NFC South Saturday mailbag

Kevin in Boston writes: I liked your article on Roddy White and it came right after a debate my friends and I had on the very subject. Can you say it is purely coincidental that White became an elite receiver the very year after Michael Vick stopped being the QB? Vick admittedly never worked hard, couldn't read a defense, and was terribly inaccurate. Did the passing "upgrade" to Joey Harrington and Chris Redman (wow... I just wrote that) in 2007 contribute to Roddy's emergence?

Pat Yasinskas: Michael Vick and White were very close friends when they played together. But Vick was not the most accurate of passers in those days. White emerged in the 2007 season with Harrington and Redman playing a lot. I wouldn’t credit them all that much for his emergence, but I think they played a small part. More importantly, I think the influences of Joe Horn and Paul Petrino, as discussed in the column, really triggered the turnaround and the arrival of Matt Ryan in 2008 helped put White over the top.

Haiile in Durham, N.C., writes: Do you think Julius Peppers is looking at the situation in Carolina and saying "I saw that coming"?

Pat Yasinskas: I covered Peppers for most of his career, but I would never try to read his mind. That’s because Peppers is a very private and complex person and he never really shared his thoughts on much of anything. I will say I don’t think Peppers is the type to gloat. I think he just had been very unhappy in Carolina and wanted out of there for several years. My best guess is he’s just happy to be out of there and doesn’t really care what’s happening to the Panthers.

Richard in Ann Arbor, Mich. writes: With regards to the stat about Carolina winning 7 of the last 10 regular season games against New Orleans, I think it's worth mentioning that, in two of those victories, the Saints were playing a "meaningless" game in which they made no real effort to win. In the 2006 finale, Drew Brees played two series, produced a touchdown, hit the bench. In last year's finale, Brees did not even play; Mark Brunell went all the way. Those are still victories for the Panthers, of course, but it's hard to take them seriously with regards to the division rivalry.

Pat Yasinskas: Some valid points there. This year, I view Carolina as a sinking ship. If the Saints make the Panthers 0-4 on Sunday, I think the bottom really is going to start to fall out in Carolina.

Robert in Dallas, Texas, writes: Just saw some of the Albert Haynesworth interview on ESPN-in your opinion do you think his attitude would be different if he would have signed with Tampa?

Pat Yasinskas: Believe it or not, things might have turned out even worse if Haynesworth had come to the Buccaneers, who actually offered him more money than the Redskins. Haynesworth said one of the reasons he decided not to come to Tampa Bay was that there were too many distractions and he wanted to go to a place where he could concentrate on football. It’s pretty obvious Haynesworth hasn’t been real focused in Washington. So, if he had doubts about his ability to focus in Tampa …well, let’s just say it’s probably best the Bucs didn’t sign him.

Sam in Raleigh, N.C., writes: You have often said that when there are head coaching changes coaching staffs tend to get dismantled. If John Fox leaves what are the chances that an up and comer like Jim Skipper would stick around as RB coach or OC?

Pat Yasinskas: I’ve known Jim Skipper for years. I think he’s one of the best assistant coaches in the league and he’s also a person I truly respect. But I don’t think you can call Skipper an up-and-comer. He’s 61 and will turn 62 in January. Plus, Skipper has been on Fox’s staff from the start. If Fox goes, Skipper almost certainly goes with him. Fox shouldn’t have a problem getting a job somewhere else. If that happens, I think there’s a pretty good chance Skipper ends up on his new staff.