It’s the PFT Bag-o-mail

I originally intended to bang out this week’s mailbag during the drive back from New York in the new ’68 VW bus on Saturday.  But working on a laptop in a moving vehicle isn’t all that easy, especially when operating on a belly full of potato chips and Pepsi Max.

And on Sunday, well, I just didn’t feel like doing it.

So here it is, just in time for you to ease your way back into the first day of a short work week.

Hypothetical situation given all the recent “wake and bake” tweets.  Percy Harvin gets a medical marijuana card for his severe migraine headaches.  His medical marijuana card stipulates that he can legally use medical marijuana in the State of Minnesota or Florida.  How does the NFL prevent this from happening?  And are there any future potential changes that could occur from a legal perspective, which allows players to challenge the NFL on this?  cen49760.

I’m not an expert on whether Minnesota or Florida currently recognizes a medical exception to the law prohibiting marijuana use.  If Harvin or any other player would ever obtain a legal right to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, the player would not be in violation of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, since the policy expressly applies only to the “illegal use of drugs.”

If the league were to try to discipline a player who is using marijuana for medical reasons, the league would have to keep in mind the Americans with Disabilities Act and/or similar state laws that arguably would require the NFL to provide a “reasonable accommodation,” such as not fining or suspending a player who uses marijuana at the advice of a doctor.

The Vikings sending away their top backup at quarterback and their top punt returner for a couple of draft picks in a year that they’re gunning for it all makes no sense.  Do you have a view?  Leon D.

We’ve criticized the decision to trade Sage Rosenfels, both because he has looked better than Tarvaris Jackson and because we believe that every team will be blitzing Brett Favre relentlessly, until he is injured.  If/when “Operation Break Brett” succeeds, the Vikings will have only Tarvaris Jackson and rookie Joe Webb.  The Vikings apparently decided that Rosenfels, whom many think was the source of last month’s “Brett thinks Brad Childress is clueless’ report, could do more harm than good for the team.

As to Darius Reynaud, the Vikings apparently believe that Asher Allen would be an equal or better option at punt returner.  We’re intrigued by Percy Harvin as the No. 2 man on the depth chart.  He never returned punts at Florida, and last year he looked awkward when trying to field punted footballs in practice.  But he could be the most explosive option available to the coaching staff since the Vikings had Randy Moss and, a decade before him, Anthony Carter make cameo appearances as punt returners.

With the Pats secondary taking a big hit by putting Leigh Bodden on the IR, what do you see as the bigger weakness this year, the young and inexperienced secondary or the lack of a consistent pass rush?  Chris, NH.

Some may disagree with me on this, but I’d rather have a potent pass rush than a shutdown secondary.  Most NFL-caliber quarterbacks will eventually find an open receiver, if the quarterbacks have time to survey the field and work through the progression of available targets.  But if the quarterback is forced out of the pocket or otherwise compelled to worry about having his ACL surgically removed from his knee or his head non-surgically removed from his shoulders, his accuracy tends to diminish.

So the bigger concern for the Patriots should be the lack of a consistent pass rush.

This might sound like a really stupid question, but why in the world were the Steelers not better prepared when they knew Big Ben was going to be suspended?  If they honestly thought Charlie Batch or Byron Leftwich gave them the best chance to win in the four weeks that Ben is gone, they should have their heads examined.  And Dennis Dixon is simply too raw to get the job done. The Steelers definitely dropped the ball on this one.  Joe C, San Antonio.

The Steelers were dealing with an unprecedented situation at quarterback.  And by the time that Roethlisberger’s suspension was imposed in late April, there simply weren’t many alternatives.  They wisely made a move to bring back Byron Leftwich, but they not-so-wisely penciled him in as the tentative starter.

The Steelers also gave Roethlisberger too many snaps in training camp and the preseason.  They should have focused on figuring out which of the three other guys would be the best option to replace Roethlisberger — and they should have picked a winner before the fourth preseason game.  Indeed, if they’d known Leftwich was the guy, he wouldn’t have been on the field at all against the Panthers, and thus he wouldn’t have suffered the knee injury that forced the Steelers to choose between the inexperienced Dixon and the experienced-but-ill-prepared Batch.

