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Friday, October 24, 2008
Mailbag: Fans of Titans, Jags concerned about lack of credit

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Unknown in south bend writes: when will you guys give credit to the jags yes they have lost some games this season but they were all 7 points or less and they gave up the lead at the end of those games. if i was you i wouldnt be suprised to see them in the afc championship game even maybe the super bowl before sunday everybody was saying that jags will lose and look what happened would the penalties make a diff if they wasnt called now you guys still diss the jags by saying they won because of the penalties come on there is no telling what could happen in the penalties wasnt called the jags could have still won. what is next are you guys going to say that they will lose there next two games if so then you need to look at the weapons that jags have. when it comes down to it the broncos lost because of turnovers.

Paul Kuharsky: I voted them fifth in the most recent power rankings. Seems like credit to me. They are only 3-3. If they get as good as you expect them to be, they'll get plenty of credit.


Steven in Hampton, VA writes: Mr. Paul, I agree that the Titans' haven't beaten a team with a winning record. However, they have beaten the Jags' and the Vikings, two teams that were considered Super Bowl caliber. Plus, the Titans' "out-defensed" the Ravens'. It's very early to make any bold statements, however, I don't understand why the Titans' receive very little credit for their record.

Paul Kuharsky: They can only beat who the league tells them to play, but it's relevant context.

I don't see the lack of credit. They are No. 1 in every power poll I have seen, including ours where they got all but one first-place vote. Every media outlet imaginable has passed through to cover them. They aren't loaded with flashy stars, so they don't draw attention that way. But who is failing to give them credit?


Barry Oderfer from Fraser, MI writes: I'd like to know why pro athletes, especially football players, are not allowed to voice their opinions on bad officiating? If the ref or some other field judge makes a bad call that determines the outcome of a game, why can't the players say anything without being fined? It seems as if Roger Goodell wants the public to think his officials are always right. Also, would you know where I can write to Roger Goodell, by letter or email?

Paul Kuharsky: If your boss sent people to supervise your work and you then you used your right of free speech to blast that supervision, how would it go over with him? (Still, I don't disagree that players and coaches should have more leeway to call a spade a spade.)

The NFL is at 280 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017.


Raju in Toronto writes: What is the possibility that when Brad Meester and Chris Naeole return, that the Jaguars running game will return to its dominant self?

Paul Kuharsky: We're not sure how exactly Del Rio will reorganize, but they should get a boost out of it. And the next three weeks the Jags should have ample opportunity to run it. I wrote about it a couple times this week, here and here.


Scott Parsell in Indianapolis writes: I don't know whether it's due to various injuries or having the third-youngest team in the league (they dressed TWELVE rookies in Green Bay) but Tony Dungy's "Just do what we do" mantra is simply not working this season. After playing just one solid game out of their opening six games, I don't see the Colts reverting back to their winning ways against the likes of Tennessee(away), New England, Pittsburgh(away), Houston, & San Diego(away) over the next month. When you add in last week's trip to Green Bay, does any team have a tougher 6-game stretch than that? At best, I see them going 2-3 during that stretch which would put them at 5-6 heading into Thanksgiving. Keep up the great work. I read your AFC South blog almost daily. Thanks!

Paul Kuharsky: I appreciate your kind words. They will replace the candy bar I was just going to eat. We need to get you from almost daily to daily to multiple times a day!

It's very hard to read the Colts. I do think some sort of shakeup could be in order, but it's not the way they work and I don't think Dungy tipping over a table will help them stop the run or get separation. Monday night will be very interesting.


Evan in Nashville writes: Can we get more content on the UNDEFEATED (and hometown) Titans please? Who cares about the Colts? Manning is hurt and they aren't winning. Aren't reporters, SportsCenter, etc supposed to write content about the winning teams?

Paul Kuharsky: As the best team in the division and the best team in football -- and also the team I happen to be around when I am at home -- the Titans will sometimes get a little extra content here. But the aim is to write something interesting about all four teams every day.

We're supposed to tell good stories, provide perspective and analyze the league, or in my case, the division.

Who cares about the Colts? Um, Colts fans, who are a fourth of my audience. And a broad audience that's seen a lot of their well-established stars and is surely curious what is or isn't happening with them.

As we discussed in our e-mail exchange, your count of team blog entry topics will be skewed if you include a Sunday. Last week I was at Colts-Packers, which means a hearty day of Indy posts.


Bristow in Mufreesboro writes: A lot of stats have been thrown around about how well the Titans D has played but I am curious to know one that may not get much attention (for obvious reasons). Does it seem to you that the team has been injuring other teams on the average of two players per game? Sure, this may not be stat that people would want to hear but you have to admit, the Titans are literally knocking others out!

Paul Kuharsky: That is an awfully tough stat to track and a little gruesome. But, yes, that they've knocked some players out is a testament to their physicality. Brodie Croyle seems a little fragile to me. He might have gone down against a lot of different defenses.


jack in Memphis writes: wouldn't the titans be a good fit for the wildcat. I know there's no reason to upset their momentum, but VY at WR, and Lendale or Chris Johnson running down field with a head of steam is a scary thing

Paul Kuharsky: Are you familiar with Jeff Fisher? He's pretty conservative. Likes a trick play here and there. Straight-forward otherwise. I don't see it but you never know.


Paul in Austin, TX writes: Is Collins starting really a testament to his production or just not messing with chemisty? Here's the quick stat comparison I did compared to VY's first 6 last season. Collins: 863yds, 56.4% comp, 3td, 3int Young: 745yds, 61.7% comp, 3td, 6int (1td rush, 140yds) Hardly a career revitalization and more doing what VY does with less press. Isn't that valid?

