweeped by the whole division, but some of those games were with mike mcmahon.

WHICH MEANS THAT THE EAGLES ARE PRETTY MUCH BASED ON DONOVAN MCNABB. SO IF HE GETS INJURED AGAIN, THEY'RE SCREWED. now this isnt true for a lot of other teams. including the colts. last season jim sorgi and the colts beat their last team in week 17. i dont remember what team it was, and im too lazy too check. so the eagles are nothing without mcnabb, and last season is proof.

now this is why i think the eagles suck. first off, they're a one man show. next, they have no great wide receivers. their running back cant carry 300 times a season. and their defense isnt going to win games for them.

now this is why i think the falcons are going to beat the eagles this season.

1. they are also a one man show, and this certain one man, has promised to be amazing, which he can be.

2. their defense, has substantially gotten better. and not only has michael vick promised to be better, but so has Deangelo Hall, and they drafted Jimmy Williams who is an excellent cornerback.

3. their receiving corps are getting better and better, with an established receiver already for Vick to rely on the first couple of games (crumpler)

4.MICHAEL VICK

5. MICHAEL VICK CAN TURN A BROKEN PLAY, INTO A TOUCHDOWN. HE HAS INCREDIBLE ARM STRENGTH, INCREDIBLE SPPED AND AGILITY, THE WILL TO WIN, AND GROWING QB SKILLS AND ACCURACY.

201
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 06/28/2006 - 12:58am

It was that great powerhouse Arizona. If that doesn't show Jim Sorgi's skills, I don't know what does. And man, other team's backups? They're stellar. I can't wait to see Tony Romo throwing to TO.

As for the rest... I'm at a loss for words.

202
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Wed, 06/28/2006 - 1:30am

you know what pat. i declare myself the winner of this argument then if you refuse to answer to my opinions and facts.

203
by chris (not verified) :: Wed, 06/28/2006 - 3:59am

You are killing me yang. The eagles are not a team built to rely on 1 Rb to carry 300+ times a season. They have different offensive packages designed for different running backs. I wouldn't want Westbrook to try and carry the team on his back anyway. That's why they drafted Ryan Moats last year, so they can have an explosive 1 2 combo. He carved up the giants last year (I know that's not the best example) behind a patch work offensive line. They have Bruce Perry who had a pretty good game against the Redskins at the end of the season. Nor are they a team built to rely on 1 standout receiver (see eagles from 2001-2004). They spread the ball around to multiple receivers. I will not say that LJ Smith is as good as Crumpler yet, I will say that you can hardly compare Vick's Qb skills with Mcnabb. Vick is by far a better running Qb, however his actual qb skills leave a lot to be desired. The falcon’s receivers are not much to brag about either, Roddy White & Michael Jenkins? I must have missed when they became threats. Do you happen to remember what the eagles did to Vick and the Falcons in the NFC championship game 2 years ago, hardly favorable conditions for a "pocket" qb. I'm and eagles fan and I don't really know how they will fare this year. What I do know is this will be a tough season for EVERY team in the division. There is no way to know who will finish where in any division, but especially the NFC East.
Giants will go as far as Tiki takes them (his age is a huge factor).
Redskins have to hope Brunnel and Portis don't wear down at the end of the season.
Cowboys have lead foot Drew Bledsoe behind the worst offensive line in the division with Julius Jones running the ball when he can stay healthy.
Eagles need Mcnabb and Westbrook to stay healthy.
Each team has reasons why they can win and why they will finish last. To automatically think the eagles will finish last because of last year and the "loss" of T.O. is one of the most idiotic things I have ever read. Their D wont win games? Are you kidding me? They still have one of the best defenses in the league. Dawkins is getting old and Darwin walker wears down as the game progresses, neither will be a problem this year or next year with their depth at d-line and the fact that Dawkins is still in great physical condition. I'd take him over any safety in the NFC East aside from Sean Taylor (IF he can get his head on straight). They have a solid D-line rotation that will keep them all fresh as the game wears down. Which will cause a lot of turnovers. Howard, Coles, Mcdougle, and Kearse coming off the edges with Walker, Patterson and Bunkley jamming the middle. I'd take that d-line rotation and secondary over any in the East. There are some questions about their linebackers, however I wont comment on them until training camp due to the 2 outside spots being up for grabs. As far as the qd situation. They signed Jeff Garcia to back up Mcnabb this season, granted his starting days are over, but he is without a doubt better than Mcmahon or any other backup in the East.

204
by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Wed, 06/28/2006 - 7:53am

Re Pat, I like Chris Simms, I thought he played with some smarts, and went down swinging (well) in the Playoffs. But I wouldn't be ready to say the Bucs have their QB situation locked down just yet. They made some nice off season moves. But they're in a pretty rough division, which has seen a lot of improvement, and showed an occasional intense need to underachieve last year. (vs the Niners for example) If their offense implodes vs a team with a potent offense, hell. You need points to win.

Re Vick. Yeah, For me he's kinda like Aaron Brooks. He's the unfulfilled potential of an intimidating idea. Will things change for either of them this year? Possibly, but I think we're entitled to be doubtful. He can throw hard and far, run fast, get bruised sternums and spread viral infections with the best of them. Yet, when he finally left the Seahawks game last year, I was worried because a QB who could, or would, exploit a major weakness of the defense was coming in the game. Fortunately, Vick's scampering, often for a loss, wasted enough time for the lead to be preserved.

If I had to pick between Vick and Seneca Wallace, I'd choose Wallace.

205
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 06/28/2006 - 10:39am

Re Pat, I like Chris Simms, I thought he played with some smarts, and went down swinging (well) in the Playoffs. But I wouldn’t be ready to say the Bucs have their QB situation locked down just yet.

Yeah, I agree. That's why I said the Bucs were a "good" team. The Panthers are clearly the class of that division, and adding Keyshawn as a receiver will make the "box and one" defense Seattle played impractical.

The Falcons, though, have major issues, and not all of them due to Vick: they had the worst (not close to the worst, the worst) run defense in the league last year. They also were one of the worst teams (27th) in defending passes against tight ends. That just screams "hi, we have linebacker problems" which is the one position they didn't address at all in the offseason.

you know what pat. i declare myself the winner of this argument then if you refuse to answer to my opinions and facts.

That's fine. I kept trying to type a response, but I couldn't get through it without breaking down laughing at the fact that you listed Michael Vick as a reason the Falcons were elite. Twice.

206
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Wed, 06/28/2006 - 12:30pm

the reason why the falcons were bad at tthe linebacker position is because their star MLB got injured.

thats like saying, the eagles had a horrible qb position last year, and they didnt address it through the offseason.

second, michael vick is getting better and better and qb skills, and hes beginning to be able to throw to roddy white well. alge crumpler is better than l.j. smith.

and the falcons defense has substantially improved over the off season, john abraham, jimmy williams, chris crocker.

oh and chris, MCNABB IS NOT A POCKET QB. HE IS A SCRAMBLER, MICHAEL VICK IS A BETTER SCRAMBLING QB THAN HE EVER WILL BE.

drew bledsoe has weapons to throw to now. mark brunell has more weapons to throw to now.
eli manning has more weapons to throw to now.
donovan mcnabb lost weapons to throw to now.

207
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 06/28/2006 - 12:41pm

the reason why the falcons were bad at tthe linebacker position is because their star MLB got injured.

Which usually implies that you need more depth at linebacker.

thats like saying, the eagles had a horrible qb position last year, and they didnt address it through the offseason.

Actually, they did. That's why they got Garcia.

MCNABB IS NOT A POCKET QB. HE IS A SCRAMBLER, MICHAEL VICK IS A BETTER SCRAMBLING QB THAN HE EVER WILL BE.

Screaming doesn't make something true: in 2004, McNabb's rushing DVOA was significantly higher than Vick's.

208
by Electric Mayhem (not verified) :: Wed, 06/28/2006 - 2:49pm

As an Eagles fan I was tempted to enter this argument/discussion many times, but I thought no why waste any time, Pat will explain everything to Yang. Well it has become obvious that logic and well formed arguments have no effect, so let me try this...

TEH COWBYS WILL SOOO SUCK THIS YEAR, ALOONG WITH TEH REST OF THE NFFC EAST EXCEPT DA EAGLES!!!!

HERE IS WHY!!!

