I'm about to board a flight to Philadelphia for Sunday's Packers-Eagles wild-card playoff game, but let's dip into the mailbag for a few questions first. A lot of folks are wondering what Jason Garrett will do at defensive coordinator now that he's been granted so much authority by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Let's get right to your questions:
Kevin in San Jose, Calif., what's on your mind? Is it reasonable to hope and wish for a Champ Baily-Washington reunion this coming offseason?
Mosley: I realize that Mike Shanahan seems to value veteran players more than most head coaches, but I don't see him committing a lot of money to Bailey at this point in his career. Bailey's been one of the best cornerbacks in the league for years, but he's a declining player at this point. The Redskins would be better off identifying a cornerback in the draft. I think LSU's Patrick Peterson might be gone by the time the Skins pick at No. 10 (Now No. 4 on Mel Kiper's Big Board), but he's certainly someone to keep in mind. I tried to focus on Peterson in last night's AT&T Cotton Bowl, but a freshman named Tyrann Mathieu kept stealing the show. It looked like Mathieu was the best defensive back on the field in the win against the Aggies, but it's not like I've watched a ton of LSU football this season. Bringing in aging players (see Donovan McNabb and Larry Johnson) didn't exactly work out for Shanahan in his first season, so I'd be surprised to see him make a play for Bailey.
Al from High Point, N.C., has two New York Giants questions: 1. Do you see [defensive coordinator] Perry Fewell as being interviewed by certain teams for a head-coaching job more as a legitimate concern for the Giants or are the other teams making him more of a Rooney Rule candidate? 2: How come the Giants do not find a way to keep coordinaters from becoming head coaches some other place by trying to make one of them a successor to Tom Coughlin?
Mosley: That whole coach-in-waiting thing rarely works out at any level. Ask the University of Texas about that strategy. Coughlin sees himself coaching for several more years, so he wouldn't be pleased with that type of scenario. The Redskins had Gregg Williams as their coach-in-waiting to Joe Gibbs, but that didn't work out for him. Fewell did some nice things this season, but it's too early to overreact and make him a coach-in-waiting. Jerry Jones basically did that with Jason Garrett by making him the highest-paid assistant in the league following the '07 season. And the plan of succession didn't go off that smoothly, with Wade Phillips getting fired eight games into the 2010 season. Regarding your first question, I think Fewell has a legitimate chance to be a head coach. I think owners and general managers across the league have a lot of respect for how he handled the interim job in Buffalo, and I don't think the Rooney Rule's the only reason he's getting a look right now. Ultimately, though, I think he'll be with the Giants for at least another season. And it's not a bad thing when teams want your assistants to be head coaches. It normally means a team is having a lot of success. You can't really say that about the Giants right now, but the defense certainly took some positive steps.
Jason from Bryn Mawr, Pa., is one of our most prolific mailbag participants. He has an Eagles thought: "Can the Eagles Flip the Switch?" is a great article, providing well-balanced information. Everyone seems to be concerned with only the Eagles' performance against the Vikings, but let's not forget they had not played very well in the weeks prior to that game. I believe the "Miracle in the Meadowlands II" has masked our recollection of prior events. They were then blown out by the Bears (final score is no indication) and required fourth-quarter come-from-behind TDs to beat both the Texans and Cowboys.
Mosley: Jason, I agree with you that teams have sort of caught up with Michael Vick a little bit since that first game against the Giants. But I'm afraid that Vick was so brilliant through the first 10 games that we sort of developed unreasonable expectations for him. He'd had enough near-interceptions earlier in the season to indicate that he'd eventually have some turnovers. But the fact that he has nine fumbles in his past six starts is pretty remarkable. But if Vick is close to 100 percent from that quad contusion suffered against the Vikings, he's capable of making the Packers' defense pay. I think Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg have spent a lot more time getting Vick ready for some of those cornerback blitzes that the Vikings used with a lot of success. And I can promise you that Jason Peters will have some help at left tackle to make sure that Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews doesn't take over this game. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers will try to be aggressive with the blitz early in this game. And if the Eagles can pick it up, they'll have a shot at a big play on that first drive. I'm told that Reid and Mornhinweg have emphasized a quick start on offense all week. That's why I wouldn't be surprised to see Vick dial up DeSean Jackson on one of those double moves on the first play from scrimmage.
Steve in Philadelphia wants to talk about Jason Garrett's decision-making power: Jerry Jones did not say that Jason Garrett would have final say on picking players. He said that no one would be on the team that Garrett doesn't want on the team. I believe that this may mean that while Jones continues to function as the GM, he would merely shy away from major free agents or draftees that Garrett has some apprehension about from a character perspective, like T.O. I do not believe this is the same as "final say" on all personnel decisions. Do you agree?
Mosley: Steve, I think you're on the right track. Jones did stunningly say that Garrett would have "final say" when it came to the hiring and firing of assistant coaches. But I don't think Garrett necessarily wants "final say" when it comes to player personnel decisions. Only Andy Reid and Mike Shanahan enjoy that type of power in the league right now. And it's not like Shanahan has a great track record when it comes to drafting players. I think Garrett's smart enough to know that he doesn't have the skins on the wall to demand complete authority on draft picks. I think what Jones was saying is that he won't release or sign a player against Garrett's wishes. It's still surprising that Jones made that statement Thursday, but it doesn't necessarily mean he'll follow it.
I'll check in with you guys from Philadelphia on Sunday.