AFC East: Kurt Warner
- The New York Jets got a visit from West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin.
- Former Pro Bowl quarterback Kurt Warner still wonders about Spygate and the New England Patriots.
- Will the Miami Dolphins find a star in this draft?
- The Buffalo Bills hosted University of Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson at the team’s headquarters.
But which team provides the best landing spot for Manning? If healthy, the future Hall of Famer will make any team a playoff contender.
If Manning moves to the AFC East, there are two teams in need of a franchise quarterback. The Miami Dolphins want to upgrade from Matt Moore and have made it no secret they'd love to add Manning. The New York Jets say third-year quarterback Mark Sanchez is their starter. But there are reports that some in the organization want Manning instead. Both AFC East teams have solid defenses that would support Manning.
It seems nearly the entire NFC West could be in the Manning sweepstakes. Would Manning be a great fit there? There’s been a lot of chatter, with the Arizona Cardinals making a pitch. Kevin Kolb is a bust, and receiver Larry Fitzgerald hasn't had a good quarterback since Kurt Warner. The San Francisco 49ers, with their stout defense and running game, would be a Super Bowl favorite by adding Manning. The Seattle Seahawks also could have interest, but we ran out of teams we could list.
Finally, what about the Washington Redskins? Owner Daniel Snyder always is looking for the next big thing. The Redskins have been a mess for a long time. Even veteran coach Mike Shanahan hasn't been able to clean it up. Would Manning be the answer in Washington?
Using our SportsNation poll, vote on which team provides the best landing spot for Manning. You can also share your thoughts in the comment section below.
The rundown of AFC East residents so far:
- 61. Brandon Marshall, Dolphins receiver
- 62. Jerod Mayo, Patriots inside linebacker
- 63. Cameron Wake, Dolphins outside linebacker
- 76. Santonio Holmes, Jets receiver
- 79. D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Jets tackle
The NFL Network's list is based on ballots submitted by NFL players.
Eighteen receivers are in the top 100. Eleven receivers rank ahead of Marshall.
"The guy can do everything," Kurt Warner said on the review show. "I'm hard pressed to find 11 guys at that position that are better than him."
Added fellow analyst Warren Sapp: "I think that might have a little something to do with his quarterback [Chad Henne] that was throwing him the ball. Normally when you have a good combination, they both rise. When you have a bad combination, somebody has to suffer. Brandon suffered."
Mayo is the first of five New England Patriots on the list of 100. Quarterback Tom Brady probably will be No. 1. Nose tackle Vince Wilfork also will pop up at some point. Who will be the other Patriots? Left guard Logan Mankins and slot receiver Wes Welker are safe bets, but rookie cornerback Devin McCourty started in the Pro Bowl.
Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Richard Seymour was No. 66. The Patriots dealt Seymour two years ago for a first-round draft choice that brought Colorado tackle Nate Solder last month.
Then again, Donahoe used to say a lot of things.
I was reminded of this when taking a glance at players who will make their first appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot for 2012.
Buffalo News reporter Mark Gaughan, who's on the Hall of Fame selection committee and last weekend was elected president of the Pro Football Writers Association, blogged the top newcomers to consider the next few years.
Perhaps that development was fitting for Martin because his coach with the New England Patriots and New York Jets will be on the ballot again. They could get in together in 2012.
Bill Parcells has been a finalist twice, but not since 2002 because rules for coaches changed. They now must wait five years from their last game to be eligible for induction, and Parcells returned to the sidelines with the Dallas Cowboys in 2003.
Is Parcells a Hall of Famer? I know Miami Dolphins fans aren't too thrilled with him these days, but he did add to an already remarkable legacy -- two championships, different teams to the Super Bowl, a few organizational turnarounds -- by guiding the Dolphins from 1-15 to the AFC East title as their football operations boss.
