Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features

JonesJon15.jpg

» SDA: Early Playoff Elimination Round

TCU-West Virginia and Auburn-Ole Miss might as well be early playoff elimination rounds, with the losers likely knocked out of playoff contention.

12 Feb 2007

Four Downs: NFC East

by Ryan Wilson

Heading into the 2006 season, the NFC East was arguably the most complete division in the conference. Giants quarterback Eli Manning was poised for a breakout season; head coach Bill Parcells was entering year four in Dallas; in Philadelphia, Donovan McNabb was healthy and sans T.O.; and Washington, with its usual assortment of high-priced off-season free-agent additions, was readying for a playoff run. A strange thing happened on the way to Miami: Tom Coughlin lost control of his team, Dallas' defense lost its way, McNabb was lost to injury, and the Redskins lost 11 games, in part, because of poor personnel decisions last off-season.

Although three NFC East teams qualified for the postseason, the Giants and Cowboys faltered down the stretch, while the Eagles exceeded expectations by making it to the NFC Divisional game without their starting quarterback.

Dallas Cowboys

Head coach Bill Parcells ended each of his four seasons in Dallas with a different quarterback: Quincy Carter, Vinny Testaverde, Drew Bledsoe, and finally Tony Romo. Despite the heartbreaking wild-card loss to the Seahawks because of a botched Romo hold on a field-goal attempt, the fourth-year undrafted quarterback offers the Cowboys stability at the position for the first time since Troy Aikman retired in 2000.

Even with the all the quarterback uncertainty during his Dallas tenure, Parcells managed a 34-30 record -- including two playoff appearances -- but opted to retire last month, telling the Dallas Morning News, "I just think it's time. Physically I could do it again, but mentally, I think that's the difference."

Last week, owner Jerry Jones named Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips the new Cowboys head coach, the seventh in team history. Jones hired Dolphins quarterbacks coach Jason Garrett in an undecided role, but he will serve as the Cowboys offensive coordinator. Dallas' defense, as currently constituted, is best suited for the 3-4, the same scheme Phillips had great success with in San Diego. Though some questioned the Phillips hire, in four full seasons as a head coach in Buffalo and Denver, he compiled a 45-35 record, including three playoff appearances.

Who Could Leave?

Other than Parcells, who is already out the door -- likely plotting his return to the New York Jets in some front-office capacity, -- wide receiver Terrell Owens is the biggest question mark. Jones told the Fort Worth Star Telegram that Owens will return for 2007, even though he sported a 56 percent catch rate and regularly dropped passes, is due a $3 million roster bonus in June, and was a divisive locker room presence.

The offensive line could have some turnover. Right tackle Marc Colombo is a free agent. Center Andre Gurode is also a free agent, but he should be re-signed. Gurode is best known for being on the receiving end of an Albert Haynesworth stomp to the face in Week 4, but he also made the Pro Bowl. Guard Marco Rivera and left tackle Flozell Adams are still under contract. According to Football Outsiders, the Cowboys ranked 23rd in adjusted sack rate. However, the Cowboys would be 29th if we only included games started by Bledsoe, and 15th if we only included games started by Romo.

Mike Vanderjagt, possibly the most overpaid player in the NFL last season, was released in November and replaced by Martin Gramatica, who is also a free agent.

Whom Should They Sign?
(Projected Cap Space: $21.5 million)

Depending on what Phillips and Garrett decide, the offensive line could see a major overhaul or just a few tweaks. If the Cowboys choose to upgrade through free agency, guard Eric Steinbach and tackle Leonard Davis are the top available free agents in a thin class, but neither will come cheaply.

The kicking game is also an issue. The Cowboys could re-sign Gramatica, who converted 7-of-9 field goals last season, including 3-of-5 from beyond 40 yards. Or, if the team is willing to lay down some cash, the Seahawks' Josh Brown is available. After spotting Vanderjagt a $2.5 million signing bonus last off-season, Dallas may be hesitant to go down that road again.

Adding depth in the secondary isn't a top priority but should be addressed, if not in free agency then via the draft. Roy Williams struggles in coverage, and Pat Watkins had an uneven rookie season. Tony Parrish was signed in December but is an unrestricted free agent.

New York Giants

The Giants jumped out to a 6-2 start, then backed into the playoffs at 8-8. After a wild card loss to the Eagles, Tom Coughlin was expected to lose his job, but instead received a one-year extension. Defensive coordinator Tim Lewis wasn't so lucky. He was fired, and the team hired Eagles linebackers coach Steve Spagnuolo to replace him. There is some speculation that Coughlin is only a placeholder for 2007, and the team will make a run at one of the big-name coaches likely to be available next off-season.

Who Could Leave?

In case you haven't heard, Tiki Barber has retired. Brandon Jacobs is Barber's obvious successor, but there is no depth behind him.

New York has nine unrestricted free agents. Center Shaun O'Hara, who can also play guard, performed well last season, but the Giants will only re-sign him at the right price. Linebacker Brandon Short probably will not be back but that could depend, in part, on LaVar Arrington's recovery from an Achilles injury. Carols Emmons is perpetually injured and could be released. The Giants hope second-year outside linebacker Gerris Wilkinson is ready to step into a starting role.

Kicker Jay Feely is also a free agent but will probably be re-signed. The only other notable free agent is backup tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. He was a third-round pick in 2003, but has only 32 receptions in four seasons. The Giants might let him go, especially if the team feels Darcy Jackson is ready to graduate from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.

