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December 30, 7:11 AM ET
Chat with Pat Yasinskas

James (Carrollton, GA)

Pat, is your Chris Houston pick for all NFC South Defense more of a statement of lack of depth in the NFC South at the CB position or more a compliment to Houston? I've watched every minute of every Falcons game this year and he gives up 5-8 yards of cushion because he can't hang with #1 talent so he constantly gets burned underneath. Maybe it's just me, but I wasn't that impressed and feel that need, needs to be addressed in the off season. Thanks Pat and Happy New Year.

Pat Yasinskas
  (1:58 PM)

Hello from Phoenix. No, the Chris Houston pick was very legitimate. In talking to scouts and coaches, they think he's had a really nice season and really developed. As far as the cushion, that's what he's coached to do.

Raj Desai, Stone Mountain, GA

Can you give me reasons in why Mike Smith deserves the coach of the year award?

Pat Yasinskas
  (1:59 PM)

In short, he took a terrible team and made it a very good one.

Sam (raleigh)

What do you think was wrong with the Panthers D on Sunday against the Saints?? I know they have been shakey but Could it have been a case of you know what they are going to do but you cant stop it.. Like a wide open reciever missing an easy catch.

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:00 PM)

They've been banged up defense. That's why I think the bye week will help a lot.

Chris in Roanoke,VA

You have said that you expect tampa to be aggresive this year in the offseason. That gives me two questions, first off do you expect there to be a lot of big name players on the market this year (examples please) and why were we not very aggressive last year?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:01 PM)

I think they'll be very aggressive (under orders from ownership). They'll go after most of the big names on the market. Too early to speculate too much on big names until we see who re-signs with their current team. But there's going to be an edict from on high not to stand still again.

Garry(Charlotte)

Pat Deangelo didnt even get 1 MVP vote. Do you think he will get some Offensive Player of the Year votes.

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:02 PM)

I would hope he'd at least get some votes for that. He deserves some.

Chris from New Haven, CT

What do you suggest the Saints do for next season with thier defense, inconsistancy, and inability to finish games. And do you think that they can get Nnamdi Asomugha in the offseason and retain J. Vilma?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:04 PM)

First priority is to get Vilma re-signed. I'd like to see them go after Asomugha, but he's going to get a ton of money. At least get another quality CB. Then, get a good free safety. A speedy outside linebacker. A pass rusher and another DT for depth because they got wiped out there this year.

Jake Delhomme, Charlotte, NC

Why doesn't anybody love me? Sure I can be a little inconsistent at times, but my locker-room presence is essential and I make the right plays when it counts. IF I played for any other team they'd call me a Brett Favre like QB and throw me on the cover of SI.

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:04 PM)

I'm with you on that, Jake. You've won a lot of games.

James (Carrollton, GA)

Pat, I try to ask you difficult questions but let me ask you a basic one. Did the Falcons get the best draw of the 4 WC teams in this years playoffs?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:05 PM)

Yes, they're getting to play an 8-8 team in a stadium that might not even be sold out.

Michael (South Carolina)

What should I do if I want to start a career in sports journalism?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:06 PM)

Send me a note to my mailbag and I'll give you the rundown. It's too lengthy to get into here.

Jonny, Queens

Jake has cost us plenty of games too, he's in the middle of the pack and with that comes a lot of detractors.

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:07 PM)

Once again, I'll say it. Panthers are 12-4 with Jake this year. With him out most of last year, they were 7-9. That's the bottom line with the guy.

DeAngelo Williams, Carolina

Pat, I'm really angry at not being selected to the Pro Bowl. I just can't decide what kind of angry I am. Am I performance-detracting angry, or Super Bowl MVP angry?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:08 PM)

Go Super Bowl MVP angry. That way, you'd have the last laugh.

Lemmer (Baltimore)

We saw Mangini and Shannahan get the axe due to their late season collapse. So how in the heck did Gruden keep his job? I'm beginning to think we need change in Tampa.

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:08 PM)

Not saying anything definite is going to happen, but this thing might not be over with yet.

Jeff (Herndon, VA)

Pat, can the Panthers release Ken Lucas in the offseason and maintain locker room and team chemistry?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:10 PM)

Yes. Don't get me wrong, the Panthers did a great job handling the Smith-Lucas thing. But both of those guys are loners in the locker room. I don't think there really would be much impact.

