Saturday, September 8, 2012
Weekend mailbag: David Wilson's benching
By Dan Graziano
Been a while, and lots of stuff has happened, since the last time we did this. So let's see what you guys have got for me.
Vijay in New York believes "it seems as though Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys offense never get out of the huddle with less than 7-8 seconds and never snaps the ball with less than 1 second left on the play clock," and he wonders whether he's imagining it or whether the Cowboys struggle more than most teams with delay-of-game penalties.
Dan Graziano: I don't have the stats on number of delay-of-game penalties over the past however-many years, and I welcome the opportunity to seek those out if someone can tell me where to look. To your basic point, though, I did think it looked as though the Cowboys were taking too long Wednesday night to get the play in, and I thought that was an issue last year as well. Game and clock management are things on which Jason Garrett, a still very inexperienced head coach, continues to work and improve, and I think you do see a little bit of hesitation and indecisiveness from time to time as the play gets communicated from sideline to huddle.
Alexander from Hoboken, N.J., asks whether it was smart for New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin to bench rookie running back David Wilson on offense for the rest of the game after his early fumble Wednesday, considering how good Sean Lee is at forcing fumbles and how important Wilson and his psyche can be to the Giants going forward.
DG: Alexander, I appreciate that you're questioning a decision that the general NFL public always seems to rubber-stamp. It's worth asking your question, and I'm sure there are instances in which it wouldn't have been appropriate. But the Giants always think long-range and big-picture, and Coughlin preaches protection of the football as a fundamental part of winning football. "Unacceptable" without consequences is the same thing as "acceptable," and if Coughlin's going to tell his team it's unacceptable to fumble then there have to be consequences for doing it. He's benched Tiki Barber, Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs and others for fumbling, and I'm sure he would again. Doing it to a first-round pick in his first game is a dramatic way to make a point, but it's also got to be an effective one. The main reason he didn't put Wilson back in the game was fear he might fumble again in a close, important game. But if Wilson, who had fumble issues in college, takes it as a lesson and takes ball security more seriously as a result, then in the long run Coughlin believes it was worth whatever it might have cost him in the short term. So my answer is that there is thought and reason and purpose behind this decision, and I think for that reason it was a good one.
Scott from York, Pa., asks, as several others have, where Philadelphia Eagles tackle Jason Peters would have ranked on my NFC East Top 20 list if I hadn't excluded him because of the injury that will keep him off the field all year.
DG: I hadn't really thought about that until people started to ask. Certainly, he'd have been the highest-ranked offensive lineman on the list, which means he would have been ranked higher than No. 13 Tyron Smith (who didn't make me look real smart, by the way, Wednesday!). But looking at the list again, and just taking a guess, I'd estimate he'd have come in around that 8-9 range where Justin Tuck and Jason Babin are. Again, I haven't thought this through to the extent that I thought through the list I made, so it's hard to say. But that's probably a good estimate.
Scottie from Berrian Springs, Mich., is a Redskins fan who says he didn't love the Top 20 because only two Redskins were on it. But he was nice about it, saying his hope is that the Redskins do something to deserve having more players on the list if and when we do it again a year from now.
DG: Thanks, Scottie. It's obviously nothing against the Redskins players. I just think, in general, they have more to prove than do the players on the list. People were upset about Trent Williams not being on it, for instance. I like Williams a lot, and I think he has the potential to be a superstar left tackle. But he hasn't put together a full year as good as the one Smith had for Dallas last year as a rookie. I think Pierre Garcon has the physical gifts necessary to be a top wide receiver in Mike Shanahan's system, but we haven't see him do it yet. Scottie is correct that it's on the Redskins' players to find their way onto lists like this, and they have a few who very well could.
Thanks for the questions. Talk to you again from New Orleans.