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19 Jul 2005

Four Downs: NFC East

by Al Bogdan

Also check out the previous edition of Four Downs: NFC East.

Dallas Cowboys

Second to All

When you're coming off a season when you were the #27 pass defense in the league according to DVOA, you wouldn't think that you'd be looking to give away what few defensive backs you have for pretty much nothing. But, that's what Dallas just did, getting a conditional late round pick from the Jets for Pete Hunter. Dallas will get either a sixth round pick in 2007 or a fifth round pick in 2006 depending on the amount of playing time Hunter sees this year.

Hunter missed most of last season after injuring his knee early in the season against Washington. He reportedly became disgruntled after the signings of Anthony Henry and Aaron Glenn pushed Hunter down to fourth on the Cowboy draft chart. It's somewhat understandable why Hunter might be unhappy to be bumped down from the starting lineup to nickel back, but it's not readily understandable why Dallas would be so quick to get rid of him. After veterans Aaron Glenn, Anthony Henry and Terence Newman, there is no cornerback on Dallas' roster with more than one year of NFL experience. The Cowboys are shaping up to once again have one of the weakest secondaries in football.

There is, of course, a veteran cornerback on the market who has played for Bill Parcells before. Could the departure of Hunter mean that Ty Law is on his way to Dallas? It would make too much sense for the Cowboys, who could use another veteran to add depth to their depleted secondary. Things have been relatively quiet on the Law front, with Ty holding out hope for big money and teams holding out hope that he'll agree to play for something close to the veteran minimum. The Chiefs are the latest team to be rumored to have interest in Law, but no team has yet made him an offer for what Law still believes his value to be. If Ty does eventually sign for something below the $6 million he's reportedly looking for, don't be surprised if he ends up making a big contribution to Dallas' playoff run this year.

New York Giants

You're Fired

The most interesting position battle going into Giant training camp is the battle of the reality stars for the honor of backing up Eli Manning. Former Bachelor Jesse Palmer and Tim Hasselbeck, husband of former Survivor star and current co-host of the View Elisabeth Hasselbeck, will be competing for the #2 quarterback spot. Palmer is the incumbent, but Hasselbeck looks to be the better choice to win immunity, or to be exempt from the boardroom, or to receive a rose, or whatever your favorite reality show gimmick is.

Palmer has been the Giant backup or third string quarterback for the past four seasons, but has never really shown much in the few chances he's had to play. Jesse has started three games in his career, at the end of the 2003 season, performing terribly in all of them. In his first two starts, the Giant offense scored a grand total of ten points. In the season finally against Carolina, Palmer tossed four interceptions, finishing the game with a quarterback rating of 24.4. Palmer's 2003 DVOA of -46.9% was better than only one quarterback who through at least 100 passes that year – the immortal Kurt Kittner.

While Hasselbeck has also had limited playing time, he at least has shown glimpses of ability during his time on the field. Tim started the last five games of the season for the 2003 Redskins, going 1-4. Hasselbeck had about as bad of a game against Dallas that season as any quarterback could have, completing only six of his twenty-four passes with four interceptions thrown in for good measure. In his other four starts however, Hasselbeck showed flashes of promise. Tim completed over 60% of his passes against the Giants, Bears and Eagles and threw multiple touchdowns against New York and Chicago.

There's still a dark horse candidate for the backup role on the Giant roster – 275 pound Jared Lorenzen. “J. Load� was on the Giant roster going into training camp last year, but left the team for undisclosed personal reasons before he really had a chance to make the team. With Eli entrenched as the starter for the foreseeable future, a creative team might keep Lorenzen as the #2 quarterback on gameday just to give opposing teams a different look in short yardage situations. If Manning is out of action for any extended period of time, the Giants would then just elevate either Palmer or Hasselbeck from their emergency quarterback role into the starting lineup.

Philadelphia Eagles

Who's That?

We're at T-Minus 312 or so hours and counting on T-O watch. Will Terrell show up to training camp on August 1? Or more importantly, will he be in an Eagle uniform against Atlanta for the season opener on September 12? If Owens isn't on the field, and with Freddie Mitchell's departure, the Eagles will have only three receivers on their roster who caught a pass for them last season, including Billy McMullen and his three catches for 24 yards. So who will be lining up with Todd Pinkston and Greg Lewis should Owens sit out the beginning of the season? Let's meet your 2005 Eagle wide receivers!

The aforementioned McMullen is a third year receiver out of the University of Virginia. A big receiver at 6' 4�, 215 lbs, he would appear to be the best complement to the smaller Pinkston and Lewis. Owens himself stated last season that McMullen was the receiver on Philadelphia best suited to fill his role in the offense. According to the Eagles' media guide, McMullen is a big Tom & Jerry fan and loves to eat cereal.

Next on the depth chart is rookie Reggie Brown, the Eagles' second round pick out of Georgia. Brown has "good overall muscle development, tight waist, good bubble and knotted calves" according to his draft prospect profile on NFL.com. Seriously, what does that mean? What does having a "tight waist" have to do with being a valuable NFL receiver? What the hell is a "good bubble"? This reads more like a personal ad than a scouting report.

