NFC East: Ron Springs

Morning, fellow Easterners. I'll be with you as soon as I put the finishing touches on the ark in the backyard. (Seriously -- are our Dallas-area readers getting decent weather? Because if so I may either need to move there or get a waterproof laptop...)

Anyway, remember 24 hours ago when we were wondering along with Donovan McNabb why he gets so much grief all the time? Well, it turns out great minds think alike, and Jemele Hill had McNabb on the brain yesterday, too. Jemele believes it's time (or past time) for McNabb to stick up for himself against the silly garbage that's always being thrown at him.

She makes a good case, of course, but I guess I'm just not that sort of guy. I don't agree with validating baseless charges by addressing them or firing back. McNabb's always spent his time on the high road, and he seems to be pretty comfortable with the life he's lived, the career he's had and the man he is. Just my opinion, and I know others feel differently, but for me, if you know the stuff being said about you has no merit, what's the point of even acknowledging it?

I remain intrigued by McNabb's quote from a couple of days ago, in which he wondered why a guy who's done so little to ruffle feathers always finds himself at the center of these odd controversies. I'd especially love to hear from Eagles fans on this. Redskins fans, sure, but you've only had the one year with him and it didn't go well enough for me to expect a wide range of opinions. So really, I'd like to hear from Eagles fans, who knew him so well for so long, about why a guy who's accomplished so much and carried himself like a pro the whole time is so easy for people to malign.

Fire away in the comments or in the mailbag (I have mentioned the mailbag, right?) and I'll check back in all day to see what people think. Meantime, let's link it up.

Dallas Cowboys

The funeral for Ron Springs called to mind one of the great teammate stories of the past several years. Everson Walls, who donated a kidney to Springs in 2007, mourned his friend.

Forced to work out without new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the Cowboys' defense is kind of freelancing it, the Dallas Morning News says. It's got to be weird, knowing you'll have a new boss but having little to no idea what, exactly, he'll want from you. I think it's safe to assume that, if there is a 2011 season, the Cowboys' defense will be a lot simpler than what they'll run out there in 2012.

New York Giants

Tom Coughlin did a phone interview Thursday on "NFL Live" and expressed frustration over the lockout preventing him and his coaches from having access to "the rookies, the veterans and the surgical repairs." The coaches really are caught in the middle of this whole thing, aren't they? No union (or trade association) looking out for them. Some could end up being judged on their successes and failures during a season for which they were given inadequate time to prepare. Not that Coughlin necessarily fits this description, but if you're a coach on thin ice, you have to hope your bosses will give you some leeway if the season doesn't go exactly the right way.

Incidentally, Coughlin also discusses Plaxico Burress in that interview. Says re-signing Burress "really hasn't been discussed by any of us," but that he's happy the guy will soon be reunited with his family.

The Giants are having a contest where you can go on their site and vote for the best "fan story." The winners will get their pictures on tickets to a 2011 game. Assuming, of course, there are 2011 games.

Philadelphia Eagles

Attendance was apparently not what Michael Vick had hoped it would be, but he and a couple of his receivers gathered in South Jersey for a workout Thursday. Still feels kind of surreal that Michael Vick is the guy leading and organizing team workouts, right? I may have more on that later today, just FYI, so come on back. Oh, who am I kidding? I know you'll come back. You guys are the BEST.

Les Bowen caught up with Eagles first-round pick Danny Watkins, who spent time hanging out with his old firefighter buddies in British Columbia while waiting out the lockout. Don't worry, though, Eagles fans. Here's the money quote: "I didn't run into any burning buildings." Phew. Can't imagine too many insurance policies covering that.

Washington Redskins

Former FanHouse colleague David Elfin writes that Carlos Rogers wouldn't mind playing for the Cowboys or Eagles. Rogers claims to be the second-best cornerback on the market after Nnamdi Asomugha (Yes, that's three days in a row his name appears in the NFC East breakfast links!), which feels like a stretch, but it's the lockout. Everyone can talk/dream/fudge the truth. This highlights the fact that the Redskins still have some work to do to add pieces to that 3-4 defense in Jim Haslett's critical second year running it in Washington.

Dan Steinberg went scouring old newspaper stories for some John Beck facts. I like the part about the hunting videos Beck makes. We can all learn something during this lockout, even if it's about mule deer.