Also on the ballot next year will be Bledsoe, running backs Corey Dillon and Tiki Barber, fullback Mike Alstott, guard Will Shields and coaches Bill Cowher and Marty Schottenheimer.
Bledsoe had a fine career with the Patriots, Bills and Cowboys and ranks eighth all-time in passing yards. But he was a Pro Bowler only four times and never was first-team All-Pro. Bledsoe was helpful in getting the Patriots their first championship, so he does have a ring. But that was Tom Brady's team.
Dillon also was a four-time Pro Bowler and won a Super Bowl with the Patriots. He ranks 17th in rushing yards and never led the league in a major rushing category.
Schottenheimer played for the Bills and Patriots before winning 61 percent of his regular-season games as head coach of the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers. His 200 victories rank sixth all-time, but his 5-23 playoff record will hurt.
That group of first-time candidates -- plus the newcomers for 2013 -- bodes well for Reed. There won't be any new receivers for him to box out. He already has jockeyed ahead of contemporaries Cris Carter and Tim Brown by making the cut from 15 to 10 in the selection process the past two years. Carter and Brown haven't.
Gaughan highlighted first-year players for next few classes.
2013: Quarterback Vinny Testaverde, offensive linemen Larry Allen and Jonathan Ogden, defensive tackle Warren Sapp, defensive end Michael Strahan.
2014: Running back Shaun Alexander, receiver Marvin Harrison, linebacker Derrick Brooks, safety Rodney Harrison and coaches Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden and Mike Holmgren -- if they don't return to sideline work.
2015: Quarterback Kurt Warner, receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, tackles Orlando Pace and Walter Jones and linebacker Junior Seau.
What made Sunday's announcement newsworthy was how completely obvious Brady was the top candidate. Brady is the first unanimous selection for MVP under the Associated Press' current selection process.
Brady received all 50 votes from AP's panel of media who cover the league. He also was a unanimous All-Pro selection and won the AP's offensive player of the year award on Tuesday.
Brady came one vote short of being a unanimous MVP choice in 2007, with the dissenting vote going to Brett Favre. Brady is the eighth player to take MVP honors multiple times, joining Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, Steve Young, Favre, Kurt Warner and Peyton Manning.
Law gave extra emphasis to the Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers matchup because he and Revis graduated from Aliquippa High, which is about 25 miles from Pittsburgh.
Law recommended the Jets place Ravis on Steelers speed-burner Mike Wallace to eliminate the possibility of a game-breaking play.
"He can hit you for 65, 70 yards and the total dynamic of the game has changed," Law said. "I would put Darrelle to neutralize that because I think Antonio Cromartie can handle Hines Ward and anybody else that they put out there. You have to take care of Mike Wallace for the big play."
Not surprisingly, Law predicts the Jets will win Sunday at Heinz Field. In case you were wondering, Law did not grow up a Steelers fan. He was a Dallas Cowboys fan because Tony Dorsett also is from near Aliquippa.
Cold, Hard Football Facts kingpin Kerry J. Byrne rolls out all the statistical data from the 20 quarterbacks who've played in more than one Super Bowl and ranks them purely on how they performed on the biggest stage.
Reputation doesn't matter one iota. That's why Jim Plunkett is slotted waaaaaaaaaaay ahead of John Elway.
Byrne breaks them down into four categories -- Legends, Champions, Cling-ons and Gimps -- and backs up the ranking, complete with a spreadsheet that lists all of their stats.
1. Joe Montana
2. Terry Bradshaw
3. Jim Plunkett
4. Troy Aikman
5. Bart Starr
6. Tom Brady
7. Brett Favre
8. Roger Staubach
9. Kurt Warner
10. Len Dawson
11. Peyton Manning
12. Bob Griese
13. Ben Roethlisberger
14. John Elway
15. Joe Theismann
16. Jim Kelly
17. Fran Tarkenton
18. John Unitas
19. Earl Morrall
20. Craig Morton
AFC East clubs have been involved in many unforgettable moments, and in attempting to put together a list, the heartbreakers seemed more distinguished than the triumphs. Rather than combine them, I've decided to break down the five best plays and the five worst.