Paul Kuharsky: Valid -- to a degree. For the Titans, quarterbacking is rarely about the stats, except for interceptions, and Collins is not throwing interceptions. That and his leadership and unflappable nature -- he's not going to cause a stir on the bench or create doubts about his commitment in his teammates' heads -- are the reason he's the far better choice right now. (Your locale gives me a pretty good guess on your stake in this).

For Collins to effectively manage a team is a revitalization. He's not measured against the same standard as Young, and he shouldn't be. The Titans didn't spend the third pick and all those millions on Collins. He's an incredible value for them right now, a winning QB at a backup price.

More on Collins to come in the next few days.


Mad Mike in Houston writes: Paul: I am no expert by any means just a fan. But, I think it is pretty easy to see that Fred Bennett is the best corner that the Texans have not including Daunta Robinson and yet they start Faggins ahead of him, makes no sense. Johnson torches him for a 96 yard TD and it looked just like the 2 long passes that Buffalo's Lee Evans used to torch Faggins a year or two ago. Faggins is no better than a nickel corner. I am really starting to wonder on some of Kubiak's decisions regarding this issue. Bennett had very good coverage later in the game where he was 1-1 with Calvin and easily knocked the pass away with very solid coverage. Is there something we are all missing down here? Because no one except the staff thinks Faggins should be starting!.....Thanks.......MM

Paul Kuharsky: They do seem to be incredibly loyal to Faggins and I'm not sure his long term of service should be much of a factor, if it's a factor in who gets on the field at all.


Unknown from La Vergne, TN writes: Keep up the good work. I'm a former Oiler fan now Texans fan (and fan of everything AFC South) living in the Nashville area. What are your opinons on Maurice Jones-Drew still not being the main RB in Jacksonville?

Paul Kuharsky: I like their division of labor and I think Fred Taylor's work helps create a lot of possibilities for MJD. See above for a link to a blog post from a few days ago that outlines what Taylor tends to do come late October and beyond.


Rick in Nashville writes: I was listening to you on the Zone bemoan that the Titans will lose Albert because they cannot put the Franchise Tag on him again, that doesn't stop them from putting the transition tag on him. ? A transition player has received a minimum offer of the average of the top 10 salaries of last season at the player's position or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, whichever is greater. ? A transition player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires. If the club matches, it retains the player. If it does not match, it receives no compensation. Transition players can be signed from March 3 through July 22." As important as Albert is, I cannot see the Titans not using this.

Paul Kuharsky: If he meets any of the incentives he negotiated into the franchise deal he is playing under this year -- and he will unless he gets hurt -- he cannot be franchised or transitioned.


Tyson in San Diego writes: Paul, I've heard a lot of talk about NFC supremacy this year. Specifically the NFC East. After looking at the standings, the AFC has 3 teams with one or no losses. The NFC only has one. Also everyone except the Giants, Titans, Bills, and Steelers have already lost twice. What are your thoughts on this?

Paul Kuharsky: I don't think the NFC is a better conference. I do still think the NFC East is loaded and I think in the long run we will see three of those four teams fare very well. I think Dallas will continue to unravel. With New England minus Tom Brady and San Diego and Indy starting poorly, the AFC right now is a bit weaker than it has been.


David Goddard in Jacksonville writes: If the Jags stay aggressive on offense they can score enough points to win. Garrard is a very good QB that can beat you many different ways. My concern with the Jags is on defense. I thought the defense started to slip last year. They spent two picks on defensive ends but I feel they need help at defensive tackle since they are starting to get old at that position. Do the Jags have enough defense to make a run at the playoffs ? Nelson and Meir will back after the bye and Meester & Naoele on the OL should be back. Not sure what Chris has left but he was a road grater when he was healthy. I saw your note about the Jags not running the ball with a 14 point lead. I would let MJD run it at least once. My aggravation with the drive was the 3rd and 10 call. It was clear that Denver was biltzing up the middle. Why not have Garrard in the shotgun with either a quick slant to Jones or roll him out of the pocket with a run/pass option. That series was similiar to Buffalo game late in the 4th quarter after the Bills scored to take the lead.

Paul Kuharsky: Your concern is the right one. Their defensive identity has slipped and the way they are playing right now, I don't think they are good enough to win in the playoffs. The rookie ends and the secondary will get better, though I think they'll be 6-3 and in the thick of it in three weeks.


Chris in Brentwood writes: Paul, in light of Dallas picking up WR Roy Williams today, why didn't the Titans try to pick up Patrick Crayton from Dallas? They could have changed the draft pick they gave up to Dallas to maybe a 3rd rounder in next year's draft and gotten a solid proven wide receiver, at least better than Hawkins is now. Your thoughts??

Paul Kuharsky: Dallas completed the Williams deal right at the buzzer. Even had the Titans wanted to make that move, there wasn't a window for them to initiate conversations. And I think they are content with what they have, though so many fans can't or won't come to terms with that.


Aaron in Nashville writes: Paul, In regards to this whole Pacman situation, I don't think the Titans front office is going to lose any sleep over losing a late second-day pick at this point. But, I'm questioning the language of the trade conditions here. The reports say that if Pacman were to be suspended for any games this season, that the Titans ship over a 2009 5th or 6th to Dallas. Would it not make sense for the Titans to have protected themselves and say if he was suspended for a further violation after reinstatement, that they'd be off the hook? I'm sure this is all theoretical and had been discussed by the powers that be, I just don't see how it's fair that Tennessee lose a pick for further indescretion by this genius. Had Pacman not been reinstated until Week 6, I'd completely understand the Titans losing a pick. Maybe Fisher and Reinfeldt were just so ready to offload this guy that they took whatever they could get.

Paul Kuharsky: There is no surprise here. The Cowboys were able to negotiate a bit of protection draft-pick wise should Jones get in trouble and not be available to them again.