Whom Should They Sign?
(Projected Cap Space: $15.7 million)

New York ranked 13th in defensive efficiency last season, which is astounding considering all the injuries. Defensive ends Michael Strahan (foot) and Osi Umenyiora (hip) missed considerable time, and there is no guarantee Arrington will ever fully recover from a torn Achilles. Based on the health of New York's front seven, defensive line and linebacker depth could be a priority. Adalius Thomas and Lance Briggs are two intriguing names, though both could receive the franchise tag from their current teams.

The secondary was a liability for most of the season. Sam Madison's poor play was the only reason more wasn't written about Corey Webster's sophomore slump. Either Asante Samuel and Nate Clements would be marked upgrades, but both would be costly.

The Giants would like to bring in someone to compete with Jacobs, a third-year back from Southern Illinois who is unproven as a starter. Free agent Ahman Green would be a short-term solution, but New York covets Chargers restricted free agent Michael Turner. Turner would almost certainly command a first-round pick, but he might be worth it.

Philadelphia Eagles

As well as things went for the Eagles in the last third of the season -- also known as the Jeff Garcia Era -- the off-season has been just bad. First, there were rumors the Eagles would trade McNabb to the Lions for the No. 2 overall pick. Then, according to the Associated Press, head coach Andy Reid's 21-year-old son was charged with drug and weapon offenses stemming from an incident in which he was accused of pointing a gun at another motorist.

Obviously, Reid's family is his first priority. Now that he's taking a month off to deal with those issues, the Eagles will need to take care of free agency without him.

Who Could Leave?

Bill Cowher resigned one year after winning the Super Bowl to spend more time with his family and to watch his daughters play basketball. Andy Reid could follow Cowher's lead, but for more serious reasons. If Reid's month off turns into a year off or longer, Marty Mornhinweg has head-coaching experience, is currently the assistant head coach/offensive coordinator, and has Reid's full trust. Last year, Reid relinquished play-calling duties to Mornhinweg, and he credits the offensive coordinator for helping the Eagles turn their season around.

The Eagles have 11 free agents, and Jeff Garcia will likely be the most sought-after. All the 36-year-old quarterback did was replace McNabb, win five games in a row to end the regular season, and beat the Giants in the first round of the playoffs. Now, the former Browns and Lions retread could find himself with a starting gig in 2007. Garcia indicated he is amenable to returning to the Eagles and is more interested in winning a Super Bowl than just being a starting quarterback in the NFL. We will see if a lucrative contract changes his mind. If Garcia does leave, A.J. Feeley will back up McNabb.

Like Garcia, Donte' Stallworth also said he would like to return to Philadelphia, but he heads the list of a mostly pedestrian wide receiver free agent class. If Stallworth goes elsewhere, the Eagles still have Reggie Brown and are high on rookie Hank Baskett.

Running back Correll Buckhalter had a nice season after missing two years to injury. The team will try to re-sign him to back up Brian Westbrook. Safety Michael Lewis, who was benched at one point last season, will not be back. Sean Considine played well in his place and took his starting job. The Eagles would also like to re-sign safety Quintin Mikell. Third-string quarterback Koy Detmer is a free agent but if the Tony Romo botched hold taught us anything, it's that good holders, like good long snappers, are well worth a roster spot.

Whom Should They Sign?
(Projected Cap Space: $12.4 million)

The Eagles probably won't be huge players in the free agent market. The team has drafted well recently and many of those picks could make up most of the roster in 2007. Linebackers Omar Gaither and Chris Gocong should become full-time starters, and the offensive line is set, at least on paper. Shawn Andrews, a 2004 first-round pick, made the Pro Bowl, and Winston Justice and Max Jean-Gilles, taken in the 2006 draft, provide depth.

Defensive end Javon Kearse is returning from serious knee injury, and his effectiveness could be a concern. Also, 2006 first-round defensive tackle Broderick Bunkley had a forgettable rookie season. The team will need more production from the position next year.

Washington Redskins

Joe Gibbs is entering his fourth year of un-retirement and in that time the Redskins have drafted 16 players, acquired just as many big-name players through free agency or trades, and posted a 21-27 record. Owner Daniel Snyder would never fire Gibbs, but until the three-time Super Bowl-winning head coach gives up his personnel duties, Washington will continue to stumble through the NFC East.

Who Could Leave?

The Redskins have 11 unrestricted free agents but only linebacker Warrick Holdman was a starter. Holdman was often overmatched last season and will likely be replaced by 2006 second-round pick Rocky McIntosh. Running back T.J. Duckett was acquired last August for a third-round pick and then spent the season buried on the depth chart. Duckett's a free agent and wants to be a starter. With Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts firmly entrenched in Washington, Duckett won't be back. Neither will oft-injured kicker John Hall, who is still under contract but seldom healthy.

In an effort to create cap room or to just cut dead weight, Washington could choose to release David Patten, Brandon Lloyd, Adam Archuleta, and maybe even Mark Brunell. Archuleta is possibly the biggest free-agent signing-turned-bust during the Gibbs regime. and the team would eagerly listen to any trade offers.

Whom Should They Sign?
(Projected Cap Space: -$2.4 million)

Unlike last off-season, the Redskins will be relatively quiet during free agency. The defense ranked last in the NFL in 2006. The pass rush was nonexistent, and as a result the secondary floundered. Opponents threw away from cornerback Shawn Springs when he was healthy enough to play, which meant 2005 first-round pick Carlos Rogers was exposed as the weak link. Washington would love to upgrade the position with Samuel or Clements, but don't have the cap space to do so.