Think I missed one or disagree with the way I ranked them? Add your suggestions in the comments section below.
1. Vinatieri's field goal clinches Patriots' first title: With broadcaster John Madden advising the New England Patriots to kneel out the clock and go to overtime, Tom Brady orchestrates a drive against the St. Louis Rams that lays the foundation for a Hall of Fame career. Adam Vinatieri kicked a 48-yard field goal as time expired to win Super Bowl XXXVI.
3. Law's interception: In the second quarter and with the favored Rams ahead 3-0, Law made a statement when he intercepted a Kurt Warner pass and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown. The Patriots went on to score 17 straight points. The Rams never led again, and the Patriots launched a mini-dynasty.
4. Walker's kickoff return TD: In a game full of big plays, Fulton Walker returned the first kickoff for a touchdown in Super Bowl history. Walker went 98 yards to give the Miami Dolphins a 17-10 halftime lead, but the Washington Redskins scored 17 points in the second half to win.
5. Maynard's incomplete bomb: Speedy receiver Don Maynard was a significant contributor to the New York Jets' championship team, but he was shut out in Super Bowl III. "I didn't catch a single pass," Maynard recently told the Bergen Record, "but I really had a great game." With no score, Maynard raced behind the Baltimore Colts secondary for what should have been a long touchdown. Joe Namath barely overthrew him, but the play spooked the Colts enough to double- and triple-team Maynard the rest of the game, leaving George Sauer free to catch eight passes for 133 yards.
1. Wide right: So many fates swung on Scott Norwood's right hip socket when he attempted a 47-yard field goal that would've beaten the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXV. Norwood's kick sailed wide ride, spoiling what would turn out to be the Bills' best shot to win any of their four straight Super Bowls. The kick also propelled Bill Parcells to legend.
3. Riggins' run: Redskins locomotive John Riggins made an iconic run in Super Bowl XVII that still symbolizes power football at its finest. On a fourth-and-1 play in the fourth quarter, Riggins ran off left tackle and steamrolled Dolphins cornerback Don McNeal on his way to a 43-yard touchdown to give the Redskins their first lead.
4. Howard's 99-yard return: Desmond Howard sealed a victory for the Green Bay Packers when he returned a kickoff 99 yards in the fourth quarter against the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. Howard was awarded the MVP for rolling up 244 return yards.
5. Yepremian's blunder: The Dolphins were trying to achieve perfection in 1972 and seemed to have everything under control against the Redskins in Super Bowl VII. The Dolphins were ahead 14-0 with about two minutes left, when Garo Yepremian lined up for a 51-yard field goal. The kick was blocked and ricocheted to Yepremian, who comically tried to pass. The ball rolled off his hand and was bobbled. Mike Bass snatched it out of the air and ran 49 yards for a touchdown.
Brady's atrocious four-giveaway performance in Saturday's playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens and Manning's fourth MVP award might temper the discussion for the time being. Brady still holds the edge with three Super Bowl rings, for those who consider that the most important stat.
But Football Outsiders broaches another either-or question that suggests a second quarterback be considered Brady's superior:
You need to be an ESPN Insider to read Bill Barnwell's article that compares career playoff numbers for Brady and Warner and the results are pretty clear-cut.
Warner owns a better completion percentage, averages 2.1 yards more per attempt, has more touchdowns and has fewer interceptions.
Barnwell points out Brady's 14-4 postseason record is better than Warner's 9-3 and that Brady plays outdoors, while Warner spent most of his career under domes. Then again, Brady's reputation was cemented as a clutch quarterback for orchestrating late game-winning drives in Super Bowls that were played in domes.
