NFC East: Chris Cooley

Some Washington Redskins news and notes for Friday morning:

Griffin
Briles on RG III: Baylor coach Art Briles watched his former quarterback, Robert Griffin III, work out earlier this week. He saw a guy he used to see with regularity. "I think it's as fresh and uplifting as I've seen him in a long time quite honestly," Briles said on the SiriusXM Blitz Wednesday via Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post. "The thing about ACLs: I've always thought they take a complete year to get over. And I think he rushed himself a little bit, just because that's the way Robert is. He's always going to be determined to do more than is humanly possible."

Briles' prediction? "So I think this year, I do think we'll see a very healthy RG III. I think we're gonna see a guy that's happy playing the game, that has a fire and attitude that you need to have a chance to be successful, because that's who he is."

Revisiting Week 1 2013: Steinberg also wrote about former Redskin Chris Cooley saying that Griffin should not have started the 2013 opener. It wasn't because of Griffin's health, but rather his readiness. Griffin was cleared by doctors and was ready physically. But it's clear in hindsight he was not prepared to play in an NFL game. Mike Shanahan did a bad job of managing Griffin, from not pulling him in the Seattle game despite his gut feeling to do so and to being afraid of how his moves were perceived by the young quarterback. If you have a conviction on something, do it. Instead, Shanahan did not and instead we got the mess of last December.

Jackson
More on Jackson: ESPN980's Chris Russell exchanged texts with safety Tanard Jackson, who told him his fourth suspension was not like the others, that it had nothing to do with marijuana. It's hard to buy any story from a guy in his position, regardless if you want to or not. Maybe it's true; maybe it's not. Bottom line: Whatever Jackson thinks, the NFL's ruling is the one that matters. They ruled he tested positive for violating the NFL's substance of abuse policy. It's over.

Power rankings: The Redskins ended the 2013 season ranked No. 31 in ESPN's power rankings. The rankings suggest they'll be better over the next three years -- but not by a whole lot. The panel of experts ranked Washington No. 24 Insider for what it could do over the next three years. That's a dropoff from last season and it stems from a fall at quarterback and coaching. They dropped 12 spots at quarterback and 19 at coaching from this time last year. The knock on Griffin traces back to his knee injury and a subpar season. And going from Mike Shanahan to first-time head coach Jay Gruden caused a tumble (of course, had Shanahan returned after such a bad season they might have fallen far regardless). It's not as if Gruden's hire was considered a great one at the time, so until he proves himself there will be split opinions on him. They also were knocked for the front office. The Redskins need Griffin to rebound and they'll climb in the rankings, but they also have to do a much better job building the defense. If Griffin plays well, the offense is in excellent shape. But the defense needs more help and will need several new parts after this season.

Cooley, Redskins rave about Sean McVay

January, 11, 2014
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ASHBURN, Va. -- When they had a question, Sean McVay had an answer. That sounds simple, but it’s not. It’s one thing for a position coach to know an offense; it’s another to know what everyone must do – and their adjustments.

The Redskins' tight ends liked that McVay would know – and wouldn’t hesitate.

“There’s no indecision, ‘This is what we do; this is how we do it,’" Logan Paulsen said. “There’s no gray area in my life, which is fantastic. Making sure the player knows what he has to do puts us in a great position. ... You have certain coaches who don’t like when you ask questions. They don’t know the offense spot on.”

That’s why players would be happy if McVay is elevated to offensive coordinator for new coach Jay Gruden. Though Gruden said he will interview other candidates, McVay still is considered the likely new choice. He’s young, only 27, but he also has impressed players because of his knowledge of the offense. Gruden said he will call the plays, so that could make it easier for a young coach such as McVay to ease into an expanded role.

“His ability to digest a game plan and give it to his players in a streamlined manner allows us to digest us efficiently making sure to emphasize details that are important,” Paulsen said. “Every week he’d try to call plays without looking at the sheet. He knows what everyone has to do on the field. He approached it like an offensive coordinator. That’s advantageous to a player. He knows every detail the same way Kyle [Shanahan] used to know the details. He has that big-picture mindset that helps out.”

Former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley played one and a half seasons under McVay.

“He had the highest understanding of an offense of any position coach I’ve ever been around,” Cooley said. “We’d go back and forth in meetings on scheme, why and how. There was always an answer. I love that in a coach.

“Two years ago I said if anyone becomes a head coach on this staff it would be Sean McVay.”

Players at other positions echoed what Paulsen and Cooley said. The tight ends often worked with the linemen in practice because they needed to be in tandem with their blocking.