There were rumors during the season the Redskins would make a typical off-season run at Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney, but Indianapolis will either sign him to a long-term deal or franchise him. Defensive ends Patrick Kerney and Charles Grant are unrestricted free agents, but Kerney, who is 31, could re-sign with the Falcons, and Grant could be too expensive for Washington given their cap constraints.

The Redskins have the sixth overall pick in the April draft and will in all likelihood use the pick to draft a pass-rushing end.

Next: AFC East by Bill Barnwell

*All projected cap numbers courtesy of www.askthecommish.com. These numbers are "ballpark" and are subject to change. The intention is to give an approximate idea of each team's available resources before free agency and the draft begin.

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 12 Feb 2007

80 comments, Last at 26 Mar 2007, 9:00pm by Jason Mulgrew aka Lord J Rocka

Comments

1
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 6:33pm

Archuleta would be a giant, giant cap hit if he was cut. It wouldn't gain them any cap space, thanks to the nifty "option me or you're screwed" provision. I think Lloyd's similar, so he's uncuttable too. Patten generates only a small amount if cut. Brunell generates a large amount.

2
by Al Bogdan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 6:34pm

Profootballtalk is reporting that the Giants have cut Arrington, Luke Petitgout and Chad Morton. No confirmation elsewhere as of yet.

3
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 7:03pm

I'd say the Eagles are clearly the favorite to win the East, followed by the Giants, with the Deadskins and Cowgirls fighting it out in the cellar.

If the Eagles broke their piggy bank and signed Briggs or Thomas they could be deadly next year. If had Adalis Thomas move up I95 a little bit and inserted him into JJ's defense, I'd peg them as favorites in the NFC.

I think the biggest mistake the Giants could make would be to draft a RB #1. I'd go with Jacobs as my workhorse and sign a vet guy like Marshall Faulk ( to replace Barber and compliment him) and try and draft another guy in the later rounds for a longer term fix ( where as faulk would be a band aid). The Giants have too many holes on defense to waste a 1st rounder on a RB. They could really use a playmaking CB, DT, OLB or even S ( but I don't think they would dump Will Demps just yet).

Dallas needs to address their O-Line and secondary and Washington needs a pass rush more than life itself. The Redskins need more than just a pass rush, but that is a glaring need. They also need some more production out of linebackers not named Marcus Washington and they need Corner and Safety help. Vernon Fox isn't going to cut it, Springs might be done, and Carlos Rodgers isn't who we thought he was.

I think after this Season Joe Gibbs will be done and we can add the redskins to the list of teams trying to court one of the big name coaches.

4
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 7:31pm

Holy cow, if he's willing, Cowher is going to set the market next year, and he's going to set it HIGH! Seven million a year or more seems to be in the offing.

The next few years are going to be a wonderful time, financially, to be an NFL head coach, and I suspect that it will prove to be the case for coordinators as well.

5
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 7:32pm

I think that Dallas have to be the favourites at this (very early) stage. If they move Henry to FS and draft a corner followed by a guard then I donn't see where they have a major weakness. Romo will have an offseason to improve and Owens, Glenn and Witten are the best set of receivers in the division.

I'd rate the Eagles as the next best side, just behind them. The front seven must be a worry for Eagles fans. Kearse was out last year and ACLs usually take a year or two to get back to strength. Trotter has become a liability in coverage, they have no other decent LBs (I think that wishing for Gocong to start is a bit much, he was a raw 1-AA guy who was hurt all year, I'd be amazed if he was ready to play a major role). None of Howard, Patterson or Bunkley have lived up the the hype they received when they arrived. And McNabb has been injured a lot over the past few years.

The Giants and the Washington could stink next year. No Barber means that the Giants will have to rely on Eli (much hilarity ensues) and they only have 4 good defensive players (Strahan, Umeniora, Pierce and Wilson). The Skins are an ugly mess from top to bottom.

6
by ABW (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 7:49pm

Re: 5

Which corners or guards do you think are NFL ready? I was under the impression that this year's draft class is not particularly strong at either position. I could believe that there is a guard out there that's ready to play in the NFL, but if recent history is any guide then whatever highly-regarded CB the Cowboys draft is not going to be a contributor immediately. Even Pac-man Jones, who I think is pretty clearly the most successful 1st round CB pick of the past few years, wasn't that great his rookie year.

7
by Alan Milnes (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 7:59pm

re 5

So you think the guys the Eagles drafted a year ago won't be ready to play but a cornerback right out of college will be?

Given how they finished last year and the various coaching changes the Eales have to be regarded as slight favourites in the East.

8
by The Ninjalectual (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 8:18pm

the Seahawks’ Josh Brown is available. After spotting Vanderjagt a $2.5 million signing bonus last off-season, Dallas may be hesitant to go down that road again.

I would have thought that after spotting Vanderjagt that kind of money, it shows the team is willing to spend to get a top kicker. Brown is a much better option than the idiot kicker, IMO.

9
by The Ninjalectual (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 8:30pm

God I hope the Redskins can pay Bill Cowher $7 mil/year in 2008.

10
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 8:45pm

re 6: Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman both started most of their rookie years (though in a zone system) so it is possible. I believe that the rookie corners that the Bengals and Seahawks took could also have been starting if there weren't veterans in front of them. Didn't Darrent Willams started 9 games as a rookie. The alternative would be to go after Jason David or to leave Henry where he is and draft a safety. Would you agree that it is possible to pick up a starting safety and guard with a 1st and a 2nd?

re 7: I'm not sure I understand your point? The 2nd year eagle I mentioned broke his leg and missed the whole year. Gocong is supposed to be a great athlete but raw (I wanted the niners to draft him though to be a 3-4 OLB) I never thought he'd have made a major impact as a rookie before he was hurt and now that he's making a comeback from injury I'd expect his 2nd year development to be retarded a little as well.

