Chat with Pat Yasinskas
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas will stop by to talk about the NFL.
Yasinskas joined ESPN.com in January 2008 after covering the Carolina Panthers for The Charlotte Observer for nine seasons. He began his journalism career with The Tampa Tribune in 1990 and began covering the Buccaneers and the NFL in 1993. A winner of Florida Sports Writers Awards for Best Feature and Best News story in 1997, he is a graduate of Saint Leo University and attended law school before coming to his senses. A native of Dalton, Pa., Yasinskas lives in the Tampa area.
Send your questions now and join Yasinskas Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Rich (New Jersey)
John Fox is an excellent coach having a bad year. If he does get fired at the end of the year will he end up as head coach in Dallas, Denver, Minnesota or if another job opens up after the season?
Pat Yasinskas (12:57 PM)
Agree, Fox is a very bad coach. Was no longer the right guy in the right place at the right time. But he's got a pretty good resume and is respected around the league. I think he's got a good shot at getting another job. Not sure about the three you mention, but the one I keep hearing is Cleveland. With a fresh start, I think Fox can have success elsewhere.All right, this chat is officially rolling.
Morning Pat - I won't be able to log on at 1:00 so thought I'd drop this early. Will Ron Meeks get a look in Charlotte, or anywhere else, as HC? I like what he's done with our defense.
Pat Yasinskas (12:59 PM)
Might get considered in Charlotte. But I think Panthers need someone that would at least excited fan base a little bit. Would Meeks do that for you?
daman (london, uk)
hi pat,do you think barratt ruud of the bucs deserves a long term deal based on his play this year? or do you think the bucs need to focus on drafting a game changer at mlb in the 2011 draft. ruud seems to struggle making game changing plays or making many TFL's.
Pat Yasinskas (1:00 PM)
Think Ruud moves on as a free agent. In Tampa's defense, you don't need a game changer in the middle. Derrick Brooks was the game changer in the glory years and the guys in the middle were complimentary players. I think Ruud is a guy who could really prosper in another defense.
Why did other teams not want Josh Freeman, especially over Mark Sanchez? He is younger, more athletic, and much bigger. I mean, Mark Sanchez is doing horrible and he has much better receivers than Freeman.
Pat Yasinskas (1:01 PM)
Well, I know for certain that two NFC South general managers had Freeman rated ahead of Sanchez in that draft. Obviously, Mark Dominik was one of them.
Why does Freeman try to throw the ball down the field on 3rd and 2 when it looks like he could just fall foreward and get a first down? Hes been doing it all year.
Pat Yasinskas (1:02 PM)
Perhaps because that's what he's told to do?
How well do you think McCoy was coming along before his injury?
Pat Yasinskas (1:03 PM)
Thought he had turned the corner and had done that with no other talent on the defensive line around him. He'll come back next year and Brian Price will be back. They'll go out and get some defensive ends and McCoy will be fine in the long run.
Steve (Coachella, CA)
Do you have Mike Smith as the Coach Of The Year?
Pat Yasinskas (1:04 PM)
Let's see how it finishes. But if he goes 13-3 or 14-2, he's got my vote.
I am not sure if anyone has realized this but it is an interesting fact. The Saints played in Miami last year and Sharper made an amazing play in the pick 6 against the Dolphins. We all know the outcome in Miami on Feb 7th. This year the Saints played the Cowboys in Dallas and M. Jenkins made an amazing play. The SB is of course in Dallas.....coincidence...or destiny all over again?
Pat Yasinskas (1:05 PM)
Good point. Speaking of Malcolm Jenkins, I wrote a column on him that should be up on NFC South Blog now or momentarily.
Hi Pat, how will Tampa Bay's growing list of injuries affect their playoff hopes?
Pat Yasinskas (1:06 PM)
Think they can still get to 10 wins because they've got Detroit and Seattle. But, if they get into the playoffs, things could be tough because they already were young and the injuries have made them much younger.
Chris Miller (Carrollton GA)
Will you please tell the Saints fans to quit whining about the missed field goal?
Pat Yasinskas (1:06 PM)
I'll let you tell them.
WILL (ONTARIO, CALIFORNiA)
Who are the people in-charge-of the power rankings? I mean putting the Steelers above the Saints. Also, that AFC SOUTH blogger still upset with Saints beatdown of the Colts in the Superbowl, rankin them 7th while they are on a six-game winning streak? What's withthe hate?
Pat Yasinskas (1:07 PM)
The voters are John Clayton, Paul Kuharsky, James Walker and Mike Sando. They all have mailbags.
Jerry Richardson (Charlotte NC)
Pat good afternoon. I hope that you will be able to be in Charlotte in 3 weeks for the announcement that John Fox has been fired as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers
Pat Yasinskas (1:09 PM)
Sir, is it even necessary to make a formal announcement? I mean, we've all known this was coming for months. I love to visit Charlotte because I have many friends there and always enjoy seeing you. Now, when you hire your new coach, I think there's a very good chance I'll be coming to Charlotte for that one.
