NFC East: Josh Bidwell

Tuesday was a crazy day and Wednesday should be, too. Gonna be like this for a while, I believe. Fun ride with many twists and turns still ahead. Plenty more today, no doubt including another couple of hits on "First Take" to talk free agency league-wide. But there's always time for the links.

Dallas Cowboys

Todd Archer thinks the cuts the Cowboys made Tuesday show that Jason Garrett has more power in the organization and more pull with owner Jerry Jones than his predecessor, Wade Phillips, ever had. The Roy Williams cut, in particular, was an admit-you-were-wrong-and-move-on decision -- the kind you don't often expect from someone of Jones' wealth and ego. I can only assume that, if Garrett is really calling the shots here to some extent, that's a good thing for Dallas.

No hard feelings, by the way, from Williams, who learned Tuesday he'd be cut and then told Clarence Hill "I would have done the same thing." Roy didn't play well in Dallas, but he sure earned a reputation for carrying himself with class.

New York Giants

Mike Garafolo spoke to Plaxico Burress, who is going to meet face to face with Giants officials today as they work on a possible reunion. Burress is understandably interested (as I'm sure we all are) to see what his meeting will be like with Tom Coughlin, about whom Burress made very critical comments upon his release from prison last month. I imagine that's a conversation that has to happen before any deal gets done. I also imagine this all means the Giants are very worried about Steve Smith's knee.

Mark Herzlich's father apparently grew up a Giants fan in Connecticut. So he's psyched. As is his son, who as we have discussed could be a real low-risk, high-reward signing for the G-men.

Philadelphia Eagles

A report out of Phoenix late Tuesday night said the Eagles were asking the Cardinals for a first-round draft pick and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in exchange for Kevin Kolb, and that the Cards were offering Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-rounder. Can't hurt to ask, I guess. Personally, I might take the second-rounder and Rodgers-Cromartie if I were the Eagles. But I am not the Eagles, and I have said all along here that it doesn't make sense for the Eagles to deal Kolb unless somebody's compensating him as though he were a starting quarterback. If the Eagles hold firm and the Cardinals balk, you'll see Kolb in Philly, backing up Michael Vick. But I'd still bet something gets done here that makes both sides happy.

Quintin Mikell's contract with the Rams is for four years and $27 million, of which $14 million is guaranteed. Lots of people have been wondering why the Eagles would let Mikell go, and that's your reason. No way they were going that long, or that much money, to keep Mikell when they have Nate Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett to develop at the safety position. Would it have been nice for Mikell to hang around and help with that development? Sure. But not at a price like that.

Washington Redskins

John Clayton reported early this morning that the Redskins and the Vikings had a tentative deal to send Donovan McNabb to Minnesota as long as McNabb was willing to re-work his contract and take less money to play for the Vikings in 2011. I'm still not sure why McNabb would do that unless he's sure he can't go somewhere else and be guaranteed more playing time, or unless he's worried he'll get cut and lose all of the money. But I guess the latter is a reasonable fear, so we'll see. Fox Sports reported late Tuesday that the deal would be for a 2012 sixth-round pick and maybe a 2013 sixth-rounder, depending on McNabb's 2011 performance. If the Redskins can get anything for McNabb, who I thought they'd have to release, they'll count themselves fortunate.

The Redskins cut punter Josh Bidwell on Tuesday. Mike Jones reports that they have interest in former Bears punter Brad Maynard.

OK, back to it. Anybody who thinks they know what the NFC East landscape will look like 24 hours from now is out of their minds.
I asked, and the consensus answer was something like, "Sure, why not?" And so we conclude our position-by-position series on potential four-year free agency and the NFC East with a look at kickers and punters. Yeah, even with content hard to come by these days, I couldn't justify splitting them into two posts.

NFC East teams in need

Cowboys: They're set at punter with Mat McBriar, but while they're obviously invested in kicker David Buehler, they brought in veteran Kris Brown to see if they could put some pressure on Buehler to be better. The new kickoff rules could make Buehler's saving grace -- his ability to drill touchbacks on kickoffs -- less valuable than it used to be, which means making field goals is the only way he's going to keep his job. If he flops badly, it's possible Dallas looks at someone on this list since Brown likely isn't the answer either.

Giants: Set at kicker with Lawrence Tynes, and committed to Matt Dodge at punter but you wonder for how long. Following Jeff Feagles was never going to be an easy assignment, but as big as Dodge's leg is, his directional gaffes last year were too much for the Giants and their fans to stomach. Not kicking the ball out of bounds against DeSean Jackson and the Eagles in that Meadowlands game wasn't the first mistake -- just the worst and least forgettable. Dodge is likely to start the season with the job, but the Giants might want to keep their eye on this list in case they need to make a midseason move.

Eagles: Situation very much in flux in Philly, where they drafted kicker Alex Henery, likely signaling the end of the Eagles career of the great David Akers. Punter Sav Rocca, is also a free agent and could decide to retire rather than punt again at the age of 38. Bet on the Eagles going with Henery at kicker and bringing back Rocca on a one-year deal, but if Rocca won't have it, they'll need to go shopping.

