Greg Armstrong with his NFC East 2018 Over Unders…
Dan Essien previews the NFC East with a “Stock Report” in episode 5 of Buck The Trend.
Buck The Trend episode 5 previews the 2018 NFL season with a closer look at the NFC East in this week’s “Stock Report.” We look at which direction each team is trending in and give a prediction on how the division will stack up by the end of the season. Don’t forget to subscribe and leave a review on iTunes!
Previously at Turn On The Jets, we reviewed which teams in the AFC East had the right to speak out against the Jets, who had some room to run their mouths, and who should just shut up. As part of our Why Do You Hate The Jets? series, we looked at the first part of the NFC East last week, focusing on why the Washington Redskins should keep quiet when it comes to Gang Green. In the second part of our NFC East review, we examine yet another team who should Just Shut Up, in the Dallas Cowboys, while also looking at why the Philadelphia Eagles have much in common with the Jets, and finally, why the Giants of New York have unconditional bragging rights, at least for the next four seasons, or until the Jets win a Super Bowl, whichever comes first.
Just Shut Up
Dallas Cowboys – While America’s team has been all over the headlines since the emergence of Tony Romo, they’ve seemingly gained popularity through all aspects of football other than winning. They have a glamor quarterback in Romo, a diva of an owner in Jerry Jones, and have experienced a coaching carousel that has seen five different head coaches since 1998. Sound familiar?
However, unlike the Jets, Dallas has won just a single playoff game in the past 15 seasons, despite entering several years as the preseason favorites. While the verdict is certainly still out on Jason Garrett as a head coach, the Cowboys have displayed no recent amount of stability, while maintaining themselves as one of the NFL’s most disappointing teams year in and year out. Tony Romo has been praised as one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, having earned three trips to the pro bowl during his young career, however he is just 1-3 in playoff games. Mark Sanchez is one of the most, if not the most, heavily criticized quarterbacks in all of football, but is 4-2 in the post season. Regular season statistics are great, but an inability to win games when they matter the most can, and should, tarnish the status of any quarterback.
Similar to the Jets, the Cowboys have also done their fair share of signing high profile players with character concerns throughout the years. However, unlike the Jets signees, the troubled stars that Dallas has signed have rarely worked out.
In 2008, the Cowboys traded for troubled Tennessee Cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones. Jones had been fresh off of several arrests as a Titan, most notably the infamous “making it rain” incident in which an alleged member of his entourage reportedly fired repeated gunshots into a crowd, following an altercation at a Las Vegas strip club. Believing they could assist in developing the young corner’s character, Dallas took a serious gamble on Jones. During his first season in Big D, Jones was involved in yet another incident in a Dallas hotel, and eventually checked himself into an alcohol rehab center following a mid season suspension.
Jones would return to play for Dallas in 2008, however he suffered a neck injury against Pittsburgh, leading to his eventual release in February of 2009, following just one season as a Cowboy. The Jets have been criticized for bringing in a cornerback of their own with supposed character issues, in Antonio Cromartie, yet Cro has not been involved in any serious off the field issues, while maintaining a solid level of play opposite the best defensive back in all of football.
Along with Jones, the Cowboys also signed Tank Johnson following his release from the Chicago Bears after repeated off the field incidents, including possession of illegal fire arms. Also a very talented player, Johnson could quite never get it right in Dallas, playing in just 24 games while recording 33 tackles and 3 sacks.
Arguably the most famous free agent signing by the Cowboys in the Tony Romo era is Terrell Owens. Although no one can deny Owens’ tremendous talent, there is also no denying the immense amount of headaches he has caused teammates, coaches, and front office personnel over the course of his career. Owens was up and down during his time in Dallas, but could never quite establish the dominance needed to propel Tony Romo into becoming a truly elite quarterback in the NFL. Owens was released by Dallas in 2009, followed by brief one year stints in Buffalo and Cincinnati, respectively. Owens now obtains work from the Indoor Football League’s Allen Wranglers. As for his time in Big D, Owens will undoubtedly be remembered for this famous press conference.