TEH COWGIRLSS
1. DREW BLEEDSOW IS OLD AND PRACTICALY A CRIPPLE, CAN HE EVEN WALK? PROBABLY NOT. NO ATHLETICISM. MCNABB CAN RUN!!!!
2. TO WILL DESTROY THE TEAM? CAN HE EVEN PLAY? NO. SO THEY WILL LOSE!!!!
2. THEY BROUGHTIN TONS OF NINER PLAYERS WHO SUCK! BRANDONATHON LOYD CANT CATCH A BALL COVERED IN GLUE!
3. ANTWON RANDLEMAN EL IS OVERRATED!!! HE ONLY AN 81 IN MADDEN!!!

I sincerely apologize to all other FO readers who have read the all-caps portion of this post.

209
by Electric Mayhem (not verified) :: Wed, 06/28/2006 - 2:52pm

Ah damnit apparently dollar signs and other random character make the message board eat your post. Well I'm not typing out the rest of that nonsense again. It originally had Yang-esque reasons for all NFC EAST teams losing to Eagles.

210
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 06/28/2006 - 3:59pm

Pat will explain everything to Yang.

I gave up when he started screaming about Michael Vick. I actually think Vick is improving, and he might actually be an average passing quarterback this year, but to expect Vick to go from below average to elite in one year is a little insane.

211
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 06/28/2006 - 4:38pm

In 2002, Vick had a DPAR of 60, so it's not unreasonable to think he could at some point again be a top 10 QB. Did I just defend a Yangian position? I feel so unclean.

212
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 06/28/2006 - 4:41pm

In 2002, Vick had a DPAR of 60, so it’s not unreasonable to think he could at some point again be a top 10 QB.

Oh, I agree - but I think the main problem was the offensive switch the Falcons made. I don't think it's now as easy as just switching back to the offense they used in 2002, because I do think Vick made progress last year. I just think that given the rate of improvement he's now shown, you'd expect it'd take at least 2 years for him to be a top 10 QB again.

The offense switch is the only thing I can think of that would take Vick from "very good" to "mind numbingly awful" in such a short time.

213
by Englishbob (not verified) :: Wed, 06/28/2006 - 5:48pm

I think Yang just became a fully fledged verb.
Electric Mayhem is "yanging"- that is "to put forward an arguement based purely on Cap locks whilst providing as evidence the fact you are always right and all else are always wrong".

Being "yanged" is to be so annoyed by the poor quality of the arguement that you automatically take the opposite view, even if the "Yanger" was arguing for example, that Peyton Manning is a better QB than Ryan Leaf. So AFC East post 158 for that thread!

As Electric Mayhem is doing it sarcastically- maybe we can call that "yin-yanging"?

214
by chris (not verified) :: Wed, 06/28/2006 - 10:52pm

For some reason Yang reminds me of Merill Hodge from ESPN. You can hate on the Eagles all you want, at the end of the season they will either be on top of the division or a wild card team.

I'm not very impressed with the Redskins additions, they over paid for a #3 receiver and Archuleta is suspect in pass coverage. Their D is good overall, but the additions the other teams in the east made to their offenses will show the Skins weaknesses underneath to TEs and RBs.

The Giants got a speedy rookie to compliment Burress, that might improve Eli's completion %. But Tiki could be in for a down year with his age. The addition of Arrington to the D is great on paper and in Madden, but the man gets lost in defensive schemes. If the Giants let him just freelance like he did in Wash they will be in for a long year. Sam Madison is a slight upgrade at corner but not much.

Dallas got a huge upgrade with the addition of T.O. to their offense giving Bledsoe another target. Bledsoe is a great Qb if given enough time to throw the ball. I just don't think the additions to their line will help keep him upright. I like their D a lot. They have speed everywhere. Their corners aren't all that great but their front seven forces the opponents Qbs into mistakes.

The Eagles added by subtracting T.O. He was a cancer in the locker room and on the field. They can go back to what they were doing on offense before Owens came to town. That's spreading the ball around to multiple receivers, runningbacks and tightends. They might not have the "big names" aside from Mcnabb and Westbrook. Their offense is predicated on the short underneath stuff to open up the occasional shot down field. That is also their running game, those little 3-5 yard passes to Westbrook and Smith. Their D is very impressive, they added another pass rush threat with Howard. That was the biggest problem with the D last year, they never got a consistant pass rush, which gave the other teams all the time in the world to throw the ball. Lito Sheppard and Mcdougle come back from injury. All in all I think they will be one of the best in the league on D again. Their special teams will be very good once again. And they have the most depth in the division on both sides of the ball, the only thing they don't have is an over priced, marque receiver.

As far as all the teams other than the Eagles having weapons to throw to now, aside from T.O., they aren't as impressive as you think.

As far as Mcnabb being a "scrambler" I beg to differ. He can run when he wants to, usually he moves around the pocket trying to buy time for receivers to get open. If you read what I wrote, I said Vick was by far a better running Qb, however his actual qb skills leave a lot to be desired. The problem I have with Vick is the fact that if his first option isn't open he takes off, and he can't read a Defense. He may get better at it, but I wont put money on it.

215
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Thu, 06/29/2006 - 1:20am

now this chris person, i like. he does not hate on me, and instead of finding one flaw in my several points and just wasting space talking about me, he answers all of my points in a respectable way.

216
by Rick (not verified) :: Thu, 06/29/2006 - 2:16am

Re 147 "We just don’t know yet. We won’t know until they put the pads on and play some games. Look, you could be completely right about their OL and DL. But until I actually see some EVIDENCE ON THE FIELD DURING THE SEASON, all you’re doing is speculating."

None of us can say with certainty what will happen until the season starts. This is the time of the year for fans to pump their chests and dream. But I tell you what, your doing as much speculating as any post I've read. You Eagles haters make me laugh. All I know is that I'll take the 4 NFC Title games we had from 2001 through 2004. Beats the heck out of the being a Giants, Skins, or Cowboys fan in the 21st Century.

217
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 06/29/2006 - 12:19pm

215: We're not hating on you, we're just ridiculing your ludicrious opinions. Now if you could form a well-reasoned opinion as to why Team X is better than Team Y, I'm sure people would respond positively.

218
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 06/29/2006 - 2:02pm

instead of finding one flaw in my several points

I only started listing the biggest one because I've got other things to do. It wasn't because there was only one.

219
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 06/29/2006 - 2:46pm

The Giants got a speedy rookie to compliment Burress, that might improve Eli’s completion %.

Does anyone really believe this? I mean, I know Stephen Yang's been shouting Sinorice Moss for weeks now, but c'mon - the kid's a rookie. Rookie receivers virtually never make an impact their first year, and this class of receivers was considered nowhere near as good as previous years.

The only rookie WRs which consistently made a positive impact in the past 6 years were those drafted in the middle first round (i.e. great players on decent teams). The only middle-second round WRs to make a positive impact in the past 6 years were Josh Reed with the Buffalo Bills, Chris Chambers with the Dolphins, and Boldin with the Cardinals. The other 12 players didn't have great rookie years.

That's not to say Sinorice Moss won't turn out great, but based upon when he got drafted, I'd doubt that he'd make a serious impact next year.

220
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 06/29/2006 - 3:06pm

Well, the Giants arn't asking Sinorice Moss to be the #1 WR. All they need from him is somebody stretch the field and prevent teams from doubling take Plaxico. This won't do anything to help Eli's completion percentage, though. The Giants have bigger problems in Tiki, though. He's nearly ancient in RB years, and he carried the ball 350+ times last year.

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by Drew630 (not verified) :: Thu, 06/29/2006 - 3:16pm

For some reason Yang reminds me of Merill Hodge from ESPN. You can hate on the Eagles all you want, at the end of the season they will either be on top of the division or a wild card team.

Intersting comparison, but I give Yang credit for not finding the Steelers to be flawless.

That being said, Stephen, as B said, no one wants to hate on you and I don;t think anyone is trying. But when you make nonsensical statements like this:
michael vick is getting better and better and qb skills, and hes beginning to be able to throw to roddy white well.
it is hard to take your commetns seriously. Especially with the CAPS on.

if you had some evidence to back up some of your statements, it would goa long way towards a positive rebuttle to them or even acceptance. Without anything to back up these statements, it sounds like someone just trying to rile up the other commentators by spewing the crap that ESPN spits out. I for one, gave up on Vick awhile ago. He is all hype, a re-incarnation of Randall Cunningham. And coming from an Eagles fan, I know how painful it is to rely on someone with potential that can run, occasionally make something out of an broken play, but at the same time can't read a defense or play QB.

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by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 06/29/2006 - 3:28pm

Well, the Giants arn’t asking Sinorice Moss to be the #1 WR. All they need from him is somebody stretch the field and prevent teams from doubling take Plaxico.

