You know the scene near the end of "Hoosiers," when Gene Hackman looks each kid in the face while they have their hands together in that pregame huddle in the locker room and he finally says -- kind of whispers -- "I love you guys?" Yeah, well, when I saw this morning that you guys had taken a post that was essentially a wild guess about which team will be the best in the division from 2014-16 and put more than 2,000 comments on it, that's how I felt.
I also felt like we're all about ready for the lockout to end. Which it seems as if it is.
Once it does, of course, we will find out what the Eagles want and can get in return for quarterback Kevin Kolb. Lots of talk about this over the past couple of days, and Jeff McLane says that, if Arizona's offering cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Eagles will want a pick to come with him. As we've discussed here many times, Philadelphia isn't interested in giving Kolb away. Once they do, they'll need to find a reliable backup for Michael Vick. If they can't get what they want for Kolb, they'll just keep him as that.
Speaking of Vick, one of the stipulations of his post-prison agreements with Roger Goodell, Andy Reid and Jeff Lurie was that he'd do more than just speak out against dogfighting -- that he'd actively campaign against it. Hence, Vick was in Washington to throw his support behind a bill making it a federal crime to attend an animal fight.
The Cowboys have brought their coaches back from their vacations in anticipation of the end of the lockout. This is how crazy this all is: Not only will free agency start next week, but some training camps, including the Cowboys' in San Antonio, are scheduled to start next week. Next week!
Rainer Sabin wonders if the new rules effectively eliminating two-a-day practices from training camp under the new agreement will impact Jason Garrett's plans to try to toughen up the atmosphere around the Cowboys players. I predict Garrett and other coaches can find ways to make things tougher on their players while staying in the rules. I also predict that some coaches and teams will break the rules, though I don't know which ones.
New York Giants
Ralph Vacchiano says that Osi Umenyiora won't hold up a labor agreement because of his own contract demands, the way it appeared as if Vincent Jackson and Logan Mankins might as of Tuesday. Ralph has a source telling him Umenyiora believes his beef to be with the Giants, not the league as a whole, and that he (Osi, not Ralph) might hold out of training camp if he doesn't get what he wants, which is a new contract or a trade. As Ralph points out, the Giants have too many free-agent concerns to allow them to give into Osi's demands. He's not likely to get much satisfaction here.
Fullback Vonta Leach says he likes the Giants if he ends up leaving the Houston Texans for free agency. There's been interest on the Giants' end in the past, as Ohm Youngmisuk writes, and the Giants had serious injury problems at that position in 2010. I don't know. You guys have been asking for under-the-radar names. There you go.
Mike Jones writes that coordinator Jim Haslett (second year of new scheme), safety LaRon Landry (health) and rookie Ryan Kerrigan (transition from college defensive end to pro linebacker) are among the Redskins with the most to prove on the defensive side of the ball this year.
And Dan Daly wonders if Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen are prepared for the speed with which free agency is expected to unfold. It's a question worth asking about 32 front offices right now. If this compressed free-agency period is going to unfold with as much insanity as everyone thinks it is, there are going to be some bad deals done both ways. The ones who come out of it the cleanest will be the teams and agents who kept their heads about them, stayed flexible and reacted both quickly and intelligently to unforeseen developments.
I'm going to go react quickly and intelligently to my stomach's rumbling and go eat some breakfast. You guys be careful out there today.