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Week 16 mailbag

Rex Ryan, Rob Ryan

While waiting earlier today for Mrs. PFT and Florio Jr. to wake up on a peaceful and snowy Christmas morning, I noticed that some writers who promise weekend mailbags have pulled the plug on their efforts, given the holiday.

We thought about doing the same thing.  Thanks to the letters O, C, and D, we couldn’t.

So here are the answers to the questions we didn’t answer in the video mailbag edition of PFT Daily.With a certain group of Baltimore fans still wishing for Rex Ryan to be the coach of the Ravens instead of John Harbaugh, is it safe to say that Rex has finally worn out his welcome with the litany of public embarrassments since his tenure began?  True, Sterger-Farve didn’t happen on Rex’s watch but the Ines Sainz incident, Rex running his mouth constantly about winning the Super Bowl when they aren’t even winning the division, “Wallgate” or “Tripgate” and now foot fetish videos of his wife are all on Ryan’s shoulders.  Isn’t that enough for public embarrassment for Woody Johnson?  HW, Bel Air.

It’s unclear whether Ryan’s job is or will be in jeopardy.  Owners Woody Johnson responded to the latest controversy by pointing out that Ryan is still the head coach of the team, as if Johnson would summarily fire the head coach of a 10-4 team with the playoffs on the immediate horizon.

As a practical matter, the various embarrassments and distractions will place more pressure on Ryan to consistently win.  If/when the Jets struggle under Ryan, Johnson undoubtedly will think of the off-field issues when deciding whether Ryan should return.  Though the off-field stuff may never be the catalyst for change, it will be a factor if/when performance becomes an issue.

Like every other business decision, benefits will be weighed against the costs.  The costs of employing Rex Ryan include the potential for periodic embarrassments, whether it’s giving the middle finger to Dolphins fans at an MMA event or boasting or cursing or presiding over a pack of frat boys or lying about what he knew and when he knew it regarding Sal Alosi or the inexplicable decision to take personal matters that should stay behind closed doors and uploading them to YouTube.  As long as the benefits (i.e., winning and everything that flows from winning) outweigh the costs, Ryan will continue to be employed.  Once the costs outweigh the benefits, he’ll be gone.

Everyone seems to think that a postseason realignment is inevitable after the NFC West “winner” makes the playoffs and a 10-6 team sits out.  How do you think the NFL would handle this?  A complete reseeding after Week 17 would ensure that stronger playoff teams get a home game, but it still wouldn’t ensure that stronger teams make the playoffs.  Also, could two teams in the same division earn a bye week in the unlikely event that they have the two best records of all playoff teams?  Jeremy W.

If a 7-9 team wins the NFC West (which really isn’t that big of an if, as we explained in the Week 16 Friday 10-pack), the calls for change will be immediate, repetitive, and loud.  We’re not sure that the clamor will be quieted if, for example, the 49ers beat the Saints in the wild-card round.  Indeed, if San Fran out-nimbles New Orleans at Candlestick Park, some will argue that the Saints would have won the game if it had been played where it should have been played, at the Superdome.

Under the league’s current eight-division alignment of teams, hope is effectively manufactured and marketed in every NFL city, during each offseason.  In any year, the push to a Super Bowl commences with emerging as the best of only four teams.  And with a guaranteed playoff berth in hand, anything can happen in a single-elimination format.

Whether that guaranteed playoff game remains a home game remains to be seen.  And that’s where the push likely will focus — to prevent a team from hosting a playoff game with an inferior record.  (It’s no surprise that Atlanta president Rich McKay has taken the lead on this issue; the 11-5 Falcons were forced in 2008 to go to Arizona and play a 9-7 Cardinals team that had lost two weeks earlier to the Patriots by 40 points.  And then the Cardinals beat the Falcons.)

Frankly, we’d change nothing.  In any given year, aberrations are possible.  But that doesn’t mean the current playoff system should be scuttled.