If McMullen's love of corn flakes and Brown's "knotted calves" don't get you excited for the upcoming season, Eagles fans, then maybe second year receiver Justin Jenkins will give you some optimism about a T.O.-less receiving corp. Relegated to the practice squad last season, Jenkins' college career was hampered somewhat by a depth perception problem in his left eye during his junior season. Nevertheless, Jenkins ended up tying Eric Moulds for the Mississippi State record for career touchdown receptions with 17.

Washington Redskins

Lawyers, Guns & Money

The Redskins already lost two of their biggest contributors on last year's #3 defense when Fred Smoot and Antonio Pierce left for big free agent money elsewhere. Now the team is in danger of losing three of their biggest expected contributors to this year's defense because of injuries, legal woes, and contract disputes in varying combinations.

Let's start with the newest addition to the Redskin defense, #9 pick Carlos Rogers. Rogers is still unsigned, but it would probably be more surprising if a top ten pick was signed with two weeks to go before training camps open up. The more troubling development, however, is what appears to be three injuries to his ankle. According to Redskins.com, Rogers has a first degree sprain, bone bruise and stress facture in his right ankle/foot. The injuries will cause him to miss at least the beginning of training camp.

Safety Sean Taylor isn't injured, but his legal troubles could keep him out of action, or at the very least distracted, if he even decides to report to the team. Taylor started the off-season as yet another disgruntled ex-Hurricane/Drew Rosenhaus client who decided to skip workouts because of his unhappiness with his contract. Last month, however, Taylor appears to have decided that a simple contract dispute wasn't interesting enough for his off-season, so he added felony weapons charges to his plate.

Taylor was arrested in June for felony aggravated assault with a firearm and misdemeanor assault. This all stems from an alleged incident where Taylor allegedly assaulted and allegedly pointed a gun at two individuals who had allegedly stolen two ATVs from Taylor. All of these alleged activities have resulted in the very real possibility that Taylor will spend the next three to sixteen years of his life behind bars. Taylor's fate will be decided by twelve Miami-Dade County residents if and when his trial begins as scheduled on September 12, the day after Washington's season opener against Chicago.

And then there's the confusing case of Lavar Arrington. Where do we even begin? Arrington spent a good chunk of the off-season ripping the Redskins and their treatment of him after his knee problems that curtailed his 2004 season. Lavar hasn't practiced yet this summer and its unclear whether he'll be ready or effective for the start of the regular season. He's also in the middle of a contract dispute with the Redskins over a $6.5 million roster bonus that wasn't included in the final version of the contract extension he signed last year. As the folks over at ProFootballTalk.com http://www.profootballtalk.com have pointed out, however, it's unlikely that the arbitrator's eventual decision will make much of a difference. Arrington is a likely cap casualty because of his injury after this season anyway. A favorable decision for Lavar will just give Washington 6.5 million more reasons to get rid of him. Not to be outdone, Arrington was the subject of a recent police investigation after a security guard was shot at a charity event Lavar hosted. Unlike his teammate, Arrington is not suspected of being involved in the incident.

That's it for me. See you later this week (hopefully) with the unofficial start to the 2005 season - the Third Annual Scramble for the Ball Over/Under Extravaganza.

Posted by: Al Bogdan on 19 Jul 2005

64 comments, Last at 27 Jul 2005, 10:54pm by dwn&distance


by Adam (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 4:06pm

As to the Philly section, I think a good bubble means a nice a**. I suppose this is a marketability aspect.

by somebody (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 4:19pm

The Redskins are taking on a lot of Florida State like qualities. Indian nickname with red and gold as primary colors, Really old coach who puts together questionable offensive gameplans led by shotty quarterbacks but fields a good defense, and all the players getting in legal troubles off the field. Everything of course except the redksins can't get over .500. And i'm a redskins fan saying this. I just hope patrick ramsay doesn't come down with lyme disease before the season starts.

Oh yeah, about that tim hasselbeck game where he completed six passes and threw four interceptions he had qb rating of zero and got picked off by the great terence newman three times. That game was spurrier's death kneel in dc IMO simply because it happened against dallas.

Also wanted to add with coughlin, parcells, and gibbs you have three coaches who would prefer to grind out games with multiple running attempts and play good sound d behind that. And then you have andy reid who uses FO logic when coaching games. I can already see philly playing those teams this year passing early on every play with mcnabb, blitzing heavily, jumping out to quick double digit leads and sweeping the nfc east for the umpteenth time in a row. Anybody agree with me?

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 4:55pm

I think Adam is right, tight waist and good bubble sounds more like they're discussing a cheerleader than a player (Not necessarily a female cheerleader, just somebody who would be judged on looks rather than football skills).

by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 5:03pm

I hope you're right, somebody. As an Eagles fan, I'm getting used to watching my team kick the rest of the NFC East around. ;^)

I'm honestly almost starting to feel bad for the Redskins. Almost. It'll be interesting to see if Gibbs picks up some speed on the modern game this year. He's still a smart coach, and I can't imagine we'll see a repeat of last year as far as he is concerned.

by Dave (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 5:07pm

I completely disagree. The Eagles are so overdue for a bad season. They are more overdue than the last two movies I rented from hollywood video which I still haven't returned. Look for a key injury week 1 and TO disruptions "all year baby". Look for this division to be the closest it's been in 15 years. There is also the super bowl loser hangover which the Eagles will suffer from.

by Johonny (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 5:37pm

-I completely disagree. The Eagles are so overdue for a bad season.

