Answering the mail
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
WATFORD, England -- The mail arrives in England, too. Time to answer your questions from the mailbag.
Ian in Ocala, FL, writes: It sounds like Caddy might be in pretty good shape which makes me wonder if the Bucs might try Graham at fullback. We are short there and Earnest did pretty well a couple weeks ago. Do you think its a possibility?
Pat Yasinskas writes: I don't think the Bucs will make the decision on whether to activate Cadillac Williams based on what's going on at fullback or even what's going on at tailback (it sounds like Warrick Dunn's neck injury isn't that serious). Sure, Earnest Graham showed he could play fullback very nicely, but coach Jon Gruden still likes him a lot as a tailback. The Bucs will put Williams back on the field this year only if he's completely healthy. In fact, I think the wiser move is to let Williams sit until 2009.
Charles in Korea writes: Do u think Colston will be more involved in the offense this week?
Pat Yasinskas: Yes, I talked to Marques Colston after practice on Wednesday and he said he's feeling like he's had a little more time to get back into rhythm. Colston admitted he had some problems with his timing in his return against Carolina. That's normal for a player who has missed a lot of time. The season is on the line for the Saints this week and they'd be smart to try to get the most out of one of their best players.
Jon in Charlotte writes: Hey Pat - hope your enjoying your ESPN gig, we miss you in the CLT. Hey, you kinda left us all hanging with Grudens remarks about his WR's and his 'day by day' outlook... That's not a Carpenter song, it's from the Broadway musical 'Godspell': http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/godspell/daybyday.htm
Pat Yasinskas: Thanks for the clarification. Sorry I didn't catch Jon Gruden's mistake, but I'm not up on what tunes the Carpenters did or did not do.
Mike in Minnesota: Pat, I'm thinking of starting Brees, Colston and Moore (over Harrison) this week. A buddy of mine reminded me of last year's game in London between the Giants and the Dolphins. The final score was 13-10 with the Giants winning. How much are the conditions going to factor in this week's game? Thanks! Mike in Minnesota.
Pat Yasinskas: Generally, we leave the fantasy football advice up to the experts on our site. But I'm going to bend the rules and address this here because the weather might be very important to this game. The last couple days have been relatively nice over here, but rain is supposed to start tonight and is in the forecast for the next few days, including Sunday. Last year's game featured a lot of mud and this could be similar. Although the Saints have been throwing the ball all over the field most of the year, the conditions could make this game a lot different.
Neil in Richmond, VA, writes: Pat, Even as a loyal Saints fan who hopes that we will miraculously turn things around and solidly wallop everyone in the division, I have to tip my hat to what is going on in Atlanta right now. I seem to recall you predicted that a six-win season would be a good best case scenario for them, and now a six-win season looks like it would be a meltdown. Matt Ryan is playing better than I thought was possible for a rookie QB in the NFL, and that is hardly the only area the Falcons have improved in. Is it too early to start talking about Mike Smith for coach of the year? It's hard to find many other teams that are preforming so far above expectations.
Pat Yasinskas: Yes, I think I did say six wins was a best-case scenario and I believe I wrote that after the Falcons already had won a game or two. In the preseason, I think I would have gone with a lower number of victories. I think just about everyone had low expectations for the Falcons. I don't think it's too early to talk about Mike Smith as coach of the year. No matter what happens the rest of the way, he's had a great first year and has the Falcons on the right track. Same for Matt Ryan. The future of this team is very bright.
Jimmy in New Orleans writes: I blame the loss to Carolina on the Saints' offensive and defensive lines. What are you thoughts on this? Also, I won't count last game because he was up against Peppers, but Jammal Brown has been disappointing and good for at least one holding penalty per game. And speaking of disappointment, Charles Grant and Will Smith haven't earned their paychecks yet. What's up with the sub-par performances of these allegedly pro-bowl caliber linemen?
Pat Yasinskas: I won't argue with you on Brown, Grant or Smith. I haven't seen Brown shine at all this season. The Saints made a lot of noise about getting more out of the pass rush when they switched defensive line coaches in the offseason. I thought that would help a lot, but it hasn't seemed to make much difference. Grant, Smith and Bobby McCray haven't been able to generate a consistent pass rush. In fairness, the Saints were counting on an inside push from rookie defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis would help the outside guys. Ellis' injury has hurt the entire line. Let's see what happens once he's back to full health.
Kathy in parts unknown writes: Hi Pat, I hope the Glazer's all paid attention to the comments made by Chris Collinsworth about the attitude of the entire TB organization. He stated that it was a joyful place. I know that there has been talk of Gruden being on the hot seat, but isn't it more valuable in some respects to have an organization that is running well? Take a look at the Cowboys, they have all the advantages and are self-destructing as we speak. I know as an employee, I'd rather work in an environment where I wanted to come to work and rooted for my co-workers than a workplace where everything is falling apart. Things like that will go a long way in negotiations, players are willing to take somewhat less if they like being there.
Pat Yasinskas: Trust me, the Glazers are well aware of every comment made about the Bucs. The owners may keep a low profile, but they're very much on top of everything. The talk about the hot seat for Gruden has disappeared with the 5-2 start. Gruden's not always known for running a peaceful ship (remember the chase of Brett Favre?), but Tampa Bay is viewed as a first-class franchise around the league. The Bucs have a great stadium and practice facility and, when it comes to r
ecruiting free agents, it doesn't hurt that Florida doesn't have a state income tax.