Mailbag: On trips, Wii, Okwo, Garrard, London and more

May, 9, 2009
5/09/09
8:30
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Jeff in Jacksonville writes: paul do you plan to visit the AFC South teams for OTA's or any of there off-season practices. I see you have already performed one for the titans, I really hope you make it around to all of them especially the Jags, I want to get your opinion on derek cox. I honestly feel kind of bad for the guy, he is going to be the most scrutinized player on the team this year becuase of the jags giving up a 2nd round pick and is only a rookie.

Paul Kuharsky: The plan as of now is that I will visit each team, yes.

The Titans have scattered open OTAs so I'll see them here and there. I will be at Colts minicamp in early June, a few days of Jags OTAs in early June and the Texans minicamp in mid-June.

I look forward to watching and meeting Cox in Jacksonville.


Chris Kirk in Indianapolis, IN writes: First I gotta say I love our draft. We addressed the individual needs of run offense/defense while improving the physicality of our team as a whole. Brown's not a punisher but any yards on the ground are physical yards and at 6?2 207 Collie's got some size to go over the middle. Even that G/T we drafted out of Maryland has some size. The two tackles are going to step in at least eat some space and let us pay bigger up front. For running downs I can already see us moving Dawson out to an end like he played in college and then with the two Rookies and Freeney that makes it a bit harder to run. My two questions are: How much do you see the two rookies DTs playing this year? Do you think it'll be situational or you think they'll go straight into the trenches? And do you see Okwo competing for playing time? I remember hearing some good things about him coming out of college with the Bears but that was during a contract dispute with Lance Briggs so it may have been for leverage purposes. Do you have any insider knowledge on the guy's chances? It seems like he was an awful high pick to have been given up on so soon by the Bears so I wanted your thoughts.

Paul Kuharsky: I think a team has to expect its second-rounder to play more than a situational role pretty soon, especially if those at his position can't do the job super-effectively.

So I'd look for Moala to be in there early and often. The expectation is different for a middle rounder, and for Terrance Taylor it'll depend on how quickly he catches on and how the rest of the crew of DTs are doing.

Michael Okwo isn't a guy I've heard a lot about. I don't imagine they're picturing him as a front line guy, but who knows? They wouldn't be telling us if they think they've found a gem. The Colts defense is different than virtually anyone's, so we'll have to see if he's a guy who fits it well and how the rest of the group does.


Scott in Ottawa writes: Paul, I am intrigued by the Mitch King signing. This guy was an ultra-productive 4 year starter in a good program at Iowa. Everything I read about the guy suggests that he has a high motor and a passion for the game. He sounds to me like a Vanden Bosch or Ball clone. Your article only talks a about him as a defensive tackle, but what about his propsects to make the team as a defensive end who could also play tackle on passing downs?

Paul Kuharsky: Why move him? It's not like the Titans are thin at end this season, either -- not that he's in the competition outside, but he'd have to beat out a very good player just to be the fifth end and barring injury couldn't get any higher than that. Jim Washburn, but the way, is not interested in swing guys right now. He announced at the OTA practice I attended this week that his tackles are tackles and his ends are ends.


Peter in Nashville writes: Hey Paul, I just read your article on the new body types in Madden 10 for the Wii. While I agree with your basic idea about putting these body types in the minds of children, I think the nature of the Wii changes those perceptions. The Wii is the only gaming system that will have these body styles, and that is only because the Wii focuses on such charachters. The Wii is not the same kind of gaming system as the Xbox 360 or the Playstation 3. Those systems are strongly focused on tying to be as realistic as possible and creating a lifelike experience. The Wii is all about good fun. The difference in the body types of Barbie and the body types of the players on Wii Madden is expectations of the child. For Barbie, children see her as an icon and try to mimic their lives after hers. That is a problem. In Wii games, the children recognize that it is not intended to be realistic. Because of the child's ability to distinguish between the two, I do not think the new body types in Madden 10 for the Wii will be a problem. Thanks for your time. I love the blogs. Keep up the good work.

Matt in Huntsville writes: Just to comment on the body style debate on the Wii. The current generation of video game hardware has a very interesting gap. The Wii is significantly underpowered compared to the Playstation 3 and the XBox 360. So while the remarkable graphics on the latter systems are growing more lifelike, the comparisons between those versions and the Wii version could become heavily focused on the graphics, especially as the primary word of mouth tool is screenshots and video. One of the way's the "cheat" the lower polygon count (or complexity) that the Wii forced the designer to conform to is to stylize the graphics. Thus, while less realistic, the game can still be viewed in a positive manner. As there is also a higher resolution, more realistic version, the side by side comparisons are no longer possible thanks to the difference in graphical style. Love the blog and thanks to Google Reader I don't miss anything.

Paul Kuharsky: Peter and Matt refer to this post on the graphics of Madden on Wii, and I much appreciate your feedback.

I also encourage other readers to follow Matt's lead with the RSS feed.