The Eagles did slip on Defense in 2003. In 2002 they lost McNabb for 6 games. However no one in the East was able to take advantage of it. So even if the Eagles had a "bad season" would it matter?

by JasonK (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 5:40pm

Re #2:

The Eagles biggest weakness over the past few years has been run defense, so maybe Parcells, Coughlin, & Gibbs are on to something. You can beat the Eagles by stopping their big plays and overpowering their smallish front seven (see the '04 Steelers game). Mimicking their approach merely plays into their strengths (best secondary in the league).

Although Dave's predictions (#5) sound like wishful thinking to me (particularly because they're based on nebulous, unprovable concepts like Philly being "due" for a letdown and the "hangover" after the SB), I also think that the division will be more competitive than it has been recently. The Giants and Cowboys have improved their teams significantly. The 'Skins will be better if only because they won't be starting Mark Brunell for 8 games. Any rational preseason forecast will have Philly repeating, but if they have bad injury luck and things break right for NY or Dallas, I wouldn't be shocked to see a new division champ.

by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 5:51pm

"The Eagles are so overdue for a bad season."

If the Eagles had been subsisting on luck the last several years to keep winning, I'd agree. But it's been more than luck.

It's true, any team can succumb to injuries. But the Eagles have proved reselient to them in the past, even when McNabb went down for 6 games. But I think they've got enough depth to survive an injury almost anywhere. For the past two seasons all they've been doing is drafting for depth.

The only single injury that I could see really killing their chances would be to lose McNabb for the season. But I doubt that you could make a compelling argument for the decline of the Eagles based solely around that.

The only way I see the Eagles not winning the division is if they become last year's Panthers and lose half the team to injury.

by ElJefe (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 6:08pm

It's easy to say that the Eagles will not be as good as they were last year (15-2 in games the varsity played), but it's a lot harder to say which of the other teams will even finish over .500.

Dallas should be 8-8ish. While Bledsoe and a full season of Julius Jones should boost the offense, I think the change in scheme will probably necessitate a step backwards on D while the personnel get sorted out.

The Giants have some nice pieces on offense, but I'd wonder about whether Tiki can take another heavy-use season and how well/quickly the offensive line gels. The defense also looks fairly mediocre although I seem to remember the Giants being banged up in the secondary. I'd guess 8-8 is a little optimistic.

The Redskins might just implode. There is a lot of bad karma around that team, and not very much offensive talent. Yeah, Patrick Ramsey is an upgrade over Mark Brunell, but after the organization torpedoed him in the off-season I worry about his mental state. If Ramsey gets off to a slow start, we might see a Spurrieresque game of musical QBs. The organization/Gibbs obviously has nothing invested in Ramsey. Defensively there has been a net loss of personnel, and I wonder how much of the defensive improvement was due to opponents adopting a KISS attack given how inept the Redskins offense was.

I think it's a stretch for any of these teams to win 10 games, and the Eagles will require a very significant amount of injuries to not win that many. So I would consider the Eagles clear favorites in this division and having an inside track to HFA in the NFC.

by TuckerF (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 6:16pm

Eagles still the class of the division but not so easily this year,
Dallas has a hole at FS but if Newman comes around they have 3 solid corners, I think their weakness is inexperience at DL and LB not DB.
Washington didn't have Arrington most of last year and Taylor was also inconsistent so if they dont have them this year its no great loss compared to last year. Their problems lie on offense not defense. A consistent QB makes this team a winner and Gibbs has done more with lesser QB's than most.
Giant's hopes ride on Eli and avoiding the avalanche of injuries suffered the the past two years. If they avoid the injuries and Eli improves they will contend for a playoff spot

by Sean D. (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 6:45pm

Wow, I swear #10 is from something I heard about the NFC East last year. Just switch around some names.

by Adam (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 6:53pm

I know this has been pummeled to death a thousand times, but the Eagles success in the regular season has all to do with the weak NFC. Their schedule last year was weak. A real loss to the AFC Steelers and an only 5 point win against the AFC Ravens. It will be interesting to see how they meaure against San Diego and KC (even though those teams are not exactly elite). I think many of the better AFC teams could have beaten the Eagles last year and did (Patriots, Steelers, and even the Colts, Chargers, and Jets).

Will they be as good as last year? I don't see why not. But is that really anything to brag about? If anything, I think the Eagles are a good measuring tool for seeing how much the NFC improves this year since they have little personel changes.

by El Angelo (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 7:01pm

I actually feel bad for Gibbs. This team is just *terrible* that he has, and they're closer to San Francisco than they are to Philadelphia. I actually think the Giants have some potential to be fiesty in this division this year. Of course, that means 8-8.

by Vince (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 7:07pm

I found myself listening to the draft on Fox Sports radio for whatever reason this year. For every draftee, they'd have the big booming radio voice read his name, college, position, then describe his body, including "bubble." And yes, it can only mean ass, and no, I don't really see how that's relevant.

Also wanted to add with coughlin, parcells, and gibbs you have three coaches who would prefer to grind out games with multiple running attempts and play good sound d behind that.

