Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
The American people have spoken. You want me to read your e-mails more than once a week, so I've hired a focus group to look into this and see if it's something we should consider.
But seriously, I appreciate the fact that NFC Beast readers are the most prolific group of the NFL Blog Network. It's with great pride and some trepidation that we once again try to clean out my Mailbag. Many of you (from the 214 area code) have demanded more Cowboys coverage, but I'm planning to spend a great deal of time on the other three teams in the division this week.
Thanks for your eloquently phrased questions, but more importantly, for your honesty. The Mailbag has allowed us to meet on a quasi-personal level, and that's something we can build on. Surfing through your (favorable) comments is an edifying and lasting experience. I promise to only answer one (perhaps three) Big 12 questions in this edition.
Let's begin with Isaac from Maryland. Isaac, what's on your mind this morning? Really liking all this Chris Horton coverage, including your recent column. One article I read, might have been yours, stated that his interceptions have covered up his coverage mistakes on the field. (The Witten TD last week). Besides his interceptions, how is the rest of his game?
Mosley: As founder and president of the Chris Horton fan club, rest assured that we'll continue to monitor the young man's progress. I'll admit that I only watched the play you mentioned twice but it seems the Redskins were worried about that wheel route (I love a good wheel route) Cowboys rookie Felix Jones was running down the left sideline. Marcus Washington got locked in one-on-one coverage with Witten, and that's a bad place for him to be. Witten sells him on a double-move, touchdown Cowboys. Witten was actually open several times in the second half, but the Cowboys had launched their T.O. appeasement program.
Listen, Horton will make a lot of mistakes. At one point, the Redskins had to pull him off the field against the Cowboys. But as Bill Parcells used to say about certain players, the ball always seems to find Horton. You need that type of player on the field. He's not going to be a great coverage guy, but there's not a lot of strong safeties who fit that description. Horton's pretty solid against the run, and he looks a bit lost in coverage at times. But if defensive coordinator Greg Blache keeps getting takeaways out of the rookie, he'll be willing to put up with the mistakes. Just a really neat kid who shares my passion for "Dexter," although don't send me an e-mail about the first episode. And I mean it.
Bryan from DC has been reading Pat Yasinskas' excellent NFC South blog: In Pat Yasinskas' blog it says Phily has dropped a league-leading 11 passes so far this year. Do you know who is the main culprit behind that statistic?
Mosley: Bryan, I'll track down my Stats Inc. password, and try to provide the breakdown on the NFC East blog later today. What I can tell you (after intensive research) is that Donovan McNabb has thrown the most passes in the division. His 146 attempts leads Tony Romo by seven, and the other two quarterbacks by 20 or more attempts (Eli's played one less game). The Eagles have had more opportunities to drop balls. Off the top of my head, I remember rookie DeSean Jackson having a big drop in the red zone against the Cowboys, which forced the Eagles to settle for a field goal.
But you have to cut the Eagles a little slack for beginning the season without their starting wideouts. If you put the ball in the air that many times, there will be some drops. Over the years, starter Reggie Brown and veteran Greg Lewis have dropped their fair share of passes. It shouldn't be surprising that Jason Avant and Hank Baskett also dropped a few balls. And throw L.J. Smith in there, too. For a guy who needed to be an impact player this season, he's been pretty quiet.
Sniper1532 writes: Way to go and attack the reports for the Cowboys. Wow, you guys (ESPN) only get worse, and people like you who just love to hate on the Cowboys and T.O., but that's OK. I stopped watching you guys a long time ago for this reason. You guys know what T.O. is gonna say when you ask questions like, "Did you get the ball enough?" I mean come on.
Mosley: Sniper, this e-mail actually warms my heart. The folks in the "Cowboys bias" camp never knew my reputation as an alleged "Cowboys hater," as you put it. If I can reach across the aisle (I watched the Palin-Biden debate), then we've reached some bipartisanship on the blog.
