MORT'S MAILBAG | Nov. 21
Q: The Denver Broncos are 5-1 with QB Jake Plummer, 1-3 without. They average 12 more points per game, and RB Clinton Portis gets 1.5 more yards per carry when he's on the field. At the same time, only the Kansas City Chiefs have topped 20 against the Broncos with the Snake around, while three straight teams have done it in his absence. Still, he's not even being considered for league MVP. In my mind, he's proven he's the Most Valuable Player -- with him they win, without him they lose. It's as simple as that. -- Adam (Gainesville, Fla.)
MORT -- Adam, I've seen that argument made in other cases, but you have to play games in the NFL to win the MVP. Maybe Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick should win it, huh? Actually, if the Broncos go unbeaten the rest of the season (a possibility) and Plummer plays well, I think he'll get some consideration.
Q: Has the NFL ever considered stopping the clock in the last two minutes to move the chains on first downs like the NCAA does? It seems there is more drama in college as a team can move down the field quickly by getting first downs, even if they're out of timeouts. The NFL loses 10 or 15 seconds on long gains waiting for the chains to be set up. -- Tony (Manassas, Va.)
MORT -- Tony, blame it on the TV networks. The networks want three-hour games, on average. I don't disagree with you, but that's the way it is.
Q: What do you think of offensive coordinator Tom Rossley's play-calling this year? Personally, I think it's horrible. As a Green Bay Packers fan, I was anticipating a much different offensive attack with WRs Robert Ferguson, Javon Walker and Donald Driver -- all of whom can run the forty in 4.3 seconds. Rossley isn't taking advantage of our receivers and QB Brett Favre's arm. RB Ahman Green still leads the team in receptions. Why? -- Bob (California)
MORT -- Bob, have you noticed that Favre is playing with a broken right thumb? Do you realize how difficult that is? But even if Favre were healthy, the best thing Rossley can do for Favre -- and to take advantage of those WRs (none of whom really run a 4.3, by the way) -- is to let that O-line and running game dominate the way they have been. That'll really make the passing game breathe. I thought the Packers were too pass-happy early in the season. If they just cut down the turnovers, they'll continue to get back in this thing. That's the formula that is winning championships in this league.
Q: Can you explain how John Elway is nominated as a candidate for the Hall of Fame and not Dan Marino? I thought there was a mandatory time frame after a player retires before he's eligible for the Hall. Both of these guys are shoe-ins, but I would have thought Marino would go in first based on his retirement date (compared to Elway). Please explain. -- Kelly (Kimball, S.D.)
MORT -- Kelly, don't fret. John Elway retired after the 1998 season and meets the five-year rule for the Hall of Fame. Marino's last season was 1999, and he will be eligible next season. Obviously, both men will be elected on first ballots.
Q: As a Chicago Bears fan and a Dick Jauron fan, why won't the coach play QB Rex Grossman? Jauron was quick to recognize that the signing of QB Kordell Stewart was a mistake, and I applaud him for the benching. But with the playoffs now out of reach, why not give the kid some experience? Many other rookies have looked good this year. I think the future is looking up, but there's still that quarterback question. -- Ron (Grayslake, Ill.)
MORT -- Rex Grossman's time is coming very soon. Now, you may not like what you see, but Grossman certainly will get a chance. The Bears actually looked like they were righting the ship, and Jauron is quite aware that the NFC North is shaky, especially with the Vikings on a four-game losing streak. He has to play to win until they're mathematically eliminated. That's his stance and he's right. As for many of the other rookies looking good this year, I'm assuming you are talking about the quarterback position. Truthfully, Kyle Boller and Byron Leftwich have done fair, and some coaches on those teams probably think I'm being generous.