- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 1, 2001

I'm not sure I can take 11 more games of this. I'm not just talking about the Redskins' weekly agonies, I'm talking about the whole darn NFC East. If the NFL is the No Fun League, then the NFC East is, well, what can we make E-A-S-T stand for Everybody's Averse to Scoring Touchdowns?

The teams in this division are so boring, so devoid of offensive excitement, it seems like they're trying to put people to sleep. (Oh, to have the No-Doz concession in NFC East stadiums. In a year or two, I could make enough money to retire and buy a house next to John Kent Cooke's in Bermuda.)

Here are some of the scores of NFC East games this year: 9-7, 10-9, 17-3, 17-9. And this, of course, is in the early part of the season, the warm part. Wait until the temperatures drop; the point totals will drop along with them (possibly to sub-zero levels).

Don't get me wrong. I appreciate good defense. And there's plenty of that in the NFC East with the Eagles, the Giants, and even the Redskins and Cowboys on occasion. But don't these clubs feel the slightest obligation to, um, entertain? At his weekly postmortem Monday, Marty Schottenheimer referred, in an almost dismissive way, to the Giants' "four-wide-receiver, throw-it-all-over-the-ballpark routine." Frankly, I think every team should be required, for at least a quarter of each game, to go into its "four-wide-receiver, throw-it-all-over-the-ballpark routine." It sure beats the two-tight-end, run-it-between-the-tackles-and-put-the-crowd-into-a-catatonic-state routine.

The NFC West has the Saints' thunder, the Niners' lightning and the Rams' offensive hurricane. The NFC East has 1-2-3-kick. What did we do to deserve this other than dominate the league for about 20 years, I mean?

It all starts with the coaches. Schottenheimer, Jim Fassel, Andy Reid, Dave Campo, Dave McGinnis has any of them ever cracked a joke? They just aren't a barrel of laughs, those guys, and their teams' style of play reflects that. (Marty's idea of a party is to buy a round of chocolate shakes after the afternoon practice at Carlisle. No vanilla, no strawberry, just chocolate.)

In the best of divisions, there are a variety of football philosophies to enjoy and discuss. One team might be built around its defense, another around its offense, another around a great player. In the NFC East, however, there's only this numbing sameness. Everybody plays the field position game, the don't-take-any-chances game, the let-the-defense-win-it-for-us game. The result? None of the clubs is even ranked in the top 15 in the league in offense. The Cardinals are 16th, followed by the Giants (21st), the Eagles (22nd), the Cowboys (30th) and the Redskins (31st).

More depressing stats:

The top quarterback in the NFC East: Donovan McNabb (a modest seventh in the passer ratings).

The top running back: Stephen Davis (eighth in the league).

The top receiver: Arizona's David Boston (tied for eighth in catches).

Not much to hang your helmet on as a division.

At this point, the most thrilling player in the NFC East might be Eric Metcalf, who was out of football for nearly two years before the Redskins picked him off the scrap heap last week. Metcalf is averaging you're not gonna believe this 50 yards a punt return (after runbacks of 89 and 11 against the Giants). That's more than Brian Mitchell, Desmond Howard and Jermaine Lewis combined.

I'm not sure he can keep it up, though. Fifty yards a return is a little much.

It's a grim situation, it really is. The Cowboys are practically accepting applications for their quarterback position. They've already started three different QBs Quincy Carter, Anthony Wright and Clint Stoerner and two-time loser Ryan Leaf is waiting in the wings. Before the season is over, they'll probably suit up Kevin Sweeney, the quarterback of their '87 strike team.

And while we're on the subject of nonentities, I mean who's this back leading the Eagles in rushing, this Buckhalter fellow? Isn't that the name of the German general in "Hogan's Heroes"?

This is your fate, Redskins fans. To watch thrice-discarded Tony Banks match spirals with the Cowboys' Quarterback of the Week. To watch Kevin Mitchell try to tackle Correll Buckhalter. Just keep telling yourself it'll be over soon, that everything goes in cycles.

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