Lots of fun mailbag questions, so why save 'em all for Saturday?
Mike Sedita from Atlanta, a self-described big fan of Eli Manning and the Giants, asks how many other quarterbacks have had .500 or better records in their first six seasons as starters: "I know there are many factors that go into this stat (like defense, running game etc etc). However, for a guy that takes the criticism that Eli takes I am just curious if he is in rare company or if this is a common occurrence."
Dan Graziano: Mike, I asked our research department about this and they say it's not all that unusual. They looked through last season's quarterbacks and found that "both Mannings, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, Tom Brady, Matt Hasselbeck, Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Favre, Kerry Collins and Donovan McNabb all had winning records through their first six seasons as a starter. Philip Rivers and Kyle Orton could both join them this year too." So I'd say that the achievement means that Eli is good, but it doesn't make him a slam-dunk for the Hall of Fame. But I continue to wonder, as you do, why more people don't think he's good.
Jason from Philadelphia is looking out for me: "Just wanted to let you know that Jeremy Maclin was on 610 WIP in Philly yesterday afternoon, making fun of your NFC East WR rankings from last week. He and the hosts were laughing at your opinion, and saying that the Eagles have one of the 3 best WR corps in the entire NFL, let alone NFC East. Maclin's exact quote was, 'That guy knows he got that one wrong.'"
DG: Wow. I am flat-out astounded. You mean to tell me that one of the Eagles' receivers and a couple of Philadelphia talk show hosts think the Eagles' receivers are the best? This kind of objective, unbiased analysis certainly qualifies as new evidence, and I will take some time now to see if I need to change my opinion based on it. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.
Brian from Orlando, Fla., recently noticed something on a map: "Dan, why are the 'Dallas' Cowboys in an 'eastern' division...... I don't see the Geographical justification? Isn't that making divisions as a whole a manipulated FARCE?"
DG: Well, yeah. In general, across all sports, that does happen. Should the St. Louis Rams be in the West? The Indianapolis Colts in the South? I think they get as close as they can, but yeah. Of course they are.
Biochemskinsfan from St. Louis offered a suggestion for a piece on the offensive lines in the division, which I took and ran with. He (Or she? I honestly don't know unless I get real names) also mentioned the fact that the Skins transitioned to a zone blocking scheme last season and that any evaluation of their line should take into account that the learning curve on that is steep and could take more than one year.
DG: A very good point (and thanks for the column idea). I did some coverage of the Jets for FanHouse a couple of years ago when they went to zone blocking in Rex Ryan's first year, and they got a lot better at it as the season went along. They said two of the keys were (1) athletic offensive linemen and (2) smart veteran running backs (Thomas Jones and Tony Richardson) who communicated well with the linemen and each other and understood the complexities of the scheme and the advantages it offered. For that reason, I wonder if it wouldn't be a good idea for Washington to seek a sage veteran back in free agency to help in the second year of the zone blocking scheme.
Keep 'em coming, folks. I'm going to go see if I can find Miles Austin on Dallas radio because I can't stop wondering whose wide receivers he and they like best.