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New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who has led the franchise to a pair of Super Bowl victories, has the 0-5 Giants mired in last place in the woeful NFC East.
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Twenty-five years ago, Robert Fulghum’s best-selling book, “All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” was published.
Thirty-one years ago, the NFC East began a powerful run through the NFL.
The Washington Redskins, New York Giants and then Dallas Cowboys won Super Bowl after Super Bowl.
Only the San Francisco 49ers seemed capable of consistently penetrating the NFC East’s hold on post-season power.
The NFC East once was a fearsome collection of physical football teams that hammered each other within the division and punished teams outside the division.
Now, NFC East teams seem to be doing something Fulghum learned in kindergarten: Take a nap every afternoon.
Only problem is, the NFC East teams seem to do so during games.
Coaches and players can tell you all you need to know about the NFC East this season.
Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said, “We’re still 1-3. It gives us a chance after the bye week, especially playing Dallas, to kind of get started all over again.”
When you have a losing record, haven’t looked particularly good acquiring it and know you’re still in contention for the division title, you’re in a weak division.
When asked how he felt about getting booed at home, Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said, “We deserved to get booed. They come here to see a good product and right now we are not a good product.”
The Giants are 0-5.
And Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, after passing for 506 yards in Dallas’ last-second loss to Denver said, “It’s funny, you get over the win pretty quickly. When you lose, it eats at you, grinds at you. You think, ‘What could I have done?’ Yeah, it will take us a little bit of time. We understand that.”
Time is of the essence for the Cowboys. The Redskins arrive Sunday night for a prime-time game.
The winner, as hard as this is to believe, will be in decent shape in the NFC East standings.
Should Dallas lose and Philadelphia beat Tampa Bay, the Eagles will have tenuous control of the division with their 3-3 record and college offense.
From the looks of things so far, the NFC East will be fortunate to put a team with a winning record in the playoffs this season.
This division has become the NFC Least.
There are reasons, of course.
In Washington, quarterback Robert Griffin III has had a slow start as he continues to recover from a major knee injury.
In Dallas, Romo has brilliant games mixed in with mediocre performances. He has yet to prove he’s anything other than a quarterback who is just good enough to get his team beaten.
In Chip Kelly, Philadelphia has a head coach who is experiencing the NFL for the first time. That the Eagles are 2-3 and tied for first in the division is surprising. But both victories are over NFC East teams.
And the New York Giants? Eli Manning, their starting quarterback, and Tom Coughlin, their head coach, have won two Super Bowls together.
How can they be so bad now?
When things come apart for an NFL team, the fall can be quick, complete and devastating. A team can get old, bad, injured and incompetent very fast, even a team as well managed as the Giants.
The Giants have been outscored by 100 points. Manning has become a turnover machine. The Giants’ defense is a sieve.
Coughlin is saying exactly what he should be saying.
“Actually, what should happen is people should shift it [the blame] to me,” he said Monday.
One piece of advice from Fulghum’s kindergarten years is particularly relevant for the NFC East teams now.
No, it’s not, “Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.”
Instead, it is, “Clean up your own mess.”
The Cowboys or Redskins will take a step, small though it might be, in that direction Sunday.
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