I don’t fault their personnel decisions; I question the distribution of offseason, training-camp, and preseason reps, and the overall process for picking the interim starter.

Why is there a five-yard penalty for the new snap infraction rule?  It seems weird that teams are going to be penalized for the ref not getting out of the way.  Chris R.

The problem arises from the offense starting a play before the officials are “ready”.  Even if it’s a bad rule, the offense has to wait until the officials provide the green light to snap the ball.

If the offense proceeds before the officials indicate that they’re ready, a penalty needs to be imposed or an offense would have no disincentive to push the envelope.

The league needs to address the rule, not the enforcement of it.

Besides adding two more regular season games, why doesn’t the NFL add more prime-time games?  Instead of just having a game every Thursday night and Saturday night at the end of the season why not do it for all 17 weeks?  Matthew K.

As to Saturday night games, the league’s antitrust exemption specifically prohibits televising games on Friday night or Saturdays from early September through early December, a provision aimed at protecting college and high school football.

Nothing prohibits a weekly Thursday night game; already, the league plays Thursday night games on nine of 17 weeks.  The problem is that the bye week already diminishes the available inventory for the CBS and FOX games on Sunday afternoons.  Scheduling a Thursday night game every week would give CBS and FOX one fewer game each Sunday.  (This year, the Thursday night package on NFL Network launches during the final “bye week” weekend.)

Don’t be shocked if the next wave of television contract carves out a full-season Thursday night package, all or part of which could be sold to one of the networks at much more money than the half-year package generates on NFLN.

Just wondering what role you see Tony Dungy having within the NFL 10 years from now, if any.  Do you think he’ll eventually have an official executive position in the league office?  Mark E.

Dungy has said he won’t be coaching again, and there’s no reason not to take him at his word.  We wouldn’t be surprised if he eventually accepts a job as a team president or V.P. of football operations, like Mike Holmgren and Bill Parcells have done.  Broadcasting surely entails better hours and significantly reduced stress.  Thus, it would be a surprise if he’d leave television any time soon.

That said, every offseason sparks a new game of musical chairs, and we suspect that teams will continue to be interested in hiring Dungy as a coach or in some other capacity.

With the likelihood of an 18-game season happening, do you think the NFL would expand its playoff format?  Dustin T.

At this point, the failure of the league to implement an 18-game regular season would constitute a major upset.  The league wants 18 games, and the
league most likely will get 18 games.

We’re not sure that there’s a connection between expanding the regular season and expanding the playoff field.  The NFL could add two playoff teams per conference, wiping out the byes and forcing the top two seeds to play during wild-card weekend.  But this would make the top teams even less likely to play starters late in the regular season, after they have clinched their playoff positions, since they wouldn’t have a week to rest up during the postseason.

Thus, we’d be surprised to see the playoff field expand without expansion of the total number of teams in the league.

In the past, there has been some talk of adding an overall payroll cap or limit to the amount that a franchise can spend on coaches and assistants — particularly several seasons ago when Washington was
seemingly attempting to hoard coaching talent — but nothing has ever materialized.  With a new CBA looming, has there been any discussion of a proposal to limit the amount that can be spent on coaches,
assistants, and/or front office personnel?  Vik A

The imposition of league-wide rules regarding the hiring and compensation of coaches could give rise to antitrust issues, since the coaches aren’t unionized.  The argument would be that the league isn’t a “single entity,” and thus that it can’t impose across-the-board rules regarding coach compensation.

If the coaches ever were to unionize, a coaching salary cap likely would become inevitable.

How do you see Chad Henne doing this season?  How do you think the fish will perform this season? You think Super Bowl is a realistic possibility?  Sandrew222.

The addition of Brandon Marshall, who made quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Kyle Orton look better than they really are, could help Henne develop into one of the best young quarterbacks in the game.  The question is whether Henne can find the mismatches in secondary if/when Marshall faces double coverage, and whether he will trust Marshall to make a play even when he otherwise appears to be blanketed.

Having Chad Pennington poised to become the most popular man in Miami not named James, Wade, or Bosh could hurt Henne’s development, if he spends any time looking over his shoulder.  Some quarterbacks will grip the ball too tightly if they fear that a bad game or two will get him benched.  Henne’s mental toughness will be tested in this regard.  Can he ignore the fact that Pennington provides a quick and easy solution to poor play from the third-year quarterback?

