Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
So much to talk about, so little time. In the midst of Cowboys-Redskins talk, Giants receiver Plaxico Burress pumped life into the bye week by going AWOL. Some readers have asked me to go soft on Burress because of family issues that he reportedly was dealing with when he skipped out on his team Monday.
No can do, folks. If the Giants listened to his story and still felt compelled to suspend him for two weeks (one game), what's the point in giving him the benefit of the doubt? I'm pretty sure he knows the number to Giants headquarters, and someone close to him could've certainly called on his behalf.
This won't keep the Giants out of the playoffs, but it does create another distraction. Fortunately, Drew Rosenhaus is fighting the suspension on Plax's behalf. His first plan -- telling the Giants their phone lines were busy all day -- has been scrapped and he's pursuing other options. Apparently Lito Sheppard's involved, but details are still hazy.
OK, you guys know what time it is. I'm dipping into the mailbag of 1,081 questions and seeing what's on your mind. If I haven't answered your question yet, try to come up with something better. Oh, but I kid. Let's get this party started quickly:
Joseph B. opens with a probing question: Did you ever post the audio with Jason Campbell?
Mosley: Joseph, my interview with Campbell is set for noon ET on Thursday. I plan to turn the audio around quickly and post to the Beast. I also had the opportunity to visit with Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano via phone for 15 minutes today. Tony talked about Bill Parcells and his time in Dallas, so I'll probably post that, too. Thanks for asking.
UPDATE: Campbell audio is posted!
Zacchai weighs in with: Matt, do you think the LIMITED use of Felix Jones is due to his learning curve or do you think Jason Garrett has a plan to have him be fresh for the stretch and the playoffs?
Mosley: Zacchai, I seriously doubt that Garrett is saving Jones for a stretch run. I think they have some trust issues with him in blitz pickup right now, but you'll see him start to receive more opportunities as the season unfolds. If he's this effective with five or six carries and two catches, we assume he'd double his production with 10 carries and four catches. I'm not sure that's the case. Right now, Jones is a great change-of-pace back. But if Marion Barber is destroying a defense (as he tends to do), let the Barbarian do his thing. Barber and Jones are never going to split carries. Barber's the feature back and Jones is a great complement. No reason to rush things at this point.
Let's go to Paul in New York City. Paul, are you there? Matt, love your East coverage. The Giants D was applying good pressure on Sunday vs. the Bengals. However, the cornerbacks were providing a huge cushion for the receivers, allowing Carson Palmer to use his quick release in getting the ball to them. My question, why were they giving the the wide receivers so much cushion? I know they are talented but aren't receivers taught to abandon their routes and get in position for a quick throw when they know the quarterback is getting blitzed? It seems to me that if the CBs were playing closer, they would have been able to at least knock down a lot of those short passes Palmer was throwing.
Mosley: Paul, it sort of depends on what the Giants were trying to accomplish. Sometimes a defense is willing to concede short passes. The corners may have been asked to keep everything in front of them and make sure they didn't allow T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Ocho Cinco to break the first tackle. The Cowboys tried to do that against the Eagles in Week 2, but DeSean Jackson got behind Adam Jones on a deep ball. You also have to remember that Aaron Ross got banged up in that game. He's the best corner on the team, so the Giants had to play short-handed. It's not something I'd be particularly concerned about. The Bengals have great receivers and a good quarterback. They were going to have a nice afternoon at some point. It just happened to be in the Meadowlands.
Brian L. writes from an undisclosed location: Ranking the Eagles above the Giants is ridiculous. New York beat them twice last year and is undefeated and the defending champs. Philly has to prove they can beat the Giants, not the other way around. Furthermore, same goes for Dallas. The Cowboys are basically the same team the Giants beat in Dallas in the playoffs.
Again the defending champs are undefeated and Dallas needs to prove they can beat the Giants. Just about every sportswriter in the country, however, has it backwards. The Giants have as good an offensive and defensive line. And New York clearly has more depth at wide receiver with Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer, Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon. The Cowboys have T.O. period. Patrick Crayton has yet to do anything significant in his career and Miles Austin has basically two long catches in one game. The Cowboys have the great tight end, but Kevin Boss is no slouch. Lastly, Eli Manning has proven he can win multiple big games and is playing better than ever. Tony Romo has personally blown the only two playoff games he has been in. This season Eli has thrown only one pick while Romo has fumbled the ball away and has three picks. Dallas still has everything to prove, not vice versa.