Pat, you say the Bucs can still get to 10 wins with Detroit and Seattle on their schedule, but will 10 wins be enough to earn the #6 seed this year?
Pat Yasinskas (1:11 PM)
Possibly and I wouldn't even rule out 11. What if Saints are already firmly locked into a seed heading into last regular season game. Payton could decide to sit some starters.
Raheem Morris (One Buc Place)
Has Tenard Jackson been working out at all while suspended that you have heard of?
Pat Yasinskas (1:13 PM)
Good to see that you're asking me that question because you're not supposed to have any contact with Tanard while he's suspended. Don't know anything for certain about where the process stands at the moment. But the initial plan was for Tanard to get some help with the issues that got him suspended. If he's serious about coming back, hopefully, he's doing that and working out. Would be a shame to see that talent go to waste.
Redzonejones (New York)
Why would the Bucs let Ruud go when their defense isn't where they want it to be as of yet it would create another hole
Pat Yasinskas (1:14 PM)
Because he's going to have an opportunity to get big money elsewhere. They're not going to pay big money for an MLB because it's not a critically important position in their defense.
Clark (Charlotte )
You are saying Danny Morrison will have say in the hire of the new coach, and I am telling you I don't buy that, you know Danny Morrison is not a part of the football operations, he is on the business side, of the teams, his job is to get butts in the seats, thus if he wanted to do that, and he really did have a say in the hire, which he won't he would be saying Cowher or Gruden, two big names guys who the fan base would be excited over, but those two aren't coming to Carolina and Hurney with the final approval of Richardson will have the final say.
Pat Yasinskas (1:16 PM)
I respectuflly disagree on that. I wouldn't have written that in the first place if I hadn't been told that by someone who knows what the plan for the coaching search is.
William B. (Nassau, The Bahamas)
Hi Pat, nice mention of the 506.com site for finding what games are on local TV across the country. In the past the NFL had "flex scheduling" late in the season. Haven't heard anything about that this year. Is that still around this year?
Pat Yasinskas (1:18 PM)
Yep, it's still around. In fact, the Bucs have had a couple games flexed from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. The upcoming Seattle game was flexed to 4:15 p.m. And, yes, 506.com is a great side. Really glad Bucs p.r. director Jonathan Grella pointed that out to me. It's become a must-read for me each week.
J.P. (Kenner, La.)
Hey Pat, does Chris Miller realize that THAT is the only thing that's separating the Saints from the Falcons, a missed chip shot?
Pat Yasinskas (1:19 PM)
I'm staying out of this one. I'll just let Saints and Falcons fans duke it out. Have fun.
Jimmy C. (Carolina)
will i be the answer ?
Pat Yasinskas (1:20 PM)
Who knows? Lot's going to depend on who the next coach is and what the team decides to do in the draft. But you're still very much in the mix and some people there like you and think you can potentially develop into a decent QB with the right coach, right system and right supporting cast.
Mark H (Greensboro, NC)
How does the Panther prime time game next Thursday against the Steelers get promoted? If that marketing person can come up with something to make people (other than Steeler fans) tune in, he/she should be promoted immediately!
Pat Yasinskas (1:21 PM)
Yep, that's a job I wouldn't want. There was a time, when the schedule came out to be precise, that I was sure I'd be in Pittsburgh on Dec. 23. Now, that's a trip I won't be making.
Sidney (Fort Mill)
Hey Pat, why don't you give love or mention to Charles Johnson, he has 8.5 sacks this season, which is more than the man he is replacing.
Pat Yasinskas (1:22 PM)
There, let's give some credit to Charles Johnson. Amid all the rubble, he has had a nice season -- no doubt.
Would the Saints probably rather play ..at chi..at nyg..or at phi in the playoffs...considering all are weather games
Pat Yasinskas (1:23 PM)
None or ideal. But I'd put Philly as the place they'd least like to go. That's a very tough place to play and those fans have a way of sometimes making themselves a factor.
Mike (Danbury, CT)
What is the next building block type piece that the Bucs need to put around Freeman next year? Maybe a Percy Harvin/Dexter McCluster type player? (What do you mean they dont grow on trees!)
Pat Yasinskas (1:24 PM)
I'd worry about defense first. They're in good shape at WR and TE. But I'd like to see them get another RB to go with LeGarrette Blount.
Hey Pat, is Steve Smith trying to get his release from Carolina?http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/12/17/steve-smiths-house-hits-the-market-in-carolina/?utm_source=bleacherreport.com
Pat Yasinskas (1:27 PM)
I don't know all the details on this one yet. But just because he's putting house on market doesn't mean he's leaving Carolina. To the best of my knowledge Steve already has sold two houses since he's been in Carolina and moved into other houses in the area. There might be something to it, but it can be dangerous to take one bit of information and start assuming what it means.
