NFC East: Eric Mangini
First and foremost, Adam, they need to hire a quality defensive coordinator, whether it's someone like Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo or former Browns head coach Eric Mangini. Philadelphia's defensive coordinator, Juan Castillo, is a great coach but not a great defensive coordinator. He never had called a defense -- or an offense -- before this season. Improving the defense will help the offense. And it also wouldn't hurt if Andy Reid went back to drafting some offensive linemen in some of the early rounds. But the one thing to remember about some NFL teams is that sometimes they're not as far off as some think. Philadelphia, to me, is one of those teams.
It does seem fairly clear the Eagles won't be able to bring Castillo back in the same role next year if at all. Forget for a moment the message it would send to the fans; I wonder how they could expect the players to buy into it. For his part, though, Castillo tells the Philadelphia Daily News that he's much more concerned about Sunday's game against the Dolphins than he is about his own job security. And that's of course something everyone in that position says, but whatever he's not, Castillo does strike me as an earnest, hard-working guy who's not going to let up on the effort or the focus just because things haven't worked out for him.
The 17th overall pick in the 2002 draft for the Oakland Raiders, the 29-year-old Buchanon has had a disappointing career to this point. He has 18 career interceptions, five of which have been returned for touchdowns. But he hasn't been able to stick with a team long since being traded from the Raiders.
"We are very excited to add a veteran corner, such as Phillip, to our defensive backfield,” said Mike Shanahan in a press release Monday. “He has had a lot of success in this league and brings with him the ability to create turnovers. He will be a big part of what we are trying to accomplish defensively in Washington ."
The Redskins have avoided the big-ticket items in free agency this offseason, instead opting for veteran players in need of a fresh start. I still think Washington will regret signing a malcontent such as running back Larry Johnson, but veterans such as Maake Kemoeatu and Buchanon make sense. They come at a relatively low cost and they both have the potential to play a significant role on defense.
Buchanon played in 13 games for the Lions in '09 but did not have an interception. He was banged up in a game that caused Browns coach Eric Mangini to launch allegations of the Lions faking injuries to slow down Cleveland's no-huddle offense.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Now that I've provided knee-jerk analysis for all four teams, it's time to take a closer look at the schedules. The New York Giants P.R. staff has done a nice job compiling some schedule nuggets, so I thought you might enjoy some of these:
- The Giants will play seven games against 2008 playoff teams, including five at home: Arizona, San Diego, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Carolina. They will play two postseason teams on the road: the Eagles and Vikings.
- Five of the first eight games are on the road. Last year, five of the first eight were at home. Last year's schedule allowed the Giants to stack up a lot of wins in the first half of the season, which sustained them through a turbulent December.
- The three-game road swing through Dallas, Tampa Bay and Kansas City will be the Giants' first in the regular season since Nov. 21-Dec. 4, 1994, when the Giants swept the Houston Oilers, Redskins and Browns. Tom Coughlin said in a press release this evening that the Giants would have to be "road warriors" again.
- Coughlin had three three-game regular season road trips as coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 1997, the Jaguars lost to Dallas and Pittsburgh before winning at Tennessee (later that year, they won their final two regular season games at Buffalo and Oakland before losing at Denver in an AFC Wild Card Game). The following season, Jacksonville lost at Buffalo and Denver before a victory in Baltimore. And in 2001, the Jaguars swept their three-game road trip by winning in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Minnesota. The league tries to avoid three-game road trips, but it doesn't always work out.
- The Giants last played on Thanksgiving on Nov. 26, 1992, when they lost to the Cowboys in Dallas, 30-3. The Giants are 7-6 on Thanksgiving, but have played on the holiday just twice since 1938, including a 13-6 victory over the Lions in Detroit on Nov. 25, 1982. Overall, the Giants are 9-6 on Thursdays. Wait, are we to believe the Giants played 11 Thanksgiving games before 1938? That doesn't sound right to me. I'll look into it.
- The Giants are 18-31-1 on Monday nights and 13-15-1 on Sunday nights.
- The Giants will play back-to-back home games twice, though the first set of those games is interrupted by the bye. They host San Diego and Atlanta on Nov. 8 and 22 (the bye is the 15th) and Dallas and Philadelphia on Dec. 6 and 13.
- This is the second consecutive year the Giants will play their NFC East opponents in games 13-15. Last year, they won at Washington but lost in Dallas and at home to Philly.
- The Nov. 15 bye is the Giants' latest since 2001, when they were off on Dec. 2.
- This is the first time the Giants will open the season against the same opponent (Washington) since 1991-92, when they hosted the San Francisco 49ers in consecutive seasons. They won the first, 16-14, but lost in '92, 31-14. The Redskins have to be wondering what they did to deserve this type treatment.
- The Giants are opening the season against an NFC East opponent for the third consecutive season (including Dallas in 2007), the first time that's happened since 1988-90 (Washington twice and Philadelphia).
- This is the first time the Giants will conclude the regular season against the same opponent in back-to-back years since 1993 and '94, when they hosted Dallas in the finale -- losing in overtime in 1993, but winning the following year. The Giants were scheduled to end both the 2001 and 2002 seasons vs. Philadelphia, but after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the NFL moved the Week 2 games to Jan. 6 and the Giants hosted Green Bay to conclude the season.
- When the Giants visit Tampa Bay on Sept. 27, Coughlin will be 63 years, 27 days old and Buccaneers first-year head coach Raheem Morris will be 33 years, 24 days old. The age difference of 30 years, 3 days will be the largest between two head coaches in a regular season game since Nov. 4, 2007 when Eric Mangini (36 years, 289 days) faced Joe Gibbs (66 years, 344 days), a difference of 30 years, 55 days. Wow, who thinks to look this stuff up?
- When the Giants visit Denver on Thanksgiving night, the age difference between Coughlin and Broncos coach Josh McDaniel will be 29 years, 234 days.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese met with the media in Indianapolis on Saturday. Newark Star-Ledger beat writer Mike Garafolo was kind enough to provide quotes from the session. He was asked about Browns coach Eric Mangini admitting interest Friday in unrestricted free-agent running back Derrick Ward. Some NFL executives would consider that poor form on Mangini's part, but Reese laughed it off.
"No, I think that's much to do about nothing," said Reese, who encountered some pushback two years ago when he mentioned the Giants might be interested in Willis McGahee. "I've done that myself. My first year up here, a couple of years ago, somebody said something about McGahee or something like that. So I don't think it constitutes tampering."
Reese mentioned that the club's still in discussions with quarterback Eli Manning regarding an extension, but he didn't provide any specifics on a timetable. He also said that he wasn't feeling any pressure to rush into an extension with running back Brandon Jacobs, who recently received the franchise tag.
Reese said the Plaxico Burress situation "doesn"t slow down our process. We are going to move forward as if he will be there, if he's not, we'll play it both ways. It really doesn't affect our preparation moving forward. We're going to play it both ways."
The Giants will have a much better feel for Burress' situation following his trial, which is set to begin March 31. The Giants have attempted to get a read on the likely outcome of the legal proceedings, but they've heard a lot of different opinions. If Burress doesn't face jail time, I think there's a good chance NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hands down some additional punishment.
In other news, Reese indicated that Mathias Kiwanuka will remain at defensive end next season.
"I think he's going to stay at defensive end," Reese said of Kiwanuka. "That's his natural position. We don't want to keep moving him, standing him up, putting him down. I think we are going to go with our three-man rotation and we should be pretty good upfront with those three defensive ends."