Mosley: My, you guys are long-winded today. I ate an entire can of hot Wasabi Peas while reading Brian's passionate statement. The only thing wrong with it is that all three teams he mentioned are different than last year's teams. With a healthy Donovan McNabb, the emergence of rookie receiver DeSean Jackson and All-Pro cornerback Asante Samuel, the Eagles look like the second-best team in the division (and the league) to me. And who made up the rule that the defending champs receive honorary status until beaten by a division rival? Certainly not me.
Brian, I like the receivers you mentioned, although one of them will be sitting the next game out. But you can't simply compare receivers to receivers. I'm a fan of Kevin Boss' work, but he's not in the same league with Witten. I'll take my chances with Marion Barber and Felix Jones over Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward. I realize Ahmad Bradshaw's a talented player, but he can't get on the field. The Cowboys have added linebacker Zach Thomas, Adam Jones and the other Jones since last season. In my mind, it doesn't matter that the Eagles lost twice to the Giants. The Cowboys beat the Giants twice in the regular-season, and where did that get them. Different year, so I'm sticking to my guns. Geez, I've got the Giants ranked third in the NFL. Stop being so greedy.
Mike from Parsippany just needed to make a quick point: Instead of complaining about the early bye weeks, maybe Tom Coughlin should be thankful the Giants were given an "away" game against the Saints in New Jersey a few years ago and another "away" game against the Dolphins in London. Not really a home game for the Dolphins.
Mosley: Mike, thanks for reminding us about that bogus Saints "home" game. League blew it with that decision.
DC from Plano, Texas, weighs in with a Big 12 opinion: Matt, usually I like what you have to say. However, how can you even mention the words "kneejerk reaction" when it comes to Aggies and our head football coaches. We are very loyal. Not counting Sherman, we have only had three coaches in the last 25 years. I don't think you are being very objective on this one. Please reply.
Mosley: Apologies to my readers in the Northeast. We're a little bit nutty about our college football down here, so I need to take an occasional Big 12 question. DC, I think there are tons of Aggies who would take Jackie Sherrill back in a heartbeat right now. If you get beat by Army this weekend, we'll revisit this loyalty issue. I think Mike Sherman's a good football coach. Is he a good fit at Texas A&M? I'm not so sure. Just make sure your boys strap it on when they visit the Case on Nov. 15. Thanks for checking in.
John from Niwot, Colo., is demanding an answer: How does ESPN.com have a No. 3 team that would miss the playoffs today? So would numbers 9, 10, 12, 13, and 14. Yet number 15, the Washington Redskins would make the playoffs today. The 'Skins game against the Giants is the distant past. If we win the game on Sunday, will we get as much respect as the Eagles did after a loss to the Cowboys?
Mosley: John, do we really have to figure out who would make the playoffs with 14 weeks of the season left? In my mind, the Eagles are the second-best team in the NFL right now. They were barely beaten by the Cowboys, and they responded by bludgeoning the best the AFC North had to offer. At some point, please explain to me why the Redskins would make the playoffs and the Eagles wouldn't. Honestly, let's wait until Week 6 to start coming up with possible playoff scenarios. I'm worried about you. And yes, if the Redskins beat the Cowboys at Texas Stadium, I may rank them as high as No. 5 in the power rankings. Thanks for your contribution, John.
Brian in Charlotte, N.C. writes: Just wanted to say I don't think you're crazy for saying Demetric Evans will have a good game with Jason Taylor out for the Cowboys game. OK, I'm a 'Skins fan so take it for what it's worth, but Evans has been more than solid in relief the past few years. Who knows what he can do full time, but he's no bum. Also, Chris Wilson will get the third-down work and he's proven he can get to the quarterback. I'm hoping Taylor will return to his Miami form by mid-season, but as of right now, this injury doesn't hurt our chances at all. Skins win, 31-27.
