Week 15 mailbag

Well, the Saturday night routine finally got me.  After 14 weeks of posting the mailbag before falling asleep at the PFT wheel, I passed out before pressing “publish.”

But fear not, PFT Planet.  We asked for your questions, and we’ve answered, well, some of them in this week’s edition of the PFT mailbag.

Of course, many of you never would have even noticed if we hadn’t posted it at all.   Is it against NFL rules for players to stand in a line on the sidelines in an area that is designated for non-participating players? If not, then why the heck does this part of the Sal Alosi story still have life?  The only thing that should be discussed are the actions of Alosi.  He’s been suspended by the Jets and may be fired.  Jeffrey L.

It’s against the rules to have non-participating players stand on the edge of the white stripe, but the rules had not been enforced.  On Friday, the league issued a reminder in this regard to teams and, more importantly, the officials who hadn’t been enforcing these rules.

Though multiple teams apparently had been moving players (and non-players) toward the sideline to impede the opponents’ gunners during punts without intentionally making contact with an opposing player, this tactic created the opportunity for the kind of wrongdoing we saw last week.

Moving forward, teams will move the players back, avoiding the circumstances in which a player (or an assistant coach) can pay homage to Woody Hayes.  If they don’t, hopefully the officials will make them do it, in 15-yard increments if necessary.

I was wondering why some offensive coordinators stay in the box during games and others stay on the sidelines?  Is it a matter of offensive scheme?  That it’s simply that some see the field better from up high? Is it a coaching thing? Shelley O.

It’s strictly a matter of preference.  Some coordinators want to be able to see the whole field from an elevated position, so that the opposing defense can best be studied.  Others prefer to be at field level to communicate directly with the players and better assess the “feel” of the game.

I am convinced Mark Sanchez has not learned how to play in cold weather.  Do you feel his late-season struggles are due to his upbringing in Southern California and lack of cold weather experience?  If so, do you believe the Jets made a big mistake in not accounting for cold-weather experience when evaluating him as a prospect?  Phil E.

When Sanchez and the Jets beat the Bengals in back-to-back weekends late last year, many assumed that Sanchez had made the transition to cold-weather quarterback.  We think the jury is still out.

Whether it’s the weather or something else, Sanchez has been ordinary at times.  This year, there’s no denying that his cooling off has coincided with the weather.

We can assume the Jets took Sanchez’s lack of cold-weather experience into account when drafting him, primarily since teams take everything into account when using a first-round draft pick.  Then again, there’s another California quarterback who has weathered the weather fairly well in his career, to the tune of three Super Bowl wins in four seasons.

Brett Farve has a current two year contract, with the labor deal not close, would it benefit Farve to delay announcing retirement until he is sure there is going to be a season in 2011-12?  Barry W.

Actually, Favre will be a free agent after the 2010 season.  Even if his contract weren’t expiring, announcing retirement is no impediment to playing.

As we’ve seen multiple times.

From Favre.

Who are some of the bigger free agents coming available this year? Randy C.

There will be many, given that a lot of the players who would have been unrestricted free agents in 2010 were restricted free agents under the rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Assuming that the threshold of unrestricted free agency moves from six years back to four (or even five), those players will be hitting the market in 2011.

The bigger question is when they will be free agents.  Until the labor situation is resolved, the 2011 league year most likely will not begin, which will keep free agency from commencing.  In the end, there’s a chance that there will be a tight window between the launch of free agency and the opening of training camp.

The biggest names to watch are Peyton Manning and Mike Vick, but they surely will be restricted by the franchise tag.  Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson and Patriots lineman Logan Mankins will hit the market as well, if not franchised.

Assume the Jets and Dolphins enter Week 17 tied for the last playoff spot. Miami goes to New England.  Don’t you think that if this is the case Patriots coach Belicheck would rest 100% of his starters to do everything in his power to make sure that the Jets are not in the playoffs?  Shaun, Florida.

At this point, the Patriots haven’t clinched home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs; obviously, if they haven’t by Week 17, they’ll play their starters.

If the Patriots have clinched, the question of whether they’ll rest their starters likely won’t be influenced by the question of whether losing to the Dolphins would knock out the Jets.  Regardless of how it all shakes out, the Patriots will need to beat two AFC teams in order to get back to the Super Bowl.  Our guess is that they’d be more concerned about teams like the Ravens and Chargers than the Jets.

Besides, given the outcome of the Pats last game against the Jets, why would New England not want New York in the playoff field?

If the NFL is so concerned about illegal hits, why aren’t they pressuring the collegiate level and even high school to either make these types of hits illegal, or simply flagging them when they occur?  If you start changing the way players hit early, they won’t do it later.  Josh, Kentucky

The league definitely is assuming a leadership role when it comes to the issue of head injuries at the lower levels of the sport.  This surely will include helping the coaches and officials understand the dangers of helmet-to-helmet hits against defenseless players, and encouraging the use of better techniques — and discouraging the glorification of “kill shots.”

Though “pressuring” could be too strong of a word, the league has tried to reduce concussions and encourage proper safety procedures by, for example, lobbying state legislatures to pass laws regarding the presence of trainers and/or doctors at youth athletic events and the prevention of players from returning to action after suffering concussions, unless and until they have been medically cleared.

I’m not a fan of the current bye system as I think the teams with a bye late in the year have an advantage, especially since now division matchups are being scheduled at the end of the year.   Why not have a league intermission after Week Eight, then all teams have a bye, so everyone gets equal rest?  Ben H.