Some Room To Talk
Philadelphia Eagles – Although Philadelphia absolutely dominated the Jets in every aspect of their 45-19 blowout over Gang Green last season, they are strikingly similar to the Jets as an organization. Despite having great stability at the head coaching position since the arrival of Andy Reid in 1999, the organization has similarly struggled in championship games. Between 2001-2004, the Eagles made four consecutive NFC Championship games, losing all but one. Although the argument can be made that, unlike the Jets, they were able to get over the hump and actually make a Super Bowl, they were defeated by New York’s rival New England Patriots 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX.
More recently, though, the Eagles have prioritized themselves in signing high profile free agents. Just a season ago, the Eagles made the big free agent splash by signing CB Nnamdi Asomugha, DT Cullen Jenkins, WR Steve Smith, and QB Vince Young, who famously deemed Philly the “Dream Team,” prior to finishing an ultra disappointing 8-8, coincidentally the same record as the 2011 Jets.
Like the Jets, the Eagles certainly have a vast amount of character issues throughout their roster. Many people remember Santonio Holmes as the Wide Receiver to have a public meltdown during a game last season, however that same group of people should not forget the antics of Philadelphia WR DeSean Jackson, who, after a disagreement with Vince Young, was seen blatantly ignoring his quarterback on the sidelines, while he seemingly attempted to make peace with the star wideout.
Jackson has had questions about his character throughout his entire playing career, but like Santonio Holmes, was rewarded with a 5 year, $51 million contract this past offseason. Unlike the Holmes deal, Jackson got a new contract after his meltdown, rather than before it, as was the case with Holmes. Instead of questioning the move to pay a player with such character issues, Philadelphia has been lauded for taking care of their own. The Jets, on the other hand, have been heavily criticized for giving Holmes a similar deal more than a year ago, due to his public meltdown in Miami last season, and constant portrayal as the Jets’ villain throughout this entire offseason. However, since becoming a Jet, Holmes has certainly been no greater of a headache than Jackson, and has caught four more touchdowns, despite playing one less game during that time frame. To the critic, the Jets paying Holmes was a poor decision, while the Eagles paying Jackson is a classy organizational move to reward its own players, a double standard to say the least.
Unconditional Bragging Rights
New York Giants – The Giants have done everything the right way in establishing themselves as one of the NFL’s elite teams year in and year out since the arrival of Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning. They’ve built champisionship caliber teams through the draft, rather than over paying for high profile free agents, even if it has meant allowing some of their fan favorites to leave along the way. The Giants have groomed Eli Manning from the young, raw, question mark he once was, to a polished, elite NFL Quarterback with two Super Bowl MVPs.
Besides the fact that they have won four championships since the Jets won their single Super Bowl in 1969, the Giants have flat out dominated the Jets in terms of play. They all but ended the Jets’ season last year, after a horrible showing by Gang Green in the 29-14 Christmas Eve embarrassment. The G-Men have won two Super Bowls in the past four seasons, while the Jets have merely made it to two AFC Championship games. Giant fans, brag all you want. Until the Jets can prove to dethrone them, Big Blue remains King in New York. For now, Jets Nation can cling to this.
In continuation with our new Why Do You Hate The Jets? series, we follow our review of the AFC East with the division’s counterpart in the NFC. The NFC East is very similar to the AFC East on a number of levels. There’s a team in the New York Giants who, like the Patriots, have unquestionably dominated the division recently. There is the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys who are, surprisingly, similar to the Jets. All three of these teams look solid on paper year in and year out and generally have a vast amount of hype surrounding them each season. Then there is the Washington Redskins, who most closely resemble the Buffalo Bills. Like the Bills, Washington has struggled throughout the past decade.
For the second edition of this series, we will use the same criteria for each of these teams in relation to the Jets. However, the NFC East Edition will be broken down into two separate parts, the Washington Redskins, and everyone else. For Part I, we will look at Washington solely, then we will follow up with an analysis of the remainder of the division. If you missed the first article, here are explanations of the three categories that teams will be placed in. Onto the Redskins.
