Saturday, January 5, 2013
Twitter mailbag: Is Fletcher Hall worthy?
By Dan Graziano
Welcome to this week's edition of the Twitter mailbag, which can be accessed at any time simply by tweeting a question with the hashtag #nfceastmail. I go through them all at the end of the week, and the result looks a little something like this.
@mcintosh37: I know he is playing, but make a case for London Fletcher as a 1st Ballot HOFer?
@ESPN_NFCEast: This came up in the Washington Redskins' media room the other day in light of the retirement announcement of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. The specific question was why Fletcher, whose career résumé is quite similar to that of Lewis, isn't treated with the same kind of superstar respect. Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall said in interviews this week that he'd take Fletcher over Lewis, and I think most people who played with Fletcher do hold him in the same kind of regard as Lewis' teammates have for him. The big differences, as I see them, are in public personality and turnovers. Lewis is a much more outwardly visible and vocal leader than ... well, than anyone. Maybe ever. And I mean, like, in politics, too, not just football. Lewis has been an inescapable presence on TVs and video screens for more than a decade. I feel as though he's been "miked up" for every game of his career. Sometimes it looks as though he's performing, though those who know him insist it's all genuine. The end result, though, is that he gets a great deal more attention than a quieter leader such as Fletcher might get. But statistically, where Lewis outpaces Fletcher is in the category of big, game-changing turnovers. They're even or close to even in terms of years, games played, tackles, Super Bowl titles and even sacks. But Lewis has collected 50 turnovers in his career -- a stunning number at the linebacker position. Fletcher has 35, which is a more reasonable number. In the end, I'd say Fletcher probably should be a Hall of Famer, but he's not as obvious a Hall of Famer as Lewis is. Fletcher's underappreciated and Lewis is probably a bit overappreciated, but they're both great players who deserve that consideration.
@bomb_odnar: does Jerry cut Ratliff after this season? Could that possibly open up cap space like the Newman cut last year?
@ESPN_NFCEast: Cutting Jay Ratliff would certainly help the Dallas Cowboys against the cap, and after he and owner/GM Jerry Jones had it out in the locker room during the season, you wonder if it's more of a possibility. But recall this about the Terence Newman case from last year: Newman was cut because the Cowboys decided he was playing too poorly and they needed to upgrade at that position, which they did with their big free-agent signing as well as their first-round draft pick. Replacing Ratliff would be more difficult, and with Josh Brent's status in doubt as a result of the intoxication manslaughter charges he's facing, there's no ready replacement on the roster. Ratliff isn't super-safe, but if I had to guess I'd say he's back since they don't have better options available to them and they need help in other places on the defensive and offensive lines.
@DuaneWhittaker: What are the Eagles likely going for at #4 at the draft. Is Nnamdi there next year?
@ESPN_NFCEast. Ah, two questions in one! A lot of the Philadelphia Eagles can't be answered until we find out who the new head coach is going to be, as he'll be involved in many of the decisions. In a vacuum, though, I'd take an offensive tackle with that No. 4 pick. Someone like Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel, if he lasts that long. Don't rule out the possibility that one or more of these quarterbacks sees his draft stock rise between now and the draft, though, and if whoever the new coach is likes someone better than he likes Nick Foles, they could certainly take a quarterback with that pick. As for Nnamdi Asomugha, the disappointing cornerback, he'll have to restructure his deal if he wants to stay in Philadelphia. If he were willing to do that, I believe they might bring him back for another chance and work instead to beef up at safety.
@OilCountry10: Do you see The Giants drafting a corner to replace Webster ?
@ESPN_NFCEast: Corey Webster certainly had a disappointing season at cornerback for the New York Giants, a year after he was excellent as one of the cogs of their Super Bowl title team. So the question now is what the Giants think about him. Is he done? Did he just have a bad year? Will he bounce back? I doubt they've made that decision yet. I will say, though, that they used their first-round pick on cornerback Prince Amukamara in 2011 and their third-round pick on cornerback Jayron Hosley in 2012, so resource-wise they're pretty heavily committed there. They need help on the offensive line, and while they haven't used their first-round pick on an offensive lineman since Luke Petitgout in 1999, it may be time to think about a franchise-caliber piece at tackle. Even if Will Beatty is growing into the role, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to have bookends at that position. The most likely scenario for the Giants is always drafting a pass-rushing defensive lineman in the first round, and with Osi Umenyiora leaving and questions about Justin Tuck having surfaced this year, that's probably the way I'd bet. If I bet. Which I don't.
Thanks for the questions. Back with more this time next week.