Q&A With: Mark Schlereth Part II

Today the former Redskin and current ESPN studio analyst talks about the NFC East. His take: it's not as strong as many want to make it out to be. And there's a certain team he thinks could take a step back. Also, if you want to learn more about offensive line play, visit his website at www.olineskills.com. You can also learn about the line video's he's producing.

Warpath Insiders: With Joe Gibbs' return, is the division stronger?

Mark Schlereth: I don't know if it'll be that much stronger. I look at Dallas. They won some close games and Bill Parcells did a fine job of coaching. I don't think they addressed their running game. Larry Allen may become a cap casualty because of his attitude and other things they didn't like. Defensively, even though they were the number one rated defense, they got exposed several times. The Cowboys did not figure out what their biggest need was and go after it. To a man people would point to their running game, to take pressure off a young and inexperienced quarterback. Not to bash Quincy Carter, but the games they had to have -- the big games where there were two quality teams -- Dallas got shut out. New England shut them out. Miami beat them on Thanksgiving Day. Carolina. To me they didn't get that part of their game done. Then they trade down and get Julius Jones. They didn't address the biggest issue and you have to take pressure off that young quarterback. Tampa Bay just shut them out. In the big games he dropped the ball. When tough teams come in with a great defense, you can't put it on Quincy Carter's shoulders and expect to win. He proved he couldn't do that.

WI: What about their defense?

MS: They'll be solid and play hard and they'll be good. But I think Dallas will slide back from last year.

WI: How about New York?

MS: I'm not sold on them one iota. Their offensive line is horrendous. They had a ton of injuries and Rich Seubert will be back, but they have a ton of holes to fill. And you don't win in this league with a rookie quarterback. Peyton Manning is the best out there and the Colts were 3-13 his rookie year. That's a team that will struggle this year, even with the more discipline under Tom Coughlin. That discipline is a double-edged sword. You have to know when to pull of. I know enough people who have played for him and what I've heard is that he doesn't know how to do that. Will he go through a maturation process and try to figure out how to get that done? Parcells is as tough and gruff and as hard as Bill is, he's able to figure that out. That balance is what makes him successful.

WI: That leaves the Eagles. Are they still the team to beat?

MS: They'll be the cream of the NFC East again. Jevon has to stay healthy. But they'll get guys back on their defensive line who will be healthy. They lost Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor, but I don't think anyone has done a better job in the NFL as a whole of assessing the value of a player in regard to where he is in his career and will he get better or start a downhill swoon. We've seen that in their decision with Jeremiah Trotter. He was a perennial Pro Bowl player and all of a sudden they decided it didn't make sense to keep this guy and he wasn't all that. Now he's being talked about as a cap cut June 1 by the Redskins. You have to assume Andy Reid has looked at Taylor and Vincent the same way. Andy Reid is smart. He's a good football guy and a former offensive lineman so of course he's smart. I had to say that. He knows what he's got. You put a guy like Jevon on that defense and you get other guys healthy and if they can put more pressure on quarterbacks then you don't have to cover as long. There's no staff better at figuring out where there guys are than this one. So I still think they'll be the cream of the crop. And Donovan having a legitimate wide receiver will help him take the next step. How much pressure a guy like Terrell will take off that offense is unbelievable. He'll open up running lanes, take pressure off the second receiver. There's just so much a guy like that will bring. I'm telling you everything on that offense is better just for having Terrell. Now Andy's job is to keep him happy and make sure he's a force that brings the team together as opposed to dividing it.

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