Chat with Pat Yasinskas
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas will stop by to talk about the NFL.
Yasinskas joined ESPN.com in January 2008 after covering the Carolina Panthers for The Charlotte Observer for nine seasons. He began his journalism career with The Tampa Tribune in 1990 and began covering the Buccaneers and the NFL in 1993. A winner of Florida Sports Writers Awards for Best Feature and Best News story in 1997, he is a graduate of Saint Leo University and attended law school before coming to his senses. A native of Dalton, Pa., Yasinskas lives in the Tampa area.
Send your questions now and join Yasinskas Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Nathan Timmons (Decatur, Georgia)
Everybody is thinking that the Future hall of fame Tony Gonzalez is probably going to retire after this season. If he does, should the Atlanta Falcons find someone to replace him with a draft pick or free agent next season or just leave it alone and go with what they have?
Pat Yasinskas (12:51 PM)
If he does indeed retire after this season, then you have to go out and get someone to replace him. But Tony has always kept himself in such great shape that I wouldn't be totally surprised if he plays beyond this season.
Matt [via mobile]
Wow I used to be the biggest drew Bree's fan now not so much I know you going to say he's just trying to get his but in what world is 19.25 a year not enough to play? Really all his talk about being about the team whatever
Pat Yasinskas (12:53 PM)
Again, I think it's all negotiating. In the end, I think this will end happily.
With Atlanta making coaching moves over player moves, it seems to indicate there may have been a morale and trust issue last year? Do you think the new coaching staff have brought a new attitude?
Pat Yasinskas (12:56 PM)
Yes, that's definitely my sense of it. Right after the season -- after talking to Blank, Smith and Dimitroff in New York after playoff loss -- I thought there would be some major player personnel changes. But they took a little time to cool down and decided that most of their problems were with how players were being coached and the schemes. I think Nolan and Koetter both will have very positive impacts.
StShockey (Canton, MS)
Even with Vilma missing the season, because I highly doubt the courts will help him out, I am excited about our new and improved linebacking group for the fist time in a while. Do you see this D breaking into the top 10 this season under Spags?
Pat Yasinskas (12:57 PM)
Think the D will definitely better. Top 10? Not sure about that. Still want to see how they're going to generate a consistent pass rush.
Bryan(NO) [via mobile]
Pat, in your opinion since the saints obviously have planned to be moving forward without Vilma should the organization just cut ties with him and avoid the headache of these lawsuits.
Pat Yasinskas (12:59 PM)
From a cap standpoint, I think they're better off keeping him. Once his suspension starts, he comes off the books entirely for this year and that frees up $4.9 million. But I think it's very possible they could cut ties with him after this season.
Brad (New Orleans)
How will the Saints generate a pass rush with the front 4? In recent years, we've barely been able to get to the qb while sending everyone.
Pat Yasinskas (1:00 PM)
Don't know the answer to that one. That's why I said I want to see how they're going to do it. But I imagine Spags has some tricks up his sleeve.
Brad (New Orleans)
Chances Brees does not sign a long-term deal by the deadline Monday?
Pat Yasinskas (1:01 PM)
Hey Pat huge Falcons fan here and here are my assessments about the team. 1. The defense as a whole will be better because of the Asante. and a healthier D-Line and the addition on Nolan. They could move up to be a top 10 defense.2. The offense will be pretty similar points wise but Ryan will have 500 more pass yards and Turner will have 100 less carries3. The Special teams are stable but I dont know who will be the returner4. I dont know how much of an improvement Koetter is over Mularkey remember his offense was 32nd last year. Granted he didnt have a QB or WR but its his job to get better performances out of them
Pat Yasinskas (1:02 PM)
I don't think you should judge Koetter too much on what happened in Jax last season. I think he's coming in under orders to open that offense up. Offensive talent in Atlanta is a little bit better than what he had to work with in Jax.
Ray (New Orleans)
How much do you think that Roddy White has left in the tank? Are his best years behind him?
Pat Yasinskas (1:04 PM)
I think Roddy still has a 100-catch season (or two) in him.
"Conspiracy Alert" the trend toward making TE a focus of the offense is because the price of star TE is currently alot cheaper than a star WR.