If change comes, we’d limit it to the wild-card round, with only division winners qualifying for the two byes.  And we’d be inclined not to re-seed based on record, but based only on the specific problem that will provide the impetus for change — the fact that a division-winning team without a winning record will be hosting a non-division-winner that won more games than it lost.

So if a division champion isn’t 9-7 or better, then reseeding applies and that team still gets its guaranteed playoff berth, but it must hit the road for the postseason.

Every year it seems as though the Washington Redskins refuse to enter a “rebuilding mode” and instead go after high-priced free agents as a part of a “win now” attitude.  It seems as though all this strategy has done has left them with an aging and overpriced roster.  After this year’s most recent example of “win now” moves (signing McNabb, trading for tackle Jammal Brown) failing, are the Redskins finally ready to hunker down for the long-term and build around the draft? It seem as though the Redskins will always be in the basement of the NFC East until they finally change their strategy.  Bryan F.

To their credit, the Redskins resisted splurging on free agents in Year One of the father-son picnic known as the Shanahan regime.  But they further mortgaged their future by sending a second-round pick in 2010 and both a third-round pick and a fourth-round pick in 2011 elsewhere for McNabb and Brown.

So whether it’s via free agency or trade, the Redskins continued in 2010 to have an attraction for veteran players with recognizable names.  Until they accept the fact that building a team requires a long-term commitment along with a willingness to take lumps as a young team matures, the Redskins will continue to swing (and likely miss) as they attempt annually to put enough pieces in place to contend.

Don’t count on it happening in 2011.  Coach Mike Shanahan will feel compelled to field a winner in order to save his job.  Which means that money will be spent on free agents and/or picks will be shipped for veteran players who have not yet hit the market.

Which means that the cycle will continue.

This is just an ‘I’m dreaming and this will never happen’ question, but in the next labor agreement, could something be written that a player or team cannot issue a ‘statement’ and instead the player has to face the music in front of reporters for whatever wrong they have done?  I’m so sick and tired of these statements written by lawyers, and anyone that believes the player or team rep actually sits down and writes it is a total tool.  Ryan B.

Such a provision would never be in the labor deal because the teams benefit from this approach as much as the players.

That said, players are required to be made available to the media at least once during each practice week and after every game.  So even if a sanitized statement is released, the player eventually must face tough questions about the situation.

When draft day trades happen, does the team moving down demand, as a condition of the trade, to know who the team moving up will select with the pick?  Ken D.

An express condition of this nature rarely if ever has been applied, and it possibly would not be enforceable.  Also, given the time pressure once the draft begins, it would be difficult to include contingencies based on the specific player taken.

The best approach would be to include a term stating that the trade is being accomplished so that the team moving up may obtain one specific player, and that if the team moving up selects someone else, the compensation would increase.  It’s highly unlikely that a trade would be scuttled once the pick has been made.

As a practical matter, when teams trade down they realize that the team trading up is eyeballing a specific player — and in plenty of cases the team trading down knows who that player is.  The team trading down assumes the risk that the player the team would have drafted but for a trade down will be available at the team’s next spot in the process.

Do you think that the Redskins will try to trade up to draft quarterback Andrew Luck, as he is the best fit for Kyle Shanahan’s system?  David W.

It’s still unclear whether Luck will make himself available for the draft.  If he does, it would be hard for Redskins coach Mike Shanahan to resist the best quarterback from Stanford since the one who helped Shanahan win his two Super Bowl rings as a head coach.

Drafting a young quarterback also would buy Shanahan some time, since no one will expect him to make the Redskins competitive right away.

Then again, given what the Falcons, Ravens, Jets, Bucs, and Rams have done with young quarterbacks lately, Shanahan really wouldn’t be buying much time with Luck.