Adam ( Columbia SC)

Delhomme has lead 18 career comeback drives since joining the panthers. this year alone he has 4. Pat, do you know how many QBs are in the league that you can say that about? Would be an interesting.

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:10 PM)

I'll run it by our stats guys and see if I can get an answer. Keep an eye out for an item on that on the blog.

Jonny, Queens

He improved us by 5 games and I do attribute that to him, but lets be serious, we were 7-9 with David Carr, not a top 32 QB in the league, any other starter would have made us at least 3 wins better and a really good qb? Who knows.

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:12 PM)

Hey, at the time the Panthers signed him, they (and a lot of fans) thought Carr might be better than Jake and take the starting job from him. Obviously, it didn't work out that way. But, going into last season, a lot of people would have told you Carr was a better-than-average backup.

Fire Jon Gruden Club (Tampa)

So going back to an answer a few moments ago, you said "this thing might not be over yet" with Gruden. Is there something that we have not heard yet?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:14 PM)

I'm not saying that definitively. But keep an eye on it. The Glazers operate under the radar. They can't be happy with what happened. I don't know anything for certain, but I suspect they're at least pondering some things.

Joseph

You mentioned Tampa being aggressive in free agency, does that include a new QB? Gruden does not seem to really love Garcia and he is getting older. Where are they going with that position next year?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:15 PM)

Yes, there definitely will be a new QB in some way. No way Garcia's back.

Joseph (Ft Worth)

Re Delhome - Jake is a classic better than average QB who really takes advantage of what defenses give him. He will not win you a game by himself, but at the same time he will not lose you the game unless you ask him to try to win it. As long as the Panthers can run the ball, Jake is a great QB for them

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:15 PM)

Very well said.

Lemmer (Baltimore)

Me again. So your saying the Bucs actually have owners? It would be nice if they actually came out and said something. To me, there silance means they don't care.

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:16 PM)

Don't underrate them just because they're quiet. They're smart and they know they're heading into dangerous territory if they stand pat.

Joseph (Ft Worth)

Does Gruden have full control of football operations (is he the GM)? Seems like that is a bad idea except in the rarest of circumstances

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:16 PM)

Bruce Allen is GM, but Gruden has a lot of say on all personnel moves.

AL(IND)

Is it safe to say that if Payton doesn't make the playoffs he will be unemployed in 2010?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:18 PM)

Yes, probably. He'll get one more shot to overhaul the defense again. They did sign him to an extension at the start of this season and he's locked up for four more years. But they can't afford to be patient with him if it doesn't turn around next year.

Jonny, Queens

Was beason exposed a bit by the loss of Maake in these last two games? He clearly needs another player to be successful. It makes me think of Peppers as all the more valuable and impressive because while he could use more pressure from the opposite side to make him more effective he does it without it.

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:19 PM)

Any quick LB needs a big guy in front of him to tie up the blockers. Maake's absence hurt Beason big time, but it would have hurt any LB.

Greg (ATL)

In relation to the Chris Houston comments, he covers great. The issue is his ball skills. He doesn't seem to be able to turn his head to locate the ball, if he improves this area, he will be a All Pro Corner. Now, how does the Falcons stop the Cardinals receivers with only Abraham's pass rush? I'm a bit worried about the Arizona passing attack.

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:21 PM)

You've got to be worried about the AZ pass attack. Gotta get Abe all over Warner. Best thing you've got going for you is Warner doesn't move well. I suspect Smith will unleash Abe. Also think you'll see Chauncey Davis and Bierman getting a lot of playing time to try to generate more pass rush.

Raheem Morris (Tampa)

Do I get a HC gig or will I be with Tampa next year?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:22 PM)

Just my guess, you'll be back with Tampa. You might be a year away from being an HC. Good luck.

Adam (Raleigh, NC)

What is the more favorable matchup (in your opinion), for the Panthers in the divisional round (Arizona, Atlanta, Minnesota)? Thanks.

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:22 PM)

Arizona.

graham satx

seems to me a better running game would help the saints D probably more than a better corner...seems like we score quick and the d is on the feild most of the game

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:23 PM)

That is a decent point. Balance in the offense would be nice.

Don (Charlotte, NC)

Hey Pat, if you had to choose between Jay Cutler and Matt Ryan to start a team around which one would you choose? thanks

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:24 PM)

Ryan. That's essentially the situation the Falcons were in (starting a team) when they drafted him and now they're in the playoffs.