Pat Yasinskas (1:05 PM)
Hmm, I like that one. Makes some sense.
Do you think that Atlanta's O-line had differences with their coach and gave up on him and that's the reason they brought in Pat Hill?
Pat Yasinskas (1:07 PM)
Boudreau was a very stubborn guy and wasn't the type to always go with the company line. There could have been issues in that area. But I also think that, in a lot of ways, he simply might have been a scapegoat. I mean, for the three years before last season, I think he got the maximum out of what he had to work with.
When do you think the Bucs will ink Barron?
Pat Yasinskas (1:08 PM)
Think it might take a few more days, just until somebody else in top eight breaks the log jam and sets precedent on offset language.
Ed (Saginaw, MI)
I heard the Martez Wilson of the Saints is getting moved to DE. Is this true? Also, what kind of season you think he may have? He sure was a fine LB at Illinois.
Pat Yasinskas (1:09 PM)
They worked him there in minicamp and it seems like that's the plan. He's athletic and could have impact as a pass rusher, while also giving them someone with ability to drop into some zone coverage.
Local radio here in Atlanta asked to name a Mount Rushmore of former Falcons (coaches and players). They couldn't come up with 4 former Falcons and I agreed with them. They named 4 for all most every other team except expansion teams. Vick and Deion were both not here long enough. Can you name 4?
Pat Yasinskas (1:12 PM)
That is a tough one. Bartkowski and Tommy Nobis? I'd have to think about it and really look back because Nobis was before my time and Bartkowski was while I was still a kid. But there definitely are some guys on current team that could end up on that mountain.
Might this season be a coming out party for WR-Adrian Arrington of the Saints? Can he be their numer 3 guy?
Pat Yasinskas (1:13 PM)
Think he's in the mix for No. 4 behind Colston, Henderson and Moore. But I think rookie Nick Toon could move ahead of him.
Any word on what the Bucs plan to do with Eric LeGrand in the future? As nice of a story as it is, he is taking up a roster spot.
Pat Yasinskas (1:14 PM)
I suspect they'll have to do something before training camp. I'm sure they will do it gracefully and I wouldn't be surprised if Eric continues to have some sort of role with or connection to the Bucs.
StShockey (Canton, MS)
What are your plans for training camps?
Pat Yasinskas (1:16 PM)
Opening with Saints for two days, then onto Atlanta. Then, I'll come back to Tampa briefly, head to Carolina for Aug. 6 and 7 and hit the Bucs again when I get back home.
Hi Pat,Lot's of excitement as you know in Charlotte about the Panthers upcoming season. Some are predicting 10-11 wins. Do you think that is realistic, and what are the keys to make it happen?
Pat Yasinskas (1:17 PM)
If they can play defense, I don't think double-digit wins are out of the question.
JT (Stafford, VA)
How much of an impact will the screen game have in opening up the Falcons offense?
Pat Yasinskas (1:17 PM)
It's not going to solve everything. But I think just having the threat of Jacquizz Rodgers catching some passes out of the backfield helps the entire offense.
Does Grimes get signed to a long term deal before monday?
Pat Yasinskas (1:18 PM)
Doubt it, but I could be surprised.
BTW Pat, Those were the only 2 they came up with! Bartkowski and Nobis.
Pat Yasinskas (1:19 PM)
Yeah, I know some people also talk about Claude Humphrey. But I'd have to go back and really look at what he did because that was a long time ago.
You threw a bunch of names out there for the NFCS next defensive superstar, but which one do you think has the best shot? Do you think people are overrating Weatherspoon?
Pat Yasinskas (1:20 PM)
Probably Weatherspoon. Seems like their coaching staff really thinks he can be a star.
Big Dan (Land O Lakes)
L.A. county is not going to charge E. Wright. That just out.
Pat Yasinskas (1:21 PM)
That's according to Wright's attorney. I got the e-mail a few minutes ago. Will do something for blog once we finish the chat.
Pat, given the saints previous sucess with drafting lineman. What is the word on the latest crop of big guys that were brought in for this season. Could we see Nicks/Evans type debuts, or more like Strief/Bushrod career paths.
