Mailbag: Memorial Day Weekend edition

May, 24, 2009
5/24/09
8:25
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Happy Memorial Day weekend. I hope you have great weather, burgers cooked just right and beverages that are as cold as can be.

Onto the mail...

justin in Austin writes: liked the articles about the texans d and the quotes from frank bush. i think the situation at safety was a lot like backup RB this off season. I think kubiak and rick smith wanted to get a safety if it was in the cards, but it wasnt. its easy to say they should have done this or that, but the fact is if there isnt anyone out there who is better than what you got there's nothing you can do except maybe overpay for a FA or reach on a draft pick and i dont think the texans situation at RB or safety was bad enough to justify either.

Paul Kuharsky: I like your thinking. But I do think Wilson may turn out to be a weak spot and that safety is going to be a need going forward.


David in Jacksonville writes: I can't participate on the chat today so I am sending my question now. The Jags have made strides to upgrade the offense but the defense still has me concerned. As far back as the end of the 2007 the Jags defense was starting to slip. The running game and the play action passing game was allowing the Jags to play with the lead but they struggled in many of the games down the stretch. Do they have enough with the improvement of Harvey and Groves ( hopefully), the defensive tackles ( Knighton has to be a contributor) and the secondary. Derek Cox must also develop into a solid player. The pass rush was non existent last year but even when the QB threw on timing the receivers were wide open consistently last year. Thanks Paul.

Paul Kuharsky: I think it's reasonable to expect the two young DEs to get a lot better. To me, defensive tackle is the big question. I just wrote a bit about what Jack Del Rio had to say about that spot:

The second corner, or second safety depending on where they play Brian Williams, is a concern too.


Ulises in San Antonio writes: Paul, first of all, I enjoy reading your articles and especially those of the Texans, I've been a fan ever since they were a logo and a name. The one article that has been embedded in my mind was one concerning the issue with OTAs and the claims that the Texans were doing illegal drills. I believe in the article you strongly described your disapproval towards the Texans if what was being discussed turned out to be true. I've been closely watching various networks and reading articles concerning other team's OTAs. I still cannot see anything different from last year's Texans OTA footage and that of what I've seen on ESPN and the NFL Network covering everyone else's OTAs this year. I've seen physical contact occurring. What was different about what occurred in Houston from that of what is occurring now? Maybe since I'm a fan I am falling to see the obvious, but maybe you can shed some light on the subject. If this was serious, wouldn't something be done by now. I am not stating what the Texans are right. If it was wrong then there is a reason why it's wrong and should be monitored all over the league. Your thoughts? Thank you, Ulises

Paul Kuharsky: Contact occurs. I mean if linemen are across from each other and a ball is snapped, they have their hands on each other and try to steer or block, mostly with their hands and not at anything close to full speed. They work on technique and positioning.

It's a far different thing than the sort of O-line/D-line drills the Texans were accused of doing where a defender is asked to try to beat the blocker and there is full contact.

In the Titans' OTA session Friday, they never did any 11-on-11. Jeff Fisher said the linemen end up with sore shoulders after too much unpadded work and that sometimes it's not worth it.


Weller Ross in Knoxville, TN: I emailed in a while back asking this same question, but as more time has passed I'm curious to see if your answer has changed... Marvin Harrison still hasn't been signed. If July and August start to roll around and he still hasn't been picked up by a team do you think the Colts will take him back at a cheaper price? Would he want to go back to Indy for a cheaper price or would he prefer to just retire?

Paul Kuharsky: He could have stayed with the Colts at a reduced price and declined. I can't see the team going back to him now. I suspect they feel like the Colts have their receiving corps, and while the guys beyond Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez are question marks, they expect people to emerge. Harrison is not the same player he once was, has drawn no known interest from any of the other 31 teams, and I think we have to say could be finished.


