NFC South: Lawrence Taylor
Pat Yasinskas: New Orleans fans have been firing away with notes arguing Jackson over Brooks as the best NFC South Player of all time. I respect your arguments and agree Jackson was great. That’s why he’s in the Hall of Fame and I’m glad he finally got there. But I’m sticking with Brooks, who, I think, will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Nate in Palmer, Alaska, writes: Tampa Bay's Kareem Huggins has officially put Derrick Ward on the trading block if you ask me. I think Tampa overpaid the guy, so there isn't a lot in return they could get for him, but do you see Ward in a Bucs uniform much longer?
Pat Yasinskas: Ward’s contract makes it virtually impossible to trade him, because no team would want to pick up the rest of that deal for a guy who has shown nothing since he came to Tampa Bay. Do the Bucs just cut Ward? Wouldn’t surprise me at all. Huggins has looked very good and Ward has not. Plus, I don’t think Ward is viewed as a great chemistry guy. However, the one thing that could keep Ward around is Cadillac Williams’ history of injuries. Huggins is undersized and inexperienced. The Bucs might decide to hang onto Ward in case something happens to Williams.
Robert in Sterling, Va., writes: Just a suggestion, but maybe do a piece of the NFC South projecting what the outcome will be like (Ex: player states, injuries, W/L record) like the writer who does the AFC North blog did by simulating a season in Madden 11.
Pat Yasinskas: I’d love to sit down and play a season of Madden 11, but I don’t exactly have a lot of free time these days. I did do a simulated season once when I was covering the Carolina Panthers for The Charlotte Observer. If my memory is correct, I guided the Panthers to a 7-9 record – with Chris Weinke as my quarterback. If someone out there wants to play a Madden 11 for the NFC South, I’ll be happy to share the results with the readers.
Cory in Knoxville, Tenn., writes: Did the Panthers make a move for Kentwan Balmer?
Pat Yasinskas: No, San Francisco traded Balmer to Seattle. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Panthers make a move to add a defensive tackle when other teams start cutting down rosters.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
A couple of weeks ago, I asked you to help me in making the argument why Rickey Jackson belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Saints' fans bombed my mailbag with answers and I read every one of them. I also talked to some people around the league who were around when Jackson was in his prime. All that helped me prepare to write my argument for Jackson, which will appear on this blog later Wednesday.
Thanks for all your help. It gave me a sense of what the people who watched most closely thought of Jackson.
My editors suggested we limit the Jackson argument to around 100 words so we could mix in the cases for some other candidates. I went over the 100 words, but I still didn't come close to using all the passionate information you gave me.
With that in mind, I decided to run some of your letters here.
Roger in New Orleans writes: From a personal perspective. I'm 61. I've been a Saints fan from the beginning. Maybe lunch pail doesn't count for much these days - I don't know. I do know that Rickey Jackson came to work every day. He loved football and he was very good at it. He played on some really awful teams and a few fair-to-decent teams in NO. It didn't matter - his excellent production as a player was consistent throughout his career. If this guy had played in most other NFL cities, he would already be in the HoF. I've read that Ricky is behind in his child support payments - I don't know that for a fact. I don't recall any off-field issues while he was a Saint. I really loved this guy playing for my team - I sure wish we had him now.
Sam in New Orleans writes: Rickey Jackson is one of the most under rated player in NFL history. Ricky was the Saints for many years. When you start talking best Saints player ever, Ricky is right there with Archie Manning as the #1 guy. Ricky was the leader of quite possibly the best linebacker corp to ever be assembled ( The Dome Patrol) with Sam Mills ( also should be in the HOF), Pat Swilling, and Vaughn Johnson. Jackson was the fuel that made this unit run. Rickey Jackson was not blessed with superior atheletic ability, he just out worked everyone he faced on every play no matter what! Ricky had heart and pride and made everyone else around him better. To me the first question you have to ask when talking about the HOF is how did the guy change the game. Rickey did!! I feel Rickey Jackson is exactly what the HOF should be about.
Alex in Pensacola writes: Besides City Champ's (RJ's nickname in NOLA) stats that speak for themselves, check out NO's defense stats from 1992: (also the yr all 4 Saint linebackers started the Pro Bowl, no other team has had all of their LB's start at the same time at the Pro Bowl)1992 NO Defense: Allowed 202 points (12.6/g), 1st.
Scott in Slidell, La., writes: Rickey was an elite linebacker in the LT era. he finished his career with 4.5 less sacks than taylor on a team that was not even close to the caliber as the giants. in fact, the saints made four playoff appearances thanks in large part to jackson, mills, johnson and swilling...THE DOME PATROL. his career stats are far better than andre tippet, who made the hall recently. this is a joke, man!!! first, tippet does not measure up to THE CITY CHAMP statistically...second, tippet never won a super bowl...jackson started in super bowl xxix for the 49ers and got his ring...he has 29 career fumble recoveries, 128.5 sacks and would have easily made more than six pro bowls if the league would not have been reluctant to take all saints LBs to hawaii until 1992. it is really a joke that he isn't in already....i can go on and on...he was as tough a leader as i have ever seen. his record speaks for itself.
Robert in Jefferson, Ga., writes: Rickey Jackson deserves to be in the Hall of Fame because he was the heart of the greatest linebacking unit of all time. Besides the fact that his statistics are right there with Lawrence Taylor he was definatly one of the best of all time. Jackson had heart like no other and pushed the entire team with his will. It would be a shame that such a great player would not make the hall of fame.
George in Westwood, Mass., writes: Missed 13 games in a 16 year career, finishing his career with 6 straight, full seasons -Has a super bowl ring-Played in every game as a rookie-2nd most fumble recoveries as an LB-28 sacks ahead of HOF'er Andre Tippett-The best linebacker of the best linebacking corp of all time.
|G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images|
|Gaines Adams has worked on becoming more than a one-move guy in his pass rush.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
TAMPA, Fla. -- Listen to Gaines Adams and Todd Wash talk a bit. You'll hear some refreshing honesty and maybe get some legitimate hope that Adams finally is ready to justify his lofty draft status.
It would be easy for Adams, a third-year defensive end with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Wash, his position coach, to fall back on the old line about how "sacks don't tell the whole story." Give them both credit for giving the hard -- and honest -- answer.
When it comes to a defensive end, who was drafted fourth overall in 2007, it's all about sacks. When you walk out of Clemson tied with Michael Dean Perry for the school record with 28 sacks and have a set of skills similar to Jevon Kearse or Jason Taylor, you're supposed to step right into the NFL and produce double-digit sacks every season.
When you run the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds at your pre-draft workout and sign a six-year contract worth $46 million, it's supposed to be easy.
Fact is, it hasn't been and Adams and Wash freely admit that and tell you how they're trying to fix it.
"We're hoping his numbers come up from the past years," Wash said. "He's had good pressure on quarterbacks, but he just hasn't had the numbers that we were anticipating out of him."
You can point to someone like Atlanta's Jamaal Anderson, who was a top-10 pick in the same draft, and make a case that Adams hasn't been a total bust in his first two seasons. He had six sacks as a rookie and 6.5 last year while making 38 tackles each season. But those numbers, Adams and Wash say, aren't good enough -- and they're right.
"A lot of people want the stats right away," Adams said. "As a football player, I wanted the same and I expected the same. But now I realize there are a lot of things you have to do to make those stats happen and I wasn't doing all of those things. Now I am and I hope that will make a difference."