Barnwell presents a reasoned analysis and comes away with this conclusion: "Kurt Warner has been the better playoff quarterback, and it's hard to see how there's a debate that doesn't involve mythology and the media."
|Rich Kane/US Presswire|
|Protecting quarterback Tom Brady needs to be a priority for the Patriots in 2009.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Steve DeOssie is neither a hater nor a homer when it comes to the New England Patriots.
The linebacker-turned-sportscaster is aggravated easily by contrarians, those in the local media who "make [expletive] up to find something wrong" simply because the Patriots "have been so good for so long."
Yes, DeOssie grew up in Boston, played a couple years for the Patriots and now makes a couple bucks talking about them.
But that doesn't mean he'll shill for the Patriots either.
"People say, 'You always say nothing but good things about the Patriots.' Well, you know what? This team's had the best record in football for the last eight years," DeOssie said. "You call it as you see it.
|Broadcaster Steve DeOssie played 12 seasons in the NFL.|
"If not, I'd have too many people beating down my door to call me an idiot, and I would be off the air for five minutes and get a call from my dad to ask, 'What the hell are you talking about?'"
So when DeOssie perceives a critical issue that could reduce the Patriots' chances of returning to dominance, it's probably a good idea to listen.
DeOssie has identified the chief area of concern for 2009, and it might surprise you. The problem isn't outside linebacker or cornerback or nose tackle Vince Wilfork's contract.
It's all about protecting Tom Brady. Their quarterback's left knee was sewn together in two places, and regardless of how far ahead he is in his recovery, he could be one thwack away from crutches.
"The offensive line's going to be under the gun," said DeOssie, a 12-year veteran who won Super Bowl XXV with the New York Giants. "The offensive line becomes more important this year than in any year that I can remember.
"Defenses like to smell blood. If they think that there's a little weakness there, they're going to be coming after Brady."
None of them, however, was selected for Honolulu last year -- not after the Patriots surrendered 48 sacks. Only four teams allowed more. The Patriots gave up 21 sacks a year earlier.
"Granted, [Matt] Cassel held onto the ball longer than Brady, but you can't allow Brady to be touched," DeOssie said. "You don't want to come close to letting that risk happen."
The draft is complete. Now it's time to recruit.
Over the next several hours, teams will burn the phone lines in an attempt to land the best rookies who went undrafted. Each year, undrafted players emerge as valuable contributors and sometimes evolve into stars.
Bart Scott, Jason Peters, James Harrison, Kurt Warner, Antonio Gates ... The list goes on.
Each team has a sales pitch ready to go, but the most attractive situation in the NFL might be in Florham Park, N.J., home of the New York Jets.
"We truly are the land of opportunity for free agents this year with only three picks," Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said. "So we are going to be very, very aggressive through the evening here signing free agents.
"Anybody out there listening, there's great opportunities."
The Jets drafted only three players. They exited the weekend with as many players as they had going into it because they included quarterback Brett Ratliff, defensive end Kenyon Coleman and safety Abram Elam in the package that brought Southern California quarterback Mark Sanchez.
"Realistically, we can sell the facts," Jets head coach Rex Ryan said. "The facts are we drafted three players, and we had to give up three players. So I think we can do the math and figure out that there are some definite opportunities to make this football team."
New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum was coy on the subject of acquiring a new quarterback, but he and owner Woody Johnson conveyed optimism in a Wednesday afternoon conference call that Brett Favre's replacement already is on their roster.
|Al Pereira/Getty Images|
|Kellen Clemens is considered a candidate to replace Brett Favre.|
"We do feel good about the players we have," said Tannenbaum, who traded for Favre and then released veteran Chad Pennington to make room in August. "If the opportunity presents itself [in free agency], we'll measure it carefully and do whatever's best for the Jets."
Said Johnson: "We've got three quarterbacks on the roster, and we feel pretty good with competition among those guys we'll end up with a pretty good quarterback."
