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A conversation about the 2015-16 NFC East

September 4, 2015

The topic for today's panel is the NFC East. The panel in all its prestige includes Jamaal Anthony, John Nolan, Henry Thode, and myself. Conversations that took place earlier in the week include the AFC East and AFC West. 


Dallas Cowboys


John Nolan: There are a series of questions facing the Cowboys. First and foremost, what will the offense look like? Was last year’s dominant, run-heavy attack successful because DeMarco Murray or was it because he had a line of high draft picks blocking for him? These questions need answering because the key to their season is ball control. Last year, the running game covered for a defense hampered by an awful secondary. The run game also meant the team could avoid situations where Tony Romo had to throw a ton.

Henry Thode: Well, the line is still good, so if they can plug in another running back, they should find similar success. But, yeah, if they depend fully on Romo, then 8-8 here you come.

John Nolan: While watching Romo find new ways to fail is amusing to this Redskins fan, this team is a Super Bowl contender, if the run game resembles anything close to what they had last year.

Jamaal Anthony: Y’all are forgetting Dez Bryant. I think he has a video game season. If Romo doesn’t throw the ball, Dez doesn’t get the ball.

Henry Thode: Dez is a monster, but the defense is really suspect, especially in the secondary. As I said, this year could be rather average.

Jamaal Anthony: In other words, Cowboys gonna do what the Cowboys do. Which means largely the end results will be underwhelming. Except for Dez Bryant.

Bryan Harvey: And that means tantrums. Should we mention that Romo’s backup is only Brandon Weeden? Worse thing Romo can do is break something.

Chip Kelly explaining to Bradford how his playbook is the Vietnam War.
Philadelphia Eagles

John Nolan: Is Chip Kelly an evil genius or a psychopath?

Jamaal Anthony: Chip Kelly is a stark raving, mad man with no concept of how to coach grown men in the NFL. His methods will never work. Or, perhaps Chip is a football savant.

Bryan Harvey: Is football savant the politically correct way of saying idiot savant? Or is idiot savant the politically correct way of saying football savant? If Chip Kelly’s building something, it could just be the sequel to Apocalypse Now.

Jamaal Anthony: I’m picturing both Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow somehow being amazing this year.

Bryan Harvey: I say one of them ends up impersonating Dennis Hopper and quoting lines from T.S. Eliot.

John Nolan: This could all work. Kelly finally has an accurate quarterback and a stable of running backs that get up the field quickly. The receivers are young and talented.

Henry Thode: Team’s loaded with talent, but I still see Bradford as fragile.

Bryan Harvey: His name came up a lot in terms of his departure from Dallas, but what does DeMarco Murray’s arrival in Philadelphia mean?

Jamaal Anthony: DeMarco Murray? No idea how he performs.

Henry Thode: He tore up the League last year, but I also remember how last year was his only year in the League he wasn’t injured.

Bryan Harvey: So the Eagles basically have wedding China lining up behind center.

Henry Thode: But if they do stay healthy, then watch out.

John Nolan: A healthy Bradford could take a prolific Eagles offense to levels it did not reach with either Vick or Foles at the helm.

Bryan Harvey: Circling back to movies about Vietnam one last time, could Chip Kelly pull off a Christopher Walken impersonation?

"You just have to understand, Odell, Eli's bound to the Wheel of Fortuna. He can't stay down forever."
New York Giants

Henry Thode: All comes down to which Eli plays this year. If good Eli comes out, then there will be salsa dancing all over Met Life. If bad Eli comes out, then the team is in for a dogfight to not finish last in the division.

Jamaal Anthony: There might be more in play than just Eli. How healthy is Cruz? How Hollywood has Beckham become? How damaged is JPP’s hand?

John Nolan: The over/under for how many times Odell Beckham Jr. breaks Twitter this fall is probably at about twelve. The Eli stuff may come down to the Giants offensive line, which is thin and will have trouble creating a running game. Eli’s not good when he’s forced, rushed, or off balance.

Bryan Harvey: All that about Eli is definitely true, but isn’t it crazy that we can pretty much say about a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback the same things we might say about Robert Griffin? The talent around him has obviously eroded over the last couple seasons, but the loss of composure on his part is akin to what we’re seeing with Tiger Woods and Raphael Nadal in other sports. Flashes of yesterday. And, then, absolutely nothing. It’s weird. It’s sad. It makes me fearful of the future. Let’s change the subject. What about the defense?

John Nolan: They are down to about their 12th option at safety, which is less than ideal with the Eagles, DeSean Jackson, and Dez Bryant in their division. The staple of their Super Bowl winning teams was their ability to create pressure with a four man rush, but they didn’t do that in 2014. They also aren’t looking bound for redemption in 2015. They will only have 90% of Jason Pierre-Paul for the rest of his career.

Bryan Harvey: Are our hands really 10% of our physical mass? I know that’s awful, but I’m going to do the math later or look it up on that thing called the internet.

John Nolan: The Giants are the toughest team to handicap.

Bryan Harvey: Awful choice of words, John.

John Nolan: I’m serious. They could finish anywhere between 4-12 and 12-4.

Jamaal Anthony: That reminds me of another question we forgot to mention: How Eli is Eli?

Consider Jared. Then consider RG3. Is there a Subway curse?
Washington Redskins

Henry Thode: Awful! Just awful. Like a turd under pressure.

John Nolan: Should have their own 24 hour reality network.

Jamaal Anthony: Something something something RG3 injury. Something something something. Top four draft pick 2016.

Bryan Harvey: On the bright side, maybe all the losing will distract from the team’s racist nickname.


Jamaal Anthony is from Virginia Beach, but lives and works in Oregon. He will soon have his own podcast. John Nolan teaches history and coaches baseball in Virginia. Henry Thode teaches at a middle school and coaches high school football in Virginia. Bryan Harvey is also from Virginia. 

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