Mailbag: On coaches, dropoffs, funeral pyres

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
You ask, I answer. I'd like to make mailbags a regular Saturday feature during the offseason, but can only do so if I get a steady flow of entries in the mailbag. Especially good questions, of course, often result in a blog entry all their own.

And away we go...

Kevin from Portland writes: Paul- In my haste to write you after the Bush signing, I failed to recognize that Marinelli had signed on to coach for the Bears. Is there any other candidates who would be a good for this posistion for the Texans? Also, there is talk of hiring Alex Gibbs' son as our devensive backs coach. What knowledge do you have of his performance as a coach in the past?

Paul Kuharsky: The son, David Gibbs, could be great. I've heard good things from some people who know him. But I do think there is a great, big football world out there beyond one's staff, people tied to the place one used to work and relatives of people on one's staff. I touched on a lot of that in this column.

Colby in Augusta writes: Hey Paul, Love the blog this year, good stuff. My question revolves around the growing concern about the upcoming "uncapped" year in 2010. Are the owners going to be able to agree on a new CBA before 2010, and if not, can we expect them to try to make sure that 2010 is the only uncapped year and reach a new agreement after 2010?? And how exactly does this effect the smaller market teams (ie. Titans), will they still be able to put forth the money necessary to sign who they need?

Paul Kuharsky: I appreciate the kind words.

The uncapped year is a poison pill intended to make the sides reach a new agreement before it comes into play. The prevailing opinion is that if it ever gets to an uncapped year, the players will never sign on to a return to a cap. That's not good for anybody, but certainly not for small-market teams like the Titans.

I don't expect the league or the union will let it get to that point.

Jeff in Jacksonville writes: Paul I was talking to a friend of mine about Jacksonville's Huge Drop off from 07 and we starting talking about what teams next year have the possibility of being the Jags 08. Our two teams where the Bucs (Old Defense, Lost of DC, Firing of HC/GM), and Baltimore (Old Defense,Possible Lost of DC). Do you think our choices are legitimate, and if no what other teams do you see going from a Playoff team in 08 to having a losing season in 09, It happens every year so who are your candidates.

Paul Kuharsky: I think you make two good choices, though if Joe Flacco makes a nice second-year jump that could set the Ravens up for good things on offense if they draft well.

I don't assume a new coach and GM will be a bad thing in Tampa.

Two more I see as possibilities -- the Vikings could easily be a third-place team in my eyes. I just don't love anyone in that division. The Peppers stuff with the Panthers could be divisive and Delhomme's future is iffy.

Eric from parts unknown writes: so do you think it was pointless for the titans to go sign a. crumpler this past year when we have bo scaife?

Paul Kuharsky: Not at all.

You need two. They need three. Even rookie Craig Stevens saw a decent amount of playing time. Scaife remained the primary pass-catcher, but Crumpler did a lot blocking and was a key locker room guy. And now Scaife is a free agent, so they may not have him and would need another.

Lee in Nippers Corner/ Nashville writes: In reference to the Titans locker room...What will happen now to Bryan Pride? Viking-style funeral pyre?

Paul Kuharsky: That is an excellent idea! I was told he went home with David Stewart. But they could have put him on a little raft, floated him onto the lake that surrounds their practice fields and torched him, a perfect symbol of a season gone down in flames.

Kit Burkholder from parts unknown writes: I played for Jim Caldwell at Wake, and the swearing rule is true. Coaches and players had to put money in the jar for swearing, and by the time I left after the Aloha Bowl game, I believe Coach Caldwell's check-to-be written for swearing was over $100,000 (which never happened). He also had "Caldwell Standard Time" for us during training camp. We had to be early to every meeting and scheduled event by 10 minutes to teach us accountability. If you'd like more details, I'd be happy to provide.

Paul Kuharsky: He's referring to this blog entry. Nice of you to write, Kit. I'm looking forward to getting to know Caldwell and I will save your e-mail for the next time I need someone who knew him back in the day.