Favre's decision will clear precious salary-cap space for the Jets, who were over and needed to trim by the end of the month to be in compliance with league rules. Clemens, Ratliff and Ainge aren't expensive, and the Jets might be content to move forward without spending for a free agent.
The draft is another avenue the Jets could explore. They own the 17th overall selection. Top-rated prospect Matthew Stafford of Georgia will be long gone by then. Southern California's Mark Sanchez likely will be off the board, too. But strong-armed Kansas State passer Josh Freeman should be there.
"If and when we do add another quarterback, those situations will present themselves when they come up," Tannenbaum said. "We like what we have on the team. We will try to improve what we have on the team at every position, but we're going to move forward with those three quarterbacks on the roster."
Here is a breakdown of the Jets' QB depth chart:
- Clemens was drafted out of Oregon with the 49th overall selection in 2006. He started eight games in 2007, taking over when Chad Pennington got hurt and then becoming Eric Mangini's quarterback of preference -- but with trepidation. Clemens completed 52 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He had a 60.9 passer rating.
- Ratliff wasn't drafted out of Utah. He spent 2007 on the practice squad. While Clemens struggled and it became evident the Jets didn't want Pennington to win the job in training camp, Ratliff stood out. He outplayed Clemens. It would have been interesting to see who would have emerged in a battle between the two.
- Ainge, a fifth-round draft pick from Tennessee, had a difficult rookie campaign. Favre's arrival marginalized him. A foot injury sent Ainge to injured reserve. In November, he was suspended four games for violating the league policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Don in Rye, N.H., writes: After the pre-season games .The fan and sports casters would have cut Cassel and made O'connell the Brady back up. .However BB went with Cassel when Brady went down. Why not trade Cassel and get some picks and use O'connell as the back up. He played better than Cassel in the PRE. Nobdy these days even mentions O'connell .Why did they draft him if not to use him.
Tim Graham: You bring up an interesting point that really hasn't been explored in regard to Kevin O'Connell. If Tom Brady's patched up left knee is sturdy enough, the Patriots probably will try to trade Matt Cassel. But we don't really know much about O'Connell's development after one season on the sidelines. The Patriots liked him enough to use a third-round draft choice on him, but that doesn't necessarily mean they think he's ready to take over the team if Brady's not ready.
Stevie in Indianapolis writes: Some of these questions are completely ridiculous, I feel for Tim Graham having to answer some of them. Mike Shanahan as O-coordinator in NE? Rodney Harrison and Tedi Bruschi in the HOF? Terrell Suggs going to the Jets? A Bills fan thinking that Robert Royal is the answer at TE? Ron Meeks on Dick Jauron's staff? Torry Holt, his 32 year old body, declining skills, and his $10 million contract to Buffalo? Dwayne in Ohio...you personally think the Dolphins should dump one of their starting tackles? Who would replace him? You? Their O-line played phenomenal this year (especially taking last year into account). The O-line averaged less than 2 sacks a game given up. Pretty good stuff. Here's a question for Mr. Graham. Will their be any changes to the Patriots O-line this year? They gave up the 5th most sacks this year. Is this a result of personnel or missing Tom Brady's quick release and pocket presence?
Tim Graham: Thanks for feeling my pain from last week's mailbag, Stevie.
Nobody can be sure what the Patriots plan to do because their front office guards information so well. They're also in transition. Offseason strategies probably still are being formulated with Scott Pioli's departure and Floyd Reese's arrival.
But you raise a valid point about the offensive line because there are multiple ways to buy insurance for Brady. The most talked-about method is bringing back Cassel, but shoring up the right side of the line would be a wise investment.
Rob in Palm Coast, Fla., writes: Hey Tim, my question is one more out of sentimentality, but I was wondering. What are the possibilities of Zach Thomas ending his career where he started it. I do realise the Dolphins are pretty heavy at linebacker and have a lot of money tied up there as well. But, he would make a solid backup.