Nate in Indy writes: I suppose that it may be fair to say that the Colts as an overall team is slightly weaker because of the coaching change. Personnel-wise, I think this team goes into camp in a stronger position. Injuries, retirements, and dismissals from last year's team made it weaker than expected going into the season. The Colts played a rapidly-declining Marvin Harrison more than they should have in an offense still largely written around him. By position: The QB is the QB. The RB's are stronger because of the monumental upgrade of Brown over Rhodes. The WR's are slightly weaker because without Marvin, since they suddenly seem less deep, if not less talented (as an overall unit). The OL can't possibly be worse than last year, can it? The LB's are slightly stronger because of the development of Philip Wheeler. The DB's are the same (maybe improved if Melvin Bullitt gets even better). The DL seems better because they now have depth and size at the DT position. Even if only one of Polian's picks makes it, it's an upgrade. And the TE position see
ms the same. The biggest question mark to me is special teams: as lousy as they were last year, it sure seems possible to get worse. Perhaps the rookie class and coaching change improves their lot. In short, I disagree with your assessment of the Colts.

Paul Kuharsky: Thanks for the note.

I have them as capable of winning the Super Bowl, so I hope you don't find it too negative an assessment.

I understand Jim Caldwell has been a good disciple and that the plan is for the tone to change very little. But still, in the first time of crisis and the times after that, even with Manning and Saturday and Freeney setting a locker room and huddle tone and Polian maintaining an organizational tone, we don't know what to expect from Caldwell. And we knew exactly what to expect from Dungy.

Maybe it's a change for the better. But my feeling right now is it makes them a little less of a known quantity. Now it's further clouded with Howard Mudd and Tom Moore heading out.


Rob in Richland, WA writes: Hey Paul, Do you think that now that the Titans have brought in Washington, and Britt along with Justin Gage staying healthy that they will be more of a balanced offensive team? Letting Collins have the ball in his hands more often? Thanks and i love the column.

Paul Kuharsky: I much appreciate the kind words.

I expect Heimerdinger will gradually work to open things up. There will be more occasions where they can open it up by plan or because the formula isn't working.

But the formula will be the same as it has been on good Jeff Fisher teams: run it, eat clock, play good defense, be in it in the fourth quarter.


Ryan in Charlotte writes: If you think David Garrard can't handle pressure situations and is not a legit franchise QB, consider this -Garrard's line was patchwork at best and he was the most knocked down QB in the league, statistically. -His WR's lead the league in drops. -The locker room stituation was awful -The year before he was able to win in Pittsburgh twice in the same season, only QB ever to do that (those games demanded clutch 4th quarter drives in cold, adverse weather). If Garrard's line can hold up, he gets some production from Holt and the young draft picks at WR/TE, and the defense can hold a 4th quarter lead or two, Garrard could be a pro-bowl QB, even from a small-market team.

Paul Kuharsky: I'm not saying he's a bust, but I am certainly not ready to say he's made it. Good quarterbacks do it more than one year, and they can lift their teams even in the face of poor protection and bad weapons. Sure, last year provided a lot of difficult circumstances for Garrard. But I didn't watch him and say, "If they were protecting him and he had receivers, he'd be fantastic."

Doesn't mean he can't be.

And even if I said he'd be fantastic with better line play and weapons, granted you that he could not have excelled on the field, couldn't he have done more to monitor, police and maintain the locker room? I suspect even he would say in hindsight there is more he could have done and asked the other key guys to do.

While the line injuries and poor wide receivers must be mentioned, I disagree with the segment of Jaguars' faithful who seem to think it's sacrilegious or unfair to say Garrard was not very good last year and to say he's not a sure thing going forward.


Tony in Austin says: Do you think the Titans will show interest in Foote now that he is available? Or do you think the Titans are comfortable with the future of Keglar and McGraf?

Paul Kuharsky: The Titans aren't desperate for linebacker help, they just wanted to give themselves some options for beyond this year with Keith Bulluck not under contract beyond '09. Why would they have considered Foote and why would Foote, who's signed in Detroit since you wrote, have considered them? He'll be a well-paid full timer for the Lions.

The Titans hope Stanford Keglar and Gerald McRath turn out to be good players, but if they are in need next year they have the draft and free agency to find a guy.


Greg from parts unknown: You are clueless when answering these questions Tra Thomas is a veteran Left Tackle with great ability. For him not to start over Eugene would be criminal.

Paul Kuharsky: I appreciate your opinion, if not your delivery of it, while remaining firm in mine. Top 10 picks on the offensive line don't need to sit behind a veteran, particularly when both players are perceived to be lesser run blockers than pass protectors. If you're going to invest playtime in a guy who learns as he goes, it should be the long-range guy, not the band aid.


