NFC East Ups the 'Ante'
The price of poker in the NFC East has risen considerably since the end of the 2003 NFL season. The increase is not sudden, in fact the stakes have been rising steadily over the past few seasons. The Dallas Cowboys were the first to up the ante when they brought Bill Parcells out of retirement with hopes that he could continue to work the magic that he had with both New York teams (Giants and Jets) as well as with the New England Patriots. In his brief tenure as the Cowboys head coach, he has made an immediate impact on not only the team, but the entire organization. They feel their future is very bright with The Tuna leading the troops.
With the Cowboys adding Parcells, and the Philadelphia Eagles already having the tenured Andy Reid, it was clear to both the Redskins and the Giants that they needed to do something to 'keep up with the Joneses'. Both the Redskins and Giants were coming off very disappointing seasons, and were equally in need of a change at head coach. More important than just a change of head coaches and coaching staffs, both teams needed a change in attitude.
The Giants found their man in the former Jacksonville Jaguar head coach, Tom Coughlin. Coughlin, a strong disciplinarian, was brought into New York to bring back some of the luster that the once proud franchise enjoyed under Parcells and saw briefly under the Jim Fassel regime. Bringing in Coughlin immediately adds credibility to the team and puts them back into the fold in the now strong again NFC East. Based on Coughlin's previous success with the (then-expansion) Jaguars, the Giants expect to be moving out of the NFC East basement soon. It would appear that the biggest hurdle forCoughlin will be getting his players to buy into his military-esque approach after so many years under the "country club" style of coaching they saw under Jim Fassel. Perhaps that is why the exodus of Giants players continues to flood the free agent market.
The Redskins also found their man when Daniel Snyder trumped both the Cowboys and the Giants by bringing back one of the greatest coaches in NFL history -- Joe Gibbs. In bringing back Gibbs, a move that marked the end of the failed experiment that will forever be known as the "Fun-n-Gun", the Redskins re-opened a chapter of their own history. In having Coach Gibbs back in Redskin Park, the Redskins have also upped the ante in a huge way. The biggest hurdle for Coach Gibbs is something that he never had to deal with during his last term in Washington, free agency and the salary cap. While he does have an owner that will spend whatever amount of money is needed to get the players that are needed, Gibbs will still have to learn to 'work around it' effectively to avoid annual salary cap casualties.
With the heavy hitters that will be calling the NFC East home this fall, the price of poker in the NFL has definitely been raised.
This article was released on 2004-03-16.
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