Doug (Orlando)

Pat, lets say the Bucs do give Gruden the axe (fingers crossed), do you see them going in a particular direction for a new coach? It would be nice to bring somebody in who could actually run an offense and score points.

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:25 PM)

Only gonna happen if it's a big name and gonna depend on what the Jets do -- that's just my guess.

blueman(indy)

Interested in your opinion of Tim Tebow.Would it be wise for a team like Carolina to take a chance on him with 4th round pick or so?No pressure to start right away and would not be asked to do much to soon.

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:27 PM)

Not sure Tebow will even be a QB in NFL. I know several teams view him as TE in the NFL.

Steve (Jax)

So referring to Doug's question, do the Bucs have interest in Shannahan?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:27 PM)

I'm not saying there's anything going on there. But I think it's something to keep an eye on.

Jonny, Queens

What do players do in these off weeks to keep their strength or do they just rest their bodies?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:28 PM)

Right now, they just rest. They'll be back to work soon enough with the offseason program starting in March.

Jon Charlotte, NC

What are your thoughts on Ken Lucas, he seems to be on a downslide from the great start that Carolina's secondary had at the beginning of the year.

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:28 PM)

Age might be catching up to him. He's got to be right around 30. CBs don't generally last long.

Craig (Norwich, CT)

Should Jake Delhomme have won Comeback Player of the Year?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:29 PM)

He would have gotten my vote, if I had one.

Adam ( Columbia SC)

Pat, are you planning on doing these chats in the off season? Maybe once a month?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:30 PM)

Not sure yet. That's up to the boys in Bristol and we haven't talked that far ahead. For now, I can tell you we'll keep doing them weekly as long as Falcons and/or Panthers are still playing.

trae ( utah)

Pat, why year after year. Donovan McNabb always doesnt get the credit that is due to him. With the recivers that he has. I think he should have been MVP and not Peyton with all of his recivers. Why doesn't Donovan get credit for anything?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:32 PM)

We generally stick to NFC South here, but I'm going to weigh in on this because it's a good question. McNabb's had a great career, but is underappreciated. Philly's a tough city. The fans didn't want him when he was drafted and they've been hard on him throughout his career. When he leaves, I think back and realize what they had.

SprungOnSports (Long Island)

What do you think the Cardinals are going to try on defense this week? Does it start with keying in on Turner, or doing their best to stop Roddy White from making the huge play?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:33 PM)

They've got to focus on Turner. He's the whole key to ATL's offense.

Tom, teh QC

pat, if i type with really crappy grammar am i more likely to get my question answered? geez where did some of these people go to school? anyway, to my question; is it likely the panthers will re-sign Pep and will he get record money for a defensive player?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:33 PM)

I think they re-sign him and it will be close to record money. But it also could be a case where they end up using the franchise tag on him.

Steve: (Eugene, OR):

I've read all the experts and listened to all the talking heads. At the beginning of the week, everyone liked Atlanta to win, but now there seems to be a shift toward the Cardinals. What is your opinion?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:35 PM)

Can't speak for the rest of the media and I usually try not to make predictions. But, if I had to pick a winner, I'd take ATL.

Mark, Greensboro, NC

Pat, first of all, I love reading your Blog. Second, do you think, deep down, Cowher wants to coach the Panthers? Maybe he was hoping they wouldn't do good and Fox would get let go? I love Fox and if they HAD to fire him, I would want Cowher to come in. What do you think?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:36 PM)

I know the speculation always was out there about Cowher and the Panthers. But I think that was all overblown. I don't think Cowher ever had his eye on that job. Besides, it's a moot point now. Fox is now safe for at least a couple more years.

Chris (DC)

With the injury to Cadillac and Graham injured most of last year, what do the Bucs do at RB for next year?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:37 PM)

I think they go out and get one -- either in draft or free agency. Even if Graham comes back healthy, you still have to have someone else.

Nick New York

pat come answer this question please what needs do the Bucs need to fill in the draft and what players would be likely for them to pick?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:39 PM)

QB, WR, DT, OLB. I'm not fully up on college prospects yet, so I'm not going to throw out any names.

Madison (Tampa)

Hey Pat, how has a better career in your mind jay cutler or matt ryan? thanks

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:40 PM)

Ryan. He's set up with a good system and the coach and GM drafted him. Who knows what happens to Cutler's career now that Shanahan is gone -- maybe he gets a coach that brings in a system that's not great for him or maybe he clashes with the coach or any number of things could go wrong.