Daniel Ceniceros from parts unknown: who do u think will have a bigger impact this year for the TITANS kenny britt,sen'derrick marks or jared cook....do u think they will utilize cook a lot more becuase it's scaife's contract year and they want to see what they have in the rookie just in case they cant resign scaife??? also i want to hear your grade for the titans 09 draft.... P.S. thank u for taking time to answer my questions

Paul Kuharsky: I can't tell you that. I would hope Britt.

They aren't going to give Cook time based on what may or may not happen with Scaife. They're going to play the best people who can help them win this game, right now. There will be room for both to play, and no matter what he does or doesn't do as a rookie, Cook should be ready to take on Scaife's role in 2010 if that's what they need him to do.


Garrison in Indianapolis writes: Hey Paul, good chat yesterday. Sorry I missed it. Got one thing I wanna comment on/ ask about- You (and several others) seem to think that having a third wide receiver is necessary for the Colts offense to function properly. I simply don't think that is true. Going back to the season the Colts won the Super Bowl, the top 7 pass catchers on the team were: Harrison, Wayne, Addai, Utech, Rhodes, Clark, and Fletcher. Conspicuously missing from that list of top 7 is... a third wide receiver! Stokely and Moorehead both had 8 catches apiece. The Colts drafted a few TEs last year and Brown as the number 2 running back this year. I think they're planning on going back to the balanced 2 RB, 2 TE sets where the Colts can be most dangerous. The guys over at 18to88 did a mini-piece on this very thing. Check it out http://18to88.com/2009/04/back-to-the-future.html Thanks again, keep up the good work.

Paul Kuharsky: Good stuff, thanks. In recent weeks I've been able to spend more time looking at sites like 18to88.com and to better distinguish where the thoughtful analysis and debate takes place (they have plenty of it there) and where you find predominately over-emotional rants and irrational stances.

Even if the Colts don't use a third receiver much, isn't it a depth concern should Reggie Wayne or Anthony Gonzalez go down?


Austin from parts unknown: Paul - GM question: I heard a lot of talk that LeDale Whi
te lost weight because its a contract year for him. But this is his third year, so he'll be a restricted FA, so its unlikely he'll leave the Titans next year. Moreover, if the labor contract with the players does not get resolved, players don't become FA until year six. I'm I right on this? To me, White and other others, are just growing up and being professionals. I respect that for men in their early 20s.

Paul Kuharsky: This will be White's fourth year, so if free agency stays the same he will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. If there is no cap, then yes it changes for him. Just growing up and being professional often coincides for these guys, not by accident, with contract years.


Tyler in Beloit, WI: Reading through your comments about the London Super Bowl I would like to ask whether you would be for it taking place in London if the city would be willing to pay the NFL a certain percentage of money upfront for the right to host the game. And if London believes it can generate significantly more revenue than a U.S. city they may be willing to pay the premium (assuming the NFL charges them a premium for the right to take the game off U.S. soil). I could see this working once ever 4 years or so, in the down years between the Olympics and World Cup. This may even globalize football, for better or for worse.

Paul Kuharsky: No. I don't think such an arrangement should be or will be a deciding factor in how this ultimately shakes out.

A few more comments on the debate on a London Super Bowl:

Brian in Clarksville writes: Hey Paul, Just got done reading the Double Coverage blog entry with yourself and Pat Yasinskas. I was glad to see you were arguing the con. I don't understand why Goodell or the rest of the NFL think that Europe is some great untapped market. Sure, an occasional game once a year or Superbowl will sell out, but if the grand scheme is to one day make an actual full time NFL team or teams in Europe, I just don't see any logical way that can happen. If they ever were to establish a team or team over there and they have a Houston Texan start of not being any good for 5+ years, the honeymoon will be over quickly and I don't see Londoners supporting a bad team of a sport they don't know or love the way an expansion team in the US would. If Europe is at all interested in American Football, let them start their own league, the same way America started the MLS for soccer. MLS isn't an expansion of any European leagues, it is the US's own product and the success or failure of the league or individual team isn't going to effect any European league. If the NFL were to expand into Europe and fail, it could have a huge negative backlash on the league and owners, not to mention the waste of the players' years there. So it's not a question of if a Superbowl could work in London, because we know it can, but any pipe dream of making millions buy establishing teams over there is nothing more than a dream. Are there really people in the NFL offices, or in the media, who honestly think there's long term success of the NFL in Europe?

Mad Mike in Houston: Paul: They should never play a Super Bowl on foreign soil until there are foreign teams in the league. I have to travel internationally on a fairly regular basis and the body clock adjustment would not be easily dealt with as being there a number of days early, there is also the return trip home and the re-adjustment. I would recommend that they use the Pro Bowl a week prior to the Super Bowl as a teaser for the internationals. The NFLPA would have to be a huge part of this and revenue sharing would also be a component. Of course, you would not have any Super Bowl participants in the Pro Bowl, but we don't now. The NFLPA has to be part of it to be sure the guys who should be there and are not injured are there, that is how to do the international thing......MM

Paul Kuharsky | email

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