NFC East Roundup: Redskins Picked To Win Double Digit Games

Plus, which owner is the most important person in the league?

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

As you celebrate the Fourth of July weekend, let’s take a spin around the NFC East to see what’s going on with the rest of the division:

In Washington, former Redskin tight end Chris Cooley predicts that the team will win 11 games in 2016, writes Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post.

“The team is so the Seattle Seahawks of 2012, with a little bit more experience at quarterback and maybe a little less talent on defense,” Cooley later said. “They’re winning 11 games, I’ll tell you that, and I’ll give you this as a bold prediction: 12 won’t surprise me. I’m going to say it right now, June 30, before anyone else gets into this, before anyone else jumps on this bandwagon: they’re winning 11 games. They’re winning the division.”

Oddsmakers would put Washington’s win-total over/under at something like 7.5, which means “over” bettors will win their bets with three games to spare. There aren’t too many times in life that casinos will offer you free money just for showing up. This appears to be one of those times.

Cooley said he started to get this optimistic tingle after organized team activities, from being in the facility every day and from talking with and observing front-office officials. He said he remains a realist, “and I’ve tried to train myself to be realistic to what this team is.” But he can’t shake that feeling.

“The continuity of the year is the first time this team’s had continuity since before I arrived in the city,” said Cooley, who’s been here a dozen years. “There’s never been a year that the Redskins won nine-plus games, since I arrived at least, that something big didn’t happen in the offseason. Joe Gibbs hires Al Saunders [in 2006]. Joe Gibbs retires; Jim Zorn comes in [in 2008]. Robert Griffin off of a year where you’re building a brand new offense tears his ACL and MCL and says I’m not going to run that offense anymore [in 2013].”

As Training Camp approaches, the final outside linebacker spot will be a competition, according to  Tarik El-Bashir of CSN Mid-Atlantic.

Battling for a job: [Houston] Bates[Shiro] Davis[Ejiro] Ederaine[Willie] Jefferson[Lyden] Trail and [Mike] Wakefield.

The first three are easy. Competition for the fourth job? Well, that could get interesting with a handful of unproven youngsters vying for the role.

Bates filled the role as a rookie last season. Although he was used sparingly on defense, the undrafted Louisiana Tech product was effective on special teams. Bates also enjoyed a solid spring and, on occassion, stood out in drills. But will he be able to hold off a training camp challenge from the others? That remains to be seen. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m curious to track the progress of Jefferson, who notched a combined 10 sacks with the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos the past two seasons, and Trail, who possesses eye-popping size at 6 foot 7, 270 pounds.

All that said, we already know this much: with [Ryan] Kerrigan, [Junior] Galette and [Preston] Smith eating up the majority of the snaps at this position, the determining factor, as it is at most backup positions, will be special teams performance. And because of that, this battle might come down to the wire.

After Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain was suspended 10 games for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News writes that Jerry Jones has an eye for talent, but many of them have been involved with trouble.

Unemployed and unwanted by teams that place a premium on character, the 25-year-old McClain found a home with the Cowboys in 2014.

So did DeMarcus Lawrence. The Cowboys closed their eyes to his off-the-field issues that led to a suspension at Boise State. They traded up into the top of the second round of the 2014 NFL draft to claim this elite college pass rusher with sliding value.

The Cowboys did it again in 2015 with Randy Gregory. They closed their eyes to his baggage — a failed drug test at the combine — and gleefully grabbed a first-round pass-rushing talent at the close of the second round.

Now none of them will be available for the month of September this season — and McClain won’t be around for October and most of November, either. All arrived in Dallas as bargains, and now the Cowboys must pay a steep price for those gambles.

But we’ve seen it before, haven’t we? Charles Haley was a troubled soul acquired by the Cowboys who was able to turn around both his life and his career, helping the Cowboys win three Super Bowls in the 1990s and securing his own bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Jones is the most important person in the NFL according to a USA Today list, from David Humphrey of the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

In addition to winning three Super Bowls, Jones’ contributions and innovations in the areas of marketing, corporate sponsorships, television, stadium management, stadium development, labor negotiations and community involvement has made him the most influential person in the league.

The development of AT&T Stadium in Arlington and the upcoming Ford Center at The Star in Frisco are landmark constructions in the NFL. The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco is scheduled to open in August.

Jones serves on a variety of league committees. In 2011, he was was a member of the Management Council Executive Committee that was involved in the labor negotiations for the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.

He and his family are major contributors in the community through The Salvation Army. For nearly 20 years, the Jones family has used the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day halftime show as a national stage to start the Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Campaign. It has become a holiday tradition.

In the Big Apple, linebacker Mark Herzlich is entering his sixth season with the Giants and has slowly become a leader in the locker room, as Paul Schwartz from the New York Post reports.

If there ever was a prototype Tom Coughlin player and person, it is Mark Herzlich, which is why it was no surprise at all that Mara wholly endorsed the signing of the undrafted Herzlich and Coughlin did not cut Herzlich as a rookie in 2011.

Coughlin, during his time in Chestnut Hill, was so taken with and inspired by one of his players, Jay McGillis — who lost an eight-month battle with leukemia — that he created the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation, providing financial and emotional help for families with children diagnosed with cancer.

“We had a connection because I joined the advisory board of his foundation,” Herzlich said of Coughlin. “Jay McGillis had a very similar story to my story and ended up passing away, so it was a great fit. I still work with his charity a lot. We had an employer-employee relationship, but I think I knew him a little bit better than some guys got to know him, just because I saw the other side of him on the charity side.”

Told there was no way Coughlin was going to part ways with him, Herzlich smiled, shook his head and said, “God, I wish someone told me that, because I was nervous as hell on cut day as a rookie.”

After last year’s fireworks incident, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is starring in a new PSA about fireworks safety, pens Amara Grautski of the New York Daily News.

The Giants defensive end, who ended up seriously injured in the hospital after a Fourth of July holiday celebration gone very wrong, says he’s “truly, truly blessed to be alive” in a new fireworks safety PSA he released Thursday with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“So, Fourth of July I lit up a firework, thought I could throw it away real quick,” Pierre-Paul explained to CPSC chairman Elliot Kaye, “and in a split second, blew off my whole hand right there.”

The result: JPP’s mangled right hand is missing his index finger, part of his middle finger and the tip of his thumb.

“I went to the hospital and all I could do was think about my son and if I’m gonna make it,” Pierre-Paul admitted in the 45-second video.