Amazing what happens where there's an avalanche of real news to cover. Stuff we leaned on, counted on, got used to during the long, dull lockout goes by the wayside. We didn't even do Fired-Up Friday this week, and it's been forever since I've fired up the video camera and done one of Shut.Up.Phyllis' much-beloved video mailbags. Hadn't even had time to check the mailbag in several days, which made it pretty funny to go in there today and read all kinds of questions like, "Do you think the Eagles will get Nnamdi if they don't end up with Rodgers-Cromartie?" and "What are the chances the Cowboys sign Cullen Jenkins?" Yeah, life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
Let's take a few of your questions on this somewhat slow Saturday.
Two very different Giants offensive line questions came in back-to-back. Jason LaBombard from Westfield, MA thinks the line will be okay because he likes the starting five of Beatty/Diehl/Baas/Snee/McKenzie and the Giants' coaching staff showed last year they could patch things together even if they have injuries. But Greg from the UK thinks the left side looks "dodgy," which is his word because he's writing from the UK.
Dan Graziano: This is tough for me, because I spent much of this offseason saying the Giants had to make changes on the offensive line. So now that they have, I can't rightly sit here and say they were wrong to do it. Shaun O'Hara and Rich Seubert were part of a line that had a lot of success for a very long time, but it's important to stay ahead of the curve and not wait until things fall apart before fixing them. I don't understand what the Giants have seen out of Will Beatty that makes them think he's ready to start at left tackle, but they know better than I do, and if he is ready, I side with Jason more than I do with Greg. David Diehl moving inside to guard will help, and reports on new center David Baas are good. With offensive lines, it's a matter of how quickly everybody gets used to each other. The Giants had offensive line success in 2007-09 because of how long those guys had all played together. That can't be simulated, and I wonder if they might have some getting-to-know-you mistake moments. But on the whole, they were right to do what they did and should be better in the future for it, if not necessarily in Week 1.
Dal from Rancho Cordova, CA wants to know if it'd make sense for the Cowboys to pick up Plaxico Burress, who spent the past couple of days visiting the Giants and Steelers and is now being connected to the Jets and Eagles because everybody you've ever heard of is.
DG: Like the Giants, Steelers and Eagles, who all have good and stable enough receiver situations that Burress could fit in without too much pressure on him to carry the load, the Cowboys with Miles Austin and Dez Bryant could make some sense. My sense, though, is that Dallas has too many other needs (they still need two starting safeties) and too many cap concerns to spend big on their No. 3 receiver. I imagine they fill that from within or cheaply.
Ryan from Virginia asks if there's a chance the Eagles just roll with rookie Casey Matthews as the starting middle linebacker, since they're spending all this money already and still need to re-do DeSean Jackson's deal and maybe extend Michael Vick.
DG: I guess. There's a chance the Eagles are adopting the Giants' philosophy that the important things on defense in this pass-heavy era are up-front pass rush and coverage, and are undervaluing linebacker as a result of that thinking. I disagree with the Giants doing it and think it's hurt them the past couple of years, and I disagree just as strongly if it's the way the Eagles decide to go. Unless they think Matthews is the next Zach Thomas (late-round-draft-steal-turned-difference-making-linebacker), I have to believe they're on the market for a free-agent middle linebacker. They still have some money to spend, believe it or not, and guys do seem to be taking less money to play there.
Ian Wells from Gainesville, FL likes the moves the Redskins have been making and wonders, if the defense makes a jump into "the top 5 in the NFL," it could carry the team to a wild-card berth. He cites 2000 Trent Dilfer and 2006 Rex Grossman as examples of less-than-inspiring quarterbacks who led teams to Super Bowls because they were playing with brilliant defenses.
DG: Well, Ian, I like what the Redskins have been doing, too. Especially on defense, where I think they have a chance to be pretty good pretty soon. But if you look at these moves, they're all future-focused. Josh Wilson, Stephen Bowen, Chris Chester -- these guys are all good starters who are relatively young and should improve. That's what makes them smart pickups for a team in Washington's current position. Could they contend in 2011? Of course they could. Anyone can, if they stay healthy and all goes well. But the likelihood is that the Redskins' defense and overall team will be better in 2012 and 2013 than it is in 2011, which is a rebuilding year. And even if John Beck or the 2011 Grossman plays like those two guys you cited, the defense has a long way to go to be what those Ravens and Bears defenses were -- which is to say, among the greatest ever. Patience is what you need if you're a Redskins fan. They're moving in the right direction, but they're still a ways away.
Finally, Ed from Baltimore wrote this: "Dan, I just want to thank you. You brought the ESPN NFC East blog to life. Your balanced coverage, your honesty, & your humor have made me switch from ESPN's competitors to become a regular ESPN.com reader."
DG: Thanks, Ed. I have nothing else to say on this one. Really just dropped it in here so my bosses would see it.
That's it for now. Back to the salt mines.