Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Premature Evaluations 2009: NFC East


Sometimes, we at TiT make friends. Sometimes, they contribute. Almost never, it's good. Enjoy this from friend of the site and soon to be frequent contributor Julian, a lifelong Giants fan who still thinks that Eli contract is retarded.

To prevent your humble blogger’s obvious Giants bias, I’ve listed the teams in alphabetical order. You can see my predictions at the bottom.

· Cowboys

o The Good

1. Tony Romo healthy. Nobody in the draft cause they got Roy Williams. Trying to make sure Barber stays healthy, the cowboys have the new three-headed beast in the NFC East (rhyming is hard but fun) with Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice. Earth, Wind, and Fire are out. Step in Moe, Larry, and Curly (admittedly awful nickname, but the BeeGees weren’t doing it for me either).

o The Bad

1. They lost T.O. Is Patrick Crayton or Miles Austin a top 60 WR in the NFL (where you need to be to start for a franchise)? Is Roy Williams as good as T.O.? Is Terrence Newman really your go to shutdown option in the secondary? Can DeMarcus Ware carry an entire defense? The answer to all of these questions is no.

o The Ugly

1. Jason Witten is going to lead this team in receptions and receiving touchdowns as the tight-end. How many years did that work for the Chiefs? The answer is none. Tony Romo is great but he has to throw the ball to someone and the Cowboys have to bulk up on an aging defense that got no real help from the draft. Like so many unions in a recession, the Cowboys sold their future for the good not great Roy Williams. Just because you’re the NFL’s most valuable franchise does not make you a division winner or even a playoff team. Just ask the second most valuable NFL franchise, the Redskins.

· Eagles

o The Good

1. DeSean Jackson is on his way to being the next Steve Smith (the real Steve Smith) and with a much better QB than Smith ever had. Fast as lightning and only in his second year in the league, if he stops making dumb mental errors we could be looking at a perennial pro-bowler in the making. Both are boneheads, but Smith keeps it off the field. Despite all the noise from the some of the worst fans in sports, Donovan McNabb is one of the best QB’s in the league. And the addition of rookie RB and Brian Westbrook clone LeSean McCoy, and monster OT Jason Peters, should really improve the Eagles running game keep Westbrook healthy.

o The Bad

1. The addition of QB Michael Vick. That’s right; I said it. An offense that needs to add a gadget player (which is what Vick will be on team clearly led by Donovan McNabb), is a team that has consistently stunk in short yardage situations. Vick will be good and will contribute, but he can’t dominate the league suspended for 6 games and 10 plays, not touches, a game. Did I mention that Westbrook is injury prone and starting off this season with a pre-banged up ankle?

o The Ugly

1. The death of a football icon would hurt any team. There may have been no more valuable coordinator in the NFL than defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. All those blitzes you see currently taking over the NFL have been in the Eagles playbooks for years. Even the Giants won their 2007 system using Johnson’s system implemented by Steve Spagnolo, a Johnson acolyte and former Eagles coach. Will the Eagles be good? Sure. How will the defense hold up? For better or worse, it will be ugly.

· Giants

o The Good

1. Your Giants fan/humble blogger WAS really pumped about the Giants Defense this season. With the additions of pass rushing specialist and rookie LB Clint Sintim, LB/domestic abuser Michael Boley and DLinemen Rocky Bernard and Chris Canty, I thought the defense was going to be better than 2007. The secondary is actually somewhat experienced and middle-of-the-road with soon to be pro-bowler safety Kenny Philips. That’s all they need to be with a defensive front seven which could break the single season sack record. DE Osi Umenyiora, out the entirety of last season, may be the healthiest one of the bunch. Hampered all preseason by injuries, the depth which was supposed to be the team’s strength is the only thing keeping them alive as a possible division winner. As goes the defense’s health, will go the Giant’s record.

o The Bad

1. Remember what I said about the Cowboys WRs? Do the Giants wish they have someone as good as Roy Williams? The Giants may not have the worst receiving corps in the NFL but are definitely scraping the bottom of the barrel in the NFC East. While Mario Manningham or newly minted Hakeem Nicks may contribute this year, neither is going to become the #1 receiving target almost every team needs to get far in the playoffs.

o The Ugly

1. WR Ramses Barden, the 6’6” colossus rookie from Cal Poly, is on his way to becoming the #1 redzone target for Eli Manning. Until then, it’s the sure-handed but rather slow tight end Kevin Boss. These are the “weapons” defenses will have trouble shutting down in the endzone? While Ahmad Bradshaw should fill in nicely for Derrick Ward, Brandon Jacobs should see more carries this year and probably more injuries. This team will run all over you, and probably keep your QB on the ground. But the Giants were down in the Superbowl until one of the luckiest awesomest catches of all-time by the soon-to-be cut David Tyree and a redzone catch by Plaxico Burress. Who is making those catches this year? Sinorice Moss? Hixon? Steve Smith? Barden? Boss? Manningham? Bueller? Bueller?

· Redskins

o The Good

1. I live with a Redskins fan who will tell you this year is the Skins’ year (don’t they say that every year?). QB Jason Campbell is finally in a stable offense. RB Clinton Portis will be healthier and get some rest with the greater use of Ladell Betts in the backfield. And years of drafting WRs are on the cusp of paying off. This is all slightly true but mostly overblown. What makes this defense significantly better than last year is the addition of DT Albert Haynesworth (the fattest best DT in the league) and rookie DE Brian Orakpo. This in-and-out tandem are going to stuff the run in the backfield and breakdown pockets all year long.

o The Bad and The Ugly

1. These two are the same thing every year for the Redskins. In most other divisions they’d contend for a playoff spot and probably win double digit games (put these guys in the AFC or NFC West and they’re going 12-4 – I’ll bet lunch in the alternate dimension where this takes place and I’m wrong to anyone who builds the time machine to take me there). While always solid enough to hover around .500, this team never has that next level player to take the team on their back and get a playoff spot. Clinton Portis has tried to be that guy and done a fine job. When the Curse of the 30-year-old RB hits him, he’ll unfortunately only be able to look back at a bunch of .500ish seasons. Santana Moss is good and lightning fast, but he’s not special. Neither is Jason “this year is really his year” Campbell. Teams have won with worse QBs, but those teams either could run over teams regularly, which the Skins’ O-Line is not up to, or had a Defense for the ages like the 2007 NYGiants 2000 Ravens. The Redskins are good, but not great. Not bad but sort of ugly. I guess that’s what happens when you have one of the worst owners in sports. But at least it’s the second most valuable franchise in the NFL (See Cowboys for an explanation).

· Predictions

o Giants: 11-5 – (For you ATHF fans - GO G-Men!)

o Eagles: 10-6

o Cowboys: 9-7 (I hope punters hit that screen all season long cause that’s what Jerry Jones gets for being Jerry Jones. Ask a Cowboys fan; they’ll admit he’s kind of a dick)

o Redskins: 7-8-1 (The Skins are both good and bad enough to tie in a game this year).

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