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A Burgundy and Gold Obsession

The Wild, Wild East

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What a crazy, topsy-turvy year it’s been for the NFC East.

Upheaval, transition, tectonic plates shifting. The landscape of the greatest division in Pro Football has changed dramatically in just one short year, and none of its die-hard fans can know what to expect for certain in the coming season.

In Philadelphia, strange things were afoot at the Circle-K. Trading away a perennial Pro Bowl quarterback still in his prime, a guy upon whose back (and arm) you’ve built a franchise, was shocking enough. That the Eagles sent him packing to a hated inter-division rival, and at a reasonable price, was a nearly jaw-dropping decision.

Sure, Mcnabb was not without his detractors. His inability to win one for the Gipper in Philadelphia’s only Super Bowl appearance ever certainly fuels critics claims that, push come to shove, Mcnabb can’t get over the hump. That the most enduring memory of that so-called ‘failure’ is Mcnabb vomiting on national TV only accentuates the point. Mcnabb also had a penchant for sulking and whining during his tenure in Philly that rubbed some the wrong way. It often seemed to be more about Mcnabb, than about what it would take to get his team back to the Super Bowl. And of course, many claimed it was the greatness of Head Coach Andy Reid, not his QB, which had made the Eagles a feared opponent for most of a decade.

Regardless of what you believed – seeing the Eagles dump Mcnabb in favor of a talented, but relatively unknown Kevin Kolb – sent shockwaves through the NFC East.

On to Dallas, where drama always seems but a few days away. Crowned Super Bowl favorites every year, usually before an official snap has occurred, nothing ever seems certain for these boys. Arguably the most talented team from top to NFC East bottom, Dallas has looked almost cursed in recent years. The 2009 season began with the bizarre, apocalyptic crash of a massive inflatable practice facility and opened to the visage of cheerleaders dancing on stripper poles in the stands.

Although the team rebounded from that tragic start to take the division crown, they again faltered. After a decisive wildcard win over the Eagles, Dallas wilted before an inspired Vikings team lead by a geriatric hero. Jerrah Jones, who in a somewhat bizarre move had already named Wade Phillips eventual successor, made subtle threats throughout the season. Fail to make it to the big show and the consequences might be severe. The Cowboys did not make it to the big show. Again. Dire consequences were nowhere to be seen however, and big Wade Phillips was retained. And so the once again, a highly-touted and talented Dallas squad, takes the field to claim their rightful and destined place. Led by Adonis, the greatest QB ever to fumble away his team’s destiny on a gimme field goal snap, the Cowboys enter the 2010 season as heavy favorites and media darlings.

Again.

And those Giants? They’re the most unpredictable of them all. World beaters one year, shooting themselves in the foot (pun intended) the next, they’re a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Like their rather volatile coach, the Giants seem to go where their emotions take them. Eli Manning may share the same genetic gifts as his brother and had a solid 2009 season, but one senses he’s never more than 1 or 2 horrible interceptions away from looking more like Rex Grossman than Peyton Manning.

One wonders how many more average seasons an at times embattled Tom Coughlin can weather? Our guess is, not many more. The Giants move into a brand spanking new stadium this September, perhaps an ideal time to turn over a fresh leaf and get back to on the field success. Felon or not, Eli Manning sorely misses his erstwhile favorite aerial target Plaxico Burress, who may or may not be forgiven for his sins and return. But New York will remain another wildcard in the shifting sands of a 2010 NFC East.

And finally, our most obvious entry in the Wild, Wild East. Blown-up, rebuilt, demons run out of town, and hopefully cleansed of former sin, the revitalized 2010 Washington Redskins bear little resemblance to the ones that bumbled, stumbled, and grumbled their way through a horrid 2009 season. Rid of Zorn and reborn, hopes abound in DC. Words like ‘opportunity’ and ‘enthusiasm’ have been replaced with ‘competence’, ‘experience’, and ‘control’ and the ‘Slip N’ Slide’ has given way to real discipline, skilled coaching, and an emphasis on hard work.

But even amid new-found stability, strange drama and intrigue persists, questions abound. Will millionaire crybaby and professional flopper Albert Haynesworth earn his paycheck and return to the on-the-field dominance of which he is clearly capable? Will Donovan Mcnabb rise to the biggest challenge he’s ever had placed before him and return to Pro Bowl form? Will Santana Moss navigate questions regarding his possible use of performance enhancing, and illegal drug use and be a key weapon, or will the Redskins two-headed TE attack have to carry the offensive load? And which Clinton Portis will show up for Mike Shanahan in 2010 and what will he be wearing? A 2010 Redskins team, rebuilt from top to bottom, is an absolute unknown.

To anyone paying attention, it’s obvious what’s going to go down in the NFC East this season.

Anything.
Everything.
Who the hell knows?

The only certainty is, it’s going to be Wild.

Really Wild.

Updated 08-14-10 at 01:22 PM by Boone

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