Your questions are so good, it took longer than usual to go through them all this weekend. We'll get right to 'em.
ManningStephen from Philadelphia is reading closely, and makes a good point. He cites Friday's post in which I wrote that it was silly for people to have questioned Eli Manning as a leader because the Giants hadn't been working out as much as some other teams had. But he also points out that I myself raised the question of Giants leadership a week earlier when I wrote that the Giants' apparent reluctance to organize team workouts "does raise questions -- for me, at least -- about the way the supposed 'leaders' on the Giants' roster feel about their leadership responsibilities."
Dan Graziano: Touche, Stephen, and you really got me thinking. I certainly don't want to be inconsistent, and I don't think I usually am. But this has that feel about it, doesn't it? My answer lies in the difference between reluctant leadership and ineffective leadership. It is my belief, from having spent a little bit of time around the Giants the past couple of years, that Eli Manning and the other "leaders" on the Giants' roster don't love the idea of having to be "leaders" in the sense that a lot of outside observers might want them to be. That they have little patience for fan/media opinions of the ways in which they should be "leading." It wouldn't surprise me if the Giants were the kind of team that looked around the league, saw what other teams were doing and said, "That's all eyewash. We're not going to be bothered to do this just because everybody else is. It won't matter anyway." And they might be right. But regardless of whether they are or not, I don't think any reluctance by the Giants' veterans to function as "leaders" in the public eye matters inside their locker room or on the field. I don't think the fact that Manning isn't a rah-rah speech-maker means he's ineffective as a leader in the huddle. I think Eli's style fits with the rest of his team, and that the teammates like and respect it. I don't think there's any question that, in the context of the Giants and what they consider effective leadership, Manning is effective and well-regarded. I still do, however, think the fact that they weren't one of the first teams to rush out and organize workouts says something about the way Manning and the other Giants vets feel about their leadership responsibilities. Just not about the effectiveness of their leadership skills when they apply them. Hopefully that clears things up.
Cameron from Lebanon, Pa. doubts a report he read last week that said the Eagles weren't interested in Nnamdi Asomugha: "The 'source' cited a high price tag for a CB that only plays on the right side and is already 30 years old. We don't actually know if he only plays on the right side, just the Raiders' defense doesn't allow him to move. Also, 30 years old isn't too bad as it goes for cornerbacks in the NFL. And besides, the Eagles are in a position to win now, so they don't need 7 years out of the guy they just need a ring!"
DG: Cameron, I wouldn't sweat it too much. Especially during the lockout, when nothing can happen and no one is allowed to talk to free agents, we're going to get a lot of misdirection and misinformation. Any time a source gives a reporter information, it's for a reason, and it's almost never just to be nice to the reporter. If sources behind the scenes are putting negative information about a free agent out there publicly, it's almost certainly an effort to reduce his perceived value in advance of a time when they might be able to talk to him and his agent. I sincerely doubt any report you'll read at this point reflects a team's real opinion of a player as opposed to an effort to position itself once it's time to negotiate.
milroyigglesfan from Anchorage wants to know how the Rob Ryan "amoeba" will differ from the 3-4 defense the Cowboys had in place before he came on as defensive coordinator, and who might be the missing pieces they can seek in free agency.
DG: As I understand it, Rob Ryan's defensive philosophy is similar to that of his brother Rex, which would mean a loose 3-4 with deceptive looks off of which players have the ability to switch if it suits their ability to perform their particular assignments. It requires smart, trustworthy defenders who get what the coaching staff is selling, and for that reason I think there's a chance people might be underestimating the time the Cowboys' players need to get acclimated to Ryan. As for missing pieces, they need secondary help, particularly at safety, where Oakland's Michael Huff seems to be the most popular name in speculation, and could probably beef up at linebacker in case Bruce Carter doesn't pick things up right away.
And I'm going to just let Dustin from Alexandria, Va. be heard: "Dan, I understand the Redskins are in a rebuilding phase, and they may not be 'top of mind' for you and other NFC East blog devotees. Understanding that, there ARE devoted skins fan that read your articles and as one of them I find it very disappointing at the consistency of your articles ability not to focus on the negatives of this team. I understand they're having A LOT of problems but there are bright sides about the future and the young talent being brought in. I will continue to read your NFC East blog but would appreciate you 'balance' the negative and positive articles a little better in the future."
DG: Dustin, I hear ya. All I can tell you is that, if a team is playing very badly, most of my coverage is going to be negative. If the bulk of the news about a team is negative, that's going to be reflected here. If the bulk of the news about a team is positive, that's going to be reflected here. That's the way I do it. I'm not going to sugarcoat or artificially "even things out." All I can promise is you I'll always strive to be fair, even if it's not what fans always want to hear. I have nothing against the Redskins, or any other team, and I promise I'm not looking for ways to write negatively about them. I'm sure you can find plenty of nice things I've written already about Brian Orakpo, Trent Williams, London Fletcher, Lorenzo Alexander and others.