“The relationships he has with players and what he gets out of a player with both effort and production on the field by not being a screamer,” Redskins guard Kory Lichtensteiger said. “He’s a guy you can relate to. He has a lot of shared characteristics with hard-working players. Players can see if a guy knows what he’s talking about and he goes about it the right way getting that type of effort out of his players.”

Friday Conversation: Chris Cooley

December, 6, 2013
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Former Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley, less than a year removed from his last game, hasn't been shy about expressing his opinions on ESPN980 every day or during the team's broadcasts. He discusses his job and how he'd like to be the next Sonny Jurgensen. Saturday: His thoughts on Kyle Shanahan's offense, and the decision that must be made on Mike Shanahan.

You’ve been honest about your thoughts on the team. Have you received any negative feedback?

[+] EnlargeChris Cooley
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsFormer Redskins tight end Chris Cooley misses his playing days, but says he's enjoying his current role as a broadcaster for the team's radio network.
Chris Cooley: I’ve been really interested in what feedback I would get, and it hasn’t been negative. The one awkward spot was when we talked about coach [Mike] Shanahan two weeks ago and [Washington Post writer Dan Steinberg] printed it, and I was pretty negative. But it was radio and I apologized to him. I think Mike’s a friend. He’s a guy I would hang out with when I leave the park. I like him. I passed judgment over the air that was a little harsh and I know it upset him, not from a professional aspect, because he has to deal with that, but because we’re friends. But I haven’t had too much negative response. ... I started doing film breakdowns so I can say whatever I want to say if it’s real. I talked to Trent Dilfer about three weeks ago, and that’s the thing he mentioned is you have candid points about things that are really there and people will call you and tell you they’re mad you said things, but they can’t dislike you, because I can show you what I’m seeing.

A lot of guys in your spot don’t take the time to do all that work. Players also have to know you know what you’re talking about.

Cooley: I’m also the first person to say someone did a phenomenal job. I want to be the guy that people say, 'We want him to say good things about us, because if he does it’s real, and if he says bad things it’s his job.' Two weeks ago we did that film study and I said Logan Paulsen played at a D level. I thought he played terrible. The next week he was my player of the game. It’s because I graded the film and looked at impact plays versus negative plays, and he was the best on offense. … My job is to be judgmental on how you play on the field and what’s going on in the locker room. I’ll never personally attack a player.

How did you react to this when you were a player?

Cooley: [Doc Walker is] pretty hard on guys, especially in games. Over the last couple weeks I sat back and wondered, how many times did Doc talk trash about me? When I say I don’t look at a lot of stuff for the most part, that’s true. I didn’t know if Doc said anything about me. I was more focused on what I was doing and needed to do than what someone said about me. Some players are different. But I’ve always looked at it like the media has a job to do and they get paid to do, and we’re part of that job. I have to respect your profession and help you with what you need, and understand your story is just as important to you as my play was to me.

Are you enjoying this?

Cooley: At first, no. At first I thought it was tough and I was really busy. I had to get to the point where I had to say no to a lot of things, to TV stuff and a lot of events. All stuff I like to do, but when you put it all together and you have a hundred of them, I didn’t like it. Over the last month I do it under the umbrella of my job on radio, the game, the three TV stations I do, and my life. Now I love it. I’m at the Park talking football to assistant coaches. The biggest thing for me is I love the Redskins, and that’s super cliché. They gave me so many opportunities to be what I am in life. All I want is for them to have success. I want to be part of that success for as much as I can for as long as I can. … It’s a really cool job. Over the last three or four years I started to enjoy the game more than I did, and appreciate the game for what it is. That’s why I’m able to do the job the way I am. I watched a lot of film like a coach and spent time learning the offense like a coach and quarterback. That film thing is something I always do, and something we did really well. I got so much good feedback, and then I came home and my girlfriend said, ‘I tried to listen, but it was so bad.’ I’m like a football nerd. But if you don’t get it, it’s like, ‘Whoa, he’s getting way over the top.’

What do you ultimately want to do?

Cooley: My goal is to be Sonny [Jurgensen]. Sonny had access to the team for a long time. He’s a guy people look up to and respect. He travels to every game. He gets paid well. He loves his life. Let’s say two or three years from now someone says we want you to call games. That might be something hard to turn down, but it’s not a goal of mine. My goal is to be here. My life is ideal right now. The only thing I miss is playing. I watch games and I think I could do [stuff] and I think I miss playing. I’ll get over that, and it’s not like every day I wake up and wish I was playing. But I do miss being part of the team, I miss the adrenaline, miss that feeling of excitement when you do really well. You just don’t get that when you do this job. ... I talk to so many [ex-players] who say, 'I work for this company now where I sell [stuff] and I just go to work.' I miss that feeling of everyone saying you did the best job ever. To some extent I still get it. I now realize If I prepare and do a really good job then I do get some of that.