11
by David (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 8:57pm

I'm not a skins fan, but if they can field a halfway decent defense they'll have a good shot at the playoffs. Their offense toward the end of the season impressed me, and I haven't seen anyone talking about it.

12
by sevenyearlion (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 9:04pm

Re 2:

ESPN.com has Carlos Emmons gone as well

13
by ABW (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 9:18pm

Yeah, I believe you can pick up a starting safety and a guard with a 1st and a 2nd. 2 starting safeties were found in the 4th round last year, after all. And plenty of rookie CBs play - I just don't think you can count on getting a CB in the draft who is going to be an immediate improvement over Henry, who isn't great but is at least a solid veteran.

14
by Mickey (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 9:31pm

I would think that with the cutting of two starting LB's that the Giants must think they have a shot at Briggs or Thomas. Although Petitgout made me insane for most of his tenure, the Giants offense took a huge step back once he got injured. There had better be someone out there (not the human head butt machine Bob Whitfield), who they have their eye on. Lets face it, putting a rookie Left Tackle in front of Eli would be flirting with disaster.

15
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 9:32pm

Kearse was out last year and ACLs usually take a year or two to get back to strength.

Kearse did not tear his ACL!! He didn't have surgery on any tendons, much less his ACL. He had minor tears to his PCL and LCL, neither of which required surgery. He also broke his tibia. All that was done in surgery was repair of cartilage damage.

Kearse could've played in the postseason. He'll be fine next year.

If I hear "Kearse's severe knee injury" one more time, I'll lose it. The reporter who kept leaking incorrect medical information really needs to be fired.

16
by Tom (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 9:46pm

Rumor is that Giants are going hard after Samuel with the cap money they got from Gout, with Spags having Kiwi moved to SAM.

17
by Snoop (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 10:03pm

Dallas could use another pure pass rusher, but they seem prone to tear the ACL, like Kearse did, and then it is game over.

18
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 10:08pm

BTW has anyone heard yet that Kearse had a really bad tear of his ACL last year? He won't be back for years due to this “severe knee injury�. I've also heard that he suffers from a runny nose that ruins his concentration in team meetings and that his severe athlete's foot causes him to suffer involuntary bowel movements when taking his stance pre-snap.

19
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 10:11pm

re 16: Moving Kiwi (Is this an official nickname? I hope so as I'd need about 12 attempts to spell his real name properly) would be a great idea. The Giants have far too many ends to get the most out of them and very few linebackers.

20
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 10:12pm

Sorry to all for the double post

21
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 10:14pm

OK, sorry to all for the triple post that has just become a quadruple post. Whew. This is getting nearly as bad as Javon Kearse's ACL injury.

22
by JasonK (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 10:16pm

#14:

The Giants were going to need 2 OLBs even if they kept Arrington. Emmons has been a dead man walking (hobbling, actually) since the end of the season. And with Arrington's injury history, you need to have a backup who's ready to start at any time. The drafted Gerris Wilkinson in the 3rd round last year, but it isn't a good sign that he was a healthy scratch for the playoff game @PHI. They needed a replacement for Emmons and someone to wait in the wings for Arrington's inevitable injury (resigning Brandon Short could be a stopgap at either spot).

As for LT, I'm somewhat surprised by the Petitgout cut. It saves them some money, and he has occasional back problems, but he had a very solid season until he broke his leg. My guess is that the front office was impressed with LG Dave Diehl's two game "tryout" at LT at the end of the season. After a shaky start against the Redskins in the regular season closer (he gave up one bad sack to Andre Carter), he recovered and was solid in pass protection for the rest of that game and the playoff game in Philly. And the run blocking was great in both of those games. They've also got a developmental prospect in Guy Whimper, who they spent a 4th round pick on last year.

A guess based on rumors: The Giants will pursue Leonard Davis to play Guard, move Diehl to LT, and focus on more power-blocking schemes, which fits Brandon Jacobs' strengths better than the traps and counters they used with Tiki.

#19:
It's "Kiwanuka." For the moment, I'm happy with him as a DE who occasionally lines up at OLB on passing downs. Strahan doesn't have more than a season or two left in him, and I think he has more potential to be a game-breaking DE than Justin Tuck does. I don't want to lose that future potential to fill an immediate need, so I'd rather him bulk up a bit to be a better lineman.

23
by Pete C (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 10:26pm

Could this division really go from Parcells and Reid to Wade "Johnson over Flutie" Phillips and the guy who chose to kickoff in overtime??

24
by Harris (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 10:36pm

Somebody is going to grossly overpay Garcia next year and I wish the Eagles could benefit from it. I'm going to love watching teams fall all over themselves to get a 36-year-old QB whose had about 10 good games over the past three seasons, nearly pissed away the first Giants game with a stupid personal foul followed by a horrible pick in the 4th quarter and stank up the joint in the playoffs. I'm sure the mouth-breathers in this city will scream bloody murder (and blame McNabb) if Garcia isn't re-signed, but I'll be happy if they do nothing but re-sign Stallworth (please, God), Buckhalter and William James. Of course, I'd also draft two safeties and a TE on the first day, so what do I know?

25
by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 10:57pm

More good news for the Giants - Bob Whitfield offically retired. Now I figure we could have gotten enough people together to storm the clubhouse and drag him out if we needed to, but it's better if we can avoid that.

