Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Thanks for filling up the mailbag with great questions. As always, there are some questions that many of you are asking in a similar way. In those situations, I choose one question to represent all the similar ones.
Also, to those who already have submitted answers to last week's question about who has the best linebackers in the NFC South, thank you and hang on just a bit. I'm saving those answers for an item later this week. For those who haven't submitted answers and have an opinion, please hit the mailbag.
Here we go:
Rowe in Charlotte writes: Delhomme has been a good quarterback for the Panthers. However, every 2 or 3 games he appears to be off. Why doesn't the coach game plan for this? I think it negligence. Why doesn't Delhomme take himself out when he knows he's off (or injured)? Had Oakland been a better team, we would have lost this game and probably should have.
Pat Yasinskas: There's no doubt Delhomme has a history of having up and down games. But the good usually outweighs the bad. Delhomme's not going to take himself out of a game unless he's injured. He's a confident guy, who believes he can make a play, even when he's slumping. That's how you break a slump. The most positive thing I can tell you is Delhomme almost never has two bad games in a row. Look for him to bounce back Sunday.
A. in lehigh acres, Fla. writes: do you think the bucs will make playoffs?
Pat Yasinskas: They certainly have a very good chance. They're off to a good start and their remaining schedule isn't that difficult. Their defense is very good. I'd like to see some more consistency on offense, but you have to like their chances.
Chris from NOLA writes: Great article, Pat, on the Falcons D. As I watched the game Sunday, with DVR remote in hand so I could continuously rewind plays and watch in amazement as Atl's CBs were executing some of the best plays I've seen in a while, I wondered when this defensive unit would receive the praise they deserve. Well done, my man. The defense has without a doubt been the unsung hero for this team looking to erase the memories of years passed.
Pat Yasinskas: Atlanta's defense really stood out against the Saints. There obviously is a lot of hype in Atlanta about Matt Ryan and Michael Turner and it's all deserved. But this defense has played a huge role in Atlanta's fast start. Give a lot of credit to the coaching staff for that. The most impressive thing about this defense is that it seems to get better every week.
Cypress writes: Why isn't dwayne jarrett playing and should he be getting to play because he has made big plays and is more of a threat than having 3 TE's?
Pat Yasinskas: That's a question that's been coming up for two years now. Last year, the assumption was that Jarrett didn't know the playbook. That can't be an excuse in a guy's second year. John Fox won't say it, but you've got to assume he hasn't been impressed or developed confidence in Jarrett in practice or the times he has been on the field. The only hope here is that young receivers sometimes take a very long time to develop. Look at Atlanta's Roddy White and Michael Jenkins. They're prospering now, after struggling early in their careers.
Rob in Atlanta writes: I went to the Falcons/Saints this week and being alumni of Purdue I have always followed Drew Brees and since his move to the Saints I have been a Saints fan. After leaving the Georgia Dome throughly disgusted between the lack of calls by the refs, not that I am bias, and the dropped balls. I was wanting to go look at the stats for the game to see how many balls were dropped by the Saints receiving core. Where can I find this stat?
Pat Yasinskas: Drops aren't an official statistic. But there are some places that track them and decisions on drops can differ. I checked STATS and they charged New Orleans receivers with three drops Sunday. As I said, there are differing opinions on what qualifies as a drop. I, too, was at the game and can think of at least three more passes that at least deserved consideration as drops.
Brian in New Orleans writes: Dear Pat, Why hasn't Payton fired Gary Gibbs? It seems to me that we have a no scheme or imagination on defense. I know our secondary is garbage, especially now that we have lost Mike McKenzie and Tracy Porter for the year. The Chargers took action, do you think the Saints need/will take action as well?
Pat Yasinskas: Mainly because Sean Payton hired Gary Gibbs. But, if the Saints continue to struggle the rest of the way, you could see some moves on this coaching staff after the season. Payton just signed a five-year contract extension, so it's very unlikely he'll be going anywhere. But there might have to be a scapegoat for this season and Gibbs could fall into that category.
Matthew in Moore, SC: No big names or playmakers on the Falcon defense except for John Abraham??? I guess Keith Brooking is just filling space out there! I realize KB isn't quite as good as he was a few years ago when he made the pro-bowl 5 times! but he still is the leader and heart/soul of the Falcon defensive unit. I can't believe that comment.
Pat Yasinskas: Your point is taken on Brooking and you could throw in Lawyer Milloy, too. But, my point was that, right now, Abraham is the only big-name guy in his prime on that defense. Brooking and Milloy are on the downside of their careers. They fill big leadership roles, but are complementary players at this stage of their career. Still, they're helping give rise to young players like Chris Houston, Curtis Lofton and Michael Boley.