Actually, that's kind of a myth about Parcells. He's good at adjusting his playcalls to the strength of his team.
In his 17 years, his teams have been in the top 10 in pass attempts 7 times, and in the bottom 10 3 times. Meanwhile, those same teams were in the top 10 in rush attempts 8 times, and in the bottom 10 twice.

And then there's 1993, when Parcells' Patriots ranked 4th in runs and 5th in passes. Did the other team ever get the ball?

by Vince (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 7:08pm

Click name for Parcells info, or go here:


by ElJefe (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2005 - 10:33pm

I'm not sure whether the points in #12 are meaningful or not. The Eagles have had HFA in the NFC the last 3 years, despite playing poorly vs. the AFC. The poster actually missed the most damning score, requiring OT to beat Cleveland. That game, the narrow win vs. the Ravens, and the Steelers loss were the period of time where Brian Westbrook was hurt.

But outside of the Super Bowl do the Eagles (or any other NFC team) have to play well vs. the AFC? If you subscribe to the theory that even a professional team can't be fully motivated every week, wouldn't it make sense that the weeks you ease off the accelerator are those weeks when you play the other conference?

In 2002 the Eagles lost 3 of 4 vs. the AFC, but the last of those games was week 10. In 2003 the Eagles won 3 of 4 vs. the AFC, with the loss being a smackdown at the hands of the Patriots during the "oh, McNabb has a broken thumb" period. (Looking back at those games (also week #1 vs. TB) they were maybe not so coincidentally the last times Donovan McNabb led the Eagles in rushing.) In 2004 the varsity went a soft 2-1 vs. the AFC, with an additional loss racked up by the JV. Going back earlier: 3-1 vs. the AFC in 2001 and 3-1 in 2000.

Hmmm ... this isn't going where I expected it to go. Over 5 years, non-conference record of 12-7(8). I expected it to be worse. (For contrast: In the last 3 years the Eagles varsity is 31-4 against the NFC, and three of the losses were in overtime.) Anyway, having seen almost all games of all seasons, when the Eagles play a disinterested, half-assed game it always seems to be against an AFC team. I'm not sure whether that is an indication of the AFC having such better teams, or the Eagles actually having an easy week. Because of the schedule, the Eagles have played one meaningful non-conference game in three years. All the rest have been in the 1st half of the season. It's tough to label any game in October as being all that important.

So is it possible that professional coaching staffs believe they can only go to the motivational well so often? Is this the equivalent of saying the Yankees can't win the World Series because they have a lousy interleague record? Or is a lack of success vs. the other conference a meaningful measure of a teams quality? Hmmm ... this shouldn't be hard to find out ...

by Daneel (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 2:57am

Re #10

I agree that the cowboys could have a problem at LB specially if they do make the infamous switch to the 3-4, but DL ?

They have La'Roi Glover who's a Pro bowler, Greg Ellis who IMO is on his way to becoming a pro bowler and they just got Jason Ferguson, y really dont see a lot of weakness there.

And the whole thing about Hunter being traded, I don't see it as such a big loss for the cowboys, as he is mostly unproven and in the games he did play I remember him getting beat several times and getting flagged on several others.

by Kuro (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 5:55am

#16: "If you subscribe to the theory that even a professional team can’t be fully motivated every week, wouldn’t it make sense that the weeks you ease off the accelerator are those weeks when you play the other conference?"

I doubt any pro team deliberately decelerates mid-season, regardless of their opponents conference, and especially for 3 straight games (2004 Eagles wks, 7,8,9. were cited as examples earlier)

#16: "Is this the equivalent of saying the Yankees can’t win the World Series because they have a lousy interleague record? Or is a lack of success vs. the other conference a meaningful measure of a teams quality? Hmmm … this shouldn’t be hard to find out …"

Inter-conference games in football account for 25% of the season.

Interleague games in baseball account for 11% and I think most can agree that MLB makes a circus out of interleague play. A complete 180 of the NFL.

At any rate, the Eagles are tops until someone takes them down (obviously), but it does appear the NFC East rivals are certainly improving. A lot will hinge upon the QB'ing of them as all have some ?'s that need to be answered still.

Of all those teams I think the Giants have improved the most, but still don't think they are poised to top Philly, at least not this year. It oughta be interesting in the East, as the Eagles can't sustain forever. It is just a matter of determining what team will be next.

by Jersey (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 9:07am

RE: #17

I think the problem with the Dallas DL this year IS the switch to a 3-4. Their linemen are not built for the 3-4, and I even believe Ellis has come out and publicly said he thinks his production will decline this year, and he is on his way out in dallas, all because of the change. Ellis, IIRC, is too big and lacks the coverage skills to play OLB, but is too small to play DE in a 3-4. He also is too good to not get payed well, and you can't pay a budding star star money when you can only use him as a situational player. Dallas had a strong DL and a mediocre
LB crew last year, I do not understand why they would turn their DL into a weakness and put their faith in that LB crew (who's best player, Dat Nygen (sp), is not a 3-4 MLB) by switching to the 3-4. Sorry, but I just can't see the NFC East being competitive this season. Not unless Eli shows something he didn't last year. Otherwise, I gotta say the Redskins finish in 2nd, Eagles on top.