Patrick (Hickory)

What key area do you see the Panthers addressing this offseason?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:41 PM)

DT and WR.

Mark, Greensboro, NC

I agree, I am so glad Fox did good this year, I have always been a supporter of him. I think he and Hurney do a great job with the draft and keeping team chemistry. I like the fact he keeps good "character" guys and drops the "bad eggs" so to say.

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:42 PM)

Agreed on most of that. They do handle the character issue better than most teams, but that locker room isn't entirely perfect and they do bend the rules a bit when it suits them.

Jon Charlotte, NC

Are you headed to Arizona this week? and What are your plans on next week?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:43 PM)

I am in Phoenix right now. Lovely day outside. Hope to go for a run as soon as we finish here. Next week, I'll be in Charlotte.

SprungOnSports (Long Island)

Any news on the TV blackout in Phoenix?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:44 PM)

As of last night's news, they still had about 8,000 to go. Haven't heard any update yet today.

Adam ( Columbia SC)

What happens to Hackett after the seasons over?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:45 PM)

Gone.

Jon (Charlotte, NC

How secure is Trgovac's job after this season?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:46 PM)

Safe. You don't make major changes after a 12-4 season -- unless you're the Chargers of a couple years ago.

David (Fairborn, OH)

Do you believe antonio bryant should've been named comeback player of the year?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:46 PM)

He definitely deserved consideration. My vote would have gone to Delhomme. But Bryant made a great comeback, too. And he earned himself a big contract for next year.

Brandon (Indiana)

What are your feelings on Jerry Angelo saying "WR's and RB's don't win games" he put's it all on the QB

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:47 PM)

I'd point straight to the Panthers and Falcons. Williams and Smith are most important guys for Panthers and Turner for the Falcons.

Justin Statesville,NC

Who do you rank as the best NFC South player all time so far?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:48 PM)

Derrick Brooks and it's not even close.

Chris (DC)

Do the Glazers still care about the Bucs or are they more interested in the Manchester United right now?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:49 PM)

As I said before, don't underrate the Glazers. They care and they're not dumb. Not saying Gruden goes, but I think there will be a lot of major moves in the offseason.

Jonny, Queens

Do you expect the main Panther players to be healthy come gametime?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:49 PM)

From what I've heard, yes. But Fox is very guarded about injuries and he didn't have to give an injury report during the bye week.

Jason (Fort Mill, SC)

How much rebuilding is needed for the Bucs to make the playoffs next year? Maybe just some coaching turnover?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:50 PM)

Coaching turnover or not, they need some major change in players. They've got to get a new QB, at least one WR, a DT and an OLB. Probably another RB, too.

Jonny, Queens

Smith is completely ineffective unless a QB can get him the ball so Angelo is half right.

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:51 PM)

No, Smith's presence on the field alone makes him a big factor. What how defenses play him. He's the reason you can't go 8 in the box against Carolina.

Mark, Greensboro, NC

Hey, do you think that Fox and Hurney were thinking that drafting for that 2nd 1st round pick (Otah), would help them as far as their salary cap going into the 09 season? Now, they don't have to pay big bucks to a 1st round pick, and that may save money to help resign all of the "big 3" (Pep, Gross, & Gamble).

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:52 PM)

Not sure they were thinking in those terms. I think they were going for broke this season and went all out to get a mauler at RT. But the salary cap benefits could be helpful.

Dave (Tampa)

Pat, in your opinion, what was the reason for the late collapse on D? Age, Monte leaving, lack of depth on the DL, out of position safeties, or all of the above?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:53 PM)

All of the above, except the Monte leaving part. I truly don't think that was really a factor. Also, throw in injuries. Hovan and Haye were completely worn down.

Mike Smith (temporarily in Phoenix, AZ)

Been so focused on the Cards, I haven't had time to look ahead. If we win, who do we match up with better - Panthers or Giants?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:54 PM)

One game at a time, Mike. Win this one and we'll get to that next week.

Andy (Atlanta, GA)

Hey Pat, do you see matt ryan becoming one of the top five quarterbacks in the league at some point in his career? thanks and happy new year.

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:54 PM)

Yes and I think it's going to happen very quickly.

Matt (WI)

So do you think the bucs will be trying to sign matt Cassel?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:55 PM)

I'd think that's a serious possibility. Also, think McNabb would be a possibility if he's out there. They've got to do something major at QB and those are the two most logical guys.

