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Frost 04-27-2006 11:25 AM

fredericksburg.com: NFC East story lines already simmering
(this article was from monday but i thought it was interesting enough)

S[FONT=NimrodMT]ATURDAY BRINGS the NFL draft and its annual false optimism, with every team dreaming of vast improvement (with the possible exception of the New York Jets, whose fans never seem to like their team's direction).[/FONT]

Most of these high hopes come from the arrival of talented but unproven athletes. Holding the first pick, the Houston Texans are betting that Reggie Bush be the next Marshall Faulk and not the next Desmond Howard.
But Saturday figures to be a relatively quiet day for NFC East teams--most of whom are already pretty good and who already have made their headlines.

The New York Giants' signing of LaVar Arrington on Saturday continued an eventful off-season for what could be pro football's best division. The movement of controversial impact players Arrington and Terrell Owens within the division only adds to the intrigue.

Will a motivated Arrington regain his Pro Bowl form on what looks to be a stellar Giants defense? Can the Dallas Cowboys harness Owens' immense talents before his ego shreds their locker room--just as it did in his previous stops in San Francisco and Philadelphia?

And how much will those players be missed by their former teams? Have the Washington Redskins finally spent wisely in the off-season? And will the Eagles be better off without Owens' distraction--or will they miss his touchdown-per-game production?

Tune in in September to find out.

Arrington's move to New York makes a lot of sense. He stays in the division--and in his preferred 4-3 defense. With premiere pass rushers Michael Strahan and Omi Umenyiora in front of him--and ex-Redskin Antonio Pierce beside him--he should be comfortable.

He won't be asked to be the star, as he was during Washington's losing years. But he was merely a role player on last year's playoff edition of the Redskins--and a sometimes unhappy one at that. Can he thrive in New York?

He clearly wants to get revenge on Daniel Snyder, his former pal and owner, after their relationship soured. And he'd love to one-up Gregg Williams, who became the first coach ever to humble Arrington by benching him.

The addition of Arrington makes the Giants the early division favorite. Besides their strong defense, Eli Manning is entering his third season--the year that elite NFL quarterbacks usually blossom. Manning has enough weapons at his disposal (Tiki Barber, Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey) to lead New York to a second straight division title.

The Redskins are a close second. They proved last year they can win without much help from Arrington. On paper, they shored up some gaping holes with the additions of Brandon Lloyd, Antwaan Randle El, Adam Archuleta and Andre Carter. (Their best acquisition, though, may be new play-caller Al Saunders.)

Still, the Redskins will go only as far as their quarterback takes them. Does Mark Brunell have a full season's worth of gas left in the tank? (Unlikely.) How close is Jason Campbell to being ready after his redshirt year? (We'll probably find out.)

The real soap opera is in Dallas, where three of sports' biggest egos (Owens, Bill Parcells and Jerry Jones) appear to be on a collision course. We haven't even gotten to mini-camp, and Parcells is upset about Owens' off-season workouts.

Like the Giants, Dallas should be strong on defense; Parcells shrewdly has stocked up on big, fast athletes. But like Washington, the Cowboys are counting on an aging quarterback (Drew Bledsoe) who's immobile and looked helpless late in the 2005 season. The return of Flozell Adams should help immensely, but the real story in Dallas should be off the field.
The Eagles might be watching amusedly from afar--except that they'll have problems of their own. They owned the NFC East for years, but finished last in 2005 and are in danger of remaining a distant fourth.
Donovan McNabb should be back and healthy. But he has a lot to prove--and less help than he had before.

The Eagles obviously will miss Owens' big-play potential, even if they won't miss his attitude. But aside from Brian Westbrook, McNabb's supporting cast is pedestrian. He also will miss former offensive coordinator Brad Childress, who's now the head coach in Minnesota.

For once, the hype in the NFC East has been worth watching. Let's hope the season lives up to it.

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