Eagles can't compete with the AFC? Come on, did you watch the Superbowl? That was not an overmatched team. That game went down to the wire, down to 1 last Eagles drive. Against the best the AFC had to offer. The Eagles have been the second most dominant team for the past 4 years. Give them some credit. They brought game to the highest stage in football and didnt back off.

by MikeT (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 10:02am

Re: Bubble

You want offensive linemen to have a good bubble. In other words, a big, full, but not flabby butt. It means they have the frame to support their weight, that they are naturally heavy, and they are strong in the gluteous muscles (sp?) and thighs. It's a good sign of the lower body strength needed to anchor and hold ground against defenders.

I have no idea why a wide receiver's butt would be important, except when blocking.

NFL.com's scouting reports are full of these weird physical descriptions that sound like they come from cattle judging.

by Goldbach (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 10:32am

I must say I was disappointed with this article. I expect more from Football Outsiders. I know it's the offseason, but how about some actual analysis, not just recaps of months old stories and scanning players bios to see what parts you can make a joke out of.

If you think the Eagles will have problems with their WR corps without TO, fine. I'm sure you can come up with better reasons to support your view other than "NFL.com says he has a nice bubble and I don't know what that means."

by zach, obsessed eagles fan (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 11:00am

#21, in all fairness, bogdan never really said he thinks the birds have trouble with their WR corps. not that it would be a terribly hard point to prove.

by Al (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 11:54am

If there's a world where you can't make fun of the idea that the size of a wide receiver's ass is important for scouts to notice, then that's a world I don't want to live in.

by C (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 12:11pm

I've been hearing for years how the Eagles are due to fail, but it has yet to happen. There a better team with T.O., obviously, but even if he never plays (which I highly doubt) they win the division and make the playoffs, although maybe without HFA. The Redskins stink, the Giants are at best an 8-8 team, and then only if Eli puts together some good games. The Cowboys will fight for a wildcard this year, but their defense is still suspect and Kerry Collins will still throw bad interceptions in big spots. The division is better this year than last, but the Eagles, even without T.O., are the best team by a significant margin.

by blueStarDude (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 12:18pm

Re: Cowboys DBs. Newman improved a great deal in the last five or six games. As did Frazier. And now Frazier will be the 4th CB. And Bruce Thornton, now the 5th CB, was expected by many fans to eventually win the other starting CB slot last year until he was injured. Only FS is a question mark in the Dallas secondary.

Re: Cowboys LBs: Nguyen was one of the top collegiate linebackers and he played in a 3-4. Yes, he's undersized, but w/ Ferguson in front of him, he should be able to excel at what he's best at: slipping the cracks and stopping people at or behind the line of scrimmage. He'll be better in the new scheme than he was last year. The big question is who will fill the other ILB - will Bradie James finally graps the mental part of the job?

Re: Cowboys DL: provided they can all remain content w/ their playing time, this should be the strong suit of the team by season's end (rookies will need time to get acclamted to the pro game). You'll see a lot of rotating in and out, which will mean quality players still fresh when it comes to crunch time.

In a once-again weak NFC, the Cowboys will easily manage a 9-7 record and a wild card spot in the playoffs.

by Goldbach (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 12:47pm

Al, I have no problem with you making fun of the scouting reports. The problem is that that is all you did. There was very little of substance in your reports. While your piece was mildly amusing, it wasn't very interesting or insightful, which is what I've come to expect from FO.

by Goldbach (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 12:53pm

...just to clarify: I don't expect everything to give me new information or make me consider something I might not have previously thought of. I guess my problem is that there wasn't even an attempt to do so in this piece, but rather to make jokes about something that took all of 5 minutes of research to look up.

I'm a fan of the NFC East, and it was just a bit disappointing to wait 6 weeks for this.

by JasonK (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 1:19pm

Re: J-Load

To return to the text of the article itself, I was wondering about Al's comment that a "creative team" might keep an oversized QB-sneak specialist as their #2 to use in special situations (i.e., 4th and inches). It's an interesting idea, but I'm guessing that the effect would be pretty marginal, at a potentially significant cost. Since the #3 QB can't come in unless both the other guys are ruled out from returning, this generally means that you'd be stuck with your sneak specialist to finish games when your starter goes out. I'd rather have my best backup ready to step in than a 10% better chance to convert a 4th-and-1. Also, how would you split the practice reps between the nominal #2 and the "real" #2? If your big QB actually wins the #2 spot outright, though, I'm all for the idea of bringing him in to give you an edge in short yardage.

Lastly, I don't know if J-Load is the guy you want doing this. Weight does not necessarily equal strength, and this guy looks pretty doughy (click name for player page). If the Giants think he can earn the #2 spot down the road, they may decide to save some money by cutting Palmer or Hasselback and keeping Lorenzen as the #3 for this season. Otherwise, he's a practice squad hopeful.

by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 1:36pm

"Lastly, I don’t know if J-Load is the guy you want doing this. Weight does not necessarily equal strength, and this guy looks pretty doughy"

"Doughy"? He looks FAT. Would you really want Private Pile as your #2 QB? I wouldn't.

by Pat on the Back (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 5:40pm

The Steelers pulled it off by listing their sneak specialist as "Slash".