Sure, but the thing here is that unless they're planning on using Moss as the #2 WR instead of Toomer, does anyone really think the #3 WR (and Moss will likely be a mediocre #3 WR his first year) will make that much of a difference? Based on other WRs at about that spot in the draft, he might be a minor improvement over Tim Carter.

And if they're planning on using Moss as the #2 WR, it's really unlikely that Moss, as the #2 WR, will do better than Amani Toomer did last year.

223
by Independent George (not verified) :: Thu, 06/29/2006 - 7:53pm

I can't believe it's come to this point... Despite being a lifelong Giants fan, I might have been Yanged into rooting for the Eagles this year. It's like watching Parcells coach the Cowboys - my head feels like it's going to explode.

I feel so dirty.

224
by Kevin (not verified) :: Thu, 06/29/2006 - 8:52pm

#214. The Tiki-age argument is old, disproven, and silly. Tiki isn't the average 31 year-old RB. Most RBs at his age have been carrying the ball 200-300+ times since they stepped into the NFL. The fewest carries some current RBs have averaged per game/season are... Portis(17), Dillon (14), L.T. (19), Fred Taylor (16), Edge (20), Shaun Alexander (18), Curtis Martin (16). Tiki Barber averaged 11(!) carries the ENTIRE first 5 seasons of his career. He's much fresher than most big-time backs are at the age of 31.

Recently, I've read plenty of people saying Arrington is overrated and he doesn't do this or that. My question is whether LaVar Arrington is an upgrade over Reggie Torbor? If so, is he a significant upgrade? Sam Madison is a slight upgrade? He's replacing Will Allen! I liked Will Allen, but he didn't do anything for the team. It shouldn't be hard for Madison to be an upgrade over nothing.

225
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Thu, 06/29/2006 - 11:37pm

yeah, the #3 wideout does nothing.

wait didnt darrell jackson and bobby engram both get injured last year and joe jurivicius got 10 tds?

yeah THAT never happened.

whats that? brandon stokley got 10 tds in peyton's record setting year?

the third wideout does a lot. the third wideout isnt considered a starter, and yet he does much more than all other backups.

next moss will be number 3, but now eli manning has shockey, toomer, moss, burress, and tiki.

and tiki will do good this year. i dont understand this age thing. he was 30 last year and ranked first in total yards. hes 31 this year, and hes supposed to fail? i dont get it.

you people can say im wrong all you want, but when the eagles miss the playoffs, everyone will think

STEPHEN YANG WAS RIGHT, IF YOU ARE READING THIS THEN YOU KNOW THAT IF THE EAGLES MISS THE PLAYOFFS, YOU WILL REGRET MOCKING STEPHEN YANG.

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by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 06/30/2006 - 1:17am

wait didnt darrell jackson and bobby engram both get injured last year and joe jurivicius got 10 tds?

Well, then, he wasn't a #3 WR, was he? And he definitely wasn't a rookie. He was a #1 WR due to injuries. #1/#2/#3 WRs here are in order of number of receptions. And while you're picking out good #3 WRs, rookie #3 WRs are not good.

Go ahead. Try to find an impressive rookie #3 WR season that wasn't from the middle of the first round or that I haven't mentioned.

Rookie #3 WRs typically are underwhelming. I can give you the exact statistics if you want, but rookie #3 WRs picked in the middle 2nd round typically run -15 to -20% DVOA. The "best" would be a season like Darius Watts had last year. Like I said, he might be an upgrade over Tim Carter. Might.

This isn't me saying anything bad about Moss: Reggie Wayne had a mediocre season his first year, and has shined ever since. Chris Chambers had a great season his first year, and um, hasn't been impressive since then.

I'm definitely not saying it was a bad draft pick. I'm just saying it goes against history to think that Moss is going to make an impact his first year. He's not a first-round WR, therefore, it's really not likely to happen.

227
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 06/30/2006 - 1:19am

The “best� would be a season like Darius Watts had last year.

2004, not last year.

228
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Fri, 06/30/2006 - 2:07am

chris chambers had a great season last season, that wasnt his first season.

plus he had frerotte throwing to him, but we'll get to that later.

i think sinorice moss will do okay this year, but in a few years. WATCH OUT

229
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 06/30/2006 - 3:40pm

Doesn't a WR need to catch at least half the passes thrown his way to qualify as a great year? Although being thrown to by Gus Ferrotte will hurt anybody's catch percentage.

230
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 06/30/2006 - 4:41pm

chris chambers had a great season last season, that wasnt his first season.

plus he had frerotte throwing to him, but we’ll get to that later.

Chambers was mediocre last year. He was very good his first year. He basically had the best rookie year for a WR in the past 6 years.

Who was throwing to him doesn't matter for what I was saying. Hell, Reggie Wayne had Manning throwing to him his first year, and he still stunk. A receiver's first year doesn't seem to have much to do with his ultimate success, especially for those outside of the first round.

i think sinorice moss will do okay this year, but in a few years. WATCH OUT

Sure, whatever.

But if he's only going to do "okay"... why are you touting him as a reason the Giants will be good next year? I don't think it was a wasted draft pick, but I do think that Moss isn't going to improve the Giants this year.

231
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 06/30/2006 - 5:11pm

Wait, I get it. When Yang says "team X will be good this year." He means that team will be good at some indeterminate time in the near future. So when he says the Eagles won't win the NFC East this year, he means that they won't win the division at some point in the next five years.

232
by Englishbob (not verified) :: Fri, 06/30/2006 - 5:24pm

Hey B, you've been Yanged!

233
by Drew630 (not verified) :: Fri, 06/30/2006 - 5:37pm

next moss will be number 3, but now eli manning has shockey, toomer, moss, burress, and tiki.

Besides being a rookie and the number 3 (Pat has laid out those concerns), you hit the nail on the head in that he is not near the top of the pecking order. It will probably look like this: Burress, then Shockey, then Barber and if they are all covered and he still needing a receiver, then Moss. Notice that Tim Carter or any other WR for teh Giants last year didn't havea great season, Eli isn't getting to taht point in his reads.

and tiki will do good this year. i dont understand this age thing. he was 30 last year and ranked first in total yards. hes 31 this year, and hes supposed to fail? i dont get it.
tiki may do well, yes. heck, look at Curtis Martin. But there has been statistical analysis done not only on the age of RB's, but the number of carriers in their previous season and throughout their career. What helps Barber is that he hasn't been carrying the rock 350 times except that past couple of years. However, if he does break down, it shouldn't be too much of a surprise (barring a freak injury).
Sorry, I can't seem to find the article (it was a FO article), so if anyone else can find it, please post it.

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by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 06/30/2006 - 5:44pm

Notice that Tim Carter or any other WR for teh Giants last year didn’t havea great season, Eli isn’t getting to taht point in his reads.

Hell, Burress didn't have a good season last year - 7.4 DPAR, -8.1% DVOA. Amani Toomer actually had a better year: 11.2 DPAR, 0.6% DVOA.

Though I have to admit I'm a little surprised that Burress measured out so badly given that he had over 1200 yards, but catching only 46% of his passes will do that to you. But certainly he should've gotten a fair amount more yardage than that with that many touches.

235
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 06/30/2006 - 6:09pm

"the age thing" is actually pretty simple. RBs over the age of 28 tend to decline each year. RBs who carry the ball 350+ times in a season tend to do worse the next season. RBs over 30 who carried the ball 350+ times do much worse the next year. We have a couple RBs trying to buck this trend next year, Tiki being one, and Shaun Alexander being another.

236
by Thomas (not verified) :: Sat, 07/01/2006 - 4:56am

I'm a Redskins fan, just lemme get that out there. People don't seem to be focusing on the fatc that despite Brunells dropoff he was playing pro-bowl caliber ball early on last year. Much of the pressure from last year should be coming off of him and Portis, so look for averagenss in his game if not significant improvement.

I remember a point being made VERY early on about Gibbs not using 3 WR sets. News flash, Gibbs isn't running the offense anymore. He'll oversee it and have the "final say" in all decisions, but he's pretty much handed it over to Saunders, who I'd like to point out has been known to use 4 and 5 WR sets. Portis won't have to get pounded anymore with and offense like that, he'll use finesse a lot more which is how he rolls in the first place. Our offense will be much more spread out this year.

