AFC South: Jerry Jones

Chad in Nashville, Tenn., writes: Hi Paul! I hope you're staying warm. After reading through this week's chat, I noticed that, when telling the questioner that an uncapped year is inevitable, you also said that the cap will never return. Does this mean that the most competitive and popular of all the major sports will fall into an MLB type of league where owners like Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder will be able to "buy" championships by being perennial playoff teams a'la Yankees/Sox? As a fan of the NFL, one of the best reasons to watch is seeing teams come from nowhere to compete in any given year. The loss of the cap would be a shame.

Paul Kuharsky: There is a huge misperception out there that a capless season will equate to the Wild West. It won’t.

There are elements to an uncapped year that offset the financial freedoms.

Among them: Teams gain a franchise or transition tag. It takes a player six years, not four, to get to free agency. The top eight teams are restricted and can’t add a free agent until they lose one.

A new agreement could have a cap again. If it doesn’t as so many of us expect, it’ll have other mechanisms to maintain the competitive balance.

They are all smart enough to realize they can’t mess up a good thing. At least not by allowing for a league of have and have-nots.


Justin in Austin, Texas, writes: Paul, are you surprised to see the Texans ranked best in the AFC South in offense and defense? I know you say that the other stats like scoring and third down are more important and I agree with you somewhat, but scoring for the defense can be misleading I think, because they get put in some terrible positions from turnovers, being on the field too long etc. Either way, Texans finished with a top 5 offense and a top 15 defense. I'd say that’s promising, especially after being ranked last in defense after 3 weeks. Also, was wondering what you thought about Schaub now ranking 6th all time for passing yards in a season, and tied for 2nd most 300 yard passing games in a season ever? Seem to be worth a mention.

Paul Kuharsky: Schaub was excellent, especially considering the Texans' failures running it. But those failures kind of forced him to do more, and they would probably have better success as a team if some of the yards came off his arm and onto some reliable legs.

The schedule looks to be difficult, but the arrow should be up on the Texans. Especially if they add help at running back, corner, free safety and defensive tackle.

I thought they needed only a middle of the pack defense to go with that offense to be a playoff team. And they finished tied for 13th in D. Solid. Which makes the playoff miss even more disappointing.


Brian Carrico in Lynchburg, Va., writes that he’s heard how 2,000 yard rushing seasons would become commonplace if the league expanded the season to 18 games. He says 2,000 rushing yards in 18 games would be an average of 111 yards per game, or approximately 1,778 yards in a 16-game season.

The league leader has been above this 11 times since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978 (32 seasons) including the five players who have broken 2,000 yards in that time. An additional three league leaders have been close (my basis for that was 1,733 yards, which projects to 1,950 in 18 games) so conceivably we might have had about 14 of the league leaders in the last 32 years hit or approach 2,000 yards. That's certainly more common than it is now, but it's hardly "commonplace" and I have a feeling that just as most people who know NFL history know that O.J. Simpson hit 2,000 yards in a 14-game season, many would remember that Chris Johnson, Eric Dickerson, Jamal Lewis, Terrell Davis, and Barry Sanders did it in 16.

Paul Kuharsky: I agree, Brian. Good info. Thanks. I remain a proponent of an 18-game regular season if it means halving the preseason. We’ll make the mental adjustments for the numbers as warranted.


Dustin in Stanford, Calif., writes: Hey Paul, What are futures contracts?

Paul Kuharsky: At the start of the new NFL calendar year, rosters can go from 53 to 80. These are guys that fall in that middle ground. Often practice squad guys you want to keep. They wind up free after the season and you sign them for next season. Basically anyone who signs at this time of year with a team that’s done playing (and who’s not a veteran heading toward free agency getting a long-term deal) is signing a future contract.


Chris S. in Knoxville, TN writes: Paul, Can't sleep and so I'm pondering the Chris Johnson vs. LenDale White situation. I was a big White fan when we drafted him. Thought he was a great get. When we drafted CJ and found out what he was I was ecstatic because I felt like the two complimented each other so well. Also, I felt it took the pressure off of either one to have to be a feature back (something I feel like is dying out in the NFL). Now that we have all but abandoned LenDale, do you think CJ being used as a primary back is the best thing for him? How fast do you think he might wear? He made it through one season, but are the Titans shortening his NFL career by making him a feature back?

Paul Kuharsky: That’s something they must figure out. They would certainly like to scale back his workload and should, a bit.

But I say you don’t play 2010 limiting a great player much with worries about 2013. Get it while you know you’ve got it to get.

Look for more on this topic soon.


Terence Fails writes via Facebook: Should Titans fans be concerned about VYs apparent photosensitivity?

Paul Kuharsky: I think once he hits the Rose Bowl parking lot Vince Young has an allowance to wear and do anything he likes. Provided it's legal.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The biggest story out of the Cowboys' 30-10 preseason win over the Titans in the football debut for Cowboys Stadium was the enormous video board factoring into play. NFC East guru Matt Mosley and I showed the preseason teamwork capabilities of the blog network by combining on this news story about it.

