Saturday morning mailbag

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Since the mailbag response was so overwhelming this week, we'll do it again because I've got a lot of questions I didn't get to. Here goes:


Andy Schaefer in Boone, NC, writes: What is holding Jarret back from starting? He seemed like he was catching up with the offense in the preseason and made a couple big catches while Smitty was suspended. I figured he would be the number 4 receiver behind Hackett.

Pat Yasinskas: Always remember that John Fox favors the veterans. Dwayne Jarrett might not have completely won over the coaching staff yet and that's probably what has held him back. But it looks like there's a good chance D.J. Hackett will be out Sunday, so Jarrett should get some playing time.

Shaggy in Phoenix writes: Why are gamble and lucas never talked about as great corners...Panthers are ranked 3rd in the NFL in pass defense. I know it has a lot to do with rushing the passer but dont gamble and lucas deserve some credit along with chris harris...?
Pat Yasinskas: Good point. People inside the league know Chris Gamble and Ken Lucas (as well as Richard Marshall) are very good corners. They might be the best trio in the league. But I think fans are really just starting to catch on. Gamble and Lucas are the kind of guys who easily could be in the Pro Bowl if the Panthers keep winning.


Ryan M. in New Orleans writes: Pat, You were at the game...how was Peterson's fumble ruled not a fumble? For years we've watched replay after replay and the concensus is always the same....if the ball moves the slightest before the knee (or whichever part) goes down, it is to be ruled a fumble. Hochuli came out and acknowledged that the ball was moving but said that he maintained enough possession of it that is not a fumble(????). Not only did the official right next to the play, get that 'oh, crap what do I do' look and started looking to other officials, they let the play go until the Saints had a clear path to the endzone and then decided to call it dead instead of letting it play out and sorting it out later(Hochuli-DEN/SD). Everyone keeps referring to the blown facemask call before Reggie's fumble (btw they also blew a facemask call on one of Reggie's punt returns for a loss), I'm the only one that takes exception to the poor call on the field and then misinterpretation of the replay. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

Pat Yasinskas: Don't feel like you were alone. When Hochuli came out with that explanation, the guys in the press box around me all looked at each other like, "What was that?" Tell you the truth, I still don't understand the logic because I always thought the rule was what you said it was. I'm just as confused as you and a lot of Saints fans are, too.

Dave in parts unknown writes: Reggie Bush may be that new breed of runner that has seen and talked to the great backs of yesterday and understands that longevity is key to being paid. Also that he may want to wake up in the mornings after his football career and not feel like an old man at the age of 33 with the worse yet to come. I really can see that rolling around in his mind being from southern Cal and all. Do you think for some positions we are seeing a "health" first sort of shift of thinking. ITs not glorious or honorable to be walking like an old man at 40?
Pat Yasinskas: Valid points. But Reggie or any other young running back also knows you've got to produce to keep getting paid and to get a second contract.


Justin in Lititz writes: Hey Pat, do you think that with Matt Ryan playing the way he is that he could become a star quarterback in the league?

Pat Yasinskas: I think he will be a star and is playing very well right now. Is he a star yet? No, but he's going to develop into one. Back before the draft, I had one general manager, who I know and trust, tell me he thinks Ryan will end up being the best quarterback out of the last seven drafts.

Dirtybird Fan in Houston writes: I know everyone has wanted to write the Falcons off, but why can't they get more love for what they've done so far? Nobody thought they'd be 3-2, with Turner running wild, and Ryan to White becoming a legit threat few defenses have seemed able to solve. Also, what are your thoughts on the Falcons O-line? For years, it's been undersized (to hold it down for a few seconds, then run with Vick). We're having some success now, but do you think they should draft a couple big O-linemen to hold it down for Ryan the way the Cowboys O-line in the 90s did for Aikman?
Pat Yasinskas: I think they're getting plenty of line. As far as the offensive line, it's playing very well and I think offensive line coach Paul Boudreau is one of the big reasons. They drafted Sam Baker this year and that was good. But, with an investment like Ryan, you never can get enough good offensive linemen around him.

Trevor in Atlanta writes: Have you noticed the composure Matt Ryan has shown so far? Through every up and down he is the same guy, and the Falcons have realistically been in every game this year. Thoughts?
Pat Yasinskas: Yes, how could you not notice his composure? Thing that impressed me most was in the Tampa Bay game. He took an absolute shot, bounced right up and completed his next pass.


Mitch in Naples, Fl writes: Quick question. With the running game so strong why does Gruden continue to pass when we get more yardage on a run than a pass? Obviously we lack a excellemt receiver but have 2 great running backs.

Pat Yasinskas: In Gruden's eyes, not mine, he's looking for big plays. You and I can see they're not there very often, but he still shoots for them. Also, he's not going to run the ball all the time because defenses will load up on the run. But, still, I'd like to see him run it more often than he does.

Chris in Tampa writes: I grew up as a NY Giant fan in the dark days of the late 60s and early 70s. When Parcells finally pulled that team together, he knew he didn't have much of an offense. So he ran the ball a lot, shortened the game and won a lot of 13-10 games. Even Brian Billick went that way. Why won't Jon Gruden admit (at least to himself) that he's got poor talent at the skill positions and be willing to run the ball 35 times a game -- even if it means punting a lot?
Pat Yasinskas: Sometimes a coach gets an idea in his head that his offense is brilliant enough to work with any personnel. A lot of the time, that coach is the last one to realize it won't work.