Someone said something about Randle-El being an 81 in Madden. I win Madden with Jason Campbell as my starter, he's "terrible" by the numbers. That game is soo easy and the numbers don't reflect anything. Randle-El is a versatile guy who you HAVE to pay attention to if you're a defense because you never know what you're gonna get. True Lloyd kind of has butterfingers every now and then, but have you seen his highlight reel? When he catches a ball he REALLY catches a ball. Then we got Cooley and Moss who I hope I don't need to make a case for. I'd maintain that Betts could start on at least a quarter if not half the team in the league, and our 3rd running back Rock Cartwright, had a 100 yd gasme last year on 9 carries. Albeit against StL a 100 yd game is impressive.

I'm not going to assume that Gregg Williams won't put together a top 10 defense until he doesn't, no matter who his personnel are. We do need depth at O-line, I'll admit that and admit that I'm praying no one gets hurt. Hopefully someone steps up and fills the gap, we don't need spectacular play, just do what we need to be done.

My prediction is
Redskins, 11-5
Cowboys, 10-6
Giants, 10-6
Eagles, 8-8

Playoffs are
1.Carolina
2.Washington
3.Chicago
4.Seattle
5.Dallas
6.Minnesota

#6 could be anything from Minnesota to Atlant to Tampa Bay, possibly even Arizona.

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by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Sat, 07/01/2006 - 7:52pm

I'll just mention this about Carolina. The solution to their problem isn't Keyshawn. Watch the GoTW of the NFC Championship. The Seahawks sacked Delhomme rushing 3 dropping 8. They got killed by a lack of a running game. A lot of that was injuries. But if your QB is eating turf off a 3 man pass rush, a lot of that isn't. It's not like Rickey Prohle can't catch, or Colbert can't run. And they weren't the one's making Jake throw into insane coverage. At somepoint the Carolina O-line and QB have to step up to their share of the blame.

Re Redskins to keep this somewhat less divergent. It's pretty clear Springs is near the end of his career. Look for the Skins to draft a corner with their single 2007 pick.

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by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Sat, 07/01/2006 - 8:19pm

there is no way that minnesota is getting into the playoffs.

i think its going to be tampa bay.

and i also think the cowboys are going to be the ones 11-5 with the redskins in the wildcard. other than that your prediction is pretty good.

239
by jcabana (not verified) :: Sun, 07/02/2006 - 4:50am

Chris,

Re 147...None of us can say with certainty what will happen until the season starts. This is the time of the year for fans to pump their chests and dream. But I tell you what, your doing as much speculating as any post I’ve read.

Really? So I'm an Eagles hater now? You don't know me, and you have no idea what you are talking about. All I pointed out was that the Eagles imploded at the end of last year, and it wasn't all due to injuries.

All I said was that they have to prove that they have gotten over the management issues which suddenly manifested themselves, because one could very easily conclude that T.O. simply brought to the surface issues that already existed (issues like team-wide resentment of McNabb's status and contract, or the Eagles' over-reliance on the draft, or McNabb's ability to come through in the clutch, or...the list goes on and on). When your QB says something like "You're either with me or against me", that's a sign that more than one person has issues with him and there are some deep wounds in the locker room that need healing.

If the Eagles had finished last season as strong as they started it, you wouldn't hear so much "hating" from me, as you call it. If they'd finished strong instead of collapsing, I also wouldn't have much to say. But they didn't. They finished horribly, and ended up in the celar of the division. I wouldn't call 'waiting to see if they got over last year's collapse' speculation. I believe in intangibles and chemistry. The Eagles had a lot of that during their run, and they lacked it completely last year. Now's their chance to prove they got their mojo working again. That's not speculation -- that's a fact. Whether you like it or not, they have more off=the-field issues than any other team in the division (until T.O. sabotages the Cowboys).

You Eagles haters make me laugh. All I know is that I’ll take the 4 NFC Title games we had from 2001 through 2004. Beats the heck out of the being a Giants, Skins, or Cowboys fan in the 21st Century.

Yoyu can take whatever you want. as long as we're living in the past, I'll take the Giants, Cowboys or Redskins Super Bowl runs of the late 20th century over ANYTHING the Eagles have EVER accomplished. Not that that's relevant to the conversation or anything -- I just mentioned it to join your silly little club.

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by jcabana (not verified) :: Sun, 07/02/2006 - 4:54am

Sorry - that last post was directed at Rick, not Chris.

241
by jcabana (not verified) :: Sun, 07/02/2006 - 5:31am

THIS post is directed at Chris:

"’m not very impressed with the Redskins additions, they over paid for a #3 receiver and Archuleta is suspect in pass coverage. Their D is good overall, but the additions the other teams in the east made to their offenses will show the Skins weaknesses underneath to TEs and RBs."

Right...because everyone knows that all FAs perform exactly the same way when they go to another system -- particularly Gregg Williams' system. If you're saying this stuff about Archuleta, what do you think people were saying about former starting safety Ryan Clark? On paper, he was half the safety Archuleta is. That's what a system does for you.

I think Williams' defense has earned the benefit of the doubt at this point.

As for 'overpaying for a #3 WR', I don't think it matters how much they paid as long as the team can afford it. Overpaying is only overpaying if the move doesn't work, and that remains to be seen. Randle El's potential ceiling is a lot higher for the Redskins thatn it ever was going to be for the Steelers, so we now have to wait if he reaches his potential.

I also think Al Saunders has earned the benefit of the doubt. For years, he ran an offense that ESPN described as "an updated version of Gibbs' offense, founded on the principles of Don Coryell." The Redskins will need some time to adjust to the new offense, but probably not as much time as some people think. Their real problm is depth and the unknown Jason Campbell factor. Can those backup QBs really play if called upon, and will losing a couple of linement derail them like it did against the Bucs and Seahawks in the playoffs last season?

The Giants got a speedy rookie to compliment Burress, that might improve Eli’s completion %. But Tiki could be in for a down year with his age. The addition of Arrington to the D is great on paper and in Madden, but the man gets lost in defensive schemes. If the Giants let him just freelance like he did in Wash they will be in for a long year. Sam Madison is a slight upgrade at corner but not much.

As others have said, I fail to se ehow adding Lavar to a defense will make any team worse. He may not have been right for the Redskins, but he did make the Pro Bowl regardless -- and he might thrive in a different system. He was a liability at times, but most opponents agreed that he brought a lot more to the table than he subtracted.

I actually agree with you about Dallas, so I'll skip that section. It will be interesting to see how T.O. handles himself.

The Eagles blah blah blah...

See my many other posts about the Eagles. On paper, they are better. In practice, I want to see those recent draft picks -- you know, the ones chosen this year (or in recent years that either haven't seen the field much due to injury) perform before we declare their defense to be one of the best in the NFL again. I certainly think it's possible that it will be among the best again. It's easier (though still a challenge) to speculate about FAs that have already proven they belong in the NFL as opposed to players who have yet to see any action in a real NFL game. That's why I want to see them in action.

And if the Eagles' offense goes back to what it used to be, I think that's great news for the rest of the division -- which has never had such solid personnel across the board to combat such an offense before. As usual, everything on offense rests on McNabb's shoudlers.

242
by jcabana (not verified) :: Sun, 07/02/2006 - 5:34am

To me, Tiki's age will only be an issue when his performance actually dips. Until I see that happen, there is no reason to think this will be the year. As others have mentioned, he's taken a lot less punishment than most backs his age. However, he did see a ton of work last season. I think their young backup will spell Tiki a bit more often this year.

I know this is FootballOutsiders, but stats aren't everything.

243
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 07/02/2006 - 1:37pm

If they’d finished strong instead of collapsing, I also wouldn’t have much to say. But they didn’t. They finished horribly, and ended up in the celar of the division.

Actually, the Cowboys ended up a worse team than Philly by the end of the season according to weighted DVOA.

But honestly, how would a team that's composed of less than half of the original starting offense finish strong?

Heck, I consider it impressive that they nearly beat the Redskins in the last game. That's 'finishing strong' to me. Just looking at win-loss records doesn't tell you much about a team: the Rams in 2004 ended up 8-8, but they were an awful team.

All I said was that they have to prove that they have gotten over the management issues which suddenly manifested themselves, because one could very easily conclude that T.O. simply brought to the surface issues that already existed (issues like team-wide resentment of McNabb’s status and contract, or the Eagles’ over-reliance on the draft, or McNabb’s ability to come through in the clutch, or…the list goes on and on).

Did you actually read the arbitrator's report which said what Owens was actually doing? It was way more than the media was reporting, and it was very bad, including actively trying to disrupt meetings.

Anyway, why do you actually think the team resents McNabb's contract? Why would they? His contract isn't that much larger than anyone elses's, and it's certainly smaller than other QBs. It's only about 10-20% more than Jevon Kearse's, for instance - and in 2009, Kearse actually makes more money than McNabb.