Links: Redskins' Cooley retires, to do radio

July, 17, 2013
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Dallas Cowboys

ESPNDallas.com's Todd Archer analyzes defensive tackle Nick Hayden's chances of making the 53-man roster.

The Cowboys worked out quarterbacks Kyle Padron, Chase Clement and Alex Tanney on Tuesday, writes Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com. Dallas is expected to keep just two quarterbacks on the active roster, Tony Romo and Kyle Orton.

Pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware says there is 'no big difference’ in switching to defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's 4-3 scheme, writes Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News.

Bill Parcells says outsiders who criticize Jerry Jones have a distorted view of how the Cowboys' owner and general manager operates, writes Machota. Says Parcells: "I think Jerry is a good businessman and a good listener. What you have to do is make sense to him. You’ve got to make sense to him. If he thinks you’re making sense, he’ll alter his opinion. I enjoyed him. I like him. I like him a lot.”

New York Giants

In a recent radio appearance on Sirius XM, Receiver Victor Cruz said he felt he deserved a better contract than the extension he received from the Giants last week. The Giants’ obligation to Cruz is nearly $46 million for the next six years, as he’s signed through the 2018 season. Conor Orr of the Newark Star-Ledger has more.

Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com continues his position-by-position look at the Giants with a breakdown of the receivers and running backs entering training camp.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles signed 6-8, 335-pound offensive tackle Michael Bamiro, writes Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News. Bamiro, 22, thought he had another year of college eligibility but was denied it by the NCAA. Instead of putting him in last week's supplemental draft, the NFL declared him an immediate free agent.

With the Phillies' playoff hopes fading, Philadelphia sports fans will focus their attention on new coach Chip Kelly and the Eagles, writes Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Washington Redskins

John Keim of the Washington Post continues his position-by-position look at the Redskins’ roster entering training camp with a breakdown of the tight ends.

Tight end Chris Cooley will retire from the NFL and join the Redskins’ radio broadcasts as an analyst. Mark Maske and Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post have the story.

Linebacker Bryan Kehl, a seven-year veteran, knows shining on special teams is the key to winning a roster spot, writes Brian Tinsman of the team's website.
Can't talk right now. Limbering up my chat muscles. Preparing to make today's the greatest May chat in ESPN.com NFL history. You don't want to miss it. Make sure and get all of your links.

New York Giants

Steve Tisch, one of the Giants' owners, theorizes that going to the Jets was a bad thing for Tim Tebow's career. Which, duh. But lest you think (as I did upon reading that headline) that even the Giants' owners can't find interesting things to discuss about the Giants this time of year, Tisch also says he liked the Aaron Curry signing and the draft.

Whatever becomes of Ryan Nassib, he'll always be able to say his first day on the field with the Giants went better than Eli Manning's did back in 2004.

Philadelphia Eagles

Monday's was the first Chip Kelly practice that was open to the media. The reporters who were there spent the morning live-tweeting the music that was blaring and trying to track who was playing quarterback for which play. Les Bowen says the pace and the atmosphere lived up to the hype.

And remember the other day when Michael Vick supposedly beat LeSean McCoy in a 40-yard dash? Well, McCoy isn't going down like that. He claims Vick started early and won't agree to a rematch.

Washington Redskins

In his weekly mailbag, Mike Jones says the Redskins don't appear to have any interest in bringing back Chris Cooley and discusses replacement options for London Fletcher.

The Redskins' secondary, however the pieces end up fitting, is going to have to come together quickly this season. Rich Tandler looks at the early tests the schedule poses.

Dallas Cowboys

Tim MacMahon believes that the plan to involve Tony Romo in the game planning and playcalling more than in prior years is the latest erosion of the authority of head coach Jason Garrett, and I can see where Tim MacMahon's coming from. Thing is, though, if it works, Garrett's not on the "hot seat" anymore, right?