Tim Graham: Bringing back Zach Thomas would be counterproductive. The Dolphins are building from a new foundation, and they already decided a year ago when they cut Thomas that he wasn't what they were looking for at linebacker. Now he's a year older. Not a good fit.
Dale in Buffalo writes: Seems to be a lot of talk about future HOF Patriots. How about some former Bills players. Do you think Reed will ever get in and does he deserve it? How about Cornelius Bennett? He was a five time pro bowl selection. Two time AFC Defensive player of the year. He played in five Super Bowls and when he retired he had the third most fumble recoveries in NFL history. All this along with nearly 1,200 tackles and 71 sacks. HOF worthy?
Tim Graham: Andre Reed will be inducted, but not this year. He deserves to get in. Cornelius Bennett won't be a Hall of Famer. You listed some impressive nuggets from Bennett's career. He was a very good player, but not elite. It can be argued he was the sixth- or seventh-best player on those Super Bowl teams. That many Bills won't get into Canton.
Mauricio from Mexico City writes: Hi Tim i love your blog, my comment is about Bruschi being a hall of famer. Why to some positions lets say like qbs, its a important matter in order to reach a hall of famer status, how many super bowls you won? If Ben R or eli keep averaging the same stats every season as they do know in my book they are not hall of famer but 2 more super bowl wins i am sure will make them hall of famers. My point is while pro bowl its a important category in reaching greatness (overrated its a popularity contest) i think the super bowl should to... and here is where bruschi is a machine he has been to 5 super bowls i bet not many players have do that, he won 3, he have been to 6 AFC championships games that is awsome if you thin about that he have a nice career. your thoughts?
Tim Graham: My thoughts are that Tedy Bruschi has enjoyed a very nice career, but he's not a Hall of Famer. This isn't a perfect comparison, but since you brought up Super Bowls ... Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end L.C. Greenwood won four of them and started in six AFC Championship Games. He went to six Pro Bowls. He was an All-Pro twice. He's not in the Hall of Fame, and his credentials blow Bruschi's away. Maybe a better comparison is Ken Norton. He was a linebacker who won three straight Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers, was a three-time Pro Bowler and a one-time All Pro. There's no campaign to get Norton into the Hall of Fame.
Alex from Pennsylvania writes: Hi Tim. I'M BACK! Hehehe...never stopped reading , only posting. Now ya got me doin that again. Anyway: You get to pick if the Dolphins go with a top notch WR or a top notch need on D at #25. Who do you go with first(disregarding FA's)? Peace.
Tim Graham: Always good to hear from you, Alex. I'd go after the best inside linebacker available. Some good ones still should be available at No. 25. Channing Crowder was serviceable when it came to making tackles, but he wasn't a difference-maker. Players such as Patrick Willis, Jerod Mayo and Jon Beason have proved young linebackers can make a major impact.
STI in Danbury, Conn., writes: Tim--there seems to be some sort of disconnect between your point of view and Reese's and Lombardi's. After all, if they're claiming Cassel will get the Patriots a "high first," then that means he has to be traded *before* the draft, while you're saying they won't be able to. Have you talked to them about this? Personally, I think the bigger question is whether or not O'Connell's ready--after all, the Pats were willing to have Cassel as Brady's only backup in 2006. Also, on a minor note from your recent chat, Morten Anders
en isn't eligible for the HOF yet--he just retired in December--so his not being there says nothing about Vinatieri's chances.
Tim Graham: Thanks for reading so closely, STI. In the original story for which I interviewed Michael Lombardi and Floyd Reese about how a Cassel trade could go down, Reese explained the Patriots would be at no disadvantage waiting until training camp to make a deal.
Here is Reese's response to my question about the Patriots waiting until late summer to pull the trigger:
It's definitely a seller's market. A team like New England can sit back and bide their time.
If you take the actual number of franchise quarterbacks in the NFL, there's maybe 15. Who's Detroit's starting quarterback? You can go down a long list. All of those teams would be in the bidding.