The only person who ever said anything about resenting McNabb's contract was Owens, because Owens's contract was relatively small (because the team wanted him to prove he wasn't a cancer - surprise, he was).

244
by jcabana (not verified) :: Sun, 07/02/2006 - 3:32pm

Pat, I'm basing my statements on a couple of things: one, the fact that Owens so successfully and easily divided the locker room; and two, a few articles by insiders on sites like ESPN. Heck, the behavior of some of the players alone (showing up to Owens' birthday party while Owens was destroying team chemistry, etc.) is enough evidence for me.

Enough with the DVOA crap, okay? Like I've said about a hundred times already, it isn't how they finished statistically -- it's how the finished, period. With all the wheels coming off. It's impossible to quantify statements like "You're either with me or against me" by comapring the Eagles DVOA against the Cowboys' DVOA.

Did they almost defeat the Redskins in the final game? Sure. They also almost beat the Seahawks, and I'll give them credit for rising up and not rolling over in those games. But the Redskins traditionally play pretty poorly in Philly, and divisional rivalries can do weird things to a team.

A house divided against itslef cannot stand -- while a united team, like the 2005 Patriots, can overcome massive amounts of injuries and still make the playoffs. They had over half their starters on offesne injured through the course of last season also.

I don't know about the arbitrator's report, but I'm sure each side made the other side look as bad as possible. As for McNabb's contract, well...maybe not his contract, which has since become outdated. But certainly his overall status on the team (the endorsements, the perception (though true) that he is the heart and soul of the team, etc).

Clearly, Owens exposed some serious resentment and divisions on that team. I'm waiting to see if removing him will automatically clear those issues up. You want to pretend their problems stemmed entirely from one guy and lots of injuries -- even though the team called last season a disaster on every level? Fine. I'm not such a true believer.

245
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 07/02/2006 - 4:09pm

Pat, I’m basing my statements on a couple of things: one, the fact that Owens so successfully and easily divided the locker room;

Like I said: I'm guessing you haven't actually read the arbitrator's decision, have you? It's not like Owens actually divided the locker room into "us" versus "them". He was actively making practices and meetings less effective. Literally, the offense was getting less done in practice with him there. Significantly. That's the main reason they suspended him.

and two, a few articles by insiders on sites like ESPN.

Link them. I didn't see any that showed that a number of players on the team gave a crap about McNabb's contract. Why would they? It's really small compared to what he could get elsewhere, as Drew Brees, McNair, etc. showed this year.

Some of them showed support for Owens's claim - that he was underpaid - and that I can understand, considering Owens was being underpaid. But he was being underpaid for a reason - a reason that bore itself out. There are very few players on the Eagles that are actually being underpaid, and the few that I can think of are in the last year of their contract.

Heck, the behavior of some of the players alone (showing up to Owens’ birthday party while Owens was destroying team chemistry, etc.) is enough evidence for me.

Huh? That doesn't say anything. Most of the guys on the team didn't care about the feud going on. Why would they? It didn't affect them. You think they went to Owens's party, and didn't go to any of McNabb's gatherings?

I don’t know about the arbitrator’s report, but I’m sure each side made the other side look as bad as possible.

Um, Philly actually had documentation for all of the claims they were making. They had to. It was a quasi-legal proceeding.

it’s how the finished, period. With all the wheels coming off.

Yeah. And my point is that the Cowboys finished in exactly the same way. DVOA shows that. So do about a half-dozen other metrics. Just look at the number of sacks they gave up in the second half as opposed to the first. If that's not "the wheels coming off", I don't know what is.

246
by jcabana (not verified) :: Mon, 07/03/2006 - 2:12am

Wow Pat, I'm glad you chopped and pasted the key points I made to take them out of context and shoot them down. I notice you didn't dispute what I said about the Eagles players saying that last season was a nightmare in every respect, or how McNabb's saying "You're either with me or against me" suggests issues running much deeper than one man's actions. Or how a team like the Patriots overcame a similar degree of injury issues. Whatever, it's your call.

Instead, you take what you think you can easily refute and argue against it, while ignoring everything else. I now realize that it's pointless posting anything that suggests your beloved Eagles have any issues to resolve that cannot be explained away with stats, new draft picks and personnel moves. The only negative you seem willing to acknowledge is that the team is a bit thin at WR.

Link them. I didn’t see any that showed that a number of players on the team gave a crap about McNabb’s contract. Why would they?...

Based on what I said in my last post, everything you wrote after "Link them" was a pointless waste of time - so I'm not going to bother to respond to it. Am I taking a page from your book? Maybe. It doesn't matter anymore.

Exvcept for this:

Um, Philly actually had documentation for all of the claims they were making. They had to. It was a quasi-legal proceeding.

And naturally, Owens had no documentation for anything. I'm sure he went in completely unprepared. Just because he lost didn't mean he had no argument. And considering the union forced the NFL to change the rules to prevent teams from doing to players what the Eagles did to T.O. last year, it seems to me that enough people decided that the Eagles weren't exactly angels in that particular case.

Have you ever played a team sport for a significant period of time? Apparently, the notion that off-the-field issues can affect on-the-field performances in unpredictable ways is beyond your comprehension. That's fine. I'm not going to bother trying to convince you anymore. Knock yourself out.

The Eagles may be great again this year. But if they aren't -- and if their season is marred by more infighting and communications problems -- you and the other stats-heads will be busy crunching numbers trying to figure out how it might have happened. The rest of us won't have to.

Anyway, just to make you happy, I'll say it: The Eagles have nothing to prove. They addressed all their problems in the offseason, and they will be a well-oiled machine both on and off the field. The infallible Andy Reid is a flawless coach running a perfect system with perfect players and a coaching staff that no one else can hope to compete with. Brian Westbrook poops butterflies, and angels sing his praises from the heavens. Their wide receivers may not be the best, but that issue will be handled with aplomb. Book those playoff tickets and Super Bowl tickets right now.

247
by jcabana (not verified) :: Mon, 07/03/2006 - 2:18am

By the way, I'm not going to "link them." ESPN has this nasty habit of making all their old columns Insider content (clearly, I'm not talking about news articles). Which means that even if I had the free time/motivation to link you to the right articles, I have no way of scanning the articles to find the content you are seeking. If you're an Insider, feel free to look them up yourself.

248
by thad (not verified) :: Mon, 07/03/2006 - 10:43am

re 246
As Pat pointed out many times the Eagles were just crushed by injuties last year.
As I pointed out, the Eagles threw the ball way too often. Its very hard to win throwing the ball 70 percent of the time.
I have never been completely sold on the idea that owens destroyed the team.

249
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 07/03/2006 - 10:55am

There are two explanations for what happened to the Eagles last year, I'll let you decide which is more plausable.
First: The Eagles, despite having made four straight NFC championships, were beset by internal issues that neglected to manifest themselves in any way untill Owens came along. Then, after TO was kicked off the team, a bunch of highly payed, professional athletes decided it would better suit them to bicker and argue with eachother then to try and win football games.
Second explanation: They were beset by a large number of injuries and bad luck, including losing thier QB and the best kicker in the league. (Two places the Patriots were blessedly without injury last year).

250
by jcabana (not verified) :: Mon, 07/03/2006 - 11:01am

B,

Right, because that's exactly the argument I was making. It was either one or the other; it couldn't possibly havebeen a combination of several issues, both measurable and not -- even though in previous posts I discussed all the injury issues and performance issues in detail with people who follow the Eagles more closely and knew more about those on-field happenings than I do.

Oh wait, no it wasn't. Try again - this time, without the oversimplifications.

251
by jcabana (not verified) :: Mon, 07/03/2006 - 11:32am

thad,

Perhaps you never read the back-and-forth between Pat and I regarding the Eagles player losses and injuries, particularly when I mentioned their losses along the defensive line.

I agree with you that the Eagles do throw the ball way too often, and I think last year it came back to bite them (this time, earlier than in the playoffs/Super Bowl).

Never once did I suggest that Owens' poisonous influence was the ONLY reason for the Eagles' underperformance last season. That would be ridiculous. I'm not unreasonable. Neither is what I said.

It's not absurd to suggest that the last-place team in a division has more to prove than the other teams that finished above them do.

I've said many times that if enough goes well for them, Philadelphia could end up in the NFC Championship game again. And if they do, some of you might say "Ha! Told you!" And all I'll say is "Yep -- you were right...but I knew things could just as easily work out for this team as not."