To your T.O. point, my colleague and good friend Ed Werder is the reporter who asked the question you referenced. There's a laughable premise that T.O. should somehow be protected from himself by people working in the media. T.O. has stated after several games that he didn't receive enough passes, which makes him a lot like most star receivers in this league. I'm not sure Ed phrased the question exactly like you did, but even if he did, what the heck's wrong with it? T.O. seemed visibly upset when he'd come to the sideline. This sort of behavior might lead a reporter to ask whether he felt like he was being used properly.
I've defended T.O. several times in the past and I'm taken him to task when I think he's in the wrong. This notion that we shouldn't take the chance of asking a question that might cause someone to say something that they will later be criticized for is ridiculous. Given T.O.'s history with quarterbacks, it makes sense to pursue this line of questioning. A reporter from the Cowboys' in-house Internet operation apparently accused Ed of lacking objectivity, which led to an entertaining exchange at Valley Ranch on Wednesday. And Sniper, I'm sorry if you've actually stopped watching ESPN. I'm certainly happy that you're still supporting ESPN.com.
Moving on in a hurry, let's go to Mark from Flemington, N.J., who writes: Hey Matt, I'm a die-hard Eagles fan
(don't worry, not the insane kind), and I've got to say from watching these past few games, especially the Bears game, that Lito Sheppard seems like a better corner than Asante Samuel. I mean, yes, Samuel is more physical, but, especially in that Bears game, there were a lot of balls thrown his way that Sheppard would have knocked down or picked off. What do you think?
Mosley: A couple of longtime Eagles beat writers whom I respect have told me they think Sheldon Brown is the best of the three. I think Lito Sheppard matches up well with some smaller, quicker receivers. I know he'd been great against the Cowboys leading up to that last game. I find it interesting that Jim Johson will play Brown in the slot against Santana Moss on Sunday. I think Sheppard might match up really well.
The knock on Samuel was that he took too many chances. Hey, it's only been four games in a new defense. Let's give him until at least Week 6 before we demote him. Oh, and the Eagles paid way too much money and have entirely too much pride to do something like that.
Garrison from Boston has religion on his mind: During the Dallas-Washington game, when James Thrash scored his TD, right after he spiked the ball, he fell to his knees and pointed skyward in celebration. Why wasn't that a 15-yard penalty? The rule clearly states that if a player falls to the ground, he's flagged. T.O.'s Usain Bolt tribute drew a 15-yarder. Why didn't Thrash's celebration draw a flag?
Mosley: Garrison, I'm glad you asked this question. I'm pretty sure the NFL's vice president of officiating (and official Hochuli apologist) Mike Pereira came out and said they weren't going to penalize a player for a religious expression in the end zone, such as pointing skyward. Now, if they determined later that Thrash was actually pointing at an attractive woman in the upper-deck, he might receive a fine. But seriously, if a guy wants to use that stage to express his beliefs, the officials would rather not "judge" them for it. I think the league ought to have a rule, though, that prayers or skyward points can't last longer than 30 seconds. I know we had that in my church growing up.
Josh from Ardmore, Okla., is kind enough to say: Mosley, you should take Pacman to some Baylor games and sit in the "Cavemen for Christ" section. I listen to you cats every day on 103.3 FM ESPN.
Mosley: God bless ya, Josh. Had no clue the signal stretched that far (or maybe you're listening on the Internet). I have considered taking Adam "Pacman" Jones to a Baylor game, but I want to let him settle in before we take that trip. The Cowboys have actually listed George's bar as a place Jones is not able to enter, so that cuts our options in half. I'm pretty sure, though, that Adam would enjoy his time at Floyd Casey Stadium, where the No. 1-ranked Sooners will be introduced to the Legend of Robert Griffin on Saturday.
Mosley donkey writes: Giants staring at 4-0 with Seahawks coming to town huh you're a jack [expletive] East Coast reporter arent you?...Matt Mosley who??
Mosley: Well, actually I don't have a third name, so you got the name right. And if I'm going to read more than 1,220 of your e-mails, the insults need to be a bit more specific. I've lived in the Kaufman-Dallas-Waco triangle all my life, so not sure what to make of the "East Coast" comment.
Matt from a Hotmail account writes: Do you think Jerry Jones watches the caricature that Al Davis has become and starts planning an aggressive transition plan to his kids?
