Scott in Cocoa Beach, Fla., writes: Ari Fleischer to the rescue! Maybe he can talk the Glazers into spending some money on players so they don't come across as the biggest cheapskates in the NFL. Could there be more into Fleischer's hiring than just helping to look and narrow down a field for a Director of Communications position? Since when did Fleischer become a Human Resource Manager?
Pat Yasinskas: Yes, the Bucs have hired the former White House PR guru to help them choose a new director of communications. Actually, Fleischer has consulted with other NFL teams, most notably the Dolphins last year, on various issues. Supposedly, they want someone who will oversee all of their PR, including the Bucs, Manchester United and their other business interests. Sounds nice in theory, but I’m sure Fleisher’s fee isn’t cheap and the type of big gun they seem to be seeking likely will have a high price tag. My first thought on all this is why are the Bucs so willing to spend money on PR when they’re not spending it on players? Jeff Kamis, who is leaving as director of communications, was very good at his job and he has an outstanding support staff. Yeah, the Bucs have been taking a PR beating, but that wasn’t because of their PR staff. It was because they were 3-13 and made a lot of questionable moves last year. No PR person could have made chicken salad out of all that. If Fleischer is as smart as I think he is, he should be telling the Bucs to go out and get a couple of wide receivers, a defensive end and a defensive tackle. Fix the football team, win some games and the positive PR will flow no matter who is handing out credentials and press releases.
Robbie in Murphy, N.C. writes: How come no one thinks that Carolina has improved? Matt Moore is an improvement over Jake Delhomme. We all have been thinking that Dan Connor should be starting for Na’il Diggs. Damione Lewis and Maake Kemoeatu were over-rated. So we lost Julius Peppers, so what? He only showed up in about 4 games a year anyway. Nobody knows what we have in the young replacements but we all know that DeAngelo Williams was better than DeShaun Foster, yet it took 2 years for them to finally release Foster.
Pat Yasinskas: Valid points. Moore was an improvement over Delhomme late last year, but we don’t know for sure if he’s the long-term answer. I’m with you on Connor and Lewis and Kemoeatu were “just guys.’’ Peppers had to go for reasons beyond football, but you have to admit the guy could dominate a game when he wanted to and guys like that are hard to find. But I find it hard, right now, to say Carolina has improved. They haven’t added anybody and they subtracted a bunch of guys. As I’ve been saying all along, we need to see the flip side of all this. Whether it’s through the draft or free agency, the Panthers need to plug some of the holes they’ve created. If they do that, then they could end up being better than last year.
Sean in Wilmington, N.C., writes: In your most honest opinion who do you think the Panthers will bring in to compete with Matt Moore? Brady Quinn went to the Broncos after rumors of him possibly ending up in Carolina, but what about Derek Anderson?
Pat Yasinskas: Although Anderson would seem to be a logical fit for the Panthers, I haven’t heard anything to indicate they have shown any interest in him. I think there’s a good chance you could see the Panthers re-sign Josh McCown. They brought him in last year, but he got hurt. He has some experience as a starter and also has some upside.
Mack in Athens, Ga., writes: I think the Falcons are good all around on offense, There have been worse offense's that have won championships. So my question is, do you think the Falcons defense is where they need it to be to make a serious run? I do not. I think we need serious upgrades at safety, LB, and DL.
Pat Yasinskas: I think Atlanta’s defense is a work in progress. The signing of Dunta Robinson gives the Falcons a No. 1 cornerback and they now have good depth at that position. A lot of people tend to forget about defensive tackle Peria Jerry and safety William Moore. They were Atlanta’s top two draft picks last year, but they got hurt before they could make an impact. They’ll be back this year and I think the Falcons have big plans for them and they should fill some of the needs you talked about. But there still is a need to improve the pass rush with a defensive end and the Falcons also could use some help at outside linebacker. I think you’ll see both those needs addressed early in the draft.