Joshua Coleman from Meridian, Miss., writes: Do you think Vince Young should become a wideout? his what?? 6'5" 235LBS. He can run somewhat fast, The Titans need a WR other than Gage.besides if he is crappy that would make him better than most or WRs

Paul Kuharsky: No. His entire resume is as a quarterback. Few teams do much position changing, the Titans do none with players of note.

Yes, even a bad receiver who played the spot in college is better at it than Young would be. Also, what makes you think he'd be willing to do it?

Adam in East Liverpool, Ohio, writes: You mentioned in the Super Bowl chat that if everything was reviewable, we'd be watching guys in the booth all day. Is that really true, if there's still a limit on the number of challenges a coach can issue, and official's challenges only occur within two minutes of each half?

Paul Kuharsky: Point taken. But coaches would be a lot more likely to use all of theirs and the last two minutes could take an eternity.

Adam in Hendersonville, Tenn., writes: Hi Paul, Wanted to call into 104.5 this morning, but was unable to do so ... couple quick question re: the Titans & Jim Schwartz: 1.) Talk of McGinnis or Cecil as D-Coordinator. Why no mention of Washburn? Is it that he is perfectly content coaching the D-Line & really has no interest in the DC spot? 2.) With regard to Schwartz taking Titans assistants with him to Detroit ... how does that work? Is it a different process than when a team requests to speak to someone re: an open head coaching spot? Thanks Paul. Adam

Paul Kuharsky: Washburn is a D-line coach through and through. I don't think he's interested or concerned with defensive backfield play, except for making it easy with effective collapsing of the pocket. Also, I am mentioning who I know Fisher is considering, not campaigning.

The Lions have to ask for and receive permission to talk to people under contract, so they pretty much have to be people a team is willing to let go. That can often be a young guy who's deemed deserving of a chance to move on and up or a coach the old team is kind of eager to see head to a new locale.

Henry in Nashville writes: Suppose the Titans do no better in the playoffs next year than Jeff Fisher generally produces, which is winning 1 game (or fewer) then an exit. The reason is that even if the Titans lose Haynesworth, they are still a veteran team that is contending for a Super Bowl now. A lot of the guys on the team are either still playing on their rookie deals or signed 4 year free agent contracts 2 years ago, especially on the offensive line and defense. So, the window probably closes in 2010. So, if no real progress is shown in 2009, do the Titans come back with a 38 year old journeyman QB and a head coach who has seen more successful guys come and go like Mike Shanahan, Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, Brian Billick, Jon Gruden, Bill Belicheck (who technically is still around but his run is done), etc.? I think that Fisher knows that the heat is on. That is why he made a point of complaining about the officiating (and as a member of the competition committee, he knows better) and trying to put pressure on Vince Young to spend this offseason in Nashville after the offense led by the guy that Fisher benched him for only produced 10 points and 3 turnovers (2 in the red zone) in a home playoff game against a #6 seed. Oh yes, it also can't be good sticking to his "playmaking WRs aren't necessary" line after seeing Larry Fitzgerald dominate Philadelphia and particularly Carolina teams that share Fisher's basic philosophy. If Jeff Fisher isn't under pressure to actually do something in the playoffs next year, he should be. The ironic thing is that playing Kerry Collins instead of Vince Young removes Fisher's excuses. When Vince Young throws for 2500 yards and has a 71.1 QB rating, it is all too easy to blame the running QB. But when Kerry Collins throws for 2600 yards, has an 80.1 QB rating despite having a qualified offensive coordinator and an offensive weapon in Chris Johnson (where Young had neither), then the problem is your bad talent on offense based on years of insisting that you can win a Super Bowl by populating your offense with guys like Eddie Berlin and Paul Williams. By the way ... I recall one of your Tennessean articles pushing the Titans' line that Floyd Reese was overly loyal to his own bad draft picks and that the new GM would do a better job ... well then why are Chris Davis, Paul Williams, and Chris Henry still on the roster? As Henry in particular was a guy that according to Jeff Fisher was "someone that WE considered taking with our first round pick", it may well be that Floyd Reese was never the one behind a lot of those decisions - or the philosophy that led to those questionable players being selected in the first place - after all.