Also, don’t overlook the fact that trading up will cost plenty in draft picks and/or players, especially if a rookie wage scale is implemented as part of the new labor deal.  In recent years, teams have resisted trading up into the top of the draft due to the picks required to make the move and the obscene amount of money paid to an unproven player.  The Redskins have the money; the bigger dilemma would be parting ways with picks.

You keep saying no one is close to Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in the defensive rookie of the year race.  Some might say Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty has more impressive stats, and he outplayed Suh on Thanksgiving in their head-to-head matchup.  And he’s more important to his defense on a team that will have the top seed in the AFC.  Scott E.

You make a good point.  McCourty may get some votes.  But Suh has been a beast, and it will be hard for McCourty to overcome Suh in the voting.

Is a team allowed to declare a starting quarterback (like Rex Grossman) then start someone else on Sunday (like Donvan McNabb)? I’m sure it’s OK if the declared starter is hurt on Saturday for some bizarre reason, but is a team allowed to purposely confuse a team by lying about their starting quarterback and then start someone else?  Bruan B.

Yes, as long as the team doesn’t lie about injury status.

The problem is that the bait-and-switch routine can alienate the fan base and make the coaching staff look foolish, especially since word tends to get out regarding the quarterback who is taking the first-team snaps.

We’ve seen teams try on numerous occasions to confuse an opponent by not naming a starter at all.  (The Browns did it last year on several occasions with Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn.)  If successful, the opponent is forced to prepare for both men.

But if neither one is all that good, how much of an advantage has been obtained?

With Matt Flynn coming off a largely impressive debut on Sunday night against New England, is it preposterous to think teams that have struggled this season (e.g. Panthers, Vikes, 49ers) will start taking a look at Matt Flynn as a possible starter?  Carey B.

The performance will get Flynn some positive attention, but he remains under contract through 2011.  If the new labor deal permits a player to qualify for unrestricted free agency after only four years, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2012.

The Packers could decide in the offseason to dangle Flynn for value, but they’d have to have another viable backup plan in place for next season.  (If they trade him, don’t expect Flynn to land in Minnesota.)

In the end, the decision will come down to whether full free agency will be available after four or five years.  If the number moves to five, the Packers would be able to tender Flynn as a restricted free agent in 2012, and then trade him.  If it’s four years, they’d need to trade him before the 2011 deadline or face losing him to the open market.

I know we are all supposed to believe that Michael Vick is the Second Coming, but can the Eagles really win a Super Bowl with that defense?  The Giants lost that game more than the Eagles won it.  Bob, West Virginia.

The Philly defense definitely has been a liability at times, with the team giving up 27, 32, 37, 28, 31, 27, and 31 in half of their games this year.  But the only stat that matters is points scored versus points allowed, and with the two most electric players in football (Mike Vick and DeSean Jackson), the Eagles know how to score points.

Also, the Eagles have at times been stout on defense, holding the Jags to three, the Redskins to 12, and the Falcons to 17.

That said, the Eagles would be regarded as a more likely candidate to win it all if they had a better defense to go with their very potent offense.  Indeed, if the defense were better, the Eagles already would have a better record than 10-4, and they’d perhaps be on track to force the rematch with the Falcons to be played in Philly, not indoors in Atlanta.

Is it just me, or are officials this year waiting longer before calling a play dead while the ball carrier is still moving, thus allowing more forced fumbles?  Ben H.

The trend over the past few years has been for officials to swallow the whistle, with replay available to correct the call on the field if the runner was down.

Even though replay now can be used to reverse a ruling on the field that a runner was down by contact, the Steelers-Dolphins game proved that possession won’t be awarded to the defense absent clear evidence that the defense recovered the ball.  So it’s still better to err on the side of ruling that a fumble occurred, and to rely on replay to fix any mistakes.

Actually, it’s even better to err on the side of simply getting it right, since replay is an imperfect system for fixing errors.

Instead of building a new stadium how about just remove the piece of crap tarp ceiling and do whatever repairs are necessary and make the Metrodome an outdoor stadium?  Chuck.

