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NFC EAST
Paul Zimmerman
September 04, 1985
Keep the Hogs healthy, put a big, crunching ball carrier behind them and the WASHINGTON REDSKINS are in business. It's a formula that has given them more regular-season victories (33) than any other team in the NFC the last three years. It has also given them the greatest time of possession, meaning their defense was getting plenty of rest. Get the picture? Keep Hogging the ball and everything else falls into place.
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September 04, 1985

Nfc East

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The defense, a recklessly attacking and blitzing group in '84, occasionally will have a 3-4 look, with Randy White moving all over the line, sometimes dropping back as an inside linebacker.

One play from the Hall of Fame game on Aug. 3 seems ominous. The NEW YORK GIANTS were playing the Houston Oilers. The Giants' center was Conrad Goode, who was drafted high as a tackle last season. He's a guy they hope will take over for last year's regular, Kevin Belcher, who's out for the season. Oiler middle guard Mike Stensrud, who's far from gifted as a pass rusher, put a move on the kid and threw him. Now the highway to quarterback Phil Simms was free of traffic and Stensrud roared in well over the speed limit. Next thing you know, Simms is out of the game. Torn finger. Unscheduled R & R.

Hey, Giants! Simms is the one guy you can't lose. He had a productive year and you made the playoffs. In '83 he was hurt and you went 3-12-1. Don't mess around with conversion projects. Find linemen who can make sure your QB stays vertical. Where, you say? Well, how about the USFL? Bart Oates of the Baltimore Stars wouldn't embarrass you at center. Gary Zimmerman of the Express was a hell of a blocker. He can play guard, tackle, center, you name it. So what if he was asking for a lot of dough—and his agent was suing the world to get the supplemental draft ruled illegal? Only money. Don't forget, the Giants once gave up a million bucks for Larry Csonka.

Last year the Giants sacrificed their running game to keep Simms healthy. The linemen narrowed their splits and went shoulder to shoulder and the runners had few holes to squeeze through. Maybe the No. 1 draft pick, halfback George Adams, can find some, or that big blocking fullback from the USFL, Maurice Carthon, will drill a few. But Simms and his good receivers—Byron Williams, Bob Johnson, Lionel Manuel, Zeke Mowatt—are too good a formula to mess with.

The defense is playoff caliber, even though Lawrence Taylor is coming off a weird kind of year. He free-lanced a lot, ran all over the place, took a lot of cheap shots, often diving over the pile to get at a guy's legs. And then in camp he complained about people going after him. Ah well, greatness has its own rules.

The cover of the PHILADELPHIA EAGLES press guide is devoted to the smiling face of Norman Braman, the new owner. He's holding a football. There's a faraway look in his eyes. Maybe he's dreaming of those 21 car dealerships that make all that money for him. Or the dough he would save if those 11 veterans who refused to report to camp really stayed out. Or the big package he wouldn't have to pay if, as he threatened, he really traded away his top draft pick, holdout tackle Kevin Allen.

At his first press conference, after he took over the team from the Tose family, Braman held up a T shirt that read EAGLES SUPER BOWL '86. We soon learned that he was furious at the big renegotiated contracts his predecessors gave to a couple of defensive vets, and, no, he wouldn't honor the promises to other guys, such as quarterback Ron Jaworski.

Super Bowl? Uh-uh, it doesn't work that way, boss. You pay for what you get.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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