My goodness. The NFL playoffs begin in two days. Our division's representative plays in three. Where does the time go? Links.
New York Giants
People can officially stop asking me whether the Giants will bring in Steve Spagnuolo to be their defensive coordinator. It turns out, the Giants signed current defensive coordinator Perry Fewell to a contract extension that runs through 2012. Turns out they did this last year, when Fewell was interviewing for head-coaching positions. Nothing like a little leverage, huh? The Giants like Fewell, their issues on defense were personnel-related and not scheme- or coaching-related, and there's no reason to think he's going anywhere. Unless someone hires him to be their head coach.
Also, Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for December, which isn't real surprising considering he was NFC Defensive Player of the Week twice in the month and had a 16-tackle game in one of the weeks in which he wasn't. Pierre-Paul just had his 23rd birthday on Sunday. Given his talent, his rapid learning curve and the team for which he plays, it's terrifying to imagine how good he can become.
Les Bowen reports that Spagnuolo, the former Eagles defensive assistant and Giants defensive coordinator who was fired earlier this week as head coach of the Rams, is interested in coaching next year and would be interested in the defensive coordinator job with the Eagles, should that come open. The Eagles still have to decide what to do with current defensive coordinator Juan Castillo and whether they're willing to overhaul the defensive scheme under new leadership for the second year in a row.
Linebacker remains an offseason need for an Eagles team that struggled to find production out of those positions for much of the year. But Geoff Mosher writes that, at the very least, the group of linebackers the Eagles have played much better toward the end of the season. Just don't tell Jeffrey Lurie that. Remember, the way he sees it, it doesn't matter because they didn't play anybody good!
Jean-Jacques Taylor writes that young, talented Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant is embarking on his most dangerous time of the year -- the offseason. Jacques says Bryant needs structure in his life, and the proof lies in the off-field issues he's had involving behavior and his finances. All eyes are always on Bryant, whom the Cowboys believe can be a building-block player for them if he keeps his head on straight.
ESPNDallas.com invites you to play "Take him or trash him" with the Cowboys' roster. Go through and click on each player and decide whether you want him on next year's team or not. Something to do instead of work, which I know you're looking for.
John Keim lists five players who could help improve the Redskins' defense in 2012. Two of them -- defensive linemen Jarvis Jenkins and Barry Cofield -- are already on the roster. But a healthy return from Jenkins and continued improvement from Cofield at nose tackle would, in fact, help. The others John lists are Oakland Raiders safety Tyvon Branch, who can be a free agent, and two players who will be in this year's draft -- LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne and Oklahoma State safety Markelle Martin.
The Redskins will be working on the offensive line as well, and only the first year of right tackle Jammal Brown's five-year deal was guaranteed. In order to return in 2012, Brown is going to have to prove to the Redskins that his troublesome hip is finally really healthy. The guess here is that they look elsewhere for a tackle.