Personally, I'm of the view that you could assassinate all the Eagles starters and they would still go 3-3 in the division. I don't see any of the teams improving significantly, with the possible exception of the Cowboys reverting to their "paper tigers" success in '03, stealing their way into the playoffs with a few steals by Parcells.

by Johonny (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 5:53pm

Why not just put a RB under center? Sure it "gives" away that you are going to sneak, but most of the time everyone in the tricounty area knows when the 4th and inches sneak is coming. Why run less than your best runner?

by Al (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 5:57pm

The #3 QB can enter the game in the fourth quarter, even if the other two quarterbacks are still available.

In a situation like the Giants', where the only way the backup quarterback is going to see any playing time is if the starter gets injured, you're throwing away a valuable active roster spot by having your #2 be someone who does nothing more than hold a clipboard during games. I agree - if Lorenzan has no quarterbacking skills at all, I wouldn't recommend him being on the team, let alone as the #2 quarterback, just for the sake of having a 300 pounder behind center. But if he's not significantly worse than Palmer or Hasselbeck, I think the few plays a game where his size might make a difference would be worth the slight risk of Manning going down with an in game injury. Especially for a team like the Giants who can use all the short yardage help that they can get.

by Vince (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 7:56pm

RE: #18: I did a little research. The team with the better interconference record has won three Super Bowls in a row, but lost two in a row before that:

2004: NE (4-0) beats Phi (2-2)
2003: NE (3-1) beats Car (2-2)
2002: TB (3-1) beats Oak (2-2)
2001: NE (3-1) beats SL (3-0) (Because of the 31-team league, teams played different numbers of interconference games)
2002: Bal (2-1) beats NYG (3-1) (see previous comment)

by Theo (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 9:07pm

Sorry Vince... excuse my non-seriousism but you haven't proved a thing.

I mean, it's easier to win the any NFC-non east now than it used to be. (?) Thats got nothing to do with anything but lousy coaching and drafting...
Or the outsiders must disagree with stats. I love it when that happens. :)

by Vince (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2005 - 9:33pm

Oh, I proved nothing, nothing at all. Except maybe that looking up team records was more entertaining than whatever else I had to do at work today.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 12:24am

Personally, I’m of the view that you could assassinate all the Eagles starters and they would still go 3-3 in the division.

Heck, I'm not sure any of the other NFC East team's starting QB would actually beat out Koy Detmer for backup QB in Philly. And there are an absolute slew of backup LBs and defensive linemen in Philly that I'd take over Dallas and NYG's.

by Negative (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 1:05am

Okay, I'm pretty sure that despite anything, Eli Manning is a better player than Koy Detmer.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 10:24am

Why? Because he was drafted high? Need I mention that Ryan Leaf fellow?

It's possible that he'll be a great NFL QB. It hasn't happened yet, and until I see signs that its happening, I'm not ready to annoint him just yet. There are far too many 1st round QB busts, and, to be honest... last season he was just ABYSMAL. Sub-50% completions, 5 yards per attempt, upside-down turnover ratio.

Koy Detmer, on the other hand, has actually played serviceably when he's been forced into the starting rotation. I'd take that over Eli Manning in a heartbeat. Maybe not long term, but for next season? In a heartbeat.

by Jim A (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 2:56pm

Re: bubble, I'm reminded of the Billy Beane quote from Moneyball, "we're not selling jeans here."

But if scouts are really using such visual anatomical judgments to project NFL success, wouldn't aspiring young players be wise to use the same gluing and taping techniques used by beauty pageant contestants to enhance their appearances?

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 4:12pm

Thanks, Kibbles, that's almost exactly what I would've said.

I do wonder, if Eli Manning is out of the league in 2-3 years (see also Akili Smith and Ryan Leaf) if he'll still have apologists.

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 4:30pm

Plyr Team DVOA VOA Passes Yards TD TO
K.Detmer '04 -62.8% -67.7% 42 191 0 3
K.Detmer '02 66.0% 64.0% 29 216 2 0

All I can say is remember Carolina's backup RB from 03, and don't judge a backup player on a limited number of plays when his stats vary wildly from year to year.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 5:17pm

2004: 2 games with the second and third string. Not actually attempting to win - just trying to see how they react in a gametime situation.

2002: 2 games with the first string. Winning is very important.

His stats as a backup QB are very erratic, sure, but putting them in context it looks fine. The last games where he actually needed to perform like a starting QB, he did.

Detmer's stats as a starting QB are poor, mind you (from 1998) - but they're still better than Eli Manning's last year, and they're only marginally worse than Ramsey and Bledsoe's stats last year. Detmer's got a bit of an advantage as Akers's holder, so you need to do better than "marginally better".

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 5:29pm

I think you just proved my theory that Detmer is only as good as his supporting cast. And really, would you rather have Philly's 2nd and 3rd stringers, or the Giants starters?

by JasonK (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 7:02pm

I concede that Eli hasn't yet proven anything on the field, but I will say that the Ryan Leaf model isn't particularly appropriate. Leaf showed every sign of being a total flake after the Chargers took him. In the categories of leadership, character, coming to camp on time, and getting on well with your teammates and coaches, Eli has already got Leaf beat. A better model for the "Eli is a bust" argument is someone like Tim Couch. No big warning signs, just a slow realization that he isn't catching on to the pro game like he should.

