Greetings and welcome to the Week 16 chat. Lots to discuss. First question, per the result of our weekly Twitter contest, will be about the Philadelphia Eagles. Rich?
Do you think that the Eagles are going to hire a coaching retread, or actually think outside the box again and have their coach be someone that no one thought of?
I think outside the box is the way they'll go, Rich. I believe the Eagles' next coach will be someone who does not have prior head coaching experience but is seen by them as an up-and-comer with vision. They tend to try and think long-term as much as possible.
If the Redskins win sunday against the Eagles, and the Cowboys lose against the saints, Why would the Cowboys claim the division with a win over the Redskins in week 16? Division record both 4-2 and split 1-1 for the season.
The next tiebreaker is record in games played against common opponents. Right now, with one each to go, the Cowboys are 8-3 in such games while the Redskins are 6-5. The Cowboys beat the Bengals, Steelers and Panthers, all of whom beat Washington. The Redskins beat the Ravens, who beat the Cowboys,and the Saints, who haven't played the Cowboys yet.
Chances RG III starts Sunday in Philly?
I'm going to say 68 percent.
Who has more to 'feel' confident about on sunday....The Giants or the Ravens?
Man, neither one's coming in feeling good, huh? Maybe the Ravens, since they play so well at home.
Do you think the Eagles stick with Foles going forward or do they use this offseason to get another QB?
I think a lot will depend on who the next coach is, and how that person feels about Foles.
Do you see any weaknesses that the Giants should try to exploit against the Ravens this coming Sunday?
Ravens' run defense is very poor. Giants could stand to get Bradshaw back and exploit that.
Chances Eagles show up and play hard for their last two games?
Does Demarco Murray energize the cowboys o line? The line seems to get a push when he runs that is nonexistent when anyone else is running the ball.
See, I think Murray just handles contact better than most backs do. So I'm not sure the holes are bigger or they get more push for him or whether he just fights through things other backs won't or can't. Our Stats & Info department looks at yards before and after contact, so I'll ask them.
If the Giants lose the next two, do you think Coughlin will retire? Or one more season?
I do not think he will retire, nor do I think he will retire after next season. This is his life.
any chance Mike Shanahan could be coach of the year?
If he ends up 10-6, you could make that case. I think that coaching staff is doing an unbelievable job right now.
Chances the skins trade Cousins next year for Dfensive help?
I don't think it happens this soon.
Chances that you answer this question with an arbitrary percentage.
I have a feeling the Giants beat the Ravens and lose to Philly. Philly will be up for that game.
And has beaten the Giants 8 of the last 9 times, including once in NJ with Vince Young. If you told me the Giants lose both games, I'd find it hard to be surprised.
Why should Nick Foles and Bryce Brown care if they beat the Giants or not?
Why would they not want to win?
You PLAY... to WIN... the GAME....
Do you think RG3 will win ROY?
Giants seem predictable on offense and conservative on defense. As a fan I feel that the offensive playcalling has been too predictable especially in the red zone throughtout the season. Why not use big packages with Nicks, Bennett, Barden, Randle/Cruz and use the size advantage. Can the Giants woes be blamed on the coordinators, specifically Gilbride?
Look, no team's fans like their coordinators or their red-zone playcalling. Gilbride's the same coordinator that won the Super Bowl, who's developed Manning... he's not the problem. The Giants just haven't delivered in those critical spots the way they did last year. I put it on the players. This is an underachieving Giants team.
If the Redskins win the division and win thier first playoff game at home, more than likely will meet Atlanta in the second round. Don't you think we have a legitimate chance of winning after giving them a tough time in DC?
Settle down there, Antoine. Lots of work to do before that ever happens. And Atlanta's a whole different animal in its own building.
Dan do you ever drop in on other division chats and see how respectful and intelligent those fans ask questions of their bloggers? does it make you dream of perhaps better days ahead?
No. I should try that. You guys have one you recommend?