252
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Mon, 07/03/2006 - 12:26pm

the eagles arent making the playoffs.

they are in too tough of a division to make the playoffs. the cowboys are going to win this division, with the wildcard spot going to the redskins/giants. as soon as january comes along, the eagles will not be in the playoffs, they might go 8-8 or even 9-7, but they wont be in the playoffs.

if anyone wants to join the fantasy football league we are making, please say so on the afc east thread, we are organizing there.

253
by thad (not verified) :: Mon, 07/03/2006 - 12:41pm

re 251
no I didnt. I will go back and check it out.

re 252
I am not sold on the Cowboys o-line yet.
Perhaps they will improve a lot, perhaps just a bit. If they don't improve a lot, well they will have a tough time.
The redskins terrify me. With their new and improved wr package their offense will be a force. I just don't see them not scoring a lot of points.
As for the Eagles, Reid and co. have an excellent track record.

254
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 07/03/2006 - 1:43pm

Wow Pat, I’m glad you chopped and pasted the key points I made to take them out of context and shoot them down.

Jeez. That's not what I'm doing. I'm taking basically the last sentences that you've got so that the responses can be placed in proper context. Just imagine a "..." before every quote that I use that has context before it.

I notice you didn’t dispute what I said about the Eagles players saying that last season was a nightmare in every respect, or how McNabb’s saying “You’re either with me or against me� suggests issues running much deeper than one man’s actions. Or how a team like the Patriots overcame a similar degree of injury issues. Whatever, it’s your call.

I didn't respond to them because I didn't think they were significantly important. They certainly weren't as important as the portions I did respond to (and most of what I responded to applies to those other comments as well). Of course the players are going to say the previous season was a nightmare - a 6-10 season following a 13-3 season, and half of the players getting injured? Yeah. That's a nightmare. And random comments from McNabb taken out of context from the questions that they're responding to don't convince me either. I've read and seen full transcripts from the players at media conferences - they didn't care about the random issues last year. Some of those problems made it hard to work, but none of the things that made it hard to work were endemic in any way.

And if you want "evidence" that things weren't bad beforehand? Ed Jasper, a DE formerly of the Raiders (and formerly of the Eagles), signed with the Eagles because discussions between him and Derrick Burgess convinced him that the situation and dynamic there was great. Lito Sheppard, who's a relative of Jabar Gaffney, convinced him to sign with Philly as well.

And naturally, Owens had no documentation for anything. I’m sure he went in completely unprepared. Just because he lost didn’t mean he had no argument.

He didn't argue that any of those things didn't happen (that would be hard to do, given the evidence). Their argument was that the CBA didn't allow for the disciplinary actions they undertook. That's it.

It’s not absurd to suggest that the last-place team in a division has more to prove than the other teams that finished above them do.

You finish in last place due to win-loss records, and a sample size of 16 games is just too small. Which is why I keep bringing back the "DVOA crap", which I can't figure out why you dismiss, given the fact that it's historically been very accurate. Not perfect, of course, but very accurate.

One of the standard things is that teams that underperform relative to their "Estimated Wins" tend to do better than you expect the next year, and Philly was one of those teams - 6 wins, 7.7 estimated wins. They played better than a 6-10 team. They played more like an 8-8 team.

Would anyone be surprised if an 8-8ish team with injuries tweaks a few things and ends up winning the Super Bowl the next year? I wouldn't be.

Have you ever played a team sport for a significant period of time?

Have you ever played a professional sport for a period of time? I definitely haven't. I've played a team sport for quite a long time, but I've never gotten paid for it. When off-the-field issues screwed up team dynamics for me it was typically the "why am I bothering doing this if it's not fun?" mentality. For these guys, their income depends on it, and the answer to that question is simple.

It's not beyond my comprehension that it could screw things up. I've just never seen clear evidence of it at the professional level. You think I'd still be saying "it was the injuries, dangit" if they hadn't had injuries/losses at the positions statistically shown to have the highest effect on lowering win percentage?

And incidentally - yes, the Patriots had overcome similar injuries, but the most similar year would be 2001, where they were one of the luckiest teams in history. You can't expect every team to have Tom Brady sitting on the bench. That's just complete and unpredictable luck.

255
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 07/03/2006 - 1:52pm

The redskins terrify me. With their new and improved wr package their offense will be a force. I just don’t see them not scoring a lot of points.

Yeah, I have to say the Cowboy love just baffles me. In my mind the Redskins really will be the team to beat next year, provided they stay healthy. Now, given age, that might be difficult, but if they stay healthy, I can't see the Redskins going lower than 10-6.

Skins and Cowboys both have questions in similar areas (quarterback age), and even if the Cowboys offensive line improves, the Redskins defense is far more proven. And I don't actually consider TO significantly better than Santana Moss, so really, I can't see any one strength of the Cowboys that the Redskins don't equal or beat.

Not that the Cowboys couldn't win the division, mind you - if the offensive line improves, and everyone stays healthy, and the Redskins have a few injuries, sure. But if you assume "best case scenario" for everyone, I can't see how the Cowboys finish over the Redskins.

256
by Drew630 (not verified) :: Mon, 07/03/2006 - 4:36pm

Getting off the fact that some posters believe more in the Eagles than others, I want to bring it back to the 'Skins for a sec. They brought in more talent in FA and Al Saunders (arguably the best OC). Down here outside of DC, popular talk is the Gibbs is going to give Saunders control over the offense, but I wonder how much? Granted, Saunders runs a similar system to Gibbs but I wonder if Gibbs is going to find it hard to let go of the reins?

personally, I think that Gibbs is grooming Saunders to be his replacement in the next year or so as head coach, leaving Williams as DC.

257
by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Mon, 07/03/2006 - 4:36pm

Re 255,
I can't say I'm in for all the Cowboy love. Even with the expectation of a little regression for Tiki, the NFC E is the Giants until someone takes it away. But I think the best case everyone assumes for the Skins is perhaps less practical than the best case for the Cowboys.

Just on defense, Shawn Springs isn't the corner he used to be. I think the Redskins end up getting a pass for stuff like that. Really, last year the Redskins realized most of their offensive and defensive potential. They might be a little better this year. And better earlier in the year which should add wins, making FO's fortune telling somewhat less dramatic. But if the Cowboys realize the full potential of their offense, that's a pretty dramatic change. Will they? Will their 2 TE offense be confounding ala Kirwin's article? Particularly in light of Witten being the best TE in football by some measures last year. Well DVOA might know, but I don't.

258
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Mon, 07/03/2006 - 8:50pm

the redskins finished second in the division last year, while the cowboys finished third. so obviously the redskins schedule will be tougher. plus i think the cowboys are going to win this division because of t.o

the redskins are a good team, i think they will be 11-5 or 10-6 but they have issues at QB and defense, idk if anyone noticed but they lost lavar arrington over the off season, and didnt get much help in the draft.

i think the giants are the team to beat, but they have a tough schedule so they will probably miss the playoffs, but i expect their defense to be in the top 5 because of the draft, and the offseason, lavar arrington, sam madison? thats killer!

the eagles are going to be some team struggling to get a winning or even record. i dont see the eagles doing better than 8-8, however.

259
by thad (not verified) :: Mon, 07/03/2006 - 10:56pm

ummmmm
what issues do the redskins have on defense?
As far as I can tell they have been quite good for the past two years.

Sam Madison has had a good career, but he is 32 and this will be his 10th year.
I don't know who the top 10 or 20 cornerbacks are, but Madison ain't one of them.
And Lavar, what to say about Lavar.
At times he has been fantastic, going to the pro bowl and totally deserving of it.
Last year he was benched for 5 games.
Sometimes he is just an undiciplined player and the skins coaches never really liked him. In 2004 he only played in 4 games due to an injury, the skins defense was great without him.
No, I don't think Gibbs and Williams will miss him that much.
You know who has a great secondary?
The Eagles.

260
by thad (not verified) :: Mon, 07/03/2006 - 10:58pm

Stephen,
not to be harsh, but I think you place too much emphasis on the big names.
I don't think they decide games as much as you seem to think.

261
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 07/04/2006 - 12:20am

The issue the Redskins have on defense is age. They've been great since Williams arrived, but thier starters are old. How much of an effect this will be is a question, but it's unreasonable to think that they'll be able to plug in replacements and keep the defense at a high level indefinately.

262
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 07/04/2006 - 12:24am

The difference between the Redskins and Cowboys schedule strenght is two games (four if you count the two where they play eachother). I don't think that will be much of a factor. As for the effect TO has on the team, it's unlikely that he'll have a positive impact on the field. A receiver is only as good as the guy throwing to him, and Bledsoe will be spending too much time on his back.

