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Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Since the Beast is taking the Fourth of July off (without permission) from management, I'm posting the mailbag a day early. Many of you guys thought I was nuts to suggest Eli Manning could become the first $50 million (guaranteed) quarterback in the history of the league. I'll give you a chance to sound off in today's mailbag -- minus the expletives of course. So let's get the fireworks started:
Jeff in New York is concerned about my Thursday column on Eli: Mr. Mosley, yes I am a hardcore Steelers fan but I feel I am being unbiased here: I just read your piece on Eli Manning and you had mentioned you could argue that Eli is better than Ben Roethlisberger... can I ask how you can argue that? Unless you are basing your argument on one game (one unbelievable performance, I'll admit), it is not even close. Roethlisberger has two rings, more fourth-quarter comebacks, more regular-season wins, more playoff wins, more TDs career and less INTs career.
The one edge I can safely give Eli is his arm strength. He has a much better feel for the deep ball than Roethlisberger and while Ben tends to scramble and extend plays, Eli is much more comfortable standing in the pocket and delivering the ball. Eli is a very good quarterback and I am waiting to see when he has that explosive 30-TD year because I believe he will get there. I am just not ready to put him on Roethlisberger's level. Plus, I think he needs a weapon or two on the wide-receiver side this year because it is simply not fair to put all the pressure on him to perform at such a high level with mostly young, unproven receivers. Can he handle the load?
Mosley: First off, Jeff wins the award for longest question this week -- and he's obviously pretty knowledgable. But to suggest a Steelers fans can be "unbiased" in an Eli vs. Big Ben debate seems like a stretch. I don't think it's fair for people to suggest that Manning's career can only be measured by his performance in the Super Bowl, although he was outstanding that day. Both quarterbacks have been helped by strong running games and excellent receivers. It remains to be seen what Manning can do without Burress, but let's wait and give him a chance.
Jeff, you're sort of obsessed with numbers, but let me point out to you that Manning has succeeded over the past five seasons against superior competition. I know the Ravens were solid last season, but they haven't played like that throughout Big Ben's career. The Bengals are the Bengals (except for the one season) and the Browns had one decent season during the Roethlisberger era. Manning has spent his career in the best division in football (no bias) and that interception total is inflated because of getting thrown into the fire his rookie season. In Roethlisberger's first Super Bowl run, he wasn't asked to do nearly as much as Manning in his first Super Bowl run. And Roethlisberger played poorly in the Steelers' first Super Bowl appearance of the decade. Any arguments?
Manning and Roethlisberger have played almost the exact same amount of games since 2004 (73-72) and yes, Big Ben has thrown five fewer interceptions (69). But the number that bothers me about Roethlisberger is that he takes too many sacks. You can say that Manning's had the better offensive line (and you'd be right), but early on, Big Ben's line was better. He's taken 72 more sacks than Manning, which sort of adds up. Roethlisberger holds the ball longer, which helps account for his 192 sacks taken. Manning has 120 sacks, and he's much more willing to throw it away and not put his offense in a long-yardage situation. I understand that both fan bases are completely happy with their quarterbacks -- as they should be. But in the long run, I think Manning will prove to be the better player. Geez, we're already about 600 words in and we've "answered" one question.
Jeff from Beaumont, Texas, has a Redskins question: Matt, I always knew that Jason Campbell had to learn a new offense every year in the NFL, but I just recently read that he's in his seventh new offense in the last eight years (the exception being this year with Jim Zorn). Do you think Jason Campbell steps up to Pro Bowl/playoff level play or do you see him holding on to the ball, still hesitant to make the big play?
Mosley: There is no bigger defender of Jason Campbell on the Internet today than the Beast, but the "new offense" angle is getting a little old. Yes, it's relevant. But at some point you have to play the hand you're dealt in order to succeed. The other three teams in the division don't have sympathy for Campbell because of all the changes, so he has to find a way to overcome everything. In some ways, it's a little overblown. If a guy's talented enough to quickly process information, go through his reads and deliver the ball in traffic, he should be able to do it in any system. I think Campbell's poised to have a solid season, but there are too many good quarterbacks in the Beast for him to jump into the Pro Bowl. To address your last question, I think he'll be far less hesitant in his second year under Zorn. But if Stephon Heyer and Co. can't give him any time, it might not matter.
William B. from Beaverton, Ore. writes: I was wondering if you wanted to have a debate about the outlook of the NFC East in your comments section because, personally, I think you lost the debate on Eli Manning and Philip Rivers and I could win on any topic.
Mosley: More than 12,000 readers (possibly inflated) disagreed with you, William. But set up the debate and I'll join you in the comments section during training camp. I've been meaning to spend more time in the "comments" section. You'll recognize me by our exciting "nfceastadmin" tag.
Steve W. from Anchorage has a beef with our Tiger-Romo coverage: Matt, would be nice if for a day you left Tony Romo out of your reports. Who cares if he went golfing with Tiger? I went golfing with a couple buddies the other day. NO ONE CARES. The Pope doesn't talk about Jesus as much as you talk about the Cowboys! It's the NFC East, not the Cowboys blog -- since the Cowboys can't win the division or a playoff game, move on and become a reporter, not a Dallas insider.
Mosley: Steve, it takes guts to compare a round with your buddies in Achorage with a round including Tony Romo and the most popular golfer on the planet. And let's leave religion out of this! :)
Mike from Sedita, Ga., sent this message via fax: Matt, great piece on Eli's contract. My question is, after you write something like that, do you sit back and actually read the dribble of comments? I mean you're writing for every team generates almost the same response; here is the formula: insert any team in the article and the other three division foes for responses. Positive article about the Giants and then the Eagles, Cowboys and Redskins fans tank it while the Giants fans praise it -- as I did here.
egative article about the Giants, and the Eagles, Cowboys and Redskins fans LOVE it and the Giants fans bash it. Then there is the random AFC West guy who did a search for Rivers who chimes in. I usually read about three, laugh and go to your next note. I personally like most of it either way. Great work!
Mosley: Mike, stop giving away my secrets. Honestly, that's what makes writing the blog so fun. I realize that I'm going to get accused of being biased toward all four teams at times. That comes with the territory. For some reason, though, one team seems to come up more than any other! But yes, I sit back and read all the comments -- even the negative ones. You guys have made the Beast a huge success, and that's why I embrace the haters -- and the handful of supporters.
Programming note: I'll try to add a few more answers throughout the weekend, so please hit "refresh" every five hours or so. And have a wonderful Fourth of July!