26
by Podpeople (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 12:03am

hey did anybody else here about jevon kearse's leg falling off? Also MCnabb sucks, let's hop aboard the Garcia train to bad decision town.

27
by Adam B. (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 12:22am

You know who I'm looking forward to seeing on the Eagles next year? Jeremy Bloom. People forget too easily.

28
by billsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 1:33am

19, 22:

Everyone at BC called him Kiwi.

27:

I'd like to see what Bloom can do too, but what I really want to see is Sean Considine teaching the rest of the defense how to tackle. He didn't start until partway through the season and still finished third in tackles.

29
by Oh, Mathematics (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 2:07am

Re: 28

From what I could tell, the /last/ thing I'd want to see is Considine teaching the team to tackle. He may have had a lot of them, but from what I remember (the Colts game sticks out glaringly in my mind) 3 or 4 yards were generally gained after first contact.

Re: 24

I think I said this elsewhere already, but I'd be very surprised if they re-signed Stallworth. You have to expect that at this point they are expecting Bloom to be the full-time KR/PR, so keeping Stallworth means having 6 (!) receivers on the roster. In other words, either Greg Lewis or Jason Avant never dresses. The only way I see it happening is if they trade Lewis, as I don't think they'd want to let any of the other guys go. I'd love to see them re-sign Buckhalter, James, and Juqua Thomas.

30
by Podpeople (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 7:35am

RE 29 Considine was coming off a shoulder injury which meant he couldn't put as much work in as he wanted too. Basically his plan for the offseason is to gain a ton of muscle weight. Also, I love this site because it's fairly objective but this article has joined in the "shit on the 2007 eagles" bandwagon. First of all I sincerely doubt Andy Reid is giving up his job, he is only taking a leave of abscence from the team complex but will still be in contact by phone. Second of all, there a a lot of big unknowns for the defense next year, a lot of untested guys that will need to step up, but the eagles for the most part turned things around and I don't see any reason why they can't be competetive next year. All there flaws aside they did scrape out a 10-6 record and 5-1 in there division (and would have beaten the giants in week2 if they hadn't fallen asleep in the 4th quarter).

31
by Harris (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 8:26am

Re: #29

I didn't say they would re-sign Stallworth, only that they should. I've seen nothing from Avant or Lewis suggesting they're that critical to the receiving corps, so if the choice is between keeping them or signing Stallworth, that's a no-brainer.

I'm more curious to see what they do on defense. Dawkins is 33, Considine is not an NFL starter, the DTs are were bad against the run and Dhani Jones should really begin planning his post-football future. I can't see them shelling out for Briggs or A. Thomas, though that might appease the fans if/when Stallworth walks. If the rest of this division wasn't so bad I'd be panicking right now.

32
by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 8:54am

Too bad about Kearse's ACL tear...when do you think he will be back? I heard he will be out 2-3 years.

33
by podpeople (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 9:48am

I agree about Lewis and Avant. They showed nothing special, and as a matter of fact, the only thing I remember Avant for is him fumbling away a deep pass within the 20 yard line.

34
by podpeople (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 9:49am

Also, the rumors the eagles are going to trade mcnabb are so unfounded it's rediculous. Enough already.

35
by dryheat (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 10:25am

Third-string quarterback Koy Detmer is a free agent but if the Tony Romo botched hold taught us anything, it’s that good holders, like good long snappers, are well worth a roster spot.

While keeping a placeholding specialist like Detmer is the new thirty, he'd have to dress each game instead of, or in addition to, Feeley and/or Garcia.

I don't care how good a holder you are, you're really hamstringing your team on game day if you're not contributing elsewhere. It makes far more sense to have the #2 QB or punter, or even a cornerback, as your holder instead of your #3/4 quarterback.

36
by Sam (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 10:26am

I hope the Giants cut Shiancoe. And that nobody signs him. He's the piece of crap that broke Donovin Darius' leg with an illegal block during a Giants turnover. Officials were too busy watching elsewhere on the field to even call the penalty.

37
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 10:34am

A lot of uncertainty in this division.

The 'Skins have to get rid of Brunell (at least his salary). Even doing that it seems they will be paying the price for some other poor decisions for at least another year. But given that Dallas, NY and maybe even Philly are likely to take a step back it's possible Washington could have a significantly better record.

For Philly, I'd say they are in great shape unless Reid extends his LOA from a month to a year. If he does sit out 2007, it would be a huge loss (no pun intended).

Coughlin seems to have worn out his welcome in NY. Unless Eli makes a Brees-like improvement, it's hard to see them improving on laast year.

As for the 'Boys, I'm not a big fan of their coaching change. I'm even less a fan of the owner/GM model.

38
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 10:49am

In other words, either Greg Lewis or Jason Avant never dresses.

So, exactly like last year, you mean.

They'll keep 6 WRs unless Bloom really stands out as a WR. That's pretty much a given.

39
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 10:50am

#29: Of all the people in the secondary, Considine's the last one to teach tackling. Dawkins would be the first.

40
by joel in providence (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 10:58am

a few quick points:

those "rumors out of detroit" about trading mcnabb were really just wishful thinking by a sportswriter and some bloggers. is there ANY evidence joe banner was even considering such a deal?

also, is buckhalter expected to get serious looks from other teams? honestly, unless he gets paid MEGAbucks and is guaranteed a starting spot, he better re-sign with the team that stuck with him through 2 friggin ACL surgeries.

41
by joel in providence (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 11:02am

another thing: brandon short and carols emmons MUST sign with different NFC East teams. It's a rule: Linebackers can't leave the division.

42
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 11:28am

All the 36-year-old quarterback did was replace McNabb, win five games in a row to end the regular season, and beat the Giants in the first round of the playoffs.