Anyway, the jury is still very much out. Personally, I think that his awful performances last year have more to do with normal rookie mistakes, playing against tough defenses, behind shaky OTs (the Giants' interior OL isn't that bad), with sub-par recievers. He did show improvement, too. When he went up against Roethlisburger towards the end of the season, they were pretty much even (the Giants' injury-decimated run defense lost the game). Maybe this is all wishful thinking from a Giants fan. There are some good signs, some bad signs, and not enough information to discern which ones are legitimate indicators of his future.

I would still take him over Koy Detmer, though, simply because I don't see how teammates could ever respect somebody named "Koy".

by Rocco (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 7:33pm


I'm sure there will be some who say he never had a fair chance. And I'm sure that if Eli takes off in 2-3 years, there will still be haters and doubters that don't think he's any good.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 8:18pm

Re #44: Oh? Leaf has showed signs of being a flake and Manning didn't? Refusing to play for the Chargers because they weren't any good doesn't count? I mean, if I were a Giant right now, I'd be thinking "He didn't want to play for the Chargers because they weren't any good, so what will happen this year if WE aren't any good?"

I don't think the stuff that happens off the field has that much of an impact. By all reports, Peyton is aloof and doesn't get along really well with a lot of his teammates. Phillip Rivers didn't get to training camp on time. Peyton didn't turn out to be a bust, and nobody's saying Phillip's likely to be one, either. Heck, tons of first round picks hold out during training camp every year. Doesn't matter, what determines if they're a bust or not is how they do on the field. And as far as the on-the-field stuff goes... Eli hasn't shown me anything at all that leads me to believe he's a good quarterback. I understand that he opened against a real murderer's row of defense. I understand that he's just a rookie. But until he shows me some sign that he's capable of playing like a starter, I wouldn't want to give him the reins of my team.

Kyle Boller has shown signs of being a capable starter. He's had good games, he's shown improvement. I haven't seen either from Eli.

He sure was one heck of a college QB, though.

by Tim L (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 9:25pm

"but it’s not readily understandable why Dallas would be so quick to get rid of [Pete Hunter]."

Hunter is extremely athletic, but has poor instincts playing corner and appears to be injury prone besides. I was surprised anyone was willing to part with a sixth rounder for him, much less a conditional fifth.

by joel in providence (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 9:46pm

anyone else thinking washington is setting itself for a HORRENDOUS season. i mean, they've got some serious clubhouse turmoil going into the season and a few big personnel questions and a coach who everyone knows is going to be gone sooner rather than later.

what will dan snyder do if this team self-destructs again? even with the nationals doing well, he's under a microscope in that town.

...and philly is still obviously the team to beat.

by PerlStalker (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 10:17pm

There are Broncos fans everywhere hoping that Washington completely falls apart. I thing the 'Skins could pull it together if *everything* goes their way. I don't see it though. The Giants and Cowboys both look to get better which will put the 'Skins in a bad way if they start having problems.

by JasonK (not verified) :: Thu, 07/21/2005 - 10:25pm

Eli has had 2 good games. Not much, but enough to inspire some hope in fans. When they lost to Pittsburgh (33-30), he was 16 for 23, 182 yds, with 2 TDs, 1 pick, no sacks (103.9 rating). In the win against Dallas, he was 18 for 24, 144 yds, with 3 TDs, 1 INT, 1 sack (101.5 rating), and a TD drive to win the game in the final seconds. Respectable numbers for a starting QB in a run-first offense.

Of course, there were 5 other games where he was mediocre-to-terrible.

It all comes down to what you want to believe. People inclined to dislike the guy look at the aggregate numbers and conclude that he stinks. Giants fans look at his season and conclude that he's past the early difficulties and that these two games late in the season are indications of what is to come. Time will tell who is right.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 07/22/2005 - 12:31am

I would still take him over Koy Detmer, though, simply because I don’t see how teammates could ever respect somebody named “Koy".

You apparently didn't watch the game where he dislocated his arm. Almost the entire bench cleared out as soon as he got hurt and ran over to him. Detmer's very well respected by his team.

That's also the time when Detmer got put on the horse trailer for MNF, as he was playing brilliantly during that game. I was hoping they'd play one more Monday Night game so that 3 Eagles QBs could make the horse trailer in one year.

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Fri, 07/22/2005 - 2:24am

My favorite Koy Detmer moment:

His TD pass celebration against the Packers.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 07/22/2005 - 11:24am

Pat, so that would be the Eagles team that made A. J. Feeley look like a star QB, right? I know Detmer is a servicable backup, and the Eagles with him under center are still the best team in the NFC East, but that doesn't mean he's the second best QB in the division.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 07/22/2005 - 1:10pm

I didn't say Detmer was the second best QB in the division. Really. I never intended to say that (which is why I didn't say it :) ). I definitely would never say that. I'd probably rank Bledsoe as the second best QB in the division (and so would DPAR).

I said that I'm not sure the other QBs in the NFC East would beat out Detmer for the backup QB job in Philly.

There's a difference between a starting QB and a backup QB. For one thing, Detmer's a proven commodity in Philly. Of Manning, Ramsey, and Bledsoe, the only one I'd even call close to a "proven commodity" is Bledsoe. I don't think Bledsoe would beat out Detmer, though, because Jeff Blake didn't last year.