With rookie minicamp over, Cowboys first-round pick Travis Frederick has returned to Wisconsin to continue working on the Android app he's helping to develop. You know. That old story. Heard it a million times. I think Ray Nitschke had to miss part of his rookie minicamp for the same reason, but Google's coming up blank on that.
PHOENIX -- Big morning here at the NFL owners meetings. It's the NFC coaches' breakfast, which means each of our division's four coaches will be available for an hour this morning here at the Arizona Biltmore. Only problem is that the availability is simultaneous. So I'm going to do what I did last year and spend exactly 15 minutes at each NFC East coach's table. It's only fair. I'll update you on the interesting stuff I learn. Meantime, have some links.

Dallas Cowboys

Jerry Jones says he's not concerned about the length of time it's taking to complete the long-term deal with quarterback Tony Romo, and that he expects it to be done soon.

The Cowboys will get an early start on training camp because they're playing in the Aug. 4 Hall of Fame game, and Jason Garrett thinks that will help the team with the transition from a 3-4 defense to Monte Kiffin's 4-3.

New York Giants

John Mara thinks the most important thing for the Giants to improve in this coming season is play on the lines -- offensive and defensive. They've already addressed the defensive line with Cullen Jenkins, but it remains to be seen how they will structure their offensive line for the 2013 season and beyond.

What's Victor Cruz doing while he and the Giants work on resolving his long-term contract situation? He's bopping around Jersey City schools talking to kids about the important stuff.

Philadelphia Eagles

Jeff McLane runs down seven candidates the Eagles might take with the No. 4 pick in the draft next month. The most intriguing continues to be West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith.

The former coach of new Eagles Connor Barwin and James Casey says he was upset to see those two players leave the Houston Texans as free agents.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins continue to hope to reach a new deal with tight end Fred Davis, but they like having depth at the tight end position, and Bruce Allen tells Rich Campbell that Chris Cooley is still an option if he doesn't find work elsewhere.

John Keim has a story on the remarkable toughness of new Redskins tackle Tony Pashos, who played the 2011 season with a torn tendon in his foot.
ASHBURN, Va. -- At the age of 37, not having seen the Super Bowl since his fourth season, veteran linebacker London Fletcher signed a two-year deal to return to the Washington Redskins. He had spent the previous five years with the Redskins, who had a composite record of 32-48 over that time and had made exactly one playoff appearance. But there was much about the place that drew him back. He liked the way he fit into the defense. He felt he'd been treated well by ownership and the coaching staff. And he couldn't escape the feeling that, if he left now, he might miss something.

"You put so much into it and you've gone through a lot of the losses," Fletcher told me in June. "You don't want to leave and then all of a sudden the thing kicks around and you're like, 'Shoot, I missed it.' I wanted to return, it was just a matter of getting a deal done."

[+] EnlargeLondon Fletcher
Howard Smith/USA TODAY SportsLondon Fletcher's loyalty to the Redskins is being rewarded this season with a run to the playoffs.
So return he did. And of all the players in the Redskins locker room, there are few who are getting more enjoyment out of the fact that this year's team just went 10-6 and is preparing to host a playoff game Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.

"Definitely, I'm appreciating this a lot more," Fletcher said. "You think about this group, this team and what we were able to accomplish, being 3-6 at one point during this season and then making the playoffs. I can say I'm enjoying this a lot more and I'm more appreciative of it because I realize how difficult it is to make the playoffs now."

There's also something special about making it here. The Redskins were once one of the NFL's flagship franchises -- a three-time Super Bowl champion with one of the most intensely loyal fan bases in sports. That fan base has remained passionate and loyal throughout a terrible and lengthy downturn. Until Sunday, the Redskins had not won a division title since 1999 and had only made the playoffs three times in 19 years. But the players who have played for the Redskins during this stretch -- guys like Fletcher, Santana Moss, Chris Cooley and Lorenzo Alexander -- they always felt something special about the place. Whether it was the fans or the history or the town, there was something that pulled these guys back -- a feeling that it would be better to stick it out and win here than to go off somewhere else and join an extant winner.

"Anytime you become a part of the team and the community, a sense of loyalty sets in," said Pro Bowl linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who's been a Redskin since 2006. "And when you're in it and it's not going well, you want to change it and be a part of that change. This is a team that's been pretty bad the last six, seven years, and now you get to be a part of that change. I think it's a little bit more memorable that way than if you go and sign with a team that wins all the time. I think you appreciate it a little bit more."

Look at Cooley, the veteran tight end who grew up a Redskins fan, has played here since 2004 and rushed right back midseason in spite of getting cut in August and being promised no significant role.

"I never had any doubt this would be a great place to win," Cooley said.

Look at Moss, who re-signed in 2011 and whipped himself into better physical shape this offseason after the coaches told him his roster spot was in jeopardy.