Mosley: I've visited with Evans about playing the Cowboys before. He spent time with the franchise before relocating to Washington. I think he has a lot of incentive, and I like the way he plays against the run. If Taylor was in the starting lineup, the Cowboys would line up Jason Witten next to right tackle Marc Colombo and run right at him. You'd still rather have Taylor for his pass-rushing skills, but it's not as huge a loss as some folks are making it.
Vance from El Centro has an issue with my lack of objectivity: Mosley, you really need to just get over Brett Favre. I read most of what you write, and I like most of what you write. But you really seem to have a personal hang-up there. You are not able to be objective on an issue that cries out for objectivity. Yes, the Packers made the right choice, both for this season and for the future. Rodgers gives them as good of a chance to win this season, and another year holding a clipboard was not going to improve the quarterback that is definitely their future. The ONLY reason to have brought Favre back would be to preserve that relationship, to maintain the mystique and the celebrity angle. It would not have been an "on the field improvement" decision. And, if you think the former reasons are important enough, then fine, advocate for that. But at some point you are going to have to admit that, from a purely football perspective, the team is better off for getting Rodgers into the starting role this year. Again, I really like your stuff, and I always click when I see your name, but I think you have a blind-spot here.
Mosley: Vance, keep on clicking. And yes, I'm certainly not trying to win the coveted objectivity award at ESPN.com. We've seen Rodgers start three games for the Green Bay Packers. He's had two solid performances and a mediocre outing against the Cowboys. It makes no sense to me that folks assume he gives the Packers as good a chance to win as Favre. How do we know? We've seen three games from the kid. The Packers botched this decision at every turn, and Brett made a fool out of himself at times. But if the goal was to win the Super Bowl in 2008, the Packers should've welcomed Favre back for another season. It's hilarious to me that Rodgers turned into such a sympathetic character nationally. Exactly how had this man been wronged? There was a time when rookie quarterbacks had to wait their turn a few years. Ask Steve Young about that. Tony Romo needed Drew Bledsoe to stink up the joint in order to take the field in his fourth season. Wait, am I not being objective?
Stephen from Villanova checks in with: What's up with all the hate on the Redskins. No picture of Jason Campbell even though he is top 15 and ahead of Eli Manning in quarterback rating. Plus, Clinton Portis is the best running back besides Westbrook. And Santana Moss is in the top five in receiving yards so far and is better than all but T.O. So how 'bout giving us some respect!
Mosley: I'm amazed at how frustrated some of you guys were about Jason Campbell's picture not being up with the other three NFC East QBs with my NFC Beast column Monday. Believe it or not, I'm not in charge of choosing art for my stories. This responsibility falls to my editor, who to the best of my knowledge, doesn't have anything against Campbell. If it makes you feel any better, let me remind you that I'm spending some time with Campbell tomorrow. And if you think I'm anti-Redskins, you haven't been reading the Beast.
And why are we having this argument about Portis and Moss? Don't recall saying anything about them lately. I will say that T.O. and Plaxico Burress are both better than Santana Moss. And give me a couple more weeks, and I may say that DeSean Jackson's better. Moss is a tremendous threat (as evidenced by his current touchdown streak), but he's also capable of falling off the map for a month. The great ones don't do that.
Tedd has something to get off his chest: I really do enjoy your articles and think you are a great writer, but does almost every article you post have to be about the Cowboys? You've got the best division in football, the defending Super Bowl champs along with the Eagles and the Redskins, yet most of your articles are about the Cowboys. It would just be nice to hear about the other teams in this division a little more.
Mosley: Folks, I live in Dallas and used to cover the Cowboys for the Dallas Morning News. I get the fact that some of you assume that I'll be biased toward Cowboys news. But just for fun, I went back and took a look at the blog this week: eight Giants entries, six Eagles, five Redskins and two Cowboys. Some weeks, it will be heavy Cowboys, some weeks it will be heavier Giants. Just hang in there with the Beast.
OK, I have to go interview Jason Campbell now. He's been complaining that his picture wasn't on top of a recent blog entry. As always, you guys were wonderful. Only 1,040 more emails to go through tonight.