The Bears were one of the more active teams in free agency but didn’t seem interested in improving the offensive line much.  Even G.M. Jerry Angelo mentioned the O-line being a big question mark.  There might not have been a lot of big names floating around, but shouldn’t his have been a bigger concern?  Will S.

With a team that has more weaknesses than any one offseason can address, there’s only so much that the Bears could do to shore things up.  By hiring Mike Tice, who performed well enough as the offensive line coach in Minnesota to become the team’s head coach, the hope was that he’d help the line’s performance exceed the sum of its parts.

Then there’s the fact that the Mike Martz passing attack is premised on quick drops and lightning-fast reads, which typically don’t require the quarterback to have as much time as needed in offenses based on five-step and seven-step drops from the quarterback.

Do you think that the Eagles would consider shopping Vick?  They could use some offensive line/cornerback help and Vick can still stretch the field.  Brett S.

The Eagles privately claim that they never tried to trade Vick, and the fact that the only quarterback on the roster other than Vick and starter Kevin Kolb is rookie Mike Kafka would make it hard for the Eagles to let Vick go at this point.

Trading for Vick now would entail welcoming a potential distraction that would have to be absorbed and processed on the fly.  We can’t imagine anyone wanting him now that the season is upon us.

Unfortunately I’m a Lions fan, which means I cry a lot on Sundays (and one Thursday).   I hear a lot of optimism from various sources, some actually predicting 6 wins for them.  I don’t see it.  Is there any real way that they will win more than 4 games?  Dan O.

The schedule isn’t conducive to a dramatic improvement in 2010, with four games against the teams of the NFC East and four against the teams of the AFC East.  But when rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh tried to remove Jake Delhomme’s head like a grape from a stem in a preseason game, we started to think that maybe the Curse of Bobby Layne finally is lifting.

With veteran leaders like defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch and with receiver Calvin Johnson among the best in the league and with high-risk, high-reward rookie tailback Jahvid Best showing signs of promise and with quarterback Matthew Stafford possibly poised to develop into a good passer, there’s more reason for hope in Detroit than in cities like Buffalo, Tampa, Seattle, and St. Louis.

It doesn’t mean the Lions will be headed back to the playoffs for the first time since 1999, but it means that the team is finally pointed in the right direction.  Whether it can stay pointed in that direction once the regular season starts remains to be seen.

With many players getting cut and many coaches trying to stash them on the practice squad, I think it’s time to ask, ‘What determines a player’s eligibility for being on the practice squad?’  Is it draft status?  Years of tenure?  Size of the man-parts?  I’ve seen other football sites say that a player isn’t eligible for the practice squad and either must be kept on the 53 man roster or cut.  Why is that?  Michael H.

The rules regarding eligibility for the practice squad appear in Article XXXIV of the labor agreement.  A player may be on the practice squad for up to three seasons only.  After that, he’s no longer eligible for the practice squad.

Eligible players with fewer than three years of practice-squad duty include those who have not earned an “Accrued Season,” and those who have been on the 53-man roster for fewer than nine games in his only Accrued Season.

A player on a team’s practice squad may choose to leave at any time, if offered a contract on the active roster of another team.  The player is guaranteed three weeks’ pay if he accepts an offer to join the active roster of another team.

There’s only one limitation in this regard.  Within six days before a game, a player may not leave his team’s practice squad and sign with the active roster of his team’s next opponent.

Practice-squad players earn a minimum of $5,200 per week; the paycheck for one week on the active roster is $18,235.  Teams are free to pay practice-squad players more than the $5,200-per-week minimum.

16 responses to “It’s the PFT Bag-o-mail

  1. Yeah since vick is such a huge distraction for the eagles. You media people make it out to be much more of an issue than it is

  2. RE: Roethlisberger/Steelers
    So…you’re saying Tomlin should have let the 3 QB’s who will play at max 4 games of the season all/most of the reps in training camp and preseason, and have your QB for the last 12+ games of the season (who can’t practice, or talk to anybody within the organization during suspension) not really get any?
    Personally, I take a look at the schedule and think that we’re going 2-2 no matter who of the replacement three in at QB, and I have no problem with the way Tomlin handled that.

