- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Kyle Marcil from Jacksonville writes: I just saw the Jaguars added another defensive player in DE/OLB Matt Roth, who was arguably the best defensive player for the Browns. Two questions: Why are the Jags not considered in the top five for off-season moves/acquisitions, especially since the Patriots are considered to have made one of the best moves by adding a past his prime Chad Ochocinco and a lazy Albert Haynesworth who doesn't want to play now that he's paid? And with Roth filling the last hole in our defense, assuming he plays DE, do you think that we have the best defense (at least on paper) in the AFC South?
Paul Kuharsky: Free agency scoring is likely over. The Jaguars did quite well. The reason they didn’t get more hype, I believe, is because the pass defense was so bad and the only big early addition who is perceived as directly impacting that is Dawan Landry. I doubt many folks who saw what the Patriots hung on the Jaguars Thursday night are going to be touting Jacksonville's defense, regardless of who played or did not play. I still have major concerns about the secondary. I'm not willing to declare who the best defense on paper is. but they are definitely in the conversation. And the competition is not great.
Todd from Pennsylvania writes: With the Colts apparently content to stand pat on the nose tackle position even though Antonio Johnson is the only true nose tackle with any experience on the roster, does he suddenly become the Colts second most important player to keep healthy? (behind Peyton Manning of course).
PK: Seriously? Replace a mediocre nose tackle with a bad nose tackle and it’s not a big deal. Replacing Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Antoine Bethea, Austin Collie, or even Dallas Clark would be far, far more difficult. You can also find nose tackles on the street -- see Johnson as an example. They signed him from Titans’ practice squad when they got him.
Of starters, Johnson is probably the most replaceable.
Ryan from Arlington, Texas, writes: Aren't people over reacting a bit to the loss of Vonta Leach? Houston had Leach from 2006-2010. In those years, the Texans' running game was good in 2010, but was putrid in 2009 and mediocre the rest. Also, Arian Foster averaged 5.5 yards/carry without Vonta in the game, and 4.7 with him. I'm not disputing that Vonta is a very good fullback, but I think his impact is being overplayed.
PK: I’m with you. A fullback is only so influential. I understand people love him. Great guy, great story. But at some point you have to separate the emotional part and be rational and fiscally responsible. The Texans were, even if a percentage of their fans were not. It’s a situational role. Lawrence Vickers and James Casey can more than handle it.
Riverman from Florence, Ala., writes: How can the Titans justify drawing a line in the sand for (Chris Johnson) to come to camp before they "will talk" about a new deal? Didn't they go on record last by saying that if CJ would come to camp for the $500k increase, then they would work out a new contract? So they have had almost an entire year knowing that this situation was coming. This type of business is why the Titans have a reputation of "not paying their players" as Marshall Faulk said last year.
PK: All true. But you have to acknowledge that a four and a half month lockout took away a significant chunk of time. Maybe they would have worked this all out around organized team activities. But the calendar didn’t include that this year. Asking him to come and not practice while they negotiate doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. He could always leave after a few days if it wasn’t going to his liking.
The financial reputation is simply incorrect. Who did they fail to pay? Did you want them to spend what Washington did on Haynesworth and have that catastrophe on their hands?
Matt Hasselbeck is getting paid. Michael Roos, David Stewart, Finnegan and Eugene Amano all got early, proactive extensions. Will Witherspoon got paid. Barrett Ruud and Daniel Graham chose to take the Titans’ deals so they had to be reasonable, no?
It’s hard to find a guy who reached free agency who they let walk fare better with his new team than he did in Nashville. If you want star chasing, this isn’t your team. That doesn’t make them cheap.
Matthew from Montréal writes: Paul, Your comment that life is easier for the media when all is running smoothly in relation to whatshisname walking out on the Titans: I don't think so. If nothing's happening, then no one wants to read/watch what the media says. The media's job is to sell, to make things interesting. To declare that the media has no agenda is disingenuous, of course it does. And making a mountain out of a molehill is something the media does very well. The media thrives on drama, whether it's Grandma Favre's dithering about a comeback or whatshisname walking out on the Titans. So don't tell us that whatshisname thinks people are idiots when you yourself take up a disingenuous argument that insults your readers' intelligence. Just saying.
Paul Kuharsky: I understand your broad point and it’s a fair one. But I don’t wake up in the morning hoping for controversy. I really don’t. And I don’t think my bosses do either. People are obsessed with the NFL and gobble up every nugget. I’m always rooting for a good nugget and a compelling story above all else. Plenty of them happen to be controversial. But plenty of them are not.
I promise, on a Saturday with a chance for some family time, people who cover the Titans aren’t excited when Cortland Finnegan does something foolish.