Just Shut Up:
Washington Redskins – I haven’t seen a more unaccomplished, poorly run organization with as great a sense of entitlement as Washington. Fans of the Redskins seem to hang onto the one playoff victory they’ve had in the past decade for dear life. They seem to forget that owner Daniel Snyder has treated his head coaches like a game of musical chairs. Since taking ownership in D.C. in 1999, Snyder has gone through six head coaches. Now, I am not mathematician, but that averages out to a new coach roughly once every two seasons. Say what you want about the Jets struggles to find consistency and an identity, but a coaching shuffle like Washington’s is unheard of.
The Jets are also often criticized for personnel decisions, most recently the team’s decision to give Santonio Holmes a $50 million contract. Whether or not Holmes will prove to be worth his contract remains to be seen. However, since Daniel Snyder has come to town, the Skins have become notorious for shelling out big dollars to big name free agents who rarely end up working out. Snyder brought in players like Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, and Mark Brunell well into the twilight of their careers to assume starting roles, while offering them hefty salaries. Most recently, though, the Redskins inked Defensive Tackle Albert Haynesworth to a 7-year deal worth $100 million in 2009, with $41 million guaranteed, only to trade him in the summer of 2011 for a measly fifth round draft pick.
Likewise, in 2010, the Redskins traded a second round draft pick to Philadelphia for Quarterback Donovan McNabb. Later in the season, the team extended McNabb’s contract to five years, $78 million, despite the quarterback having been benched by head coach Mike Shanahan in week 8. The rocky relationship between McNabb and Shanahan ended up exploding by the end of the year, and McNabb saw himself fall to third string on the depth chart. The following summer, McNabb was traded to Minnesota for a sixth round draft pick.
The most recent questionable free agent signing by the Washington Redskins, though, is Safety Brandon Meriweather, who inked a 2 year, $6 million deal on March 15th of this year. A little over a month later, Meriweather, who has had a history of off the field trouble, was arrested for a DUI. The Jets have recently gotten a bad reputation for some of their personnel decisions, but when it comes to anticipating value, assessing talent, and evaluating character, no one seems to do it worse than the Washington Redskins.
The most heavily criticized player on the New York Jets is undoubtedly Mark Sanchez. Besides winning four playoff games in his first two seasons in the NFL, Sanchez is widely viewed as a bust throughout various fan bases around the league. Whether or not this proves to be true, Washington certainly has no room to talk when it comes to drafting quarterbacks. Remember Jason Campbell? Yeah, neither does anyone else. Washington selected the Auburn quarterback with the 25th overall selection in the 2005 NFL Draft. From 2006-2009, the Redskins compiled a 19-32 record with Campbell as a starter, before allowing him to leave via free agency following the ’09 season.
The Redskins faithful will surely argue that the recent acquisition of Quarterback Robert Griffin III will return the franchise to one of the most respected organizations in the league. However, after selecting RGIII with the second overall selection in this year’s draft, the Redskins questionably selected Michigan State Quarterback Kirk Cousins in round 4. Surely, it is always good to have a backup quarterback, as it can be detrimental to a team if there is no depth at the postion. Just ask Chicago and Indianapolis about the importance of Quarterback depth.
However, Cousins was widely viewed by many draft analysts to be the fourth best quarterback in the draft behind Ryan Tannehill. He has received excellent reviews from his former head coach Mark Dantonio, and many believe he will be a high quality starter in this league at some point. Although it will certainly be RGIII’s team during the early stages of these young quarterbacks’ careers, this situation screams quarterback controversy down the road if Griffin begins to struggle. Criticize the Jets acquisition of Tim Tebow all you want, but the decision by Washington to draft two very quality young quarterbacks during the same draft is not only a questionable move, it could also prove to be very costly in the future.
I surely can go on and talk about how the Redskins have not even sniffed the playoffs since Rex Ryan has been in New York, but there is no need to bother. Washington is an inferior franchise, and until they prove to be anything else, should know their role as the punch line of the NFC East, while not breathing a word about the quality of the Jets as a team or as an organization.