  3. Mention Vick and the sociopathic dog killer’s fans crawl out of the woodwork like roaches. They’re about as disgusting as he is.

  4. Short work week?
    This is the longest week of the year. Knowing football is a couple of days away makes time crawl bye. It needs to be Thursday night already.

  5. Speaking of lame apologies…. where’s Mrs. Silva? Haven’t seen her since her Barbie Carpenter days.

  6. You once again expose the ingorance of yourself and your staff Mike. Just stick to repeating TMZ style rumors from your boy at Deadspin, that’s all you seem to be good at.

  7. Once again the little sissy boy florio wil not say a word about the raiders. All media wil not say anything positive about the future NFL champs.
    I cant wait to see what PFT,ESPN,NFL NET,ECT do when raiders dominate. How can they spin it this time?

  8. The schedule isn’t conducive to a dramatic improvement in 2010, with four games against the teams of the NFC East and four against the teams of the AFC East. But when rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh tried to remove Jake Delhomme’s head like a grape from a stem in a preseason game, we started to think that maybe the Curse of Bobby Layne finally is lifting.
    The curse of Bobby Layne is lifting because they have a DT who made a dirty play and got away with a tap on the wrist???? I hope Suh does this to some QB you fawn over instead of to one you hate so I can see if you celebrate with glee then. Fan and media celebration of this DIRTY play is almost as bad as Goodell’s pathetic fine system.

  9. raidersteve413’s comments always manage to put a smile on my face. Of course, so do the delusions of EVERY crazy person.

  10. I think the fans and media celebrated Suh’s dirty play because it showed that finally, for the first time in a decade, someone gives a shit and wants to play big boy football in Detroit.
    Can you name five guys from the Lions defense in the 2000s that you’d want motivating your team’s locker room? He brings fire, it was dumb but it shows passion. I like it.

  11. RaiderSteve — the media will spin it like this:
    The Raiders have won the SuperBowl. In other news, Satan was seen walking around with a parka, and New York City was pummelled with pig dung when the animals actually grew wings and started to fly around. Waiting for word from Bud Selig to see if these “downpours” will affect the baseball schedule this weekend. And now, back to Mike and Mike in the Morning….

  12. Wow so Brandon Marshall made both Cutler and Kyle Orton look better than they really are ?
    Its seems to me that the pressure is on Brandon to prove himself rather Orton or Cutler prove themselves without him .
    Brandon before Orton came along last year had never caught more than 7 td passes in a season and last year with Orton he caught 10 .
    Cutler in 2008 targeted Brandon Marshall 184 times and he caught 104 balls
    Orton in 2009 targeted Brandon 154 times and he caught 101 balls
    There are quite a few receivers in this league that if we boosted there targets to a 150+ would catch a 100 balls .
    Its amazing because last year this time many of you were questioning whether or not Brandon could get his numbers because Orton was the QB so I wonder what will be said in a few weeks when Marshalls numbers are down .

  13. # raidersteve413 says: September 7, 2010 9:45 AM
    Once again the little sissy boy florio wil not say a word about the raiders. All media wil not say anything positive about the future NFL champs.
    I cant wait to see what PFT,ESPN,NFL NET,ECT do when raiders dominate. How can they spin it this time?
    Can’t wait for that Lions/Raiders playoff game. Joke. At least I’m realistic about my team.

  14. Mike, I had to register on this site just to point something out…
    You said “Then there’s the fact that the Mike Martz passing attack is premised on quick drops and lightning-fast reads, which typically don’t require the quarterback to have as much time as needed in offenses based on five-step and seven-step drops from the quarterback.”
    You do realize that this statement alone can ruin your credibility enough to where it’s actually smart not to value too much of anything else you’re saying about anything football related right? The whole premise of the Martz offense is the 7 step drop. It’s to allow for the receivers in his offense to run the routes necessary to take advantage of team blitzing and pressuring the QB. Jay Cutler has spent the whole offseason and training camp taking 5 and 7 step drops in learning the Martz offense and it’s part of the reason he’s been sacked 10 times in the preseason. I know the fact that the Bears hired Martz with the state of their O-line is ridiculous in itself but come on dude you should know better.

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