Saturday, November 10, 2012
Weekend mailbag: Andre or Ahmad?
By Dan Graziano
Before we get to this week's mailbag, I'd just like to point out that none of the many people who have written in here or Twitter complaining that Brandon Banks (punt returner), Todd Herremans (right tackle) and Josh Wilson (cornerback) made the midseason All-Division team have suggested who should have made it instead. Devin Hester doesn't play in this division, folks. Some of these choices were default ones.
David from Irvine, Calif. wonders, "When are the New York Giants going to try and use Andre Brown more?" Like many Giants fans, David is of the belief that Brown appears to be the stronger, quicker and more determined runner than Ahmad Bradshaw at this point, and he'd like to see Bradshaw start ceding more carries to Brown if that is in fact the case.
Dan Graziano: David, I think there's evidence to support your case, but it's not overwhelming. Brown's yards-per-carry average this year is 4.8, Bradshaw's 4.4. Brown looked excellent in that Carolina game early in the season when Bradshaw was hurt, but at the time Carolina was stopping no one on the ground. The argument could be made to give Brown more touches because Bradshaw appears to be injured and hesitant, but the important thing to remember is that the Giants' priority when deciding on a running back isn't necessarily which one runs better. The Giants are a passing offense, with a quarterback in Eli Manning who's their clear most valuable player. Bradshaw is as good a blitz-pickup running back as there is in the NFL. Even if Brown and David Wilson are showing improvement in pass protection, neither brings what Bradshaw brings to it. And as long as Manning is their quarterback and their priority, they're going to put the group on the field they believe is best suited to protect him. Watch Bradshaw throw those crushing blocks in the backfield and you'll see why he's getting so much rope.
Mark from Milwaukee agrees with the prevailing opinion that the Philadelphia Eagles need to change head coaches and move on. His question is whether they should fire Andy Reid midseason or wait until the end of the year.
DG: Mark, there's no chance Jeffrey Lurie fires Reid while the Eagles are still mathematically alive in the playoff race. The only reason you'd do that is if you believed you could replace him with someone who could take this same group and reach the playoffs with it. There's no evidence to support that idea. Even if you believe Reid's a big part of the Eagles' problem this season, you have to admit he's far from their only problem. And even if they do get eliminated in, say, Week 13 or 14, I still think Reid's been there long enough, has earned enough respect and is beloved and respected enough by Lurie that the Eagles' owner would not do him the indignity of firing him before the end of the season. When and if the Eagles fire Reid, it's going to be a very difficult decision for an owner who has loved everything Reid has brought to the table in his 14 years. There will be discussions about whether Reid would be better off moving into a front-office position, and ways to present the decision in such a way as to preserve Reid's dignity. He's done a lot in Philadelphia, and Lurie doesn't want to get rid of him. So even if he decides he has to, I imagine it'll take a while to actually do it.
Chris in Falls Church, Va. asks about Tanard Jackson, who appeared poised to be one of the Washington Redskins' starting safeties this year until his most recent drug suspension hit right before the start of the season. Chris wants to know what the chances are that Jackson can play for the Redskins in 2013.
DG: Jackson's suspension is indefinite, but it's for at least one calendar year and not up for review until Aug. 31, 2013 at the earliest. What that means is that, even if the Redskins do want him back, they'd have to go through their entire offseason and make their plans without knowing for sure whether Jackson's case will even be heard again on the eve of the regular season, let alone be lifted. Basically, they're going to have to operate as though they aren't going to have him on the team, and if he's someone they still want when and if his suspension is lifted, they'd have to count him as a pleasant surprise addition. But the larger issues with Jackson are (a) that the team won't be able to feel it can trust him even if it does welcome him back and (b) that the young man appears to have a serious problem with drugs and needs to get his off-field life in order before he can really even think about a return to the NFL. It's a sad case, really.
Chuck from Wilmington, Del. has some Dallas Cowboys-related All-Division Team questions. Specifically, Chuck wants to know how much consideration Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne are getting for the cornerback spots and whether Bruce Carter would be a candidate to claim Sean Lee's inside linebacker spot once Lee has missed enough games to lose it.
DG: I was very close to giving the second cornerback spot to Claiborne instead of Washington's Josh Wilson this week. But while Wilson has been burned on a couple of obviously noteworthy plays this year, I just feel when I watch every game that he's been more consistent with his coverage than the Dallas guys have with theirs. Carr and Claiborne have had games this year in which they were flat-out excellent, and they've have some in which they were nearly invisible. I know the Wilson pick got a lot of criticism and everyone remembers Victor Cruz running by him at the end of the Giants game. And that's the cornerback's fate, as with a baseball relief pitcher, to be remembered for the spectacular failure rather than the mundane repeated successes. Wilson's played better overall if you watch the film of every game. As for inside linebacker, yes, Carter's played great since Lee's injury (and was playing well before it). He'd be a candidate. At this point, if I took Lee off the team, it'd likely be for Washington's Perry Riley, who's having an excellent season. But Carter is not someone I'm ignoring, I promise.
Thanks for the curiosity. Catch you tomorrow from Philly.