Pats from Gallipolis, OH writes: Paul, I hear over and over how the Titans do not emphasis the passing game, do not draft receivers and do not go after the big name receivers in free agency. Though this is true in principle, it is not always without good reason. For instance, last year the Titans drafted for their offense a running back, a blocking tight end and they threw in a wr almost as an after thought. The team got slammed for these picks, but they worked out well, why? Because they are not drafting a name or the popular vote, they draft according to their needs based on what they have. I believe Fisher knew to give Vince a great wr who was a downfield threat would not help Vince or the team. Why get a wr when you have a qb who cannot throw him the ball? Therefore they get a rb and blocking te who can help Vince and the team by taking pressure off Vince and compact the offense to a smaller area around him. Now, jump foward to this year. Everyone is saying the Titans are looking to pump up the passing game and to prove it, just look who they drafted - a big fast downfield threat of a wr and a big fast downfield threat of a te. Well, Britt and Cook are what they are, but to get the big picture we must again look @ why they were drafted. Vince is out, Collins is in. These picks are directly related to Fishers trust in Collins, not a need to improve the passing game. Though I do believe they want to see improvement in the passing game, but they did not have the people in place to do it until now. My point is - if Vince was still qb, we would have a first round cornerback, not a wide receiver. Because with Vince @ qb, Britt still would not help the team. Am I right?

Paul Kuharsky: You say Kenny Britt and Jared Cook were drafted because of Fisher's faith in Collins, "not a need to improve the passing game." Don't the two go hand-in-hand? Why can't it be both?

If Vince Young can't get the ball to a good receiver, it doesn't mean they shouldn't get a good receiver. It means they have to get Young to throw it better or do what they did, shift to the alternative who can.

I don't
think the Titans are incapable of winning without a better passing game, but I do think it's the one area where they can obviously get better, and diversifying the portfolio is never a bad thing.


JL in Hoboken, NJ writes: Hey Paul, Sorry I haven't been around at all lately - in a brilliant move to boost my productivity, my employer (a Fortune 500 who shall remain nameless) recently blocked access to all blogs. I was catching up today and I saw this concept of team myth's. I ask - why stop there? Let's hear some NFL myths. My NFL myth is that players are overpaid. I couldn't disagree more (except in the case of top 10 picks and a handful of free agents). These players put an enormous physical toll on their body for an ephemeral career which for the vast majority does not produce substantial financial reward. Allow me to explain - the average NFL career is rather brief (under 3 years I believe, if not under 2) and the lower level players that comprise the majority of rosters aren't paid all that much. During this time span, their work helps to generate millions and millions of dollars for their employer. I'm not going to pretend that these athletes aren't well paid nor am I bemoaning their situation, but all things considered, I think athletes get their fair share of the pie - so I don't buy into fans that condemn player salaries.

Paul Kuharsky: Blocked access to blogs? Horror of horror. Time for some sort of blackmail to get that back, no?

I'm with you, generally. It's a huge pie, and I prefer the biggest share of it go to the guys sacrificing their bodies than to the filthy rich owners.


And some response to the Jaguars' myths blog entry.

jone from parts unknown: paul- those jag fans are feeding you a bunch of baloney. I LIVE IN JAX BEACH, FL. nobody and I mean NOBODY wears jags anything. let me count on my hand the number of jag jerseys I have seen on the street since christmas. not ten. on a football sunday you are lucky to see 5 jag wearing jerseys on sunday. my family lived in denver, seattle and KC. I witnessedd real football sundays and attended many of their games. the football sundays in jax are a joke. this IS GATOR COUNTRY and anybody here says different they are playing you for a fool. my favorite team is the colts. and there are more colts jerseys worn here than actually jags jersey. in that tarp covered stadium there are seats open on football sunday because a certain grocery story chain buys out the remaining 1000 to 2000 needed to avoid a blackout. I GO to the games with free tickets. I see the empty seats. and another thing...this is a small market city..bah ha HA. that stadium that the jags cant fill up they would have no problem putting gator fans in the seats every sunday. they could fill a 100,000 stadium and have people waiting. the myth is those people who commented and said the jacksonville is not in trouble of losing their team and their is no problem of filling seats. that is just laughable because I live here and witness it. pittsburgh and green bay fans helped fill the seats last year. blinders on and LA bound. the nebraska probably has more jaguar fans than jax

jeff in Jacksonville: love the myth blog on the jags, I didnt know so many of us had the same opinion regarding the Jags and the fans support. Oh how I wish and hope for the days that the issue of tickets sales and fan support are gone away but sadly the jags and the city have not reached that era yet. Thanks for the great blog and keep up the good work. PS. Did you ever give any thought to my idea of which players can the AFC South teams least afford to have a sophmore slump? let me know and again thanks for the daily blog.

Paul Kuharsky: Thank you. I imagine we'll get to the sophomore slump idea during a slow stretch this summer.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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