"This place is home. It becomes your home," Moss said. "So you feel like you're playing not just for yourself, but for this whole community that wants it so bad. And that's something extra."

There is something extra about winning as a Redskin, especially after the franchise went so long without anything to cheer. There's no way to know how long the current ride will last. It could end Sunday or it could take the Redskins all the way to New Orleans and the Super Bowl. But the special feeling around here is that of a corner turned -- a bright hope for the future behind rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III and all of the new pieces Mike Shanahan has added the past two offseasons. The Redskins who have slogged through the bad years feel great about this very good year because they think it's the first of many to come.

"I think you feel a culture change, which is what was needed around here," Alexander said. "And when you go through the down times and you can be a part of that kind of culture change, it's very satisfying, I would say."
LANDOVER, Md. -- Another NFL season is over for three of the NFC East's teams, while the division-champion Redskins prepare for a playoff matchup Sunday against Seattle. The order of the breakfast links is now set for the remainder of the league year. Redskins fans who used to complain about always being listed last ... enjoy it.

Washington Redskins (10-6)

Dave Sheinin writes of the two rookies who led the Redskins to this division title and are probably too young to realize how much it means to the community in which the NFL fates have placed them. The fans came in chanting "RG III!" for Robert Griffin III and left chanting of "Alfred Morris" and his 200 rushing yards in a division title game.

Pretty sweet night, too, for Redskins veterans like Chris Cooley, who have slogged through some tough times and now see the reward. Cooley is especially appreciative, since he nearly didn't get to be a part of a team he thought could be special.

New York Giants (9-7)

Eli Manning got all the credit when the 9-7 Giants went on a roll last year and won the Super Bowl. Ian O'Connor thinks he needs to shoulder the blame for a 9-7 Giants team that missed the playoffs this year. I think Ian's right here. The defense was meh, but the defense was meh last year, too. The biggest difference in this season's Giants was a lack of big plays from Manning and the passing game. And, of course, the nettlesome fact that the same record they had last year just coincidentally wasn't good enough to get them into this season's playoff field.

Tom Rock lists five questions facing the Giants in an offseason that will require decisions on pass-rushers, wide receivers, running backs, linebackers ... Jeez. When you start putting it that way, 9-7 seems kind of impressive.

Dallas Cowboys (8-8)

The Cowboys were a banged-up bunch when the game started Sunday night. They were considerably more so when it ended, after injuries knocked Dez Bryant and Miles Austin out of the game and Tony Romo cracked a rib. I think they call that adding insult to injury. Or vice versa. And DeMarcus Ware needs a couple of surgeries. Anyway, the heartbroken Cowboys wish they didn't have so long to heal.

Charean Williams writes that the Cowboys could have withstood Romo's first two interceptions Sunday night but that the third was a killer. Romo threw six interceptions in his final nine games of the season, and five of those came in the two games against the Redskins. Sometimes, the story is pretty simple, isn't it?

Philadelphia Eagles (4-12)

While the news has been expected for some time, credit belongs where it's due, and I am fairly certain Bob Grotz was the first to report Andy Reid's firing Sunday as a fait accompli. So here's Bob's retrospective on Reid's Philadelphia career.

Phil Sheridan writes that the changes in Philadelphia need to be much more extensive than just the firing of the head coach. I think Phil will get his wish on that.
New York Giants

Rookie David Wilson says the biggest difference this week is that he knows he's going to get an opportunity, whereas in prior weeks he was merely hoping for one. With Andre Brown out, Wilson is the No. 2 running back on the Giants' depth chart behind the banged-up Ahmad Bradshaw, and he'll get some reps.

The knee injury that knocked Kenny Phillips out of Sunday's game -- the same knee that had cost him the previous six games -- is not serious enough to keep him from playing against the Redskins on Monday night. So says Phillips, at least.

Washington Redskins

Left tackle Trent Williams played hurt on Thanksgiving, and he's still dealing with a thigh injury he hopes isn't serious enough to keep him out of Monday night's game against the Giants. Williams is having a great year and is essential to the Redskins' chances of keeping the Giants' pass rush off of Robert Griffin III.

Fred Davis is out for the year, and Chris Cooley has been a non-factor since re-signing, but the Redskins are still getting production out of the tight-end position.

Dallas Cowboys

Ed Werder reports that Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin, who left the Thanksgiving Day game with a hip injury, will be ready to play Sunday night against the Eagles. Austin has been able to stay healthy since the start of the regular season, which is something of a bonus for the Cowboys since they're used to having to deal with Austin injuries most years.