The short version: The Titans think the scoreboard is a huge issue for punters; Jerry Jones thinks of it more like a windmill on a miniature golf course. [Full disclosure, I borrowed that line from Matt.]

One additional quote from Craig Hentrich on the issue: "It's a bad situation when you've got guys that can hit it four or five times in a row, you've got your guys covering down the field four or five times in a row and you're having to redo it and redo it. It's a serious issue. It's pretty cool to see [the giant video board], but you hit a great punt and you hit the scoreboard, then what if you shank one? It's penalizing a great punt and that's not the way it's supposed to be."

Other than A.J. Trapasso's punt that dinged the TV, the stadium scored very highly. Keith Bulluck, who visited the new Yankee Stadium earlier this year, tweeted that Jones had outdone George Steinbrenner.

"It's pretty magnificent, pretty impressive definitely," he said after the game.

Setting aside that fantastic development, the Titans were pretty awful with 191 net yards, 10 first downs and fewer than 20 minutes of possession. Defensively, they allowed 466 yards, 27 first downs and two fourth-down conversions.

They didn't have their starters on the field as long as Dallas did, as the Cowboys stayed on the field through the first half.

But spin as they might, it's hard to find much to like about the work of second quarterback Vince Young or Patrick Ramsey, who is third in line. Jeff Fisher said while Young won't necessarily start, he will get time with the starters in one of the final two preseason games.

Rookie running back Javon Ringer qualified as the primary bright spot.

He finished with the best rushing average in the game thanks to five carries for 33 yards. The Titans fifth-round pick out of Michigan State also had an impressive 51-yard kickoff return and worked on kick and punt coverage teams.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

The great thing about the mailbag? Well, there are too many to discuss here, but it is open 24/7/365.

Please join me for an AFC South chat today at 3 p.m. ET. I can stay late if you like.

We can talk about any of this and more ...

If you're looking for anything from September or before, look for the archive links below and on the right.

Houston Texans

  • Andre Johnson provides a commanding voice for the Texans, says Richard Justice. I agree he should be getting the ball more, but I'd prefer commanding hands right now. I'll look at what's going on with A.J. in a post later today.
  • Jerry Jones takes a shot at the Texans, and Bob McNair handles it gracefully.
  • Owen Daniels watches how Dallas Clark works, writes Megan Manfull.
  • Ahman Green could come off the bench behind Steve Slaton against the Colts for his first action of the season, according to John McClain.

Indianapolis Colts

  • The Colts want to get their skill people on the field and spread the ball around, writes Mike Chappell.
  • The offensive line the Colts envisioned for the start of the season could actually be on the field Sunday, says Phil Richards.
  • There is no T.O. on the Colts, where pass catchers worry about wins, not catches, according to  Justin. A. Cohn's story.

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Kenny Pettway, who was with Richard Collier when he was shot, gets a new chance in Green Bay, where Tom Silverstein spoke with him.
  • Fred Taylor can reach 11,000 yards in the Jags' first regular-season prime-time game since 2001, writes Vito Stellino.
  • Jerry Porter has played one game and is already lamenting his lack of chances? "Who's made a big play when the ball ain't thrown to him? So throw the ball to me. I'll catch it. That's it." Michael C. Wright has the details.

Tennessee Titans

  • Vince Young was back in limited action at practice and Kerry Collins can't see moving forward as a backup when he gets to free agency after this season, according to Jim Wyatt.
  • Who should be the Titans quarterback in 2009? Wyatt asks for your opinion.
  • For those interested in former Titan Travis Henry's troubles, here are details from Denver.
  • The Titans' defense is the most impressive thing David Fleming has seen this season.


Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Sam Famer of the Los Angeles Times was part of a small group that talked to Dallas owner Jerry Jones at Cowboys camp in Oxnard, Calif., on Monday.

Speaking about the potential of the NFL returning to L.A., Jones said he thinks it could happen out of some pending ownership changes.

"We haven't had much movement in ownership," Jones said. "I think we might see in the near term some movement in two, possibly three situations. That might start the ball rolling."

Then Farmer discussed a list of potential movers, and of course, it included Jacksonville.

Although Jones declined to identify the teams he was referring to, there has been recent talk of NFL owners in St. Louis and Jacksonville selling all or part of their teams. There also could be an ownership change in Pittsburgh, but Jones made it clear he wasn't talking about that situation.

While Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver vehemently denied a recent report he was in negotiations to sell the team, a team official I talked with said it's inevitable that every time there is any talk of a move the same handful of teams will get listed and the Jags will be one of them.

It's a fact of life they've come to deal with, and I certainly don't think it's weighing on Fred Taylor or John Henderson during training camp as the Jags prepare for what a lot of people are expecting to be a big season.

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