You don't have to be in a hurry. There's always teams out there in need of a quarterback, teams who'll think "We don't like this guy. We can't win with him."
As for Morten Andersen not being eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame yet, you're absolutely correct in noting that fact, which I failed to do. The point I was trying to make, however, is that in the 90-year history of the NFL, only one pure kicker or punter is in Canton.
It's difficult to imagine a kicker floodgate opening for Adam Vinatieri. Andersen -- and Gary Anderson -- will get in before Vinatieri. Not only might that take several years, especially when they're competing with a mounting backlog of worthy position players each year, but it might not ever happen. Kickers simply haven't been valued by the Board of Selectors. There will need to be a significant philosophical shift.
John in Garner, N.C., writes: One thing I do not believe Joe Namath gets enough credit for is that he called the plays. He guarenteed victory yet saw that Baltimore could not stop Matt Snell. How many would have tried to win the game themselves? Agree or disagree?
Tim Graham: I'm sure you're responding to my ranking of the six Super Bowl MVPs from the AFC East (although I bent the definitions a little to include the Jets' landmark victory even though they still were in the AFL). I do agree with you that Namath deserves credit for running the offense in a restrained and highly efficient manner. But Snell was the best player on the field in Super Bowl III.
Mr. Anonymous from Birmingham, Ala., writes: After the whole fiasco with Mcnabb this season, and how he didn't know about a tie situation, I found myself wondering about overtime and a tie situation in the playoffs. Could you shed some light on this? And thanks for the great blog you always write. Go Pats!
Tim Graham: From the NFL rule book ...
Following a three-minute intermission after the end of the regulation game, play will be continued in 15-minute periods or until there is a score. There is a two-minute intermission between subsequent periods. The teams change goals at the start of each period. Each team has three timeouts, and all general timing provisions apply as during a regular game. Disqualified players are not allowed to return.
Stephen from Nashville writes: What Will the Patriots do with the running back situation? Will they draft another back or go into free agency .
Tim Graham: The Patriots don't need to stress about it. They have done a fine job establishing the concept of running backs as interchangeable parts. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, an undrafted rookie who was cut before the season and came off the practice squad, can run for 100 yards. But to answer your question, the Patriots probably will look to the draft and free agency. They're wily that way.
Algonquin from Parts Unknown writes: How many NFL quarterbacks have taken 2 different teams to the Super Bowl?
Tim Graham: Kurt Warner is the third quarterback to lead two franchises to the Super Bowl, joining Craig Morton (Cowboys, Broncos) and Earl Morrall (Colts, Dolphins). But Morton was the first to start both Super Bowls. Bob Griese came back from injury in time to start Super Bowl VII in place of Morrall.
Mack from Waverly writes: Hey Tim I have a couple of questions regarding the patriots defense. Alot of people are counting on the pats to draft a corner high or get one in free agency. I really felt like the defense improved down the stretch after Jonathan Wiilhite was injected into the starting lineup. Do you think he might be the answer at corner? Also do you think the pats might ask Junior Seau back for depth since he has bailed them out for three straight years?
Tim Graham: I'm with you on Jonathan Wilhite. I thought he played well opposite Ellis Hobbs late in the season and may have convinced the Patriots they're OK at cornerback for next year. Junior Seau was an emergency replacement late in the season. He won't be back in 2009 unless disaster strikes -- repeatedly.
Brian in Fort Myers, Fla., writes: I do not see Buffalo taking the TE from OSU, he is unpolished and has too many off the field issues in his past. I actually think he could be a bust and we need help at DE and LB, who do you see the Bills looking at with their first two picks. Thanks--Go Bills!
Tim Graham: You're correct that defensive end and linebacker are needs. The Bills also need a center, but that's not a position you take in the top third of the first round unless he's elite, and there are no elite centers in this year's draft class. That said, Bills fans should be happy if Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew is the pick.