Enjoy the day. I gotta go find two giraffes.

NFC East links: DeSean wants Asomugha

May, 13, 2011
5/13/11
10:58
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Dallas Cowboys

Former Cowboys running back Ron Springs, 54, died Thursday of a heart attack. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones commented on Springs' passing.

In his analysis of Cowboys safety Alan Ball, Bob Sturm of the Dallas Morning News writes that Ball "has some use on this team as corner and safety depth, but to ask him to go from a 7th round special teams contributor to a full-time free safety in the NFL is a rather dubious stretch."

New York Giants

Justin Tuck returned to his home state of Alabama on Thursday to help residents who have been impacted by the recent tornadoes.

The final day of the Eli Manning's minicamp drew five players for Thursday's hour-long session.

Philadelphia Eagles

Juan Castillo wants the Eagles to have a simpler defense.

Wide receiver DeSean Jackson told a radio station Thursday that he is going to make a recruiting pitch to free-agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.

Washington Redskins

Donovan McNabb's agent, Fletcher Smith, issued a statement and called Bernard Hopkins' comments about McNabb dangerous, ill-informed and irresponsible.

Mike Jones of the Washington Post analyzes the Redskins' special teams.

Friday Morning Beastlines

March, 13, 2009
3/13/09
11:44
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Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

Here are all the pertinent stories from around the division this morning:

Cowboys

Eagles

Giants

Redskins

Springs leaving on a high note

February, 27, 2009
2/27/09
5:01
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

I've always known Redskins cornerback Shawn Springs was a class act, but he drove that point home after finding out Friday he was being released from the club.

"They did what's best for the team, and I'm happy for them," Springs said in a telephone conversation. "I'm going to miss my friends there, but as long as it makes the team better, I understand. I'm a true fan of the sport."

Now you don't hear that every day. Springs has been a consistent performer and he helped jump-start last season's 6-2 record. His position was sacrificed to make room under the salary cap for Albert Haynesworth and DeAngelo Hall, but you can't replace the guy's character. Watching him continue to play while his father, Ron, lay in a coma in a Dallas hospital was pretty remarkable. He did it as a tribute to his father. And now there's an outside chance he could finish his career with his dad's team, the Cowboys.

Financially, the move makes sense for the Redskins. But the Redskins will certainly miss Springs' physical style on the field and his leadership in the locker room. The bond that was formed in the aftermath of Sean Taylor's death is something these players will always have.

Redskins leave Texas Stadium with a fond memory

September, 28, 2008
9/28/08
11:34
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

IRVING, Texas -- Barring a playoff meeting, the Washington Redskins made their final visit to Texas Stadium on Sunday. And after a 26-24 victory that doesn't even begin to tell the story, they pretty much left the Cowboys' defense in ruin.

 
 AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
 QB Jason Campbell led the Washington Redskins to a memorable win over the division rival Cowboys.

Make no mistake. Sunday's win bore no resemblance to a fluke. The Redskins didn't steal a game from the team alleged to be the best in football. They walked in the front door and pushed around the Sultans of September in front of their home crowd.

Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell said he ran onto the field after the game in search of his counterpart, Tony Romo. Like most of his teammates, though, Romo had sounded the retreat.

It started in the second quarter and lasted throughout the rest of the game. The Cowboys' frantic comeback attempt only dolled up the final score.

Campbell was characteristically understated after the game, but what he did in the first half suggests that he's on his way to joining the upper echelon of quarterbacks in this league.

Facing a defense that was obsessed with not letting wide receiver Santana Moss catch a deep ball, Campbell calmly took what was given to him. But when Cowboys Pro Bowl cornerback Terence Newman bit on a stop-and-go route late in the first half, Campbell deftly stepped away from trouble and winged a 53-yard completion to Moss.

When I approached his locker after the game, Campbell was actually upset about the play. He felt like he robbed Moss of a record-setting touchdown by not hitting him in stride. Moss, who finished with eight catches for 145 yards, had tied the team record last week with touchdowns in six consecutive games.

"I wanted to get that for him," said a dejected looking Campbell. "That's the first thing I did was go apologize to him."

Redskins coach Jim Zorn said he led three "Redskins cheers" in the locker room before meeting with reporters. The biggest reason Daniel Snyder hired him as coach was his belief that he could take Campbell to a Pro Bowl level. That's why he quickly hired himself as quarterbacks coach.

