We have the game of the year in the NFC East, and I'm not even talking about the one involving the future of the Washington Redskins, Rex Grossman. It will be an interesting day in the Beast. And did you hear that Jamar Chaney's playing middle linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles? OK, let's start emptying the Bag:
Andy from Manhattan Beach, Calif., wants to talk Redskins. Apparently something happened with the quarterback situation Friday: With losses to Detroit, St. Louis, Minnesota, and some extremely pathetic performances against the Eagles and Giants, the Skins appear to be in a free-fall. Donovan McNabb has looked bad most of the season, but I don't think many of us blame him with only one real wide receiver and a Pro Bowl tight end. What do the Redskins need to actually compete?
Mosley: I agree that the problems go deeper than McNabb, but he was brought in to lead this turnaround. Obviously Shanahan & Son don't have any faith in McNabb and there's no way he's coming back in 2011. Rex Grossman's not the answer and John Beck didn't exactly tear it up in Miami. Until you get this quarterback situation figured out, a lot of the moves won't matter all that much. Shanahan certainly has to start building an offensive line around rookie left tackle Trent Williams. And he'll have to bring in more firepower at the skill positions. With the running backs and receivers Shanahan took to training camp, you could already see there would be issues. I also think this upcoming offseason will be about overhauling the defense. Jim Haslett has players that don't fit his system. The transition to a 3-4 scheme has been even tougher than expected. This is pretty much a lost season at this point, and I don't think that's what Dan Snyder expected when he brought in Shanahan to turn this thing around.
David P. from Lincoln, Neb., wonders if the Cowboys should change back to a 4-3 defensive scheme: Would Dallas ever consider going to a 4-3 defense with all or most of the same players they have now? They've been pretty weak stopping the run again this year -- especially up the middle -- and Jay Ratliff just gets swallowed up at times when he's the lone man inside in that base set.
Mosley: The Cowboys drafted DeMarcus Ware to be the centerpiece of a 3-4 scheme. And then they spent a first-round draft choice on Anthony Spencer to play outside linebacker on the other side. The Cowboys are too far down the 3-4 scheme road to turn back at this point. Now, I agree that you can do a lot of things with some of the subpackages. But the base will remain a 3-4. And though Ratliff has had some poor games this season, I still think he's one of the best 3-4 nose tackles in the league. He just needs a little more help at defensive end. Right now, teams are able to constantly double-team Ratliff. The Cowboys need their defensive ends to do a better job causing problems for quarterbacks.
Pete in New York, what's on your mind? Matt, wanted to know what you think of Steve Smith's chances of re-signing with the Giants, and do you think the injuries are going to limit the type of money he receives? I am a huge fan of his body of work and think he is severely underrated in the league.
Mosley: I agree that Smith's a very valuable player for the Giants. Fortunately for Smith, the Giants have seen safety Kenny Phillips return from microfracture surgery. I think he'll work extremely hard in his rehab to return next season. I could see Giants general manager Jerry Reese doing a short-term extension with the thought of doing something bigger once Smith proves he's ready to go. But the Giants don't want him playing for another team. I can promise you that.
Devin from Sydney, Australia, wonders if the Giants could look to prison for help at wide receiver: Matt, I cannot wait for a classic NFC East matchup this Sunday. But on another note, has Steve Smith's injury put the Giants back on top of the list for the Plaxico Burress sweepstakes? Would he even want to come back to New York?
Mosley: Reese hasn't shut the door on a possible return for Burress, but it would surprise me if it happened. The Giants have a good young nucleus of wide receivers. They're really excited about what Ramses Barden and Victor Cruz (both on injured reserve) could bring next season. With Hakeem Nicks becoming the No. 1 option this season for Eli Manning, I'm not sure there's a place on this roster for Burress. I suppose what Michael Vick has done on the field this season might cause teams to be a little more open-minded with Burress, but I'd be really surprised if he returned to the Giants. A lot of folks in the organization believe the Giants would have had a great chance to repeat as Super Bowl champions if that gun hadn't gone off in the Latin Quarter in Nov. '08. But it did, and I don't think Burress would be a good fit for the Giants in the future.
Chris from Stevensville, Md., get this Eli Manning question off your chest, sir: What are the "experts" seeing with Eli's interceptions? EVERYBODY's INTs are up this year, but the only quarterback people beat up on is Eli. But he has regressed in that department. Many are bad receiver routes or tips, but others are bad decisions. What are you hearing?
Mosley: I'm pretty sure folks have beaten up Donovan McNabb for his interceptions. And even Manning's big brother has drawn some criticism for his 15 interceptions. I think the biggest problem with Eli is that he refuses to throw the ball away. He hasn't protected the football in the red zone, and that's what is driving Tom Coughlin nuts. Manning has been a little frustrated in recent weeks because he's not completing as many passes downfield. But he has to do a better job of knowing his personnel. If you're going to throw to Kevin Boss in the end zone, put it where he's the only one who has a shot at it. I think the fact that the running game is rolling will settle Manning down a little bit. He threw the interceptions last week in the win over the Vikings, but Coughlin said only the first one was his fault. As Bill Parcells used to bellow throughout practice, "The throwaway's a good play!" And Manning needs to recognize that down the stretch.