Actually, Garcia only won four games in a row. AJ Feely won the final game, and did it without Westbrook, Buckhalter, Stallworth, and Brown, and Runyan and Thomas.

43
by Oh, Mathematics (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 11:38am

Re: 37

Avant played in 8 games last season, and Lewis played in 16 (Baskett 16, Brown 16, Stallworth 12). While Avant only caught a pass in 3 of those games, I have to think that they would be more likely to keep last year's draft pick than Stallworth, considering the relative prices they'd have to pay.
My previous comment about not keeping 6 WRs had to do with the fact that I can't remember them /ever/ keeping that many. However, I'm now noticing that Mahe is the 4th RB on the depth chart, so it is reasonable to think that they would carry only 3 RBs and 6 WRs if Mahe were gone.

I'm interested to find out, at any rate. Stallworth did make a great compliment to Brown, but I'd also like to see some of the younger guys playing stronger roles.

44
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 11:45am

Linebacker Omar Gaither ... should become full-time starter.

I'm not sure why everyone is assuming Gaither should be a full-time starter. Lets look at Player X and Player Y

Player X in 12 games (11 starts):
1 Quarterback hit, 2 sacks
13 tackles for loss/no gain (team leader), 1 stop on 3rd/4th down short of a first down (player did not normally play in the Nickel package on 3rd Down)
A tipped ball that resulted in an interception
Tackle of a punter to prevent his recovery of his own fumble
3 forced fumbles
2 penalties for 20 yards

Player Y in 18 games (7 starts):
1 Quarterback hit, 1.5 sacks
10 tackles for loss, 5 stops on 3rd/4th down
1 interception
5 penalties for 35 yards

Didn't Player X make more big plays? That's McCoy. Player Y (Gaither) leads only in penalties, where he lead the entire linebacking corps. I'd be curious to see the advanced metrics for these two players, but absent them, I don't see Gaither as a clear-cut leader to start at WILL. OTOH, he may supplant Trotter.

45
by billsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 11:45am

29:

He's a safety. Most of his tackles were after LBs missed the ball-carrier. He was third on the team in tackles, B-Dawk was first. When the safeties lead the team in tackling, there are two ways to take it: They're that good, or the rest of the D is that bad. In multiple games this season, I've watched the Eagles linebackers and d-line try to tackle running backs with one arm. Considine has good technique--he wraps up guys and drags them down. He's also show moments of game awareness that mask his inexperience. Exactly twice I've seen him diagnose a slow-developing run play and stop the back cold at the line of scrimmage.

But maybe I haven't seen enough games--I only catch the Eagles on SNF/MNF and when I'm visiting my in-laws.

46
by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 12:13pm

I hear from a trusted source that the Eagles are going to trade McNabb for a pass-rushing DE to replace Kearse after his career-threatening injury.

47
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 12:40pm

Karl Cuba #10:

I never thought he’d have made a major impact as a rookie before he was hurt and now that he’s making a comeback from injury I’d expect his 2nd year development to be retarded a little as well.

Comeback from injury? He was bascially given a fake IR (like Bloom) to protect him without having to use a roster spot or expose him on the practice squad. He had a stinger!

48
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 12:44pm

I'd like to see Stallworth come back, but he's nowhere near the top of the UFA priority list, IMO.

(1)Rod Hood (although not for starter money)
(2)Quintin Mikell
(3)Jaqua Thomas
(4)Jeff Garcia (although not for starter money)
(5)Correll Buckhalter
(6)Donte Stallworth
(7)Shawn Barber

Bye-Bye Michael Lewis
Bye-Bye Reno Mahe

49
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 12:47pm

Mcnabb and 3 cans of Chunky soup ( different flavors), for Jason Taylor and a bottle of Aquiafina water and one of those giant foam fingers.

Deal

50
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 1:04pm

#42: Avant only started in games where there was a normal starter (or Hood, which is close enough) injured. Avant was also made active for only 8 games because that's the maximum you can have and still be able to be practice squad eligible. Not that I think that will happen, but they probably wanted to retain the possibility.

51
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 1:16pm

Harris #31:

I’ve seen nothing from Avant or Lewis suggesting they’re that critical to the receiving corps

Avant was a rookie. Lewis is a reliable 3rd down guy who caught 65% of pass attempts lofted his way and converted 20 of the 24 catches into 1st downs. He had 8.4 DPAR (2nd among "Other Wideouts") and 20% DVOA (5th among "Other Wideouts", would put him at 53rd among all wideouts, would be 16th for all wideouts). And he's signed long term for cheap. And he plays special teams. And he has experience starting in case of injuries to other players. I think Lewis is quite critical unless you think Avant is ready to just step right into his role in the offense, and you've got another guy in mind to play Lewis role on special teams (since Avant already plays special teams).

Considine is not an NFL starter

Considine gave up no long touchdown passes himself. That's good enough for me to be a starter at safety in a league that thinks Roy Williams, Sean Taylor, Michael Lewis, and various other trash are starters when it seems like they give up big play touchdowns every other week, or even twice a game. A safety's job is to prevent big plays and touchdowns and not let anyone get behind him. If a safety can't do that, he's worthless. With Considine in, the Eagles only gave up three touchdowns over 17 yards in 12 games, the Travis Henry 70 yard run, the DeAngelo Williams 35 yard catch and run, and a Randle El 34 yard catch. With Lewis in just 6 games the Eagles gave up 6 long touchdowns, including 25 yards to Eric Moulds, 37 yards to Toomer, 39 yards including a missed Michael Lewis fumble recovery to Burress and Tim Carter, 22 yards to Toomer, 31 yards to Burress, and 48 yards to Horn. How did Considine not measurably improve the safety situation?

