<
>

What's in Mosley's Mailbag?

We dip into the Mailbag every Saturday during the season. As you might expect, Michael Vick's performance against the Washington Redskins last Monday prompted a lot of correspondence. But we'll also address issues involving the other teams. Let's dive right into the Bag:

Tramell from Bowie, Md., you have the first word: How can you reward and elevate Philadelphia's power ranking when in the same breath you say that the Redskins are a bad team? The win should be meaningless if the Skins are so bad. This is why Skins fans have such issue with ESPN. The media there does not like the Skins but still give them more attention than any other 4-5 team.

Mosley: Tramell, I don't think any of us thought the Redskins were all that "bad" heading into that game. The Eagles exposed every flaw because of their brilliance on offense. I don't think our ESPN.com Power Rankings experts should hold it against the Eagles that they overwhelmed an inferior opponent. Isn't that what you're supposed to do? And when a well-known coach such as Mike Shanahan benches his star quarterback, it's going to be a huge story no matter what the team's record is. Then the Redskins gave McNabb a five-year, $78 million contract extension. The presence of Shanahan, McNabb and, of course, Albert Haynesworth makes Washington a major story no matter how many wins they have. It's the same thing with the Vikings. They may have a poor record, but ESPN's going to have Ed Werder in Minneapolis until Brett Favre surrenders.


Justin from New York has filed a complaint: The biggest game of the year in the NFC East is coming up Sunday night with the Giants vs Eagles ... so what the [heck] are you doing at Valley Ranch blogging about the 2-7 Dallas Cowboys?

Mosley: Well, here's the dirty little secret, Justin: I live in Dallas. That's why I try to make it to Valley Ranch at least once or twice a week. But before you send any more letters to the editor, you should know that I'll be in Philadelphia for the big game Sunday and I've been texting and calling players from both locker rooms throughout the week. But I certainly value your feedback and I'll try not to overdo it with visits to Garrett's office.


Mike in Philly has a thought on Michael Vick: Forget Vick for MVP. An MVP award is nice, but is arbitrarily subjective. Instead, let's take a look at the very bright future of this Eagles team should they decide to re-sign Vick to a 4- or 5-year extension. From Mike Sando's article in July, the Eagles currently have the youngest team in the NFC East and the fourth-youngest team in the entire league. Keep up the great work. I read every day.

Mosley: Mike from Philly was kind enough to list the age of every skill player on the team, but I left that on the cutting-room floor. The Eagles certainly have a lot of young talent and they should challenge for the playoffs every season over the next four or five years. But I'm not sure they're ready to sign Vick to an extension yet. There's still a decent chance they could use the franchise tag on him -- if there's one in the new collective bargaining agreement. And don't forget that DeSean Jackson's waiting on a new contract as well. The decision to insert Vick as the starter was about the here and now. I think the Eagles would like to let this play out a little more before making a long-term commitment to him.


Milroyigglesfan from Anchorage has an Eagles personnel question: Matt, while the Eagles are getting a little recognition for fielding another strong team this year, little credit is being given to this being a virtual overhaul of the team that appears to be firing on all cylinders yet again. What exactly is your assessment of the Eagles' personnel management? And specifically, what are your thoughts of Eagles pickups of Owen Schmitt and Jerome Harrison?

Mosley: The only truly significant change on offense is at quarterback. And obviously no one could've predicted that Vick would be playing at such an elite level. Marty Mornhinweg probably deserves a lot more credit than he's getting for Vick's development. Schmitt's filled in nicely for Leonard Weaver, although he obviously doesn't have that type of athletic ability. Harrison had a solid game against the Skins, but it took him a while to learn the offense. Signing Mike Bell was a poor decision because he wasn't the right fit, but Harrison should help general manager Howie Roseman atone for that mistake. Rookie Nate Allen has been excellent at safety and Roseman appears to have hit on Kurt Coleman in the seventh round. But even with Dimitri Patterson playing well at cornerback the past two weeks, I think the Eagles failed to do enough at cornerback. Overall, I think Roseman's done a nice job. But I'm not quite ready to make him executive of the year, as some folks have suggested.


Marco from Toronto makes a good point: Matt, I enjoy the weekly chats and commentary. The Cowboys' 3-4 scheme reminded me somewhat of Bill Parcells' 3-4 rather than Wade Phillips' 3-4 under Paul Pasqualoni against the New York Giants last Sunday. A little bit less blitzing and stunting; more zone coverage which produced better tackling. Your thoughts?

Mosley: I think that's an astute observation, Marco. Phillips really tried to get certain players in position to make plays. Parcells believed in more of a group effort. It's not like Pasqualoni threw out all of Phillips' concepts, but he simply added a lot more zone coverage. Jason Garrett told his coaches and players they had to get more takeaways. Phillips' man coverage never produced enough turnovers. With the way Pasqualoni called the defense Sunday in the Meadowlands, players had more time to read and react. I thought the zone coverage benefited cornerback Orlando Scandrick more than anyone. That's the best game I've seen from him since he was at Boise State. He just let his instincts take over -- and it was pretty impressive to watch.


Zac in Dallas has something to add regarding Vick: I listen to you on the "Galloway and Company" [ESPN 103.3 in Dallas] show every day, and I remember when Andy Reid said he was going with Vick, and Chris Mortensen was on and you and Randy argued with him, telling him it was a mistake. Still feel that way?

Mosley: I was reacting to the fact that Reid and his associates had spent the offseason selling everyone on the Kevin Kolb era. And at the first sign of trouble, they benched the guy. I thought it was a knee-jerk move after one poor start (and an injury) for Kolb, but Vick has been remarkable. With the way he's playing, there's no way you can consider anyone else. So I ended up being wrong. I knew it would happen at some point during my stay at ESPN.com.


Andrew from Los Angeles, you get the final word, sir: Hey Matt, love the blog. It's a daily read and I always unnecessarily "refresh" as many pages as possible for you. In the most recent Cowboys-Giants game, it seemed like New York defensive coordinator Perry Fewell was allergic to blitzing. The Giants could not get pressure on Kitna with their front four, but refused to dial up the blitz against a journeyman quarterback. Why did they generally hold off on sending a linebacker or safety to hurry Kitna?

Mosley: Garrett did a really nice job of keeping the Giants on their heels. The Cowboys kept Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten in to block quite a bit, so the Giants had some trouble getting home. The Giants had been doing a really nice job of bringing pressure up the middle, but Andre Gurode and Leonard Davis had their best games of the season against the Giants because they kept churning their feet and playing with power. Everything was designed for Kitna to get the ball out quickly, and the Giants simply didn't get off the ball fast enough. It was an excellent game for Kitna and his offensive line. And you can count Witten as an offensive lineman in that game.