263
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 07/04/2006 - 12:44am

Plus, it's not like the Redskins don't have a version of Owens already on the team. Moss has been fantastic every year he's been in the NFL, and the last time Owens was better than Moss was in terms of DPAR last year was 2000. Five years ago.

so obviously the redskins schedule will be tougher.

Uh, have you even looked at those differences? Detroit and Arizona vs. St. Louis and Minnesota? I'll give you Minnesota over Detroit, but they're both pretty much gravy wins, but Arizona and St. Louis? St. Louis will be the easier win.

Plus, if everything goes right for both teams, I can't see how the Redskins aren't better than the Cowboys, which means that the head to head matchup is worse for the Cowboys.

Schedule strength differences between conference rivals is pretty much pointless, though. It's only two games.

but it’s unreasonable to think that they’ll be able to plug in replacements and keep the defense at a high level indefinately.

Dead on. I don't know how anyone can objectively look at the Redskins' defensive line and not be worried about their depth - the backups for the tackles are castoffs and undrafted free agents, and have barely started any games in the NFL.

They could get lucky - all of the starters could stay healthy, and in that case, I'd say they're fine, and probably easily the best team in the division. But if I were a Redskins fan, I'd be crossing my fingers each week.

And for those who are confused trying to reconcile "Redskins = top team in division", if none of the teams melts down, I'd guess that the division would go Washington, Philly, New York, Dallas. But I think in terms of meltdown risk, Washington's pretty high, and Philly's one of the lowest.

264
by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Tue, 07/04/2006 - 1:06am

Re 259,
As B says above. Shawn Springs' is at the point of his career where old age and trechery are relied upon in the wake of youth's athleticism. And it looks that way when you watch him play. Cournelius did his paper crane impression for Steve Hutchison. Then Sean Taylor's legal troubles and the spitting. Let's pretend that last one doesn't point to something more fundemental, cause hey, maybe he's just an assclown.

The Redskins didn't leave a lot of what ifs on the field last year. They played their hand well and it showed. But the games they get back due to a regression of ill fortunes, they give back to improving opponants. Should the Cowboys realize more of their potential, the Eagles bounce back, or Eli having that magical 3rd season where things "click." That with their tempting of father time, if not fate doesn't bode well for the Skins in my opinion. It's not that they're a bad team by any stretch. They had a playoff win, and there's a lot of fans who might kill to be able to say that about their team. It's just that their window looks to be closing. Will their draft (which did address some of the need on defense) open a new window shortly? Quite possibly. But I'm doubtful for this year.

265
by Stephen Yang (not verified) :: Tue, 07/04/2006 - 1:46am

the cowboys are going to win this division.

and that thing someone said about a receiver is only as good as his QB, does that mean that jake delhomme is better than peyton manning? because steve smith got more yards than marvin harrison.

next, the giants have a pretty good defense, and they had a pretty good draft. terrell owens will lead the cowboys to the playoffs, i doubt the cowboys will reach the superbowl, i think the nfc superbowl contended will be either the seahawks, or the panthers.

i think the redskins playoff chances all depend on mark brunell. if he does good, then the redskins are getting into the playoffs. if he doesnt do taht good. they'll be lucky to get a wildcard spot.

266
by chris (not verified) :: Tue, 07/04/2006 - 9:37am

RE: 241
I unfortunately work in the D.C. area so I have seen what the Redskins free agent additions have done in the past few years. Before you have a brain hemorrhage, most of those additions were before Gibbs and co. took over. I'm not stupid enough or naive enough to argue over what their coaching staff can do with these new guys. I personally think they have the best coaching staff in the league. I want to see what this Campbell kid can do, he wasn't as highly regarded coming out of the draft as the 2 qbs selected before him, but I think he has better weapons around him than Smith and Rodgers. As far as their D goes, Archuletta could be much better than he was with the Rams. Different system and better personnel around him will more than likely make him better. I think their Linebackers and D-line depth is suspect. I said that last year and they proved me wrong, who knows. The coaches had them playing really well at the end of last year. I didn't think they were as good as the record showed, that's what a good coach will do. Look at the Patriots.

As far as the giants go, Lavar is one of the most talented outside linebackers in the league period. My problem with him is his head. He gets lost in the defense and like you said, is a liability at times. He does make a hell of a lot of plays though, one of those guys that can just change a game. For good or bad.

Last year was a disaster for the Eagles from the end of the Super Bowl all the way until the Draft this year. T.O., McDougal getting shot right before training camp, Westbrook's miny hold out and missing the last few games, Simon wanting to be among the highest paid D-tackles without being one and getting released, their kicker and punter getting hurt and missing significant time during the season, Mcnabb getting hurt the first game of the year and missing the last seven, Pinkston missing the whole season, Lito Shepard missing the last few games, 2 starters and 1 backup on the O-Line missing several games due to various injuries. I'm sure I'm missing some other issues the team faced last year, but I can't remember a team ever going through anything like what this team went through. It could actually make them better for it this year due to a lot of young guys saw more playing time than they would have if not for all the injuries. They could be in for another disaster year, then again so could any other team in the league.

This is what I love about the off-season, every fan thinks their team is the best and has a legit shot at winning the S.B. (maybe not Jets and 49ers fans). All of it is speculation, we won’t know until late September to early October who are playoff contenders. Even then it's up in the air until mid to late December. Any team in the NFC East is capable of winning the Division. ANY TEAM YANG.

267
by jcabana (not verified) :: Tue, 07/04/2006 - 9:55am

Pat said,
I’ve read and seen full transcripts from the players at media conferences...none of the things that made it hard to work were endemic in any way.

He also said, And random comments from McNabb taken out of context from the questions that they’re responding to don’t convince me either.

Normally I wouldn't believe that anyone would take the time to do something like that, but I'm older now and I know better. There are some fans whose obsession really does run that deep, and you might be one of them. Well, you have your interpretation of what you read, and I have mine.

You could be right, but you speak with the authority of someone who is absolutely right. Frankly, I don't think anything would convince you, because you seem to think you know everything there is to know on the subject. That's impossible, of course, without actually being on the team and in the locker room...which is why either of us could be correct.

Frankly, you just might know everything a fan could know, but fans as hardcore as you sometimes (often?) have somewhat colored interpretations of what they see, hear and read. We'll just have to agree to disagree.

And if you want “evidence� that things weren’t bad beforehand?

Actually, I don't. Not because such "evidence" would poke holes in my argument; rather, it's because both my evidence and yours is completely up to subjective interpretation. Which is why I fail to understand why you think my notions are so absurd.

Besides, it's not that simple. One conversation between two players does not prove that these issues don't exist, any more than my comments prove the do exist. Furthermore, many teams hav similar issues between players that never manifest themselves at all. My point is, for such issues to come to the surface there often is a catalyst.

Granted, the issues I referenced are mostly rumors. But they are rumors based upon things journalists have heard from people close to the team. I'm not basing my speculation on that one comment by McNabb and nothing else. It just seemed like a good example of what I was talking about.

Nowhere do I say that I am totally right; I just said that there is some evidence to suggest that these issues MIGHT exist, and I want to wait and see if the Eagles prove the rumors wrong.

They played better than a 6-10 team. They played more like an 8-8 team.

Would anyone be surprised if an 8-8ish team with injuries tweaks a few things and ends up winning the Super Bowl the next year? I wouldn’t be.

Neither would I - and I've stated this repeatedly. I completely agree that the Eagles played better than 6-10. They had a few bad breaks that decided games, but they also got some lucky ones earlier in the season (the San Diego game, for instance).

However, there's no way they are winning the Super Bowl, or even making it past the title game, UNLESS they somehow get better performances out of the teams' traditional weakest points (or unless they get extremely lucky with matchups).

In other words, this Eagles team would have to prove it was better than the teams of 2001-2004, because those teams didn't get the job done either. Making things even harder for Philly, they may not even be the best team in the division...even if their talent and coaching is at the level of, say, the 2003 Eagles.

It’s not beyond my comprehension that it could screw things up. I’ve just never seen clear evidence of it at the professional level.

Never? Really? While my football examples are hazy (let's face it, the T.O. situation was almost unprecedented), there are many examples of this in pro basketball. Sometimes, getting rid of the antagonists actually improves the team. But certainly not always - just ask the Indiana Pacers or the Minnesota Timberwolves if their team chemistry and won-loss records improved after they got rid of their malcontents.

