Sunday, May 31, 2009

ESPN Mosley's Mailbag: An embarrassment of riches - 05/30/09

Posted by's Matt Mosley

LAKE HIGHLANDS, Texas -- Greetings from one of the NFL's most talent-rich neighborhoods. Out my office window, I can see Wildcat-Ram Stadium, where Merton Hanks, Matt Stover, Phil Dawson, Marcus Coleman and the immortal Marcus Stiggers once played. So what does that have to do with the NFC East? Pretty much nothing, so let's get right to your questions. I've been long-winded the last couple of weeks (2,500-word average), so we're going rapid-fire today.

We start with Matt from Wilmington: First off, great article on the Birds additions this offseason. My question is with the Eagles $24 million under the cap, do you see them pursuing any other free agents? It seems they still could use a blocking tight end. The way our defensive line rotates, we could even use an additional pass-rushing defensive end to help out Trent Cole. What are your thoughts?

Mosley: I think Eagles fans are getting greedy -- and there's nothing wrong with that. You have three pretty decent options at tight end right now, but it wouldn't hurt to have another big body. If something comes along, Eagles tight ends coach Tom Melvin and the personnel staff will probably make a move. But that would be more of a luxury. It's not like the Eagles are going to come out this year with a bunch of double tight end looks. I think it's more likely that Philadelphia might try to sign defensive end Greg Ellis once he's released from the Cowboys. He's 33, but he could still be productive as a pass-rushing specialist. He still wants to be a starter, but if you dangle $1 million out there in addition to the $1.5 million check Jerry Jones will owe him, you might be onto something. Ellis would also be a good fit for the Redskins, but as Matt pointed out, the Eagles are in better position to do something.

Tsbein is one of our regulars in the "comments" section. And yes, I do read them: Eli has been "plagued," and I say that sarcastically, by his good team. He has the RBs, the O-line, the defense and had a top WR. Even Fran Tarkenton slighted Eli while trying to bash Favre. Since there are no stars as WRs, do you think a big year from Eli could garner him some nationwide respect?

Mosley: Tsbein, the second part of your question was quite astute, but we have a strict 300-word limit on questions in the mailbag! But seriously, I think it's ridiculous that Eli Manning's still has so many doubters. He was one of my MVP candidates heading into December last season. I think the loss of Burress certainly hurt his production, but the defensive breakdowns had more to do with the team's "collapse" than anything else. Manning led his team to a world title in 2007. I'll never forget that when analyzing his career. And unlike some critics, I don't try to poke holes in that late-season run. He struggled down the stretch in '08, but overall, he had another excellent season. I have immense respect for Fran Tarkenton's career, but there's one thing missing that Eli already has. But in all honestly, Tarkenton's work on "That's Incredible" probably made up for not having a Lombardi.

We've gone two whole questions without something on the Cowboys.
What gives? MBFJTCO9 rescues us with this: Howdy Matt. The Cowboys really haven't done a lot this offseason. How do you think their special teams are going to be this year. With Folk having surgery and us drafting a kicker, who will win that battle? And do you think a healthy Mat McBrair will help at all? Teams just seemed to have better field position when we lost him. That guy has got a boot on him.

Mosley: The great McBriar spends at least an hour each day on the Beast blog, so it's nice of you to mention his name. He's a Pro Bowl punter who is poised to have a huge comeback season. I wouldn't be surprised to see him average about 45 yards per punt with a ridiculous net in '09. He's headed out today to meet fellow Australian Geoff Ogilvy at the Crowne Plaza Colonial golf tournament. And don't worry about Nick Folk. There's no competition taking place in training camp. David Buehler will be a kickoff specialist. He'll only win the kicking job if Folk's not able to recover from hip surgery.

GTbengal sent this via Twitter via Facebook via fax: Can you please explain the release of Jon Jansen?

Mosley: I don't think he had a chance to win the starting job. And if a 10-year veteran doesn't have a chance, why would you allow him to possibly impede the progress of younger guys. The Redskins thought about letting him battle for one of the backups spots in the interior, but that was a far-fetched idea. Jansen gave the Redskins some solid seasons, but it was time to move on. Now, Stephon Heyer, Mike Williams and Jeremy Bridges will battle for the starting spot at right tackle. If Williams wins the job, it will be an indictment of the team's development of young players at that position. He's DOWN to 384 pounds, which is pretty scary. I wouldn't want a 384-pound man on my practice field. Seriously. It's unhealthy for anyone to carry that much weight around -- especially in a football uniform and helmet. I think the Redskins are pulling for Heyer to win the job, so it's his to lose. I'll try to track down Jansen for an exit interview if anyone's interested. Jason La Canfora of Redskins Insider fame has done some nice work on this story.

Eric in Fort Worth has a Cowboys question: Besides Jay Ratliff, do the Cowboys have any legitimate rotation guys at nose tackle? I know they seem to like the guy named Junior, but I was shocked they didn't draft at least one big defensive lineman.

Mosley: I think this is the year Junior Siavii out of Oregon finally sticks with the team. I made it a point to watch him during the recent OTAs, and the guy's just massive. He's a different type player than Jay Ratliff -- and that's a good thing. And the Cowboys can shift Marcus Spears to nose tackle every now and then if you're worried about depth. Guys like Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher can both fill in nicely at the defensive end spots. So I wouldn't lose any sleep over this position. Spend your time worrying about the receiving corps. With Siavii, the Cowboys have addressed their goal of adding more players from Pago Pago.

Joel from Clifton, N.J. has the final word of today's mailbag session: Hey Mosley, love the blog. I just have a quick question about how you think the Giants defense will perform this year. The additions of Canty, Bernard and Boley all seem like great moves to me, not to mention the return of Osi Umenyiora. But with the departure of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who was great at creating blitz packages and overall defensive schemes, do you think the Giants will be able to match the intensity and creativity that has defined their defense for the last few years? Thanks, and keep up the great work.

Mosley: Joel, you had me at "love the blog." I think it's a valid question. Spagnuolo did a wondeful job of putting players in "winning" situations. And he was more impressive than ever early last season. The Giants lost Osi Umenyiora -- and didn't seem to miss a beat. Of course, the defense finally wore down late in the season. But with all the reinforcements that you mentioned -- and a heady assistant like Bill Sheridan -- I'm not all that worried about words like "intensity" and "creativity." This is a very versatile group. Sheridan will have more to work with in the pass rush with Umenyiora coming back -- and Boley will make it tougher for the Eagles to line up and scheme them to death with Brian Westbrook. On my list of worries for the Giants, the defense is pretty low right now. Not that it's a long list. I had them No. 2 in the power rankings, which pretty much set the tone for the NFL season. Wouldn't you agree?

You guys have been wonderful. I have the most knowledgeable readers in the Blog Network -- no matter what Mike Sando and his magic database say. Have a wonderful rest of the weekend and I'll see you bright and early Monday morning -- except on the East coast.

Bonus opportunity: I'll mention your name on the Big Board on Monday if you can name every Lake Highlands High School player who's played in the NFL.