- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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The weekend mailbag is your forum, and so in it I feel I have little choice but to address things you're asking about that I've been unwilling to post on during the week because I don't think they're worth posting on. So today's first two questions are on topics that fit that description. To wit:
BKW in Mt. Airy, Md., wonders why I haven't written anything on the possibility of recently released wide receiver Chad Ochocinco signing with the Dallas Cowboys for their No. 3 wide receiver spot. (BKW obviously doesn't follow me on Twitter!) Says BKW: "He'd love the national stage in Dallas, but would he be able to just "shut up and play" like he did in New England?"
Dan Graziano: I really don't think it's an issue of "shutting up." It's been quite a number of years since Ocho was any kind of drag on his team from an off-the-field standpoint. He's marketed himself extremely well, and he's justifiably become very popular for his personality. But he's not a locker-room problem and hasn't been for at least the last four or five years. The issue is the second part of what you said, because he really didn't "play" in New England. He was a complete non-factor in their offense, and frankly has had only one productive season (2009) in his last four. Those who excuse last year by saying he was a bad fit for New England's scheme, or that he didn't learn the playbook, are making excuses for a guy they like or a name they recognize. Surely, he knew the playbook in Cincinnati in 2010, but he was not a useful player that year either. He's 34, and eventually guys can't play anymore. This, I believe, is the case with Ochocinco. Those extolling the great aspects of his game are imagining a player he no longer is, and I do not believe he's a player the Cowboys need to pursue. I don't think we've seen anything at all -- last year or the year before -- to indicate that he's any better than the choices they currently have. I also don't like him for the Redskins, Giants or Eagles, in answer to some other mailbag questions.
Ryan from Milford, Pa., asks what I think about New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning being ranked 31st in the NFL Network's Top 100 players list.
DG: Well, it's a jump of at least 70 spots from last year, when he wasn't ranked, right? So that's a pretty sweet jump if you ask me. Look, I haven't addressed this list because I think it's completely ridiculous and gets way too much attention. Also, it's voted on by current NFL players -- not all of them, but a handful of them. They're football players. They're good at playing football. Putting things like this in broad perspective is not, generally speaking, their strength. It's a fine touchpoint for debate if that's what you're using it for, but to imagine it as some kind of valid referendum on the relative quality of Eli Manning or anyone else to the other players in the game is to take it too far. I don't know how to put it more simply than this: I honestly don't care how a few randomly chosen players rank another player against other players. It just doesn't matter to me.
Brad from Philadelphia thinks the Philadelphia Eagles might be wise not to keep a fullback on the roster this year if that's what it takes to get some of the more intriguing fringe running backs and wide receivers (he names Bryce Brown, Chris Polk, Marvin McNutt and Damaris Johnson) on it.
DG: Definitely an interesting idea, Brad. As you mention, Owen Schmitt was on the field for a very small percentage of the Eagles' offensive snaps, and it's hard to see Stanley Havili surpassing his number in 2012. If, as you suggest, they can develop someone like Clay Harbor into a hybrid TE/FB, then yes, I definitely agree that carrying a traditional fullback would seem extraneous. The Eagles' offense is built on dynamic, speedy, athletic players at the skill positions, and keeping more of them around at the expense of a barely-used fullback would see to be (a) wise and (b) in line with what they like to do. Something to keep an eye on at roster-cut time, for sure.
Manny from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, wonders whether Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is in danger of being replaced at some point down the line by new secondary coach Raheem Morris.
DG: No, I don't think so, Manny. Haslett and Mike Shanahan came to Washington together. Shanahan picked him specifically to go with him and oversee the transition from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4. I think they see themselves as a package deal, and while obviously things can always happen to change the plans, I doubt Shanahan will be looking to replace Haslett when his contract runs out. Morris was brought in because the Redskins felt they needed a new voice overseeing the defensive backs and because they like Morris, who has coached with Kyle Shanahan and for Bruce Allen in previous stops. He was not brought in as a threat or potential successor to Haslett.
Thanks as always for the questions. Get me on Twitter if you have anything pressing between now and next Saturday. And enjoy your weekend.