Remember Kevin Ogletree's big Week 1 performance against the Giants in New Jersey? Yeah, well, he'll always have that. He's been passed on the depth chart by Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley, and the snap counts from Thanksgiving show no need to go back to Ogletree at this point.

Philadelphia Eagles

John Gonzalez wonders why no one seems to have any sympathy for Andy Reid in Philadelphia, considering that he's obviously enduring a tough time and has done a great deal for the Eagles organization. It's a worthwhile point to ponder amid the inevitably of the end of Reid's time with the team.

And Bob Ford thinks the cutting of Jason Babin was just more scapegoating and that Babin shouldn't be the only one to get kicked off the team. Bob has a point, but there are few positions at which the Eagles are deep enough, as they are at defensive end, to allow for such a move this soon.

Memories of Sean Taylor

November, 27, 2012
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It was five years ago today that Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor died after a shooting at his home. Taylor's death was one of the most shocking and affecting in recent sports history, and the memory of it still resonates strongly and emotionally with Taylor's fans, friends and former teammates. This video tribute includes insights from former college and professional teammates Antrel Rolle, Clinton Portis, Ed Reed, Chris Cooley and Santana Moss as well as Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who smiles as he remembers Portis badgering him to draft Taylor.

I remember hearing of Taylor's death, of course. I was a baseball writer at the time, but anyone who followed sports even tangentially heard the story, and no one could get their arms around it in a way that made any sense. Five years later, as I heard today from fans, watched the video and read the columns by those who were covering the story at the time, it's clear that Taylor's death is still affecting a large number of people.

Rolle talks about how he still watches Taylor highlights on YouTube. Cooley remembers how grateful he was that Taylor never practiced his trademark big hits against him in practice. And Moss breaks down in tears remembering the way the news affected him. If you're a Redskins fan, I know the loss of Taylor is a wound on your heart that still hasn't healed. I invite you to share your memories and your feelings about him in the comments section of this post.
It's Thursday, Nov. 8, and there's far too much snow on the ground. I'm having links.

New York Giants

Tom Coughlin sat down with Eli Manning and asked his struggling quarterback if there was anything he could do to help him out of his slump. Manning suggested some changes to the practice routine, and Coughlin obliged, putting back in a favorite passing drill of Manning's. Pretty nifty grown-up relationship those two have.

The Giants get a little deeper at safety as Will Hill returns to practice this week following his four-game drug suspension. With Kenny Phillips out through the Week 11 bye, that could help.

Philadelphia Eagles

The disappointing defensive ends are getting the attention, but a look at the defensive-line play in Monday night's loss shows that the Eagles aren't getting much interior pass rush, either. Rookie Fletcher Cox was drafted in part because the Eagles thought he'd be an immediate asset in the pass rush. But like the rest of the Eagles' defensive line, he's been held in check lately.

Marcus Hayes disputes the notion that the Eagles don't care or have quit on coach Andy Reid, and I agree with him. I didn't see evidence Monday night of a team that wasn't trying or didn't care. I just think the Eagles are a team that's not very good.

Dallas Cowboys

Even though they're the visiting team Sunday in Philadelphia in a game between two 3-5 teams whose seasons appear to be slipping away, the Cowboys insist they will continue fighting.

Remember back in the offseason, when Jason Hatcher said that thing about not knowing who the leaders were in the Cowboys locker room and I wrote that the best thing for him to do if he was looking for leaders was to step up and be one? Hatcher has absolutely done just that this year. He's having a fantastic season on the field and has emerged as a strong voice in the locker room during a difficult time.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins are off this week, and they're holding out faint hope that they might get wide receiver Pierre Garcon back from his foot injury after the bye. They'll also be keeping an eye on Santana Moss, who suffered a concussion Sunday and will have to be cleared by the league if he's to return in Week 11.

We didn't expect Chris Cooley to mind if he returned to a smaller role than he used to play in the Redskins' offense. He has, and as expected, he doesn't mind.

Brunch links: Yeah, I'm back

October, 30, 2012
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The NFC East blog has relocated to an undisclosed location that has power and Internet access. I will therefore be able to blog as normal. I hope for all of your sake that the disruption to the NFC East blog is the biggest problem you've had during the past 24 hours. Thanks to the ESPN blog editors for posting during my absence. The regular noon Tuesday chat has been canceled. Here are just a couple of midday links.