Do you ever find yourself rooting for specific players that you've had the chance to interview? (a la London Fletcher)
You know, this is an interesting question, because you'd think human nature would have that effect -- that you'd enjoy the successes of the people you like and the failures of those you hate. I guess I'll admit that it does naturally enter your mind and you have to be conscious of whether such emotion is affecting your coverage. If I'm writing about someone I like personally, I probably ask myself more questions during the process about whether I'm being fair. I hope that helps answer your question.
Have you been catching less flack from Seattle fans this week after voting them 7th in the power rankings like the rest of the voters?
Yeah one guy said something on Twitter about how I'd finally come around. Look, my thinking on Seattle was that they were just another team when they went on the road. But they won in OT in Chicago a few weeks back and just won in Buffalo by a thousand. They're better than I thought they were. Or better than they were earlier in the year. Either way, it's an organic process by definition, and this is where I feel they belong in this week's rankings.
Who do you think is the most underrated player in the NFCE?
Based on reputation vs 2012 production, the first name that leapt to mind was Anthony Spencer.
Did he not have a good game? Maybe they threw to other guys a little more, but you could argue they should be doing that anyway. Dez caught a touchdown and seemed to be part of the game plan the same way he's been -- nothing in the first quarter, show up late second, dominate the second half. I saw no real difference.
Hi dan, do you think there is something different about this years cowboys squad. I mean they havent lost a game in december yet.
Well, that there is a difference in itself. But yeah. I think they've grown up fast. I think they're showing toughness and resolve. I think they seem focused and serious and not distracted in spite of the constant presence of distractions. I think this has been a big year in the development of their program, and that regardless of how it turns out, it deserves to be viewed as such.
Obviously the Cowboys are going to be looking to sign Anthony Spencer long term. Who do you think they are not able to sign because of this? or who gets cut to make room?(give weech credit for this one, his idea yesterday)
Yeah, they still could franchise Spencer again if they want to. The number will still favor them. So if they want, they can put off that decision. As for potential cuts if they don't... Doug Free is the most obvious cut, but his cap hit is big. And I know Ratliff had a fight with the owner recently, but Jerry doesn't seem interested in cutting him. Tough choices there.
Why is everyone other than B. Dawkins and M. Irvin sold on the fact that Washington will win out, When Dallas has truly shown a change in character and could win out?
I didn't hear Irvin, but I heard Dawkins, and he definitely didn't seem "sold." I think, right or wrong, there's a national perception that you can't trust the Cowboys to come through in the end. And if they fall short, people will kind of unjustly point and say, "See? They did it again!" without giving enough credit to their accomplishment of actually making it this far in spite of their injuries and problems.
Most likely Reid's last home game on Sunday. What do you think the fan reaction will be? What do you hope it will be?
I would hope it would be respectful, and I think it will be.
It concerned me that Romo had the chance to win the game against Pitt in regulation twice (one once from the 50) and was unable to get it done. I know Romo has a ton of come from behind wins and game winning drives, but it seems like in crucial games he tightens up a bit. Is my concern well founded or am I just over reacting?
I think you're overreacting. They won. Romo's playing quite well. There are no style points.
Dan - Is there any chance the Redskins can appeal the suspension to Jordan Black? At least to get him on the field for Philly? I'm all for suspending cheaters but something doesn't seem right about this one....
The fact that the league announced the suspension means the appeal has already been heard. He's out.
What type of long term deal with Jones give Romo? Will it be on par with the big deals of QBs like Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning?
Yeah, a notch below those guys who've won Super Bowls, I'm sure, but in the neighborhood of the top QB deals.
I saw you on a video recently and you didn't look as Italian as I thought you would...what gives?
Three of my grandparents were Irish. See if you can guess which one wasn't!
Dan, how crazy is it to see how Romo's turned around his season after that 4 pick game against the Giants? After that game, he was at 9 TDs and 13 picks. Since that game....13 TDs, 3 picks.