When the offense looked awful in the season opener against the Giants, Zorn asked Campbell to trust him. That's when Campbell shot back, "You need to trust me too."

After the game, Zorn sounded like a proud teacher.

"He didn't have any of the ups and downs, these sways of emotion," Zorn said of Campbell. "What I always talk to him about is bearing down and what I mean by that is if you grit your teeth to get through difficult situations, you must [get through it]. We were fortunate enough to beat a great football team, but part of that was his concentration level and he just kept it up the whole game."

Zorn felt the sting of criticism after the Giants loss. He thought it was important for his team not to see him "flinch." And even when star running back Clinton Portis complained that week about the offensive line and the play-calling, Zorn didn't take the bait.

Now, he's reaping some of the rewards a lot sooner than most of us thought. And at least for one day, the Redskins looked like the team to beat in the NFC East. Or maybe the Cowboys are simply overrated.

Now, join me for several items that didn't really belong in the previous 700 words:

Did the Cowboys' obsession with T.O. backfire on them?

First of all, let's give the Redskins' secondary its proper due. In the first half, cornerback Shawn Springs jammed Terrell Owens at the line of scrimmage and pretty much took him out of the game. T.O. finished with only two catches for 11 yards, which may have caused offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to overcompensate in the second half.

After all, Patrick Crayton and Jason Witten combined for nine catches, 110 yards and a touchdown in the first half. On the first drive of the second half, Romo completed three passes to T.O., the third going for a 10-yard touchdown. Romo ended up throwing to T.O. six times in the third quarter and five more in the fourth quarter.

The most telling drive came right after the Redskins took a 23-17 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Redskins broke up three consecutive passes to T.O., the last two by Carlos Rogers, who was covering him because Springs left the game with a calf strain.

Of the Cowboys' 58 offensive plays, they either threw or handed the ball to T.O. 19 times. In my mind, that smacks of a team trying too hard to make one player happy. In the first half, he appeared to give up on a few routes when he knew the ball wasn't coming his way. It was pretty obvious that Springs was frustrating him.

After the game, a Cowboys starter on offense said he thought the team tried too hard to involve T.O. in the second half. It's not good when a player senses that coaches are calling plays in order to keep a teammate happy. It's not time to panic if you're a Cowboys fan, but I'd certainly keep your eye on that situation. It's a slap in the face to Witten, Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin -- and especially rookie Felix Jones to freeze them out in order to please T.O.

At least the Cowboys shut down one running back

If there's someone who can make sense of Wade Phillips' justification for not giving rookie running back Felix Jones a single carry Sunday, please contact me immediately.
"He has a specific role that he plays," Phillips said of Jones. "The plays that he works on, they aren't really come-from-behind plays. They are more normal game situation plays. We will be more and more comfortable with him as he learns more."
After Sunday's performance, I'm thinking Wade might want to add a few more "come-from-behind" plays.

Sentimental day for Springs

Playing in Texas Stadium for the final time probably meant more to Shaw
n Springs than any player on the field. He remembers spending Sundays at the stadium watching his father, Ron, play fullback for the Cowboys.

Springs told me after the game that he opened up the Dallas Morning News today and saw a picture of Roger Staubach being lifted into the air after the Cowboys' 35-34 comeback victory over the Redskins on Dec. 16, 1979.

"You know who was picking him up?" Springs asked. "That was my father."

Ron Springs remains in a coma in a local hospital following complications from a surgery to remove a cyst last year.

Postgame altercation

Redskins running back Rock Cartwright said he and Cowboys defensive tackle Tank Johnson had spent much of the evening jawing back and forth. But as the Redskins were kneeling on the ball at the end of the game, Cartwright said he stood at midfield and gazed through the iconic hole in the roof of Texas Stadium.

Johnson, who's is his second year with the Cowboys, apparently thought Cartwright was attempting to evoke memories of T.O. standing on the star several years ago as a 49er. After the final snap, Johnson raced over and shouted, "Don't disrespect the star."

I'm thinking Johnson may have more important things to deal with after his defense gave up 161 rushing yards. Some of you might recall Phillips saying recently that "no one runs on the Dallas Cowboys."

Well, make that almost no one.

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