- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Scott from Leesburg, Va. and Jason from Russell, Mass. each had questions about what's up with the New York Giants' running game. Scott wonders if they'd be better off giving Andre Brown more carries and Ahmad Bradshaw fewer, and Jason thinks the problems have to do with scheme and playcalling.
Dan Graziano: Well, Jason, you're right that the Giants' run game looked much better against Cleveland and San Francisco when they appeared to commit to it, and I think the issues the past two weeks were due to several factors. First, I think they were opponent-related. Against Washington, teams like to throw the ball because the defensive weaknesses are in the secondary. So it's understandable to see teams design game plans to try to take advantage of the Redskins through the air. And Dallas just played an excellent all-around defensive game, especially considering the field-position issues that resulted from the turnovers. But the other thing to consider is that Bradshaw hasn't been 100 percent healthy since that San Francisco game, and so it's fair to assume the run game hasn't found the same kind of rhythm it had when he was healthy and churning out 30 and 27 carries against the Browns and 49ers. That gets to Scott's point about a possible timeshare between Brown and Bradshaw, which might be in the offing. I don't think Brown is a threat to actually take Bradshaw's job, since Bradshaw has more in the bank with the Giants and is the better pass protector for their pass-first offense. But I think the fact that Bradshaw broke down again after the two highest single-game carry totals of his career will lead the Giants to split carries between the two (or possible even among them and rookie David Wilson) moving forward.
Ray from Fairport, N.Y. describes himself as "a huge Tony Romo fan," but suggests that the Dallas Cowboys trade Romo and a second-round or third-round pick to the Chiefs for what Ray presumes will be the first pick in next year's draft. Under Ray's plan, current backup Kyle Orton is the quarterback for a year while Matt Barkley or Geno Smith or whoever gets ready to take over as the next "franchise" quarterback.
DG: Geez, Ray. With "huge fans" like you, who needs enemies? The Cowboys are going to give Romo a contract extension that keeps him in Dallas for the remainder of his career. He's an excellent quarterback who's having a substandard, mistake-prone year, but his year isn't over yet and he's done much more good than harm as the Cowboys' quarterback, and they know they're not going to find anyone better at this point. As happy as the Chiefs or about two-thirds of the teams in the league would be to have Romo, the Cowboys aren't going to dump him for a draft pick who'd be lucky to ever be almost as good an NFL player as Romo already is. I also don't agree with those who find it so urgent to have a backup plan in place for when Romo leaves. How many teams actually pull that off? What current franchise quarterback was ever his current team's multiple-year understudy? Aaron Rodgers? Philip Rivers? Romo himself? That's about it. Pretty hard to do. When the time comes to replace Romo, the Cowboys will replace Romo. But now isn't the time. They have much bigger problems.
Stephen from Philadelphia agrees that benching Michael Vick in favor of rookie Nick Foles won't save the Philadelphia Eagles' season. But he is convinced Vick is not the future in Philadelphia, and wonders if it might make sense to put Foles in to see if he's the answer long-term.
DG: It would be, Stephen, if the Eagles believed this season to be lost. But before Andy Reid or anyone who's currently running the Eagles can think about the future, they need to make something of this season. If they don't, the owner is likely to clean house and replace them all at the end of the year. So as long as this season is salvageable, Foles stays on the bench and Vick in the lineup as their best chance to win six or seven of their final nine games. If they lose the next, say, four, and all is lost, then I think you have a case. But for now, while they retain a chance to make this year's playoffs, they're not thinking about the future.
Finally, Barry from Atlanta, Ga. wonders whether out-of-work wide receiver Plaxico Burress is "such a liability" that the Washington Redskins won't even give him a look in a week after which their receivers dropped so many balls.
DG: In a word, yes. I mean, I know everybody loves the recognizable names, but the fact is that 32 NFL teams are leaving Burress alone, and there are plenty that could use receiving help. He's 35 years old, comes with a ton of baggage and a history of being disruptive, wasn't a very good player for the Jets last season, and simply isn't worth a team's time or trouble. The Redskins like their receivers, and will like them even more once Pierre Garcon is back on the field. They're building something in Washington with a certain kind of player. They're not remotely interested in a half-season band-aid that might not even work.
That's it for this week's mailbag. Chat at you Sunday afternoon from MetLife Stadium.