Travis in Phoenix writes: I would like to know why everyone is saying drew brees is MVP...yes he has a lot of yards but not that many touchdowns...Rivers has more touchdowns and a better passer rating...now he goes and throws 3 interceptions against atlanta...yes he had 420 yards but they lost...can we now say with a 4-5 record his chances of being MVP are almost gone? If he gets it I will lose 90 percent of respect for the NFL...I dont care what records he break
s...If his team isnt winning its not enough...Im a panthers fan and I will take Jake who had a horrible game but a 7-2 record over brees anyday...and dont mention injuries...Panthers had 4 different starting quarterbacks last year but were given no excuse...Smith still had 1000 yards recieving last year and thats incredable with so many different quarterbacks...im sorry I jus hope brees doesnt get MVP...he doesnt deserve it...
Pat Yasinskas: I still think Brees is having a tremendous year. But you're right about the Saints' record. If they don't finish above .500 and make the playoffs, Brees probably won't have a shot at MVP, no matter how many records he breaks.
Daniel in Rome, GA writes: Do you think Jamaal Anderson is going to live up to being a top 10 pick or is he already a bust? Is Mike Smith your coach of the year so far?
Pat Yasinskas: I keep waiting for Anderson to break out. But it hasn't happened so far. Don't give up hope, though. Mike Smith and his staff are very good and they believe Anderson has some talent. As far as Smith for Coach of the Year, he definitely deserves strong consideration for turning this franchise around so quickly.
Scott in Atlanta writes: I just wanted to thank you for the good job you have been doing in writing about the Falcons this year...they are getting some attention from some of the national media but I really enjoy your takes. Being a longtime Atlanta resident but usually more of a college football fan, I'm amazed at how likeable this team is and how drawn in by them I've become already. It's great to have a team of character to pull for after the whole Vick mess. Thanks for the good work and keep it up.
Pat Yasinskas: You bring up a good point about how likeable this team is. That's not an accident and give credit to owner Arthur Blank for realizing he had to do something about the team's image, as well as what it does on the field. That's part of the reason he hired Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff, who are solid in every sense of the word. That's trickled down throughout the organization and character played a huge role in drafting players like Matt Ryan and signing players like Michael Turner. There's also some behind-the scenes stuff going on that a lot of people don't realize. The Falcons made a big push in the offseason to improve their image and efforts on that end have ranged from team president Rich McKay down through the team's public relations office and marketing departments and that's all paying off.
Chris in Raleigh writes: Pat, Just wanted to say that I've really been enjoying the blog. You're doing a great job. I'd really like to see you do a piece on what the Panthers are going to do this offseason. Peppers, Gross, and Gamble are coming to the end of their deals and all are key players who have spent their entire careers with Carolina. Will Marty be able to keep them all in Charlotte? Who is most likely to want to test the market? Who is the most likely to get the franchise tag slapped on them? If one does leave, what kind of compensatory draft pick could the Panthers get?
Pat Yasinskas: I will do a separate and more extensive piece on this soon. I've touched on it briefly in the past and will touch on it briefly here. The Panthers are facing some very tough choices on the players you mention. I think it might be impossible to keep all three. Right now, Gross has the franchise tag. The Panthers will make efforts to get all three signed before they can test free agency, but I'm not sure that will happen. As players get close to free agency, their agents generally encourage them to test the waters and that's a prudent business move. It's also prudent for the Panthers to try to keep as many of these players as they can. I suspect their attempting to do that and will continue to try to get some of them to sign new contracts in the next few months.
Brian in NOLA writes: Hi Pat, I was wondering why more teams in the NFL (i.e. Saints) don't convert corners to safety more. Everyone says J.D. is a cover 2 corner and doesnt fit a man scheme well. Isn't playing safety almost always zone coverage? Lord knows we the Saints need to get better at safety.
Pat Yasinskas: Size is also a big factor here. Jason David doesn't have the size to be a safety because that position requires guys big enough to make tackles and sometimes cover tight ends.
V. in Windsor Ontario writes: Dear Pat, do you think the Panthers have a good chance of going deep into the playoffs if they can stay healthy?
Pat Yasinskas: That's definitely a strong possibility. We've still got a long way to go in the season and there are lots of variables. But the Panthers are in good shape right now. They probably have the most balanced team in the NFC South. But a big key will be how they handle what looks like a very tough schedule in the final six games.