Chris (Greensboro, NC)

Pat, will all the Panthers be healthy on the 10th? Fox is hush-hush as normal. Even though I did see some pics of practice in the Observer and Damien Lewis was participating. I wonder if Fox knew that pic would get published?

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:56 PM)

You sure it was a live picture from a practice this week? It might have been a previous photo. They don't let photogs should during actual team drills. Only stretching and individual drills.

Paul (Knoxville)

Have the Saints FINALLY learned that they DO need a good secondary..and that the theory of a good pass rush and average DB's may not be in THEIR best interest??

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:57 PM)

Man, I hope so.

Mark, Greensboro, NC

IF the Panthers can't sign Peppers or Gross, that would give them some money to play with next year. Do you think they will make a play for a big time FA for that position, or pocket the money for the future and draft a replacement? I know they don't like going after big names in the FA market.

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:58 PM)

I think their money will be used almost all on Peppers and Gross even if it means franchising one of them.

Mark, Greensboro, NC

It was a stretching drill, I saw the same pic.

Pat Yasinskas
  (2:59 PM)

Yep, that sounds pretty likely. Usually the injured guys stretch with the team unless they're really messed up.

Jonny, Queens

Ive seen stories of Pep being more of a leader, have you noticed it as well and do you really attribute that to Rucker leaving?

Pat Yasinskas
  (3:00 PM)

No, I think that's a little overblown. Ruck wasn't hogging the spotlight or anything like that. Ruck would have loved Peppers to be a leader before. And I don't know that Pep is that much more vocal than he was before. That's just not his style.

Adam (Raleigh, NC)

Best blocking WR in the NFC South?

Pat Yasinskas
  (3:00 PM)

Muhammad. Michael Jenkins is pretty good, too.

Bill (mississippi)

Pat, do you think the saints would run some wildcat with reggie bush next year? thanks

Pat Yasinskas
  (3:01 PM)

I think that would be a great idea.

Paul (Knoxville)

Well..that being said..and the fact that Payton may be on the hot seat in 2009...doesnt it seem feasible that they look at top tier FA's?? (Dunta Robinson,Asomugha,etc)

Pat Yasinskas
  (3:01 PM)

Yep, I think they've got to go for it and I think they'll be active in free agency.

Dave (Tampa)

Michael Clayton?

Pat Yasinskas
  (3:02 PM)

As a blocker? Yep, I'd put him in with Muhammad and Jenkins.

John (Raleigh, NC)

Best game you've seen all season?

Pat Yasinskas
  (3:04 PM)

Hmmm, tough one. Probably Panthers-Giants. It lived up to the hype. The MNF game between Saints and Vikings was pretty entertaining, too. And the game where Matt Bryant kicked after losing his son was pretty memorable, too.

Mark, Greensboro, NC

How come Brad HOOOOOOOOOOOOver hasn't got much recognition this year? He is invaluable to their running attack this year and I don't see how anyone could have made the Pro Bowl over him. He has done this for a long time and been great at it.

Pat Yasinskas
  (3:05 PM)

Brad hasn't gotten a lot of attention throughout his career. But he's been a very solid player for a very long time. He's meant a lot to that team through the years. Couple more questions and I'm going to have to run. We're already past my deadline.

Chris (ATL)

Best game? Pat, you didn't miss Falcons/Bears did you?

Pat Yasinskas
  (3:05 PM)

Sadly, I wasn't at that one, so I didn't include it. Wish I had been there.

Mark, Greensboro, NC

Do they keep up with a stat for dropped INTs? I know they keep up with dropped passes for WRs. I know I have seen the Panther DB's drop at least 10 would be INTs this year, whats up with that? They could be leading the league in INTs.

Pat Yasinskas
  (3:06 PM)

Haven't ever seen that stat anywhere. If anyone has, pass it on to my mailbag. I'd be curious to see it.

Pat, Covington,LA

No votes for Brees for MVP? Second best season statistically for a QB, injuries, no defense =no love!

Pat Yasinskas
  (3:06 PM)

Pretty much says it all.

jon (tampa, fl)

Should the Bucs make any O-line moves? Everyone was talking about how good and young they were, but if it wasn't for Garcia's mobility, they would've given up alot of sacks

Pat Yasinskas
  (3:07 PM)

It's a pretty good line. Considering their other needs, I don't see them doing too much with the line.

Pat Yasinskas
  (3:08 PM)

All right, I'm way past my deadline here. Thanks for taking part. Enjoyed it, as always.