52
by David (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 1:21pm

I don’t care how good a holder you are, you’re really hamstringing your team on game day if you’re not contributing elsewhere. It makes far more sense to have the #2 QB or punter, or even a cornerback, as your holder instead of your #3/4 quarterback.

And of course, it makes even less sense for a bad QB to be that holding specialist, since the (rather stupid) rules for backup QBs force the Eagles to list him as the #2 if they want him to be able to come in before the fourth quarter. So here's my question: Why do they have to list him as a QB? Why can't he be a WR (wink, wink) who only comes on to hold?

53
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 1:23pm

#51: To be fair, that improvement also came because Dawkins was playing FS more. Considine was playing SS primarily. They didn't want Lewis in because he couldn't drop back if they wanted to blitz Dawkins. But early in the year, Dawkins was playing more of a SS role, and Lewis more of a FS role.

They probably would've given up more long TDs had Considine been playing more at FS, like Lewis was. I'm hoping that Considine shows more at FS next year, because Dawkins really, really needs to move to SS.

54
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 1:24pm

Andrew- You can throw your stats out the window, It is obvious that Considine doesn't LOOK as good as Lewis.

55
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 1:31pm

Let's make this simple:
Considine = decent FS, mediocre SS
Lewis = awful FS, decent SS
Dawkins = stellar FS, stellar SS

Therefore Dawkins+Considine better than Dawkins+Lewis if you don't want to pigeonhole Dawkins at FS.

56
by Harris (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 1:34pm

Incidently, what the hell happened to Michael Lewis? Two years ago he was one of the best young DBs in the game and the Eagles offered him a fat contract (which he declined. Oops.). Now, well, he might be a starter somewhere. Hey, Charlie Frye was a starter -- why not Lewis? I guess the Eagles could keep him to continue the divisional trend of big-hitting safeties who play the run, but are indifferent pass-defenders except he's not that good against the run.

57
by Harris (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 1:42pm

Considine was better than Lewis and I never said he wasn't. That doesn't mean he's a good NFL safety. Less-bad-than-the-other-guy does not mean the same thing as "good."

58
by dryheat (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 1:54pm

#52, There's no reason why the Eagles couldn't have three QBs active. The NFL allows each team to only dress two QBs and have a third "emergency" to dress but not count towards the active roster, for which the fourth quarter rule applies. But there's nothing preventing a team from including three qbs on the active roster. Then any qb can play at any time. The downside is that you go into the game with one less OL, WR, DB, or whatever. The 49ers actually did this with Cody Pickett last year and used him on coverage teams.

59
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 2:26pm

Considering the fact the Giants won't enter the 2007 season with the NFL's most difficult schedule (plus, they played the toughest schedule of any team that made the playoffs), there's already some room for improvement. From what I've heard, the Giants' plan is to re-sign O'Hara, move Diehl to LT, and throw money at a top FA cornerback. They will draft a change of pace for Jacobs probably on day 1, but not the first round. I would let Jay Feely walk and draft a kicker (Medlock?) on day 2.

#37... Just staying relatively injury free for the first time in 4 years would be an improvement over last season for the Giants.

60
by David (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 2:35pm

Oh, I didn't realize the "emergency QB" rule only applied if the teams wanted it to. That's different.

61
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 2:43pm

#56: Really, he is pretty good against the run. That sort of thing's up and down, and depends a lot on who you're playing, and how you're playing.

The big problem with Lewis this year is that they wanted to use Dawkins closer to the line because he's getting older. That exposed Lewis in coverage.

62
by Yakuza Rich (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 2:46pm

Dallas will and should re-sign Colombo. He's probably not going to be too expensive and played pretty well and was very good in pass protection. They seem to want to keep Marco Rivera around, but he needs to go. Gurode will probably be re-signed as well.

I think what they do in FA will really dictate what they do in the first round. Jones is pretty much sick of being promised that Roy Williams will play closer to the box only to have the opposite happen, so he wants a solution at FS. If they pick up a veteran and perhaps Tony Parrish, then they'll probably not draft a FS early. If they don't do anything at FS, then I think they are likely to go FS in the first round like Reggie Nelson. Personally, I think they'll take care of it in FA since they like Pat Watkins (who really wasn't all that bad except for one game). I'm thinking that Keith Davis could get cut, but probably won't happen until after training camp. He can't get it done at safety and he's simply not nearly as good on special teams as he once was.

63
by Robert Ferguson (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 3:58pm

RE 36 Poor Donovin Darius indeed. Hey, did you ever hear of the word "karma"? Does the word "irony" have a metallic connotation to you?

64
by Podpeople (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 7:27pm

hey did anyone else hear that the eagles are going to trade donvann mcnabb for Aaron Brooks? Also, not to start any rumors or anything but andy reid just retired. Kinda like Bill Cowher but no ring.

65
by Podpeople (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 7:30pm

Ok one serious question though...I grew up in the Randall Cunningham era, and I just wanted know from some one who wasn't 8 years old during his peak. I remember thinking he was pretty awesome.

66
by Michael Posner (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 10:56pm

#65 Randall was a good quaterback with great scramble skills but his playoff play was fairly weak. Great human highlight real, like Vick of today. Also incredible comeback player after a year out of the league when he led the Vikes to 15-1.