I’m no expert in stadium design or construction, but I’ve got a funny feeling the process isn’t as simple as taking the lid off a can of creamed corn.

If the league is serious about concussions, when will teams start placing players on injured reserve who’ve had multiple concussions in a single season (or 12-month period).  Austin Collie is the perfect example. Matt, Cleveland.

The league has implemented procedures aimed at ensuring that players who have suffered concussions will be held out of action until medically cleared to play.  The number of concussions does not matter, technically.  And there should be no magic number of concussions that results in a player being shut down for the season.

The use of such a formula would give players and teams even more incentive to conceal concussions, rather than to report the symptoms and to diagnose them when they have occurred.

In the end, the question after each concussion is whether the player will be cleared to play.  In Collie’s case, the Colts decided that three concussions was enough, and that he wouldn’t return in time to make a difference down the stretch.

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14 Responses to “Week 16 mailbag”
  1. zimaman says: Dec 25, 2010 3:13 PM

    nice Christmas Pic of the Ryan brothers!

    it looks like Rex is looking for some Mistle-TOE to stand under doesnt it?

  2. johntonioholmes says: Dec 25, 2010 4:16 PM

    “Some might say Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty has more impressive stats…”

    Those people would be known as Patriots fans. If you take away McCourty’s ability to hold receivers down field (an admitted Belichick defensive strategy), he is reduced to a slightly above average corner.

    Meanwhile, Suh is like the second coming of James Harrison–meaning that he is so unblockable that offensive lineman just hold him on every play, without penalty.

    If Suh wasn’t a rookie, he’d be a leading candidate for DPOY.

  3. grogansheroes says: Dec 25, 2010 5:21 PM

    johntonioholmes says:
    Dec 25, 2010 4:16 PM
    “Some might say Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty has more impressive stats…”

    Those people would be known as Patriots fans. If you take away McCourty’s ability to hold receivers down field (an admitted Belichick defensive strategy), he is reduced to a slightly above average corner.

    Meanwhile, Suh is like the second coming of James Harrison–meaning that he is so unblockable that offensive lineman just hold him on every play, without penalty.

    If Suh wasn’t a rookie, he’d be a leading candidate for DPOY.

    __________________________
    You’re kidding, right? You must be thinking of Revis and Cromagnon man from the Jets. Revis is a shut down corner because he always has a fistful of jersey. Cna’t tell if you are a stiller or jests fan.

  4. unbiasedfootballfan says: Dec 25, 2010 5:30 PM

    @johntonioholmes

    Is Chris Collinsworth a patriots fan? He made the same argument about McCourty. It’s people like you that have kept me away from posting on these blogs. You have no facts to back up your arguments and if McCourty played for anyone else besides the patriots you wouldn’t be heard from. It’s clear that because the patriots continue to win their players will not get respect… we could take your same blog post and change the names and it could be the brady vs manning debate. Your hate for the patriots has clouded your judgement and nothing you say can be taken seriously. McCourty is clearly the second best rookie this year and while he won’t win the DROY he is definitely in the discussion.

    Forgot to mention he has played in a better division, against tougher opponents and plays a harder position than Suh.

    To the patriot haters out there in the world you would be taken more seriously if every now and then you could give credit where credit is due.

    There are bloggers on this site and others where if you listened only to them you would think the patriots had the worst quarterback and worst decade of any team in the NFL.

    Thanks

  5. unbiasedfootballfan says: Dec 25, 2010 5:35 PM

    @Johntonioholmes

    Forgot to mention your only argument is that the refs don’t call penalties on mccourty and don’t call penalties against Suh.

    Priceless!

  6. hobartbaker says: Dec 25, 2010 5:36 PM

    It’s an especially happy Christmas for the Claus family since their twin sons Rob and Rex, now fully grown, have just been released from prison for their part in the gift theft ring.

