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Saturday, December 18, 2010
NFC South Saturday mailbag

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Before I head off to Baltimore this afternoon to cover Sunday’s game between the Saints and Ravens, I took a reach into the mailbag.

Carlos in Panama asks if I think Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris will consider bringing in a defensive coordinator for next season.

Pat Yasinskas: That one will be totally up to Morris. It’s not like there is any pressure on him to add a defensive coordinator because he’s done a good job running the defense, in addition to his duties as a head coach, since firing defensive coordinator Jim Bates midway through last season. I don’t know that there’s a need for change. But, if Morris wants to focus solely on being a head coach, I wouldn’t be surprised if he just elevates one of his position coaches to defensive coordinator.


Nate in Tampa writes that it’s time for the NFL to re-evaluate its rules for local television blackouts.

Pat Yasinskas: I understand why the policy was put in place -- to encourage fans to buy tickets and come to games. But, as you pointed out in the detail you gave with your original note, these are hard economic times. And the situation is much worse in Florida than a lot of places. I’m not sure what the answer is as far as the local television blackouts, but I think the NFL has to at least take a long look at the policy and think about what gives the sport the best exposure possible.


Richard in Ann Arbor, Mich., says the NFL should restructure the playoff system so that teams with the better record play home games in the first round of the playoffs.

Pat Yasinskas: I’m with you all the way on that. Let’s face it, the NFC South has the chance to send three teams to the playoffs. If that happens, two of them will be seeded beneath the NFC West winner, which almost assuredly will have a worse record. This has been a topic for debate in the league before. But I think it’s going to become more of an issue in this season’s playoffs. Can’t make any changes right now, but I think the league will take a strong look at this situation at its annual meeting in March.


Joe in Virginia asks about the chances of the Falcons pursuing Carolina receiver Steve Smith if he’s available.

Pat Yasinskas: First off, I found it highly interesting how the wired world seemed to go crazy on Friday when there was a report Smith’s Charlotte house was up for sale. Immediately, everyone assumed that meant Smith wants out of Carolina. Then, a couple hours later, the truth came out. Smith’s house has been on the market since back in the summer. I’m not sure exactly what the domestic plans are for Smith and his family. But I know in the past they have sold a house and moved to another one in the Charlotte area. People do that sometimes. As far as the Falcons pursuing Smith, presumably in a trade because the Panthers aren’t going to give him away, I see that scenario as very unlikely. I doubt the Panthers would trade Smith within the division because that could really hurt them. And I doubt the Falcons would pursue Smith. They’ve already got a true No. 1 wide receiver in Roddy White. People can knock No. 2 receiver Michael Jenkins all they want. But the people who make the decisions for the Falcons believe Jenkins has enormous value as a role player and a tremendously positive influence in the locker room. Team chemistry is one reason why the Falcons are succeeding this year. They’re not going to try to fix something that is not broken.


Eric in Raleigh asks if one year of “financially preparing for a possible lockout’’ makes Carolina owner Jerry Richardson a cheapskate.

Pat Yasinskas: Yes, I’m extremely disappointed how some fans and media have categorically blamed everything that’s gone wrong in Carolina on Richardson being cheap. The guy never has been anything close to that. Now, he did some things differently this year to prepare his team for the lockout. But I don’t think it’s fair to call him cheap even now. He wrote a $12.5 million check to Jake Delhomme to walk out the door and he made several huge offers to try to keep Julius Peppers. I know the perceptions bother Richardson tremendously because he’s the last owner who would ever intentionally let his fans down. Things haven’t worked out the way he’s wanted on the field this season. But let’s see how things go with the labor agreement and what happens going forward. Richardson is a very smart man and there has to be a flip side to what he’s doing. I’m not sure exactly what it is because we haven’t seen it yet.