Matthew in Wichita, Kan., writes: There Rumor going on net that Pats hired Romo back to staff. That Pats going after Free agents in nfl as well look at draft because of Jared Mayo.And look at May talking Ray Lewis.
Tim Graham: See what I deal with here? I get about 47 questions like this in my chat every week and another dozen in my mailbag.
Mr. Anonymous in Phoenix writes: tim, i seem to be the only bills fan that doesn't blame dick jauron for yet another losing season (bills seem to have a history of it). do you think he can get the bills to 9 wins or should i wait until the team is sold to another town to see a winning season.
Tim Graham: I've written in my chats and mailbags before I think Jauron is a satisfactory coach. Buffalo's problems are systemic, not coach-oriented. When the Bills decided to retain Jauron and make few front-office changes, Bills fans must hope they've at least decided to adopt a new philosophy on spending money and obtaining players.
The free-agency period hasn't begun yet, so it's too early to tell for sure, but fact the Bills went hard after CFL sackmaster Cameron Wake -- they lost out to the Dolphins -- could indicate they'll be active in pursuing free agents.
Josh in Norfolk, Va., writes: Mr. Graham -- do you think the Phins will pursue Julius Peppers?
Tim Graham: It wouldn't appear the Dolphins would be hot for Peppers, whose agent recently announced the Carolina Panthers defensive end would like to play linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. The Dolphins already have Joey Porter, and last week they spent a healthy chunk (by CFL standards) on Wake. They also gave an exorbitant sum to Charlie Anderson last year.
Doug in Memphis, Tenn., writes: Kurt Warner will QB a second team in the Super Bowl. How many other QB's have done that?
Tim Graham: Kurt Warner is the third quarterback to lead two franchises to the Super Bowl, joining Craig Morton (Cowboys, Broncos) and Earl Morrall (Colts, Dolphins). But Morton was the first to start both Super Bowls. Bob Griese came back from injury in time to start Super Bowl VII in place of Morrall.
George in Wilmington, Del., writes: The last time the Jets drafted an offensive weapon in the 1st round was in 2001 (Santana Moss) and before that it was Keyshawn. Do you think this has contributed to gang greens woes? Was sticking with Tannenbaum over Mangini (or sticking with him at all) a bad choice? Is there a roadmap for the Jets to make a play-off run next season? I am not looking forward to another 5 or more years of having my heart broken.
Tim Graham: Great football teams are about the organization, the culture, the system. Mike Tannenbaum has made more moves that contribute to establishing a winner than he has made mistakes.
The Rex Ryan hire was a great one, even though he is another in a line of defensive-minded coaches. That's where their affinity for taking defensive players in the first round stems from.
Ryan will establish his tone and begin to weed out the players who don't fit his mind-set while adding players who do. But the Jets aren't in need of a major overhaul. They won nine games last year and have talent on the roster. If the Dolphins can go from one victory to 11 in one year's time, then the Jets certainly can make the playoffs next year.
Mark in Danville writes: With McCoy and Bradford electing to return to school does that increase the potential trade value for Matt Cassel should the Pats look to move him before the draft?
Tim Graham: Fewer available prospects will affect Cassel's value somewhat. It's about supply and demand. But the Patriots won't be able to trade Cassel before the draft because they won't know enough about Tom Brady's rebuilt left knee by then. The primary reason they'll franchise Cassel is to provide insurance in case Brady's not ready.
TK in Brooklyn, N.Y., writes: Hey Tim, this seems like a no brainer to me, but is there any chance the Bills go after former Colts defensive cooridinator Ron Meeks? Buffalo runs that Tampa 2 defense he ran under Dungy, and he would be a great help in improving their defense; plus he knows how to defend Brady and the Patriots. The Bills would be foolish not to try and get this guy on their staff in some capacity or another. Please tell me this is going to happen.