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Mailbag: Best of the best edition

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
OK, here's the promised super elite mailbag, where the best question on each team I got Friday got an automatic spot. It didn't work out as well as planned in some ways, so I cheated and went two questions per team figuring you could handle the extra reading. (Yes, I'll buy two people per team a Coke if they find me at camp.)

The jab at Jaguars fans produced a lot of questions about them, way to step up.

Sunday, look for a bonus mailbag with two broader, bonus questions because they were among the best my plea produced.

Onward...

Brian Fullford via Facebook writes: After the 1999 season, though losing, Jacksonville was still a competitive team. It has been argued that the firing of Coughlin was partially due to overall unrest (fans, players, etc). JDR hasn't come near the coach TC. Can you see [Wayne Weaver] letting ticket sales and fan interest drive a coaching change and would such influence occur to both a small and large market team?

Paul Kuharsky: Tom Coughlin may have worn out his welcome even without outside pressures. But I think Wayne Weaver has mellowed, and I think he's come to terms with some of the financial realities of the franchise. Starting over worked great for Atlanta and Miami, but let's remember that was the second year in row for the Dolphins, and other teams like St. Louis, San Francisco, and Oakland have tried and failed.

The preferable scenario if you've got someone you like who's had some success and you believe in is to provide stability like the Steelers did for so long with Bill Cowher, like the Titans have done with Jeff Fisher, like the Eagles have done with Andy Reid, like the Giants are doing with Coughlin.

Is Weaver more prone to make a change because of fan interest and ticket sales than a big market owner would be? I'm not sure. But I think the media and fan noise in New York or Dallas or Miami if those markets had the apathy issues we see now in Jacksonville would be apt to drive change more quickly than in a place like Jacksonville. Provided Weaver feels like the team is making forward progress on the field, I think he will defer to Gene Smith and I think Smith will be patient and keep Jack Del Rio in place. So I expect it will be about the football.


Matt in Jacksonville writes: Paul, what would you suggest that the Jaguars do in respect to the defense line seeing that Henderson has no one person on the other side of him that has been a proven starter? Is there anyone out there in free agency that could help or do we have to hope that the combination of Knighton, Landri, and Meier will contribute at a high level? Also what should the expectations be for the two second year defensive ends Harvey and Groves?

Paul Kuharsky: I suggest they work like crazy to develop some of the young guys and push whatever buttons needed to get John Henderson back to his old form.

Free agency is over. Anyone who's out there has some sort of issue that's made 32 teams let him be out there. They just added Montavious Stanley. That's the kind of guy you can add now. I don't think you're real excited about him. Maybe a veteran comes free somewhere at the end of camp. But odds are, they are who they've got at this point. So Henderson with Terrance Knighton, Derek Landri, Rob Meier, Atiyyah Ellison and the new guy.

The Jags at DT may be the single biggest personnel issue in the division, with Henderson the single biggest veteran in the spotlight, and I'm not talking about actual size.


Robert Sutton in Bloomington, IN writes: Everyone keeps talking about the defensive changes behind Coyer, but how will the Colts get better on Special Teams with the new coach there? Tackling was a huge problem it seems, but just bringing in someone to get people to tackle seems like a waste.

Paul Kuharsky: Their issues have been bigger than tackling.

But let's say that was the only issue. If Jim Caldwell and Bill Polian believe the old guy (Russ Purnell) was part of the problem and the new guy (Ray Rychleski) could help fix the problem, why then would you characterize it as a waste?

They will have better, more experienced people on special teams -- like Freddy Keiaho and Tyjuan Hagler, if the plan at linebacker holds. That should be a big help.

TJ in Ft. Myers, FL: Something not many people talked about was the fact that the Colts defense last year set an NFL record low for TD passes allowed (6). I read an article linked through your blog about the question of whether the secondary can be one of the best in the NFL. Well, with the addition of meat to the D-line, would it be surprising to see the Indianapolis Colts of all teams having one of the premier defenses in 2009?

Paul Kuharsky: They also allowed 18 rushing TDs, the highest number for any playoff team. If teams are running it into the end zone, they don't need to throw it in. The defense against passing TDs was great, but it's overblown if you don't include that context.

The Colts can have a much better defense. But premier defenses are the kind you saw from Pittsburgh -- which gave up roughly five fewer points, 74 fewer yards and four fewer first downs a game last year and was a whopping 16 percentage points better on third-down defense. The Colts aren't going to be in that ballpark just because they added beef at DT, but they don't need to be to succeed. They're built differently, and it works just fine for them.

If they go from tied for 31st in third-down defense to 22nd, that could be a huge difference by itself.


Andrew in Houston writes: With less than 10 million left in cap space and 4 more draft picks to sign, will the Texans have enough cap room to extend both DeMeco Ryan and Owen Daniels?

Paul Kuharsky: The Texans total rookie pool number is $4,603,346. And they've already used a share of that on the picks they have signed so far. New deals for Ryans and Daniels, which I am not positive will arrive, could actually lower their individual 2009 cap numbers, especially if those contracts include secondary bonuses paid after this season. If they don't get extended, the cap won't be the reason.

I visited some other elements of this here.


Mark Budd in Deer Park, TX: Paul, what is your take on the Dunta Robinson situation. Was the long time offer the Texans made him as good as it seemed to be. Lastly, will he report on time.

Paul Kuharsky: I don't know for sure what the offer he turned down was, but I do suspect he's over-valuing himself.

I wouldn't report on time if I were him.

I think
ultimately he'll sign the tender and show up in time to be ready for the opener -- they all do. If you want to earn the long-term deal, the best way to do it is play and play well.

In the meantime, young guys will get a lot of opportunity to work and get better. It's a decent silver lining.

You'd like him there with new coordinator, but a protracted absence from camp isn't a killer.


Tyne in Nashville, TN writes: Paul, love the blog. Keep it up. I would really like Kenny Britt to have an impact on the Titans offense but I've heard he has missed most of the OTAs and such with a hamstring injury. Do you think that if he is able to be in training camp and practice that he will have any affect on the aerial attack, or will he be too far behind? Also, what is Lavelle Hawkins' status? I have heard hardly anything on him this offseason. It's all about how pedestrians Paul Williams and Chris Davis have barely improved...

Paul Kuharsky: Thanks for the kind words.

If Britt paid attention during OTAs, he's not going to be behind so long as he's good to go during camp.

Hawkins' status: better, in line to be fourth, but has to show he deserves it.

If you've read/heard that Davis has barely improved, you've got a bad source. He was great for most of OTAs and if there is no clear-cut alternative as return man, he could well make the team.


Jake Thompson via Facebook writes: I'll try for a halfway decent question, but I fear I too will fail. But I was wondering....has there been any indication as to what the split between Chris Johnson and LenDale White will be? Who gets what percentage of the carries and so on?

Paul Kuharsky: In the past, Jeff Fisher has said he'd like a 60-40 split, ideally. Last year the carries were 56-44 for Johnson (251) over White (200), but it was 59-41 if you look at total touches. I'd expect them to be hoping for 60-40 again.