Redskins: Well, they have guys at both spots. But Graham Gano is coming off a bad year as the kicker, and they could theoretically look to replace him. They have two punters on the roster -- Josh Bidwell and Sam Paulescu -- so they should be able to come up with something out of that.

Top five potential free-agent kickers

1. Adam Vinatieri, Colts

2. Ryan Longwell, Vikings

3. Akers

4. Matt Bryant, Falcons

5. Shayne Graham, Patriots

Top five potential free-agent punters

1. Adam Podlesh, Jaguars

2. Ben Graham, Cardinals

3. Steve Weatherford, Jets

4. Rocca

5. Michael Koenen, Falcons

Predictions that mean nothing: At least three of these teams will change kickers and/or punters between now and the end of the 2011 season, but I'm not saying which because kickers and punters are totally unpredictable. Akers leaves the division, though, I predict, though Dallas fans might wish their team would snag him.

Time for Giants' Matt Dodge to grow up

September, 30, 2010
9/30/10
3:40
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Watching New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin race toward rookie punter Matt Dodge on Sunday after he delivered a line-drive free kick following a Titans safety, I thought he might cut him on the spot. But the Giants will stick with Dodge this week against the Bears' dangerous returner, Devin Hester.

Hester had a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Packers on Monday, so Coughlin has vowed to keep the ball out of his hands. That's, of course, easier said than done when your rookie punter doesn't seem to have a clue where the ball is going.

"You’ve got to believe that he’s going to recognize the level of competition and rise to the occasion,” Coughlin said. “We’re working with him every day. All day long people are in his ear and hopefully it’ll sink in."

The Giants aren't the only team in the NFC East having issues with the kicking game. The Dallas Cowboys rolled the dice with second-year place-kicker David Buehler and the results have been mixed through three games. Redskins punter Josh Bidwell suffered an injury during pregame warm-ups last Sunday and had to be replaced by kicker Graham Gano. And let's not forget about Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes who is 2-of-4 on field goal attempts and missed a 43-yarder against the Titans in the second half.

Wrap-up: Rams 30, Redskins 16

September, 26, 2010
9/26/10
8:17
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What it means: The Redskins fall into a three-way tie for second place in the NFC East with the Giants and Cowboys. This was a road win Washington had to have against a team that will be fortunate to win three or four games this season. Even after Rams running back Steven Jackson had to leave the game with a hamstring injury, the Redskins' defense couldn't get off the field when the game hung in the balance.

What I didn't like: The Skins had success in the running game in the first half but that dried up in the second half. It's pretty apparent that Ryan Torain is more explosive than Clinton Portis and that's an indictment on how coach Mike Shanahan approached this season. Quarterback Donovan McNabb is used to performing without the help of a consistent running game but at least he had the threat of Brian Westbrook when he was in Philly. On Sunday, he had to rely on Santana Moss and Chris Cooley, and that made the Skins one-dimensional for much of the game. Of course, the fumble by Moss early in the game put the Skins in a hole. You can't allow a bad team to hang around and that's what the Skins did. I've watched Jackson's 42-yard touchdown run several times and it looked like safety Kareem Moore had a clean shot at him. It also looks like everyone on the field overpursued the ball, allowing him to make a nice cut and race for the end zone.

Goat: I think you have to go with the entire defense. This unit was supposed to be a strength but the Redskins allowed rookie quarterback Sam Bradford to find a rhythm and didn't consistently knock him down. Brian Orakpo had the one sack but they didn't seem to intimidate Bradford at all. He and McNabb basically had the same numbers and that spelled trouble for the Skins. On offense, the Redskins definitely missed Trent Williams, but you have to be able to overcome that type of adversity.

"Special" teams issues: Losing punter Josh Bidwell in pregame warmups was an absolute killer. Kicker Graham Gano did his best, but Keiland Williams didn't help him out by whiffing on a block. The blocked punt gave the Rams a huge momentum play and inspired a crowd that has forgotten what it's like to see its team win at home.

What's next: McNabb will return to Philadelphia with the Eagles riding high. We'll write a ridiculous amount about McNabb's homecoming, but the main storyline is that Washington's season is already on the line. Even in this watered-down division, a 1-3 record would be disastrous. And there's nothing that occurred in St. Louis that pointed toward the Skins pulling off an upset against the Eagles. This looked a lot like the team that lost on the road to the Lions last season. And this should not have been a trap game for the Redskins. The Rams had stayed close in their first two games and Spagnulo's an excellent coach.

Skins sign punter Bidwell

March, 23, 2010
3/23/10
10:27
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Washington Redskins signed 34-year-old punter Josh Bidwell on Tuesday. Bidwell, a former Pro Bowler, missed the '09 season with a hip injury.

Obviously, the Redskins have struggled in the kicking game. Bidwell has a big leg but the hip injury would concern me a great deal.

The Cowboys' place-kicker, Nick Folk, entered the 2010 season with a hip injury and the results were disastrous. Punters put even more stress on their hips than place-kickers, so this is something that bears watching.

In other news, the NFL will not announce the schedules for the opening-weekend and Thanksgiving games today. Hopefully that will happen Wednesday.

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