New York Giants

Stevie Brown has had dazzling moments as a fill-in at safety for the injured Kenny Phillips, and one of the reasons for that is Brown's nose for the ball. NFL fans' memories being as short as they are, I found myself answering questions on Twitter yesterday about what the Giants will do with Brown when Phillips returns, and whether Brown has taken his job. He has not, because Phillips is one of the best in the league. But he's given the Giants reason to feel very good about their depth behind the starters at safety.

Philadelphia Eagles

Jeff McLane writes that the problem with the Eagles' version of the wide nine is its single-minded focus on the pass rush at the expense of pretty much anything else, and that it's costing them.

Dallas Cowboys

Jason Garrett says the Cowboys are feeling a "tremendous amount of urgency" in advance of Sunday night's game against the Falcons in Atlanta. Hopefully for their sake, they show a little bit more of it than the Eagles did this past Sunday against those same undefeated Falcons.

Washington Redskins

With Fred Davis out for the season, Logan Paulsen has become the Redskins' new No. 1 tight end. And he says he felt pretty good about the way his first game with that rank went. I remain interested to see the extent to which Chris Cooley and Niles Paul factor in as the season goes along -- how quickly Cooley can knock off the rust and whether Paul begins to get more comfortable with the blocking responsibilities his new position requires.

Fantasy fix: Run with Shady

October, 26, 2012
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Because many of us tend to spend an inordinate amount of time each week poring over our fantasy teams when we should be working, we like to devote one post each Friday to fantasy football here on the NFC East blog. Here's a look at where our division's players fall in this week's position-by-position rankings from ESPN.com's fantasy football experts. Click on the name of the position to see each full list.

QUARTERBACKS

4. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins at Pittsburgh

8. Eli Manning, New York Giants at Dallas

9. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Falcons

11. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys vs. Giants

Manning's rank is relatively low, likely because only seven teams have allowed fewer fantasy points this year to quarterbacks than the Cowboys have... I'm a little surprised by Romo's low rank, but the Cowboys' offense clearly isn't clicking, and with running back DeMarco Murray out, there's not much reason to believe it's about to start... The Steelers are relatively tough on opposing fantasy QBs as well, but the rookie in Washington, due in part to his rushing numbers, is what we call "matchup-proof" at this moment.

RUNNING BACKS

4. LeSean McCoy, Eagles vs. Falcons

T5. Alfred Morris, Redskins at Pittsburgh

12. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants at Dallas

23. Felix Jones, Cowboys vs. Giants

T36. Phillip Tanner, Cowboys vs. Giants

T36. Andre Brown, Giants at Dallas

I wouldn't start Felix Jones unless I were totally desperate. And if I were desperate and someone else had Jones, I'd feel fine starting Tanner. This is my level of confidence in Jones' ability to make it through a whole game healthy as a starting running back... Bradshaw hasn't practiced this week, so keep an eye on that if you're using him. Brown, not David Wilson, is the guy who'll see the most action if Bradshaw is limited.

WIDE RECEIVERS

2. Victor Cruz, Giants at Dallas

16. Miles Austin, Cowboys vs Giants

19. Dez Bryant, Cowboys vs. Giants

T21. Hakeem Nicks, Giants at Dallas

T21. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles vs. Falcons

23. DeSean Jackson, Eagles vs. Falcons

45. Santana Moss, Redskins at Pittsburgh

T47. Leonard Hankerson, Redskins at Pittsburgh

I get it about the matchup with Nicks against the Cowboys' cornerbacks. But if this is really where he's being valued in your league -- low-end WR2 -- then you should be aggressively trying to trade for him. He's getting healthier, and people forget too quickly. He's a clear fantasy WR1 when healthy, as, obviously, is Cruz.

TIGHT ENDS

6. Jason Witten, Cowboys vs. Giants

10. Martellus Bennett, Giants at Dallas

13. Brent Celek, Eagles vs. Falcons

No Redskins tight end is listed. I'd think Logan Paulsen is more likely than Niles Paul or Chris Cooley to see any kind of targets, but staying away from the whole situation is the right call... Bennett played big in the opener against his old team, and like Nicks, he is getting healthier.

KICKERS

4. Lawrence Tynes, Giants at Dallas

18. Kai Forbath, Redskins at Pittsburgh

19. Alex Henery, Eagles vs. Falcons

Yes, the Cowboys' Dan Bailey is the best kicker in the division, but fantasy football is about opportunity, and the Cowboys' offense isn't generating enough of them. Tynes leads the league with 19 field goals. Bailey has only 12, in 13 attempts.

