- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Welcome to the debut of our new (and hopefully improved) Twitter mailbag. I took submissions on Thursday at the @ESPN_NFCEast account with the hashtag #NFCEastmail, and it seemed to work pretty well. Here are a few of your questions.
@jaramillov: Who do you think the #Redskins could go after in the free agency to fix their secondary?
@ESPN_NFCEast: The biggest name and best target, for me, is Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd, who's the kind of ball hawk who would really bolster their coverage. The Washington Redskins need some help at cornerback as well, but I think someone with Byrd's athleticism would help everybody on the defense. They don't really have a coverage safety right now, and he's as good as they get. He's also 26 years old, which means he's in the age group Mike Shanahan likes to target in free agency. I wouldn't be surprised if Byrd were high on the Redskins' priority list, though our man James Walker reports that Buffalo is already trying to lock him up.
@ESPN_NFCEast: Tom Coughlin indicated that one or both of Ryan Torain or Kregg Lumpkin could see action this week, but since they're both new to the New York Giants' system it appears Wilson will serve as the primary backup to Ahmad Bradshaw. That's not really your question, though, as "Andre Brown's" role was more than just backup. Brown was the goal-line back (eight touchdown runs this year) and got some early-down work throughout the game due to Bradshaw's ongoing injury issues. I would expect Bradshaw to get the goal-line carries that were going to Brown, and Wilson to spell Bradshaw on early downs at other places on the field. The reason the Giants like Wilson is his explosiveness and big-play ability, so rather than use him to pick up tough, between-tackles yardage, look for them to give him the ball in spots from which he might be able to break a big play.
@gianacopulos: Garrett has yet to prove he's the right coach for the DC. We know Jones likes him but do you think he's the one?
@ESPN_NFCEast: This question refers to my stock answer when asked whether Jason Garrett is on the "hot seat" as coach of the Dallas Cowboys. I always say no, because Cowboys owner Jerry Jones likes Garrett, think he's doing a good job (he's still got a winning record as a head coach, at 18-17, after all) and views him as part of the ongoing team-building project in which the Cowboys believe themselves to be engaged. But this question is about whether I think Jones is correct in sticking with Garrett and believing he's the right guy to coach the Cowboys. My opinion is that Garrett is still a young coach who's learning on the job, and that can obviously look ugly at times. But I think he's shown improvement in the areas for which he most often gets criticized, and I think the players buy into him as a leader. So if Jones is looking for evidence to support his belief that Garrett will be a good NFL head coach, he can find it. One thing I hear a lot is that Garrett wouldn't be on a lot of other teams' short lists for coordinator or certainly head-coach jobs if Jones fired him tomorrow, and that's true. He remains unproven and unexciting, and he would not be getting anything like the chance he's getting in Dallas if not for his relationship with Jones. So I guess, like a lot of people around the league, I don't personally see what Jones sees that makes him so encouraged about Garrett. I have to credit Jones, an owner with a reputation for impatience, for sticking to his guns and applying the lessons he says he's learned about the value of patience and continuity in the leadership positions. But, yeah, there is cause to wonder whether Garrett was the right guy on whom to apply those particular lessons.
@michugana: Can you explain the Babin release in more detail? Why not wait and trade him? Philly is far under the cap.
@ESPN_NFCEast: The Philadelphia Eagles were far under the cap this year, but their preseason projections showed them to be over the cap next year by as much as they were under it this year. So it's not as though they could just carry Jason Babin in the hope that someone would take him off their hands. But as for why they cut him this week, there were a number of reasons. The biggest was Brandon Graham, the 2010 first-round draft pick who's playing extremely well in limited time and deserves the look he's about to get as a starting defensive end. If the Eagles' plan was to give Graham more playing time, then Babin would have had to go to the bench. And once you're putting Babin on the bench, it's worth questioning why you'd even have him on the team in the first place. This is a guy who's only ever done one thing well -- sack the quarterback. If he's not out there getting something like the 18 sacks he got in 2011, (or even the 12.5 he got in 2010 with Tennessee), he's just not real useful. I don't know for sure that he was a detrimental locker-room presence, but at best he was a keep-to-himself guy who didn't help out in any kind of veteran leadership role. Total one-trick pony who wasn't going to be on next year's team anyway, and with their depth at defensive line they simply don't need him around anymore. And I don't think they could have got anything of value in a trade. The only coach for whom Babin's ever performed at anything resembling an elite level is Jim Washburn, who was his defensive line coach with the Titans in 2010 and the past two years in Philadelphia. Unless some team was going to hire Washburn too, it's doubtful the Eagles could have sold Babin as much more than the so-so guy he's been this year. This was a case of just being done with a guy and cutting the cord. Didn't cost them a dime.
Thanks for the submissions. We'll do this again next week. I think it's much more manageable than the old way.