Which leads to my second point: in order to beat out Detmer for the backup QB job, you need to be so much better than him that they'd prefer you to go in immediately if McNabb gets hurt. If a QB is better than Detmer, but not that much better, they'll leave Detmer in for the few snaps (or until they know McNabb's out of the game, or the fourth quarter). This is why Blake didn't get the job last year (he's not that much better) and why McMahon won't get the job now (ditto) and why I think Bledsoe wouldn't get the job, either.

Manning and Ramsey would be the emergency QBs for the same reason A.J. Feeley was. Unproven commodities. Not worth the guaranteed loss of Detmer for the holding responsibilities for the "possible" upside of a much better backup.

by ElJefe (not verified) :: Fri, 07/22/2005 - 2:08pm

Pat, I think you're splitting hairs here. Because Koy Detmer is the holder on placekicks he has to be listed as the #2 QB. Since you know McNabb isn't going to be taken out of the game except for injury, you never expect your backup QB to play. Being listed as #2 doesn't necessarily mean the coaching staff actually believes Koy is better than the listed #3, it just means the off-chance that McNabb gets hurt isn't worth the bother of finding a new holder.

The benefit to listing Koy #2 is that you get a holder the kicker is comfortable with. The only penalty would be (potentially) a couple of quarters of sub-standard QB until you could put the listed #3 in the game. The Eagles haven't been in a position where this theory would be tested, but I figure that had McNabb gotten hurt in 2003, the Eagles would have started A.J. (even though he was listed as #3) and left Koy as the #2.

In any case, like his brother Koy is a mediocre QB you can win with, but not because of. The players the Eagles have had as the #3 QBs have been much the same. Mike McMahon certainly resembles this remark.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 07/22/2005 - 4:38pm

The Eagles haven’t been in a position where this theory would be tested, but I figure that had McNabb gotten hurt in 2003, the Eagles would have started A.J. (even though he was listed as #3) and left Koy as the #2.

Eagles started Koy in 2002 after McNabb was hurt. That was the game that he played brilliantly in, but went out late in the game due to a dislocated elbow. Quoth I:

In his first start since 1999, led the Eagles to an emotional Monday Night Football win at SF (11/25/02), in place of Donovan McNabb (ankle). After throwing for two TDs and rushing for another score, he left during the third qtr. with a gruesome injury. As he tried to brace himself from a hit after releasing a pass attempt, his left arm was jolted into the turf and the elbow was dislocated. Earned "Horse Trailer" POG honors from ABC for his efforts.

I don't really think I'm splitting hairs. If Peytom Branning suddenly magically appeared on the Eagles payroll for free, he'd be the backup QB, no doubt, and the Eagles would find another holder for Akers. In that case, the backup QB is in a totally different class, and so you're much more comfortable if McNabb gets injured.

it just means the off-chance that McNabb gets hurt isn’t worth the bother of finding a new holder

I don't agree. I think it's more that the difference between Detmer and the #3 isn't large enough to justify getting a new holder. It's not that they wouldn't do it (McMahon, for instance, is in fact practicing holding) - it's just that they don't have any incentive.

In any case, like his brother Koy is a mediocre QB you can win with, but not because of.

... bingo! And all I've been saying is that the other QBs in the NFC East are (currently) right in that same class.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 07/22/2005 - 5:20pm

We must be pretty desperate for football if we're arguing who's better, Koy Detmer or Eli Manning. Personally, I think the difference between the two is while both are mediocre right now, Eli at least has the potential to be good, but Koy's ceiling is a replacement level QB who's also a good holder.

by TO (not verified) :: Fri, 07/22/2005 - 6:56pm

I am *extremely* unhappy about attending training camp, fellas. Can anyone give me any cool pranks to play on Andy and Big D?

by Andy"Teflon" Reed (not verified) :: Sat, 07/23/2005 - 10:00pm

If I could draft or develop a number one wide reciever, you'd be pulling pranks in another teams training camp.

by D.McNabb (not verified) :: Sat, 07/23/2005 - 11:26pm

Im gonna throw up my Campbells if TO doesnt stop hurting my feelings.

by Todd Pinkston (not verified) :: Sun, 07/24/2005 - 8:20am

Thank God T.O. came back! I thought the coaches were going to make me run across the middle.

by B. Westbrook & C. Buckhalter (not verified) :: Sun, 07/24/2005 - 9:01am

This wouldn't be such a problem if Coach would call a run on occassion.

by Joe Pisarcik Magnet (not verified) :: Sun, 07/24/2005 - 7:45pm

Just stopping by to check in for this season (my New Year's resolution was to come by here more often, and I have been; albeit in lurk mode.)

Quick question: What's the difference between PRo Football Reference and The Football Database (footballdb.com) and Database Football?

by dwn&distance (not verified) :: Wed, 07/27/2005 - 10:54pm

The Eagles are still the team to beat in the division. The question is can a wild card team emerge from the NFC East? Yes! The Redskins do have some off the field problems, but that's par for the NFL. With the best defense in the NFC, key additions on offense and some new found stability within the organization, the Redskins stand ready to make a move into the playoffs in 2005.