Is it crazy? He threw 13 picks in his first 7 games. I would argue that that average was unsustainable and bound for correction. Romo's a good player, and I don't think it's surprising that he's played better after a rough start. Schedule softened up too.
I bet it was your Dad's father!
Yes, very good. Daniel Graziano I.
What do you make of an Eagles trainer, Reids Son no less, being in possession of so much steroids?
I think it raises some very important but disturbing questions, and I wouldn't mind seeing answers to them pursued.
As a long suffering Skins fan I just have that feeling in the back of my head that they'll come out flat this week and lose to the Eagles. Am I justified or does this team finally have the attitude required to get up for a bad team like Philly.
I just find it hard to believe anyone can lose to the Eagles these days. I know it's possible, and that the Bucs just did it, but having watched the Eagles all year, I favor their opponent every week.
Does that make you DGII or DGIII
I am DG III.
The next two games who do you want as your QB RGIII or Tony Romo?
Great question! I may steal it for a debate post. Think I'd take the kid right now if his knee were right.
True/False: The fans/media don't care as much about steroids in football as they do in baseball, b/c there this is no equivalent in football to the HR record being broken?
I don't know if your b/c is the reason, but I think the first part of what you write is 1,000 percent true. And I think it's a shame.
Am I going crazy? Or are legitimate questions actually being asked?
We have a three-way tie, baby. Folks are INTO THIS!
Dan, is there any reason Giants fans should have faith that they can win out right now? does what they did to the 49ers and packers qualify as a reason?
Yes, as does the way they finished last year. But if you have faith in these Giants, it's mainly rooted in last year, not in much of anything you've seen from them in 2012.
Isn't it obvious that Romo is the best quarterback in the division today? I mean...he is playing after all, and winning.
I haven't looked at this week's All-Division Team yet, but I do plan to take a long look at Romo's candidacy for the QB spot, yes.
Hey! I asked a legitimate question but you didn't answer it, did you?
I don't know. Did I?
Is there a DGIV?
There is. He is nine years old and one of my two favorite fellas in the whole wide world, along with his little brother.
Do you think Michael Vick can still be a legit QB, or do you think the turnovers this year where a fluke?
I watched Jets-Titans last night. There's room in this league for Michael Vick.
What's the proper spelling DG3 or DG III? Was an email distributed internally in ESPN on this yet?
I don't get why this is a source of amusement. Every media entity in the world has a style guide. I was just explaining to you guys why it changed, in case you were wondering.
Is the other "fella" jealous that he doesn't carry on the "DG" name?
Sam is his own man, but I think little brothers are often jealous of older brothers for a variety of reasons, and he's no exception. I do know know if that in particular bothers Sam.
We're really off on some tangents here, aren't we? Let's get this back on track.
Any updates on the skins o-line men polumbus and montgomery? The skins might have a tougher time without a healthy line.
They might. I know Shanahan wasn't overly concerned about the line in training camp because he felt a running quarterback would help the line. But it has played well, and changes at this point are unwelcome. I have no news today on those guys' conditions, in answer to your question.
Repost in case you missed it. Which NFCE team got the shortest end of the stick on injuries this year (so far)?
The Eagles have lost the most starters, so I guess them.
Would love to go the Giants-Ravens game. Can I have your press pass?
I'm actually going to Skins-Eagles.
More on Jordan Black: fellow 'skins 0-linemen said he has a prescription and has had it for over 10 years. They feel he was suspended based on bad paperwork. Is that a thing? Can there be another appeal?
No, the league doesn't announce the suspension until after the appeal is heard. It's over. He's suspended. Any paperwork argument he has has already been made and rejected.
Did you hear the conversation on First Take? Stephen A asked Ahmad Bradshaw "what the hell happened on Sunday" and Bradshaw explained that they didnt have his emotional leadership, and the outcome may have been different with him. Thoughts on that?
Ahmad thinks he's worth five touchdowns? Well, self-confidence is important.
