Offseason always interesting in NFC East
One of the great things about covering the NFC East other than accumulating Marriott points is that someone's always on the verge of saying something ridiculous. Normally we can count on Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to deliver the goods.
But recently, the Philadelphia Eagles have been vying for the annual "most asinine statement of the offseason" award. Last year at this time, a lot of us had already crowned the Eagles world champs based on their aggressive moves in free agency. That lovable bust of a quarterback, Vince Young, was quick to label the Eagles the "Dream Team," which became the butt of every joke once the team got off to a horrific start and ended up missing the playoffs.
Earlier this week, none other than Michael Vick decided to lose his mind for a few moments. He eventually made some good points, but everyone will focus on the following statement he made to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia:
"When I look at our football team and what we have on paper, I think about when I was growing up and the great San Francisco 49er teams, the great Green Bay Packer teams, and the great Dallas Cowboy teams, how they just positioned themselves to compete and be one of the best teams out there," said Vick, reportedly with a straight face.
"I think we have a chance to be that. I think we have a chance to develop a dynasty."
And yes, I think most of us are reminded of the Cowboys' Triplets when we think of Vick, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson. Vick is correct in pointing out the Eagles' talent on offense, but this is pretty much the same group that stumbled to an 8-8 record last season. Except for the fact that left tackle Jason Peters will miss the season due to injury and be replaced by someone named Demetress Bell. Peters was coming off his best season with the Eagles and will leave a huge void. The Eagles may have three of the most talented wide receivers in the league, but it won't matter if Vick can't deliver the ball.
This team has been undermined by poor play at linebacker (and safety) for a few years now. The Eagles traded for Houston Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans, but there are still a lot of questions. The biggest cause for optimism is a pass rush that tied for a league-leading 50 sacks last season. Rookies Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry should have an immediate impact on that front, and perhaps former first-round pick Brandon Graham is finally ready to contribute at defensive end. The New York Giants have two Lombardi trophies over the past five seasons because their pass-rushers make game-changing plays when the stakes are highest.
But the ultimate issue for the Eagles is whether Vick can stay healthy throughout the season. Because of his athleticism and desire to extend plays, he takes more shots than Tony Romo and Eli Manning. Since becoming the full-time starter in 2010, Vick has missed seven games due to injury. And at age 32, there's nothing to suggest he'll be able to play all 16 games.
It's funny that Giants general manager Jerry Reese was getting so much criticism last offseason for allowing players such as tight end Kevin Boss and wide receiver Steve Smith to walk in free agency. The Giants didn't make any huge moves this offseason either (Martellus Bennett, anyone?), but the critics have been held at bay because of the Super Bowl win. Strangely, the only criticism has come from within the Giants family. Former Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer went on record saying that he preferred Romo over Manning. Maybe Toomer should've talked to former teammate Tiki Barber about how things work out when you make those types of comments.
I guess Manning will always have his doubters. But he should be made man in New York after what he accomplished last season.
The Cowboys, Eagles and Giants should all be in the running to win the division. The Redskins could be the most exciting team to watch (at times) because of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, but he won't have enough weapons on offense to immediately make a run at the playoffs.
The Cowboys are just thankful that Vick's comments briefly overshadowed the Dez Bryant story. On Friday, DeSoto police announced they will file the Class A misdemeanor family violence charge against Bryant with the Dallas County district attorney's office. Bryant had been praised for his relatively quiet offseason, but this situation will continue to hang over his head as training camp begins.
On one hand, the Cowboys knew that Bryant would likely have some issues off the field when they drafted him. But they also thought his production on the field would make up for some of that. So far, that hasn't been the case. Bryant can be brilliant at times, but he doesn't finish games and was criticized by Jones earlier this offseason for not being in proper condition last season.
The Cowboys were counting on Miles Austin and Bryant to bounce back this season. But if Bryant has to miss time because of a potential suspension, the Cowboys don't have a lot of attractive options. Laurent Robinson, now with the Jacksonville Jaguars, grows in stature with each passing day.
Come to think of it, maybe having your starting quarterback talk about a dynasty isn't the worst thing that can happen during the offseason.