- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Here's a quick mailbag to help get us all through what looks to be a slow weekend in the NFC South.
John in Orlando writes: Hey Pat, I just noticed that earlier today the AFC south page had an interesting topic about making a basketball team from the division. How about we do one with the NFC south? I can think of a couple players already (Peppers, Vick, Colston, Winslow) that would make a good team. If I had to make one from the NFC South it would look like... PG - Mike Vick (already does this behind the line of scrimmage) SG - Marques Colston SF - Tony Gonzalez (still too hard, even in his elderly state) PF - Julius Peppers C - Jeremy Trueblood (6'8, brutal on the field).
Pat Yasinskas: That's a fun question and I was thinking about doing a similar post next week. But, since you asked, let's talk about it now. Any NFC South basketball team would have to start with Julius Peppers and Tony Gonzalez -- and that's a very good start. Peppers is one of the best athletes on the planet. He also played basketball at North Carolina. Gonzalez, at times, has talked about his desire to play in the NBA and all indications are he probably could. I'm not sure if Kellen Winslow is much of a basketball player, but he looks the part. One guy you didn't mention who was a decent college basketball player is Carolina tight end Jeff King. If you put King, Peppers and Gonzalez together, you'd have a nice front line. Not sure if Trueblood can play, but he could eat some space. Colston certainly looks the part of a shooting guard and Vick always looked like a point guard. I'm also thinking Roddy White looks like he could fit in the backcourt somewhere. This guy's no longer in the NFC South, but former Carolina safety Deon Grant apparently is a tremendous basketball player. I remember his teammates raving about his basketball skills and saying he was better than Peppers.
Josh in Ocala, Fla., writes: Ok well I am a HUGE Panthers fan. I lived in Charlotte when the team came to be. My question is, what do you think about Julius Peppers? New DC which means new system. Many players say he will love it. What do you think? Also I believe if he does return we have a GREAT shot at the Super Bowl. What are your thoughts. Thanks
Pat Yasinskas: All indications are Ron Meeks is a very good defensive coordinator. But I don't think that's the issue with Peppers. For whatever reason, I think Peppers just doesn't want to play for coach John Fox anymore and wants to go to a larger market (in a state where he hasn't spent his entire life) and be in a situation where he can be just one of the guys, instead of having all eyes and expectations on him. That said, he still may end up with no choice but to play another season in Carolina.
Dylan in Las Vegas writes: Hey Pat, some of your comments indicate that you are concerned about the Bucs because you are not sure in what direction the organization is heading. It appears they have a solid offensive plan and have brought in players to implement it. Defensively they seem to be doing the same and giving some of their younger players a chance to step up, which is what Dungy eventually did with Barber, Lynch and others. So exactly what has you concerned about the Bucs?
Pat Yasinskas: Hey, I don't think I'm as pessimistic about the Bucs as a lot of people. I believe Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik know what they're doing and I really like how the Bucs are set up on offense. But there's uncertainty at quarterback and that's a major issue. It might turn into a position of strength, but, right now, it's not. Defensively, they're going with a whole bunch of new starters and no one knows how it's going to work out. I look at the interior of that defensive line and think back to how bad it was during last year's collapse at the end of the season and I don't see a lot of improvement.
Sam in Honduras writes: Pat, The Saints committed to Sean Payton at the beginning of an 8-8 season. While i'm excited about the teams chances, if they miss the playoffs three years in a row is Payton's job in jeapordy? Also I like Spicer and McCray holding down the DE spots while Smith and Grant are suspended, but is there any chance the Saints go after Greg Ellis if he's released?
Pat Yasinskas: Judging by what Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis have done by being so aggressive in their offseason moves, they obviously feel this is a crucial year for them. I think the Saints are set up nicely now. If things don't work out, there will be some heat on Payton. As for Ellis, I haven't heard anything specific about the Saints being interested. But it would make some sense to add some more insurance if Will Smith and Charles Grant miss the first four games with suspensions. They have Paul Spicer, Bobby McCray and Anthony Hargrove, but it wouldn't hurt to have one more proven defensive end.