67
by Harris (not verified) :: Tue, 02/13/2007 - 11:42pm

In Cunningham's defense, he was playing for a coach who knew little and cared less about offensive football and had absolutely no respect for the OL. Ryan's definition of coaching a QB was "go make a play." We've seen how that retards a QB's development.

68
by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/14/2007 - 8:56am

Phenomenal Tecmo Bowl player, Cunningham was. Finished second behind Bo Jackson in the MVP voting.

69
by PhillyCWC (not verified) :: Wed, 02/14/2007 - 11:50am

Ah, Randall Cunningham. The subject of many a sports debate here in Philly. I've always thought that the greatest tragedy of his career was playing for a coach who, as Harris noted, knew little and cared less about offensive football. The thought of Cunningham being in the hands of someone good at developing quarterbacks, like, say, Andy Reid, just staggers the imagination. The guy was truly amazing to watch.

70
by joel in providence (not verified) :: Wed, 02/14/2007 - 12:10pm

the eagles weren't in Tecmo Bowl. unfortunately for us eagles fans, the skins were crazy good in tecmo bowl, especially with the long bomb to ricky sanders. grrr.

71
by joel in providence (not verified) :: Wed, 02/14/2007 - 12:16pm

i remember as a kid listening to WIP for HOURS at a time (hopefully my mental development wasn't too stunted!) and i remember eskin and the other idiots absolutely swearing on the bible that only "pocket quarterbacks" could ever win in the playoffs. this was like THE theme of the cunningham years... that and how bad the OL was.

72
by David (not verified) :: Thu, 02/15/2007 - 3:33pm

70: Tecmo Super Bowl, he means. That's where the legend of QB Eagles was born.

73
by demigodmatt (not verified) :: Fri, 02/16/2007 - 3:15am

#49 - your on, if, the aquafina bottle is from Vick's stash

74
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 02/16/2007 - 5:26pm

71- Mobile quarterbacks ARE grossly overrated. SEE Mike Pick6

75
by Raul (not verified) :: Wed, 02/21/2007 - 1:54pm

Nice job, Ryan. Cover one side of the story ...

Let's look at one of your reason for Terrell Owens not returning - that he caught only 56% of passes thrown his way.

The interesting part is the fact that of all of the NFC Pro Bowl wide receivers, only Steve Smith (60%) caught a higher percentage. The others were Anquan Boldin (55%), Roy Williams (54%), Donald Driver (53%) and Torry Holt (52%).

Where's the outrage about those guys? Will they be back next year with their team? Should their Pro Bowl seasons be marred by a horrendous catch percentage? Should we throw an asterisk next to their numbers?

Even with that terrible 56% catch ratio (again, better than most of the NFC pro bowl WRs), Owens caught the most TDs in the NFL. Imagine what his numbers would have been had he caught half of those misses?

Yep, he's certainly not worth the money...

76
by MJB (not verified) :: Thu, 02/22/2007 - 4:05pm

RE: #75

So Raul do you think that Anquan Bolden, Roy Williams, Donald Driver, and Torry Holt were all locker room cancers? Did they all constantly complain about how many passes where thrown to them (despite having the majority of thier team's passes thrown their way)? Did they all cause a media circus by taking too much medication? By the end of the year did they have members of thier own team stating "that there are people on this team that only care about thier own stats"?

Because you cannot just throw out the fact that T.O. is a horrible teammate when you are doing an objective anaylsis of him.

77
by Raul (not verified) :: Fri, 02/23/2007 - 8:34am

If that were the case then maybe Ryan should lead with that, instead of specifying (1) 56%, (2) $3M bonus then (3) divisive character.
And while we're on that topic, there are still a lot of players who indicate that he was a good teammate. I recall hearing only 1 player referring to Owens in a negative sense, and I believe that was Witten. Newman reportedly said something that the media said referred to Owens but both Newman and Owens later stated that the reference was not about Owens. Maybe there were more but I don't recall them, so if you can point me in the right direction I'd be happy to read them.
You've also got a new coach that has welcomed the "opportunity" to work with Owens. You've got a young QB who as repeatedly stated that Owens has constantly been in contact with him. You've got receivers other than Owens that have stated that he has helped him or has been working with them even now.
If there is a reason that Owens is not with the team in 2007 it will be because his surgically repaired hand is not fit or that there is permanent damage to the hand.
Unfortunately, Mr. Wilson wants to regurgitate the media line in doing his analysis of "who could leave" instead of looking at the situation as of today.
I guess sometimes it's just easier to print what sells instead of looking at a situation independent of outside pressures. Maybe I expect too much from people sometimes, I don't know. All I know is that the "most drops" horn has been trumpeting for the past 2-3 months and I don't think that's fair based on the numbers of top NFC receivers.

78
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 02/23/2007 - 1:35pm

#77: The catch percentage isn't 'most drops', because drops aren't an official stat. It's just percentage of passes targetted which were caught. According to Stats, Inc. which does track drops, Owens did have the most drops.

And while we’re on that topic, there are still a lot of players who indicate that he was a good teammate.

They're still playing with him. You don't sell out guys you play with, in general. They don't speak so kindly of him on his former teams.

79
by Jason Mulgrew aka Lord J Rocka aka King in the Castle (not verified) :: Mon, 03/19/2007 - 5:37pm

The only question to be answered is who will finish in 2nd place. The Eags will surely win the division.
I say the Redskins will finish in 2nd place. The Cowboys and Giants will fight for third place.

80
by Jason Mulgrew aka Lord J Rocka (not verified) :: Mon, 03/26/2007 - 9:00pm

The Eags just traded for Takeo Spikes.
So who will lose to them in the next Super Bowl?