Strong convictions and deeply held beliefs are usually admirable qualities. I admire your conviction and the depth of your knowledge about your favorite team. But flexibility is also admirable. The numbers you quote so readily are a manifestation of several factors. Some are easily quantifiable, and some aren't.

268
by jcabana (not verified) :: Tue, 07/04/2006 - 10:07am

Re 261, 263

I would have agreed with you a couple of years ago, but this seems to be the way Gregg Williams' defense works. As long as there are a certain number of talented defensive players, he can slot in no-names at other spots without too much of a dropoff.

There are some linchpins from what I've seen, though. Without Griffin, the d-line becomes average. Without Springs, the secondary becomes a bit more shaky. But I suppose that's natural. Plus, they brought in new players at those positions this year.

Each year it seems as if the Redskins quietly let some of their defensive backups go, quietly re-sign others to short-term deals, and use a signifcant number of their few draft picks on defense. If these guys weren't seen as good enough by the coaching staff, I'm guessing Williams would have gone to Gibbs and Snyder and bought replacements.

I think that team's biggest weakness is o-line depth and backup QB. I haven't seen the offense be able to pull off the same ability to replace people as the defense, but perhaps Al Saunders might be able to change that.

269
by jcabana (not verified) :: Tue, 07/04/2006 - 10:11am

Re 256

I saw a report at the beginning of this offseason's coaching carousel suggesting Gregg Williams is the heir apparent in D.C. He signed a new contract that stipulates a multi-million-dollar payout if Snyder hires someone other than Williams to replace Gibbs. Since you aren't allowed to guarantee someone a coaching vacancy that doesn't exist yet, it was Snyder's way of retaining Williams without breaking the rules.

270
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 07/04/2006 - 12:23pm

Normally I wouldn’t believe that anyone would take the time to do something like that, but I’m older now and I know better.

What? It takes like 5 minutes a day. One of the really nice things about the Philly website is that the press conference transcripts are available online all in one place, so it's easy.

And part of the reason that I'm speaking so strongly is that the picture of the 2005 Eagles locker room is the one that was most commonly shoved out in the press, but it simply didn't agree with the actual interviews that were being taken, and a lot of the comments used were after just constant amounts of badgering.

It's a lot like the Ray Lewis story earlier in the year, where the press painted a picture that Lewis didn't approve of Brian Billick. The guy said "no comment." and he said "no comment" near the end of a long interview. It's just silly, but it makes a pretty storyline, so... off it goes.

Never? Really? While my football examples are hazy (let’s face it, the T.O. situation was almost unprecedented), there are many examples of this in pro basketball.

I doubt the TO situation is really unprecedented. It's just that the media coverage of it is what's new. It was clear that Peyton Manning hated Mike Vanderjagt, for instance, and that's definitely not the only other example. That's why I don't put a lot of stock into stuff like that.

As for the basketball examples, I don't know. It is a different sport with fewer players on a team, though.

Each year it seems as if the Redskins quietly let some of their defensive backups go, quietly re-sign others to short-term deals, and use a signifcant number of their few draft picks on defense. If these guys weren’t seen as good enough by the coaching staff, I’m guessing Williams would have gone to Gibbs and Snyder and bought replacements.

But you can't just replace some of the guys with better people. You need to find replacements who are better at the same cost. Those players have the huge advantage that they're dirt cheap.

The backups have been able to manage for only the handful of games that Wynn/Griffin/Salave'a have ever missed, but managing for one game and managing for 16 are totally different things. One of the big benefits of being a backup over a starter is that other teams don't have enough film to scout you.

271
by Drew630 (not verified) :: Wed, 07/05/2006 - 12:43pm

RE 269

I could see Snyder doing that, but I would have to question his motives, considering the disaster that was Gregg Williams as a HC in Buffalo. Maybe it is just his way of keeping Williams around longer than he would stay otherwise. For what it's worth, I would think that if Saunders comes in and is buddy-buddy with Gibbs and runs a version of Gibbs system and it works with the personnel, he would want to keep Saunders more in charge. I can't imagine that Saunders would want to stay as OC if Williams became HC, especially if a good HC position opened elsewhere. Saunders would be a better long term fit for the Skins, in my opinion, and I would hope that Snyder would see that too.

Of course, as an Eagles fan, it might not be a bad idea for Williams to take over :)

272
by James White (not verified) :: Thu, 07/06/2006 - 7:35am

I think now is probably the best time to place bets on how long it takes TO to become a disruption in the Cowboys camp.

From reading a lot of the posts, there are a lot of people questioning the Cowboys offensive line. An offensive line thats got to protect Bledsoe (not the easiest qb to keep safe). And a qb thats gotta keep TO happy. The first McNabb/Owens season they had was fantastic (until the superbowl) after which TO constantly critised him, regardless of the great season they just had. 1 game was enough! (ok it was the superbowl, but i just don't see bledsoe giving him the service McNabb did over the season)

I just cant see Owens getting free in the middle, to find his qb on his back week in week out and him not saying anything. He won't be able to help it. The Cowboys o-line has a big job to do this season...

He may last until november, but if I was a betting man, my money would be on 8 oct, if they loose to the Eagles (and yang, it might happen) Owens is gonna have to tell the world how the loss was nothing to do with him. In the best was Owens knows how, and thats by pointing the finger. Remember, it only took him 1 bad game fot the Eagles!

Anyone else wanna give a date?

273
by Smurf (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 2:59pm

I'm an Eagles fan, but the 2006 draft will have little to no effect on the 2006 season.

The problem with the entire off-season (including the draft), is that the Eagles did not address the gaping holes that existed in the 2005 season.

When they lost Carlos Emmons, the Eagles advertized castoff Dhani Jones as his better, younger replacement. In fact, the Giants signed Emmons to replace Jones.

This off-season, the Eagles, knowing full well that neither Jones nor Adams were capable of playing the position, signed no veteran starters and drafted none. Sean Barber is an aging backup who hasn't played in a year and a half. I sincerely hope that what happened to Barber doesn't happen to Trot.

Last year, the Eagles waited until the last minute to signing castoff Lamar Gordon, who, along with Brian Westbrook, was incapable of filling the need for a true running back.

This year, the Eagles mistakenly capitulated to Westbrook's out-of-line demand for a big paycheck, thus closing the door, in the minds of the Eagles Front Office, to any possibility of signing the likes of Mike Anderson or drafting Lendale White.

Sure enough, this year, the Eagles signed no veteran running back and drafted none.

Finally, after experiencing in 2004, the positive effect of real #1 wide receiver, the Eagles apparently preferred to remember the glory days of Stinkston and Trash. That's why they failed to land Moulds or Walker or draft a replacement.

The Eagles may have done well in the draft on paper, but it won't mean a thing to their performance in 2006. I'll watch every game on TV because I'm a fan, but I won't be surprised when they again finish last in the NFC East with a record of 3-13.

274
by Omar (not verified) :: Tue, 07/11/2006 - 1:30am

Re #273 -

Now THAT'S the Philly fan that I know and love!

275
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 07/11/2006 - 1:47am

This off-season, the Eagles, knowing full well that neither Jones nor Adams were capable of playing the position,

What, exactly, is wrong with Jones? The fact that he didn't have any sacks last year? Except for the fact that the SAM linebacker under Johnson never gets any sacks?

What's a SAM linebacker's primary job, usually? Covering the tight end. PHI pass defense vs TE, 2005: -15.0%, ranked 6th. Or getting to the running back if he's in open space. PHI pass defense vs RB, 2005: -25.8%, ranked 4th.

Jones wasn't the problem.

signed no veteran starters and drafted none.

They drafted McCoy last year. No one expected him to break the starting lineup last year - takes too long for linebackers to learn the defense, since they have to make sure that the safety valves for the QBs stay bottled up. A bad linebacker for Philly's defense means a tight end or running back open in space, and off to the races. Neither of which happened last year.

DVOA gives a great explanation as to what happened to Philly's pass defense: #1 WRs killed them. And that's due to the missig pass rush.

Finally, after experiencing in 2004, the positive effect of real #1 wide receiver, the Eagles apparently preferred to remember the glory days of Stinkston and Trash.

I think equating Brown to James Thrash is a little insane. Brown was definitely a first-year receiver, but he showed enough promise that I think he warrants a shot. By the end of the season he was pretty regularly putting up 70-80 yard games, and with McMahon and Detmer throwing to him.

Brown actually put up more yardage in his first year than Thrash did his last year with Philly. Like I said, I think he deserves a shot.

276
by BobL (not verified) :: Tue, 08/08/2006 - 11:08am

No comments on the Hall of Fame Game???