Pat Yasinskas (1:22 PM)
Too early to tell since they couldn't hit in offseason. But Saints certainly have a history of finding good lineman beyond the first round or two.
A couple of season ago I thought Kory Beirmann was going to turn into that high-motor-never-give-up type pass rusher in the VandenBosch/ Jared Allen mold. Then it never happend. Is he just always going to be a "seviceable" DE only?
Pat Yasinskas (1:23 PM)
Yep, that would be my guess. Pretty much just average.
Trey (Charlotte, NC)
Do you see Stewart in carolina next season?
Pat Yasinskas (1:24 PM)
A lot of people think he automatically will be gone. I'm not ready to say that. Let's wait and see what happens this season. Lots of things could happen that would make it critical for them to keep him.
Trey (Charlotte, NC)
Do you see Cam in carolina after his rookie contract?
Pat Yasinskas (1:25 PM)
Pretty sure Marty Hurney will do everything in his power to make sure Cam never gets close to being a free agent.
What in the world can us fans do during these desperate "dead" times to full fill the void of no football??
Pat Yasinskas (1:26 PM)
Chat here on Friday afternoons. But hang loose. Camps will be starting soon enough.
Trey (Charlotte, NC)
Do you see Lafell or Gettis as the #2 reciever?
Pat Yasinskas (1:27 PM)
The vibe I got while I was in Charlotte for minicamp was that LaFell has the edge right now.
The NFC south has the best QBs top to bottom but there is a severe lack of talent in the back-ups
Pat Yasinskas (1:28 PM)
Yeah, but how many really good backups are there around the league?
Do you think Sam Baker will become a serviceable LT under new OL coach?
Pat Yasinskas (1:30 PM)
Like a lot of you, I certainly have doubts about Baker. But Falcons made the decision to stick with him. They know a lot more about his health situation than we do. I get the impression they feel his problems last year were due to health issues and that he's healthy now and should be better. We'll see.
Weaz (Bay City)
Is Bucs LB-Mason Foster ready for a breakout season in year two?
Pat Yasinskas (1:31 PM)
Think he has some talent and can have a more positive impact this season.
So you don't think Brees is being greedy with his demands? Or that NO is being too uptight with their money?? Whose side are you on?
Pat Yasinskas (1:32 PM)
Not on either side. Just wait a bit. It will all end well.
Hayden (Charlotte, NC)
Who is going to start opposite of Chris Gamble, Brandon Hogan or Josh Norman?
Pat Yasinskas (1:33 PM)
Got the impression they like what they've seen out of Norman so far. If he continues like that in camp and preseason, he's got a real chance to start.
Sajid (atlanta) [via mobile]
Can the bucs win 8-9 games this Year? I still dont like our LBS and DBS
Pat Yasinskas (1:34 PM)
Honestly believe Bucs will be improved, but think they may still need one more year to fully turn the corner.
So you don't have an opinion?? You take sides on other issues, in this very chat. We are your loyal readers, we just want to know who you think is "more right"
Pat Yasinskas (1:36 PM)
It's a contract negotiation. I like to leave those up to agents and teams because they almost always work out, even after lots of posturing. If Brees isn't signed by Monday afternoon, then I'll let you know what I think.
Scott (Sugar Hill, GA)
Why do you think people outside of Charlotte can't see the rising storm that is the Panthers? They're young, they're growing in a new scheme, and they've actually got way more talent on both sides of the ball than what's being discussed. Seems to me Carolina is building a very good team that could be very good for along time!
Pat Yasinskas (1:37 PM)
I think there are some people outside of Charlotte and in the media that realize Carolina has a chance to be pretty good this year.
Weaz (Bay City)
Is Talib looking at a suspension this season? If so, how many games would be your guess?
Pat Yasinskas (1:39 PM)
Haven't heard much either way. Sounds like Talib and Bucs are planning on business as usual. But we'll see if NFL does anything.
Pat Yasinskas (1:41 PM)
I've got to end chat now. Chris Mortensen is reporting Brees has agreed to five-year contract. Check our main NFL page for breaking news from Mort. I'll have analysis shortly on the blog.