Published: September 15th, 2011 | Tags:
It’s Wednesday, so that means it’s time for our weekly War Room Wisdom Mailbag.
In the War Room, rarely does anyone agree — so we decided to take our debate to the blog with your questions. This week, Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Theismann chimes in as well.
Enjoy our answers as we debate, and keep all the good questions coming (firstname.lastname@example.org or #askplaybook on Twitter), because there is a chance they could be answered on-air by Theismann, Sterling Sharpe, Brian Baldinger or Matt Millen. (Don’t forget to join the debate on Twitter @NFLN_Playbook.)
Who do you think will win the NFC East and why? — Aaron
JT: Philly should take it this year. They have made so many additions that will help them make big plays. They already had players that could make plays. The ability to make big plays is a great weapon to have and they can do it on both sides.
BF: Redskins — love the new regime. These are finally Shanahan‘s guys.
JB: I’ll agree with Joe and take the Eagles. If they can get their offensive line to come together, no team in the division can match their playmakers on offense and defense.
KS: Redskins. Rex Grossman has impeccable timing and is putting the ball wherever he wants. Throughout the preseason and Week 1, they have run the ball efficiently.
SC: Dallas. They really have a good batch of athletes on defense and Rob Ryan‘s scheme will hide deficiencies on the back end. Best passing QB in the division helps, too.
Which quarterback in the NFC West is the QB to watch? — Aaron L from Blue Bell, PA
JT: The growth of Sam Bradford is the most exciting thing to me. Kevin Kolb is a close second. He needs to prove he is worth all the hype from the few times he played in Philly.
BF: Love a good QB struggle — fascinating to watch Alex Smith and Tarvaris Jackson. Can they hold it together? What could their respective offenses be with a top-tier QB? With no viable backups, could there be a David Garrard siting on the Pacific coast real soon?
JB: Bradford, because he has the most at his disposal. He has a load of wide receivers — Gibson, Salas, Pettis, Sims-Walker and Amendola (when healthy) — and he has a great safety blanket in rookie Lance Kendricks at tight end. Steven Jackson, too.
KS: Alex Smith. First overall pick in a new offensive system. Good running game behind him, a developing offensive line and three legitimate receiving threats (Crabtree, Edwards and Davis). Let’s see if they take the handcuffs off and let the ball fly.
SC: Kolb is the quarterback to watch but Bradford is the best. I’ll be watching Kolb solely because he’s new and Fitzgerald‘s impact has decreased since Warner retired. Kolb‘s character is under the microscope being put into a situation where he has No. 1 draft pick pressure on him.
Who is the better WR, Miles Austin or Dez Bryant? And why? — Alfred
JT: Dez is probably the better WR, but Miles is the tougher of the two. Dez is a great athlete, but he has to learn how to play at this level. Miles isn’t as flashy, but he is kind of like a Hines Ward — he’s tough and he gets you a lot of yards after the catch.
BF: Combination of size, speed, strength and hands — Dez. Route running — Miles.
JB: Right now, you have to say Miles, but Dez has all the tools to not only be the best receiver on his team, but possibly the league. Excellent size and burst.
KS: In Week 1, it looked like the Cowboys were running their offense through Dez before he got hurt. He looked like “the guy.”
SC: Austin! Better route runner, natural hands catcher with big-play ability. He has a better understanding of timing and field spacing when running routes.
Will the Cardinals win the NFC West now that the Rams suffered those injuries? — @COOPDOG2552
JT: Not at all. I have concerns about their defense. Giving up 400 yards to a rookie quarterback (Cam Newton) can’t be a good sign. The tape shows multiple plays where their defensive backs have been caught sleeping at the wheel.
BF: Rams are still the best football team in the division, and a clear indication of a well-coached and well-run organization is how they respond to injuries. This team is deep at nearly every position. Look for this team to lean on its defense throughout the season.
JB: The Cardinals can definitely get after the quarterback, but their back end looks suspect, no matter who’s at QB in the West. A rookie who played in a spread system last year made Arizona (the pro team) seem like a secondary from the Pac-12.
KS: I actually think the 49ers might have a good shot this year. Their D-line is great (with Justin Smith and Ray McDonald); they arguably have the best linebacker in the league.
SC: Gotta agree with my man, BF. Rams’ D could carry them if Bradford were to go down and Cadillac ran the ball efficiently. They have created havoc through their speed and ability to bring pressure from different vantage points.
After Week 1, would you say the Ravens have the best defense in the NFL? Why or why not? — Matt from Houston
JT: Yes, they are the best one-week defense in football. It’s a long season and maybe a little soon to tell. But thus far they look great.
BF: The Ravens performance looks great on paper, but the Steelers’ sub-par offensive line was a contributing factor. Ravens certainly have a good defense, but not quite trumping what Chicago did to Atlanta.
JB: Let’s go off the board: How about the Jags? Their pass rush took a step up with the addition of Matt Roth. And Jeremy Mincey, Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu form a young nucleus up front. Dawan Landry was an underrated pickup at safety.
KS: So Atlanta went out and got Julio Jones and everyone thinks they are going to be the best offense in the league. What does Chicago do? They hold them to zero TDs and two FGs. Urlacher, Peppers, Melton, Tillman — this D will keep them in every game.
SC: No, the Ravens are not. They will not always play offensive lines of that caliber and their secondary will get exposed soon enough.