Good morning, NFC East folk. Cold out this way today. Let's warm up with a plate of hot, fresh links.
New York Giants
The Giants have begun their playoff week by commenting on the offensive line of their wild-card playoff foe, the Atlanta Falcons. Seems they are what Justin Tuck refers to as "dirt bags," and have a reputation for dirty play, blocking after the whistle, etc. Matt Ehalt found some opponent quotes from earlier in the season and hey, if Ndamukong Suh thinks you're dirty, you need to take a long look in the mirror. The Giants will need to win the battle up front with their defensive line against those dirt bags if they're to beat Atlanta and advance, so it's not a bad strategy to be out in front with this stuff this week. In case the officials are listening, ya know.
Steve Serby says there are multiple reasons to believe this Giants team can make a Super Bowl run the way the Giants of four years ago did, and he lists them. Of course they could, and they very well may. But I still say comparing this team to the one four years ago does a disservice to that team's thrilling surprise run and to this team's own mission. Different time, different circumstances different challenge. Drives me nuts when everybody goes for the easy comparison without thinking it through.
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie meets the media at 2:30 pm ET today, and while everyone expects Andy Reid back at this point, we don't know for sure. We also don't know what will become of first-year defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. Jonathan Tamari writes that the case for canning Castillo is not as open and shut as it once seemed.
Meanwhile, Michael Vick says he'll scramble less next year in an effort to keep his body from breaking down and with the goal of actually playing all 16 games. I feel like we've heard this before, no?
Dez Bryant said, "I think I did OK," in evaluating his second NFL season, and I think that's fair. Everybody wants Bryant to be better, of course, since he was a first-round pick and has all of the obvious talent, but not everybody's as great in their second year as they eventually will be, and Bryant was a productive player in a year in which Laurent Robinson got the touchdowns and the offense worked best when DeMarco Murray was running the ball. The concerns with Bryant are off-the-field concerns. On the field, he seems to be coming along fine.
Some people asked yesterday whether Rob Ryan would be fired as defensive coordinator. I don't think he will, and it's worth remembering, as Calvin Watkins points out, that Ryan has a multiyear deal and could get some head-coach interviews. Even if the Cowboys want to fire him (which, again, I do not believe they will), I imagine they'd wait so as not to torpedo his chances of getting a bigger job elsewhere.
Sally Jenkins writes that the Redskins' offseason focus needs to predicate itself, at least in part, on the idea of getting bigger. In the column, former Redskins great Joe Theismann agrees with her and says part of the problem is that the Redskins haven't been able to physically dominate opponents.
Lots of talk around the Redskins these days about the progress they've made, but it seems clear that the players and coaches would like to see that progress translated into more actual victories. That was the theme Monday as players packed up lockers -- that for all of the talk and good feeling, 5-11 is still 5-11 and doesn't feel very good.
We have a chat later today at noon, and the Pineapple Edition of the NFL Power Rankings is due out sometime shortly thereafter. And more from my Mike Shanahan interview later this morning. Today's entry talks about his relationships with his offensive coordinator and the team's owner, and his thoughts on the criticism he takes for his offensive philosophies.