What has to happen for the cowboys to get a wildcard
Oh, lots. Giants, Bears, Vikings, Seahawks I think... they have to do a lot of losing. The Playoff Machine, though. You should go there and try and see for yourself: http://espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs/machine
Pretty sure you can get to Baltimore from Philly for the 4:25 start.
We have many very capable ESPNNewYork.com writers who will be at that game.
No need to name names...but have you met or interviewed a player in the NFL that you just don't like?
Of course. And in MLB as well. Quite a few.
question count today?
This is 692.
Would it be in the Cowboys best interest to re-franchise Spencer and then work out the long-term contract? He's always been a beast against the run and it looks like Rob is sending him more often, which is showing up now in the sack column. No one else on the roster seems to be showing enough to be a full time starter, why start over with a new draft pick?
Yeah, I think they'll keep him.
Why isn't there an ESPN Philadelphia?
Bias. It's all bias. All the ESPN higher-ups are NY, Dallas, Chicago, Boston and LA homers. They sit there and make cheesesteak jokes all day.
Dan biggest surprise team this year?
League-wide I have to say the Colts. In this division, the Eagles.
and why no DC - they got the orioles, nationals, redskins, capitals, georgetown - it seems like they have lots of good sports teams right about now.
Bias. All bias. Like you guys always say. It's all based on personal biases and nothing to do with economic or demographic research at all.
Any predictions you wish you could have back?
Ha! Pretty much all of them!
We all understand that I'm kidding here, right? No one could really expect that the NFC East blogger is in a position to answer a question like, "Why is there no ESPN Philadelphia?"
Dan, really concerned with Montgomery goin down. He's been solid, any word on his status?
Yeah, you should be concerned. It's a sprained knee. And he's played extremely well.
Have you considered answering less questions in these chats? I think it would allow you the time necessary to provide more thoughtful responses to the questions you choose to answer.
I guess, but
Of San Fran, Atlanta, Seattle, Washington, Chicago, and Green Bay. What could be the hardest place for an NFC team to play in the playoffs?
I think Seattle, just based on stadium environment and not weather or quality of opponent. Is that what you meant?
Dan, Do you think people are having too much fun with the whole RG III concept? People/Analysts joked about KC I but I feel like Cousins would like to separate himself from that since he is his own person and player.
I think, in general, the sports nickname has become a lost art. My baseball-writer friend Ed Price used to lament this. He'd always say, "If Ted Williams were playing today, he'd be called T-Will." I think this represents a creative failure by people like myself.
Dan, any chance the Giants could be given an edge Sunday knowing they MUST win while the Ravens have clinched a playoff berth already?
Maybe, but that didn't seem to help them in Atlanta, where they fell just short.
Hey Dan!Do you think Kyle Shanahan will leave if he gets a head coaching job this offseason? Or is he in it until he can take the reigns from his dad?
I think he'd have to consider a head coaching offer if one came his way. No way to see the future in Washington and assume that job waits for him.
Dan, do you know what is involved in "flexing" the redskins-cowboys season finale?
The league and NBC have until Dec. 24 to decide which of the Dec. 30 games gets flexed into prime time. It can be literally any game they want. In the past, they have picked games that have playoff implications, and they like, when possible, to keep those implications "self-contained" -- i.e., not tied to the results of other games that would already have happened that day and potentially change the way people operate in that game. That's why last year they picked Cowboys-Giants, which was a division title game, and the year before they picked Seahawks-Rams, which was also a division title game albeit one between two sub-.500 teams.
I believe there is a strong likelihood that the Redskins-Cowboys game will be the prime-time game that night, because I believe it has a chance to fit all of those descriptions. And even if, say, Bengals-Ravens were also to be a division title game with self-contained playoff implications, I am nearly 100 percent sure the network would choose the Cowboys game. Cowboys get ratings.
How's that for a thorough answer, Mr. Thorough Answer police?
Bye dan, please don't cancel the chat next week
I'm not doing this chat on Christmas Day. Sorry.