Mosley: Actually, Jerry and Al are close friends. That said, Jerry takes really good care of himself these days, and only requires about five hours of sleep a night. This new stadium has given him a lot more energy, and I don't think he's even close to being in Al's situation. Stephen Jones will take over the reins at some point, but it won't happen in the next decade. Jerry's having way too much fun -- and this stadium, in many ways, is his legacy. He wants to stick around and enjoy it for a few years. Davis is a shell of his former self. You saw some of the old competitiveness in him the other day during that weird news conference, but you also saw why this has become such an embarrassing franchise. As long as he's alive, the organization will continue to be a joke. Wait, did that sound harsh?
Samir from an undisclosed location says: Hey Mr. Mosley, I was hoping you could say something about how the media seems to focus on Dallas in the Redskins at Dallas game on Sunday. I find it odd that even though the Redskins played incredibly, every TV sports commentary show, including the local D.C. shows, have been talking about Dallas with a snippet or two about the Redskins' amazing game. I am desperately searching for a serious post about what that game meant for the Redskins and some deep analysis from their side of the game. I mean come on! The Redskins won the game, not Dallas. They had the upset.
Mosley: Samir, the Cowboys were considered the best team in football heading into the game, so a lot of folks wanted to know what happened. But yes, the Redskins deserved a ton of praise for dominating the Cowboys at the line of scrimmage and for Jason Campbell's masterful performance. Here's something from my self-promotions department that you might enjoy from Sunday's ESPN.com game coverage.
John from Brooklyn writes: Hi Matt, Love your work. I find myself constantly checking for updates. I guess I can't get enough football. Anyway, I'm writing because I'm begininng to get concerned with all the praise the Giants are receiving. They're my team and I beleive they can play with anybody, but something doesn't feel right when they are suddenly being crowned the best team in the league after a bye week. They beat a Redskins team that looked out of sync and only a shell of its current self. A Rams team that may only win one game this year. And were brought to overtime by the Bengals, who now sit a 0-4. The Giants still have a lot to prove and I'm afraid they could lose their edge after receiving so much praise. I beleive the next few weeks will tell us a lot about how well Coughlin has the Giants prepared to deal with success.
Mosley: John, I think your concerns are somewhat valid, although I'd go ahead and embrace the love for a few days. This is a team that has complained about not receiving enough respect for its Super Bowl title, so bask in the glow of being No. 1 in the ESPN.com power rankings for a week or two.
Listen, I'm one of the few people out there that isn't really worried about this Plaxico Burress situation. He'll return after missing one game, and it gives Domenik Hixon a wonderful opportunity to prove himself as a legitimate threat in the passing game. Eli missed him deep against the Bengals. It won't happen Sunday. Even the great Bruce DeHaven (special teams coach) won't be able to get the Seahawks over the hump. And thanks for indulging me in gratuitous mentions of my favorite assistant coaches.
Chas from Pittsburgh, you have the last word this morning: Hey Matt, you are a man of your word...ranking the 'Skins third and the Cowboys fifth. We Redskins fans appreciate it. Now, if you could slap some sense into Tim Graham, I'd be happy. Just out of curiosity, how do you think the Eagles-Redskins game is gonna go this Sunday?
Mosley: I've reached across party lines to visit with Tim about his Redskins ranking. He ignored me, but did it in a polite manner. Regarding Sunday's game, I think the Eagles find a way to end the Redskins' winning streak at the Linc. After a highly emotional win over the Cowboys on the road, it seems like a lot to ask for them to do it again. I do know that the Redskins have a ton of confidence, in part, because they beat the Eagles at the Linc last season.
Great quarterback matchup between Jason Campbell and Donovan McNabb. Both have big arms and both are nimble in the pocket. I smell a big game coming from McNabb, and I think Jim Johnson's defense could be tough on Campbell. I'm driving the Redskins bandwagon right now, but I think the Eagles win in a barnburner, 28-24. You've been wonderful as always. Remember to tip your blog editors on the way out. One of them just read a 2,300-word column, which seems excessive.
Keep the mail coming -- preferably not to my home address, though.