Mike Jones has a look at the complicated season the Redskins' defense had, the ways in which it worked to overcome its deficiencies and help deliver a division title, and the questions that face it (especially in the secondary) as it heads into the offseason.
Thom Loverro wonders if Robert Griffin III actually shirked his responsibility as team leader and captain when he successfully argued to keep himself in the team's playoff loss to the Seahawks. It's a point worth pondering. We assume the tough-guy thing is the way football players are supposed to handle these situations. But it was obvious to everyone in the building that Griffin couldn't play, so you have to assume Griffin knew as well. His staying in the game hurt their chances of winning. Still think it's up to the coach to make that call, but again, a perspective at least worth discussing.
This week's salt-in-the-wound series from ESPNNewYork.com is "Five Giant Losses," and the first edition takes a look at the loss to the Eagles in Philadelphia, which didn't seem all that ridiculous until the Eagles lost their next eight games.
Calvin Watkins writes that middle linebacker Sean Lee and pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware are the two most important pieces for the Cowboys defense as it switches to a 4-3. Other than staying healthy, I can't see how Lee would have any problems. And as is pointed out in Calvin's piece, Ware is the best player on the defense. I have had some people tell me they wonder about Ware's ability to hold up as a full-time 4-3 end, but I wouldn't bet against him.
Jerry Jones says that he and coach Jason Garrett have spent time discussing coaching staff changes, which is more likely than the alternative and would be in line with the way things have worked around Valley Ranch the last couple of offseasons. I think it's possible some of the behind-the-scenes stuff gets overblown, though I admit it's possible Jones is raging unreasonably, and I would obviously accept the hiring of an offensive playcaller and/or the firing of Garrett's brother as evidence that I am wrong. I have my opinions, but I'm not obtuse. I will say I think the Cowboys would be better off if Jones took a breath and remembered how good he felt about the team in Week 15. Not that that needs to rule the day, but I think it should be a factor along with how mad he is about the way the final two weeks went.
On the day when it was revealed they interviewed former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, the big news out of Eagles camp was that they are bringing in Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley for a second interview. This is a strong indication that Bradley is the leading candidate for the job. And I think that'd be fine. Bradley's 46 and well regarded, and just because he's a defensive coordinator and not an offensive coordinator doesn't mean he should be ignored in the current offense-heavy NFL. If the Eagles see something in Bradley as an up-and-coming leader, good for them for taking a shot. He's the kind of guy who fits this job well, regardless of which side of the ball his background is in.
On the roster side of things, the team's website looks at the situation at defensive end, which is a spot at which the defense looks pretty strong heading into 2013. The emergence of Brandon Graham was a very positive development for the 2012 Eagles, and I don't think it's reasonable to believe Trent Cole is done just because he didn't thrive in this year's mess of a defense.