Dan, is this increasing your question count for today?
Yes, by one!
Has Mike Shanahan won himself a contract extension?
With two years left on the deal, I think that's a conversation that can safely and fairly wait.
Would you say the Giants game is the most meaningful division game this weekend? If the Giants lose then the results of the Saints v Cowboys and Redskins v Eagles mean nothing
Well, not "nothing." Those teams still retain wild-card chances, so they should try and win.
SUPER BOWL PREDICTION!
It's going to be in New Orleans. That's all I can predict with any confidence.
No chat next week?! 15 more minutes kind sir
Dan,Who is your favorite player to watch in the NFC East and why?
Washington's young quarterback is fun to watch. Dez Bryant is fun to watch. Jason Pierre-Paul. LeSean McCoy, when he's on. But right now, I think RG III is the answer.
What was your Preseason SUperbowl pick?
Packers-Ravens, I think. I might have switched to Texans late, but I don't think I did.
Wish I had.
We already got your Eagles - Skins prediction!
I honestly can't remember the last time I picked the Eagles. Maybe in the game after the bye week.
Dan, you said earlier that you don't believe you can see anyone losing to the Eagles right now. Does that mean you basically believe the Giants postseason hopes all come down to Sunday just so we are clear?
No, I think I made myself clear. Of course it's possible for the Eagles to win either or both of these final two games. My point is, when I size up these games and try to make predictions, right now it's hard for me to talk myself into picking the Eagles. They're extremely uninspiring.
I read your peice on Garrett earlier this week, and I generally agree that he's done a good job. But, does Jerry not consider Sean Payton if he's available and willing?
I don't think Dallas is looking for a coach. I also don't think Payton's going anywhere. That said, on your hypothetical, only Jerry knows that. But I really don't think he believes he needs to change head coaches.
Better fight song: hail to the redskins or fly eagles fly?
Pro team fight songs strike me as impossibly silly concepts, but the Eagles' one bugs me from a logistics and semantics standpoint. "Fly, Eagles, Fly on the road to victory." One cannot fly on a road. One can fly over a road, or along a road, but one does not fly ON a road.
don't worry, I'm not offended that you ignore all my questions
There are still some solid nicknames out there: Johnny Football, the Law Firm, Megatron...
Yes, perhaps we're in the midst of an overdue nickname renaissance.
It is a metaphorical road.
That doesn't help. Why are the logistics different in a metaphor? One could not metaphorically fly on a metaphorical road any more than one could actually fly on an actual road. A road is a surface.
What is wrong with Clayton that he consistently underranks the Skins? It seems like of the ESPN bloggers, every week he has them ranked the lowest.
Does John not do chats? This is my chat. Ask me about my rankings, I'll answer. I can't answer for John.
Eli Manning is an enigma huh? He doesn't have "elite" stats for his career, but he can win big games. What are your thoughts on him?
Pretty close to yours.
Dan, any update on Kenny Phillips? Seems like the Giants secondary needs him back now.
They always did. Phillips is a higher-impact player than he's often given credit for. I heard indications yesterday that were encouraging, but I'd be lying if I told you I remembered where I heard them or how reliable they were.
Would your Redskins/Browns pick have changed if you knew RG III was not starting?
I have no idea.
I'll handle your chat duties for next week.
Done. Everybody, Adam's got the chat next week. Talk to Adam.
As far as nicknames go anything is better than Muscle Hampster. I think Doug Martin would prefer DM. I think Alfred Morris nickname should be Time because you just cant stop him.
I was trying to make Morris' nickname "Skee-Ball." But it didn't catch.
No Christmas Chat - that's fine. What about New Year's Day? Will it be three weeks before the next Chat?
I don't see any reason we couldn't chat during the bowl games. I'll get with the chat folks and figure all of this out.
Fly, Dan, Fly on the road to the end of the chat
I'ma walk. Thanks. See you all some other time.