Let’s be frank about this.  The bye was introduced not to give teams rest but to give the NFL an extra weekend of games to televise.  Suddenly, a 16-week season became a 17-week season; the incidental benefit was “rest.”  (For at least one year in the early 1990s, each team had two byes, expanding the season to 18 weeks without adding a single game.)

Currently, all byes conclude by Week 10, which ensures a full slate of games every weekend through the end of the year.

If/when the regular season expands to 18 games, look for every team to have a bye on Labor Day Weekend, with no preseason games and limited practices in the days preceding the first full week of the regular season.

Doesn’t the Patrick Ramsey signing put the icing on the cake of the Chilly era in Minnesota?  What’s next? Are we in full-fledged rebuilding mode, assuming we will have to trade away talent for a true starting quarterback?  Will, West Virginia.

Though we’re no fans of former Vikings coach Brad Childress, the presence of Patrick Ramsey on the roster has nothing to do with Childress, for the most part.

Whenever the top two quarterbacks on a depth chart have multi-week injuries, help is needed.  The later in the year that this happens, the more likely that pickings will be slim.

So with Brett Favre and Tarvaris Jackson injured, someone needed to be signed to back up rookie Joe Webb.

That said, we think the Vikings should have kept Sage Rosenfels, even if it meant carrying four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.  If they had, they finally would have had a chance to see what he can do.

Moving forward, the Vikings need help at the position.  There’s a chance, however, that Webb will develop into their quarterback of the future.  Much of this depends on whether the next head coach of the team is willing to give Webb that chance.

Will Rex Ryan be in any trouble if they do not make playoffs? He was a 9-7 coach last year and looks like he’s heading for the same this year!  Rob in Peoria, AZ.

In 2008, when the Jets collapsed from 8-3 to 9-7 and missed the playoffs, the thinking was that someone had to take the fall.  Coach Eric Mangini ended up being that someone.  As a result, some people now thing that, if the Jets collapse again, someone with a big title will be in big trouble.

The urgency to take action after the 2008 season flowed in part from the Jets’ efforts to sell Personal Seat Licenses to their new stadium.  With a disappointing outcome to the season, the Jets needed to do something that would instill hope for the coming year, and in turn sell those PSLs.

Though Rex Ryan’s act will wear thin if the Jets don’t become a truly elite team, it would be a shock if he’s fired based on a 9-7 finish, with or without a playoff berth.  Owner Woody Johnson loves Ryan, and Ryan has become the coach for whom every player wants to play.

For now, the guy on the hot seat is offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.  Next year, it could be G.M. Mike Tannebaum.  After that, Rex could be in trouble, assuming that they don’t punch through to the level of consistent AFC power in the next three years.

9 responses to “Week 15 mailbag

  1. Brady played at Michigan though…so he had to have some cold weather experience to evaluate him on.
    I doubt that even f the Pats happen to get a bye, BB will rest any healthy guys. I would expect that he plays the guys through the half into the third Q at least. The only time he was more cautious (though he still played the starters quite a bit)was in 05 when they couldn’t do anything to get a bye in wk 17 and Brady was more banged up than we knew with a pretty severe sports hernia among other things (as is usually the case with their injury reports).

  2. Forgot to add…they couldn’t do anything last year to improve their seeding either and they had no bye and they didn’t rest guys then either.

  3. What is your source for there being a franchise tag in the new CBA? Or even that there will be a CBA. All of that is pretty in spin right now.

  4. “Owner Woody Johnson loves Ryan, and Ryan has become the coach for whom every player wants to play.”

    Yes but after they lose out and are eliminated from the playoffs after months of trash talking from Ryaliar and the entire team about how they are THE SUPER BOWL TEAM and that nobody else stands a chance against them, the Jets fans and NYC press will have a total feeding fenzy.

    Ryaliar may not get fired, but if they fail to make the playoffs this year then he’ll be on the hot seat all next year. And if they fail again next year he’ll be gone.

    And will he still be the “coach that everyone wants to play for” after the miss the playoffs ? The fact is players would love to play for him because he’ll let them shoot their mouths off or make an ass out of themselves with out accountability. The inmates are half running that asylum now, and its only going to get worse.

    Jets will lose out and miss the playoffs. Ryan will be gone sometime during next season when they collapse back to the bottom feeders they’ve been for years.

  5. Brady did not grow up in Southern California and played four years at Michigan. Sanchez is from Southern California and played his college football there. Hard to compare the backgrounds of the two of them.

  6. He’s not talking about Brady, man you guys have short memories anyone remember a quarteback named Troy Aikman???? While he didn’t play his home games in the cold he dominated the skins, eagles , giants and well any other team in the league at the time.

  7. A win is bigger for the Eagles than the Giants because if the Eagles lose they are potentially out of the playoffs. All Tampa Bay would have to do is win the next three games against the Lions, Panthers, and Saints (who may rest players in the last game of the season). The Eagles lose the tie breaker to Tampa…the Giants win the Tie breaker against Tampa.

  8. xx4zu1 says:
    Dec 19, 2010 11:12 AM
    He’s not talking about Brady, man you guys have short memories anyone remember a quarteback named Troy Aikman???? While he didn’t play his home games in the cold he dominated the skins, eagles , giants and well any other team in the league at the time.
    = = = = =

    Also, Jim Plunkett, who played at Stanford, and for the Patriots, Niners, and Raiders. According to Wiki, the only two-start QB, Super Bowl winner not in the Hall of Fame.

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