TEAM DEFENSE

13. Giants at Dallas

17. Eagles vs. Falcons

20. Cowboys vs. Giants

21. Redskins at Pittsburgh

Yeah, wouldn't start any of them unless I absolutely had to. Still think the Eagles end up a top-level fantasy defense once the sacks come back, but let's see the sacks come back first.
New York Giants

Oh, you know they went to Martellus Bennett looking for some Cowboys trash talk in advance of Sunday's big game in Big D. But the self-proclaimed "black unicorn" wouldn't play along. Says he hasn't circled the date on his calendar because he doesn't have a calendar. He's probably got one on his phone, but you don't really circle dates on those.

The Giants know Tony Romo well, but they don't know what they're going to see from him Sunday in Dallas. Giants LB/DL Mathias Kiwanuka says Romo can be great or... not great.

Philadelphia Eagles

New Eagles defensive coordinator Todd Bowles says he's not planning to reinvent anything, and that the Eagles' defense under him is going to tweak some things they were doing under Juan Castillo but won't make major changes.

The Eagles may have to play Sunday without right guard Danny Watkins, who has an ankle injury and was the only Eagle to miss practice Thursday. Rookie Dennis Kelly would be in line to replace him, it appears, though I still think it might make sense to move Todd Herremans in there and play King Dunlap and Demetress Bell at the tackle spots.

Dallas Cowboys

Tight end Jason Witten was not at full strength in the Sept. 5 season opener against the Giants, as he was rushing back from a spleen injury. Todd Archer says to expect Witten to be a big part of the game plan against New York this time around.

Anthony Spencer helped give the defense a jolt last week with his return from injury, and he says the Cowboys' defense isn't going to have to change much just because star inside linebacker Sean Lee is out. Brave talk, especially from someone who's seen Lee's game film.

Washington Redskins

London Fletcher missed practice again Thursday due to the balance issues he's having, and there remains a chance he could miss the first game of his career Sunday. But as Stephen Whyno writes, the Redskins are aware that Fletcher is 37 and won't play forever, and they're already making plans for the day when they can no longer count on him.

Mike Wise writing on Chris Cooley's return to the NFL? Yeah, I'd say that's got a pretty good chance to be entertaining. I'll read that.
During the summer, Chris Cooley couldn't beat out Logan Paulsen or converted wide receiver Niles Paul for a Washington Redskins backup tight end spot behind Fred Davis. So the news that the Redskins have brought Cooley back in the wake of Davis' season-ending Achilles injury isn't exactly the banner NFL headline of the day. And I doubt there's going to be any kind of stampede in your fantasy league to snag Cooley off the waiver wire. He is not the player he was when he used to catch 70-80 passes a season, and he's not going to replicate the numbers of Davis, who's a more dynamic weapon and was leading the Redskins in receptions even though he was only the 23rd-most targeted tight end in the league.

However, I think Cooley can still fill a role for the Redskins, and for a couple of somewhat unique reasons. First, it's the only place he wants to be. He's a lifelong Redskins fan who roots for the team the way a fan does, which is the root of his popularity among those fans. He claims to have turned down opportunities elsewhere after the Redskins released him because he didn't want to play for any other team. Whether that claim is true or not, we'll never know, but it bolsters the Captain Chaos legend and further endears him to the team and its fans.

Second, Cooley is a smart, selfless player who knows the offense and can only help as Robert Griffin III and his young tight ends and receivers continue to develop in it. Even if Cooley is the third tight end on the depth chart behind Paul and Paulsen, he's made it clear that he's fine staying in the background and helping those guys get better. He was one of the first to call Paul in the offseason when the news broke that Paul was being converted to his position (and thereby endangering Cooley's own status on the team), and Paul's development as a tight end should benefit from having Cooley around.

Finally, if he does see the field, Cooley is likely to help as a blocker. Davis' blocking had improved, but it doesn't look as though it'll ever be his strong suit. Paul looks timid at times (as many would be) when asked to block opposing defensive ends. Cooley has no fear of such assignments and will throw himself into them with abandon. If the concern was that Paul/Paulsen was not yet a reliable enough combination at tight end with Davis sidelined, Cooley's addition to the mix can help with that.

The Redskins' coaching staff likes Cooley and was impressed with the condition in which he kept himself this offseason in an effort to prove to them he could stay healthy. He was cut as part of a numbers game, due to his high salary and their desire to develop Paul as a tight end -- not because the team wanted to be rid of him. Now that he's back, there's every reason to think he can help the Redskins' dynamic offense in his own specific ways.

Now, if he could only play safety, then they'd really have something.

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