  7. ampats says: Dec 25, 2010 5:43 PM

    johnbluntholmes,

    Another dumb jests fan post. McCourty hold receivers downfield, really do you have film others don’t ?

    McCourty in the next year will be a better shutdown corner than your overpaid hamstrung 1 mill a game corner whose toes Rex will be licking while watching the Patriots win the AFC Championship on his couch in Slum Jersey.

    As his alt.com site says Rex loves torture, that is why he had a little experience in his pants after his team was smacked down 45-3.

    Jets fans save yourselves embarrassmaent and don’t post.

    Sanchoke & Jests fans, SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

    Happy 41 soon to be 42 years of being the losers that you are.

    Merry XMAS !!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. crunchyclam says: Dec 25, 2010 7:59 PM

    “As long as the benefits (i.e., winning and everything that flows from winning) outweigh the costs, Ryan will continue to be employed. Once the costs outweigh the benefits, he’ll be gone.”

    This is called the ‘Belichick Corollary’ i.e. when coaches of low moral fiber have their transgressions ignored by management because of the team’s success on the field. You can even be a cheating adulterer if you have the rings to back it up (as BB has proved).

  9. unbiasedfootballfan says: Dec 25, 2010 8:56 PM

    @crunchyclam

    Does bringing up bad things about the patriots make you feel better about your team? It’s pretty funny how everytime something bad happens in this league people try to draw corollary’s to New England. In this instance BB cheating on his wife and marrying another woman has nothing to do with rex ryan wanting his wife to have sex in 3 different ways with another man. What BB did was very tame in this day and age and If we are going to that level then we could go all day with every team in the NFL (cromartie is a baby daddy to 6 children with 6 different ladies). Stop blaming all your teams problems on the patriots and stop trying to rationalize it by talking about New England. Your jealousy of the patriots is easy to spot.

    It’s pathetic

  10. nyjalleffingday says: Dec 25, 2010 11:48 PM

    @unbiasedfootballfan

    Oh boy, I don’t even know where to start.

  11. nyjalleffingday says: Dec 25, 2010 11:51 PM

    Actually, scratch that. This whole discussion is full of fail.

  12. unbiasedfootballfan says: Dec 26, 2010 12:13 AM

    @nyjalleffingday

    Please start and if you can refrain from calling names and swearing and talk football then we can have a great discussion. Definitely interested to know where you disagree?

  13. monropoobah says: Dec 26, 2010 9:40 AM

    unbiasedfootballfan says:
    Dec 25, 2010 5:30 PM
    @johntonioholmes

    Is Chris Collinsworth a patriots fan? He made the same argument about McCourty. It’s people like you that have kept me away from posting on these blogs. You have no facts to back up your arguments and if McCourty played for anyone else besides the patriots you wouldn’t be heard from. It’s clear that because the patriots continue to win their players will not get respect… we could take your same blog post and change the names and it could be the brady vs manning debate. Your hate for the patriots has clouded your judgement and nothing you say can be taken seriously. McCourty is clearly the second best rookie this year and while he won’t win the DROY he is definitely in the discussion.

    Forgot to mention he has played in a better division, against tougher opponents and plays a harder position than Suh.

    To the patriot haters out there in the world you would be taken more seriously if every now and then you could give credit where credit is due.

    There are bloggers on this site and others where if you listened only to them you would think the patriots had the worst quarterback and worst decade of any team in the NFL

    sometimes ‘credit is due’. here it is. that’s all you get so no more sobbing, ok?

  14. thecheeman says: Dec 27, 2010 10:05 PM

    I am an expert in stadium construction. As amazing as it sounds, there is no complicated wiring to worry about on domes that can’t retract. It is about as easy as taking a lid off a can of creamed corn, albeit with large cranes.

    The real problem with removing the lid is that these domes weren’t built with any kind of drainage system, obviously. It would be similar to taking the roof of your house. The rain and would flood and ruin everything.

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