Paul Kuharsky: A lot of good stuff in there Henry, thanks for taking the time to send that note.

You go off track at a few places, in my opinion.

How in the world can Collins be held accountable for the lost red zone fumbles by LenDale White and Alge Crumpler? Against that defense, Collins played well enough to win and if that's what he's asked to do, I don't see how he should be getting ripped for not doing more.

I know you and a lot of Titans fans dream of an more open offense. Fisher's proved time and again that that's not his preference. So the one thing that has to happen is limited turnovers and sacks by the quarterback, who, despite the overuse of the word, really needs to manage the game. You can put Vince Young's numbers side-by-side with Collins' all you like, but you are never going to convince me that Young can manage a game as well as Collins did this season and you are never going to convince me Young can lead the offense and give it confidence that if there is a bump in the road he's not going to go in the tank. Those things hardly, to me, make Collins a Pro Bowler. But they do a great deal to distance him from VY. (And of course all of it raises square-peg, round-hole questions about Young and the Titans in the first place.)

Yup, Reese hung on to draft picks forever. But nobody cuts second-rounders in their second year when they don't have anyone better. Henry will be cut at the end of camp in August, when it's clear the Titans have someone better (probably Rafael Little). This year they did not. Same for Paul Williams and Chris Davis. Though I think one of the wide receivers should have been dumped so they could have kept Antonio Johnson. Reinfeldt has shown a willingness to cut low picks who were outperformed -- Reese would have given Joel Filani three years and Ryan Smith at least two (not that there is a crime in that) -- and Reinfeldt will soon show a willingness to cut high picks who haven't panned out. You can't cut Henry for the sake of cutting him when he's still better than any alternative you have. And the last handful of roster spots -- unless you suffer a slew of injuries -- are developmental spots anyway. Still, Henry and Williams will both be gone on a faster timetable than Andre Woolfolk or Shad Meier were.

Also, saying they could have taken Henry in the first round is not the same as taking him in the first round, though I agree it hardly instills confidence in their judgment of him.

Fisher is now, officially in my eyes, an underachieving playoff coach. Still, the plan against Baltimore worked. His players choked in crucial moments -- with the three turnovers and the missed field goal. What of that was attributable to coaching?

I just don't see Bud Adams firing Fisher for anything short of insubordination. More successful guys than him have been fired, yes. And that impatience has paid off how so far? Two coaches -- TWO -- in the entire league have won Super Bowls. That will move to three on Feb. 1. Would you rather have a guy who's on the competition committee, respected by the entire league and would be hired elsewhere immediately or an unknown?

And how can you think Belichick's run is done when he won 11 games without the best player in the league and has shown he can capably replace assistants is beyond me.

Lonnie in Nashville writes: I want to ask your opinion about the response from the NFL and/or Referee for the no call on the delay of game call last week in the Titans/Ravens game. I understand that referee has to look up at the scoreboard to see the play clock and there is a natural delay in looking back at the snap of the ball. To me this is no excuse since there is a screen on each scoreboard that shows every play of the game and it is within view of the play clock. The referee would have easily been able to see that the ball was not snapped at the time the play clock went to zero. I enjoy your appearances on the morning show with Mark, Frank and Ke
vin. thanks
Paul Kuharsky: I don't think they want officials looking at scoreboard video -- which probably also includes some form of natural delay and isn't guaranteed to offer the same thing stadium to stadium.

It's easier than that. Instead of waiting for zero and looking for the ball, count down with the clock, get the rhythm of the count, and look to the ball at one as you count the second and judge the timing.

Nice of you to write. Please keep listening and reading.