|Skins TE Chris Cooley calls Eagles "the team to beat" in the NFC East. (Getty Images)|
Chris Cooley is a lot of things -- a Pro Bowler, an artist and perhaps, above all else, brutally honest.
The Redskins tight end joined 106.7 The Fan in DC to talk about the upcoming season, which is now just two days away (!). And when he was asked about the NFC East, Cooley didn't rattle off the usual "Everybody's 0-0, we're going to give 110 percent but only while taking it one day at a time" cliches. Instead he told the truth and, well, it was a refreshing change of pace.
“I think Philly’s the team to beat, looking at what they’ve done right now," Cooley said, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. "But when you look at the NFL and you look at the East, everyone can be very good. I wouldn’t be surprised, any way, to see New York and Dallas both being excellent football teams. It’s a tough division and it always will be, but when you look at what Philly did and when you look at the players they have and coming off the year they had last year, I think they’re a very good football team. Obviously we’re not the team to beat based on the way we played last year and what we’ve done over the past couple years.”
Couldn't agree more. But for some reason, it's taboo to say such things publicly, even if everybody's thinking it.
While no one disputes that the Eagles are the preseason front runners, they're not without issues. Michael Vick might insist that you can't design a defense to stop him, but we don't think he was taking his suspect offensive line into account when he made those comments.
We wrote last week that Philly drafted Danny Watkins in the first round and immediately installed him at right guard. Watkins, 26, was considered the most NFL-ready o-lineman in the 2011 draft, which is exactly why the Eagles selected him with the 23rd overall pick. But like most rookies, the transition hasn't been easy. "It's definitely overwhelming. That's for sure. Compared to what I was doing before this, I was just a regular working guy," said Watkins, a former firefighter in West Kelowana, British Columbia. "Now, I've got microphones stuffed in my face and everything. It's an adjustment, that's for sure, in every aspect."
Watkins was playing next to right tackle King Dunlap early in the preseason but that didn't last; left guard Todd Herremans replaced Dunlap at right tackle last week and Evan Mathis took over for Herremans at left guard. Oh, and Philly's starting a rookie center in Jason Kelce.
And that, along with new and improved* Rex Grossman now quarterbacking the Redskins, has Cooley thinking that, even if the Eagles are the team to beat, the NFC East is wide open.
“Yeah I have no question -- any team could win the division now. You could say any team would win it and I wouldn’t be surprised.”
* mileage may vary
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