J.P. (Kenner, La.)
Will the Falcons have trouble with their 'far away' road game @ Seattle?
Pat Yasinskas (1:28 PM)
Nope. You can pretty much bet Mike Smith has said something like, "Men, let's just go out there and take care of business and the next time we have to get on a plane will be to go to Dallas". Plus, it doesn't hurt that they are playing the Seahawks.
Mark H (Greensboro, NC)
Bigger disappointment for Panther fans this offseason? Hire someone not named Gruden or Cowher OR Andrew Luck not declaring for the NFL. I vote Luck
Pat Yasinskas (1:29 PM)
I vote Luck too. You're not getting Gruden or Cowher.
Derek ( Tampa)
any word on the NFL reveiewing the playoff rules that the division winner automatically makes the playoffs despite their record?
Pat Yasinskas (1:31 PM)
It will come at the league's big annual meeting in March. Can guarantee you it will be discussed. But I'm not sure anything will get changed.
Steve (Coachella, CA)
Will a win in Seattle to cap off 3 straight road wins put an end to all the talk of Matt Ryan being a Dome Boy? Should it?
Pat Yasinskas (1:32 PM)
I've never bought into that. Matt had a pretty nice college career at Boston College and played in some less-than perfect weather. Has he lost at Philly and Pittsburgh this year? Yes, but I think that had more to do with the quality of the opponents than anything else.
Ian (WHO DAT NATION, LA)
I will be traveling to goto the Saints game vs Atlanta next week and I am wondering what I should expect 'heckling' wise from the fans. So, Dirty Bird fans tell me what I'm in for. (Hartley will hit the game winner this time.)
Pat Yasinskas (1:33 PM)
If you had left out the last part, I think you would have been pretty safe. From my observations, Atlanta fans are a pretty respectful lot. Come to think of it, it's that way throughout the NFC South. When you go into Philly and a few other places, that's when it's not always a good idea to wear team gear.
Merrill (St. Petersburg, FL)
From an insider's point-of-view, are we (NFC South fans) being too sensitive about our lack of respect from the national scene...or are we really just an afterthought to the headlines of the lousy NFC East and mediocre AFC East?
Pat Yasinskas (1:35 PM)
No, I think you've got a right to feel that way. NFC South has three high-quality teams right now and it doesn't get a lot of national attention. I think that's unfortunate. But it also is the nature of the beast. Big market teams are going to get attention whether they deserve it or not. But NFC South is always going to be first and foremost for me.
Cadillac Williams (Tampa, FL)
Pat, how long do you see me sticking with the Bucs until they replace me with another guy to go with Blount? Could it happen as soon as next year?
Pat Yasinskas (1:36 PM)
Hate to say it because I truly like and respect you, but I think there's a pretty decent chance this will be your last year in Tampa Bay.
Dan (College Park )
Hey Pat, you know why the Panthers will and have to take Luck if he comes out and they are in position, because if you don't and he ends up becoming what everyone thinks he can become, the Panthers will never live it down.
Pat Yasinskas (1:37 PM)
If Luck comes out and they don't trade away the No. 1 pick, yeah, they have to take him. But I'm not ruling out Panthers trading down.
Rick (New Orleans)
The other day in a mailbag you made a comment saying Rex Ryan's name does not belong with Mike Smith, Bill Bellicheck or Sean Peyton, first neither Smith belong with Peyton or Bellicheck, second, what makes you say Ryan does not belong with Smith, tell me who has more playoff wins, that would be Ryan, in just one season, compared to two full seasons for Smith.
Pat Yasinskas (1:39 PM)
My personal opinion. I think Mike Smith is one of the best coaches in the league and I think over the next month or two, some other people will be joining me in that opinion.
If this is Caddy's last year in Tampa Bay, who do you see being drafted to replace him?
Pat Yasinskas (1:40 PM)
Let's get through the rest of regular season and playoffs before we start talking too much draft. I'll talk a little draft about Carolina because that's obviously a different situation. But we'll hold off on draft talk for Falcons, Saints and Bucs until after the season.
Merrill (St. Petersburg, FL)
What is your favorite NFC South venue to watch a game, and why? Not just this year, but averaged out over the course of years where the records don't influence the energy of the venue.
Pat Yasinskas (1:42 PM)
If you're asking what's the best venue from a fan's standpoint, I'm not best person to ask. I don't get to tailgate or sit in the stands and really experience the atmosphere. We're pretty isolated in the press box.
Dan (College Park)
Pat, than what do you say if you are a Panthers fan when you trade the #1 pick and Luck becomes the next Peyton Manning, what do Panther fans think than? You don't trade the pick no matter what, you stay and take Luck.
Pat Yasinskas (1:44 PM)
I don't disagree with you at all. But I'm not sure people making the decisions for the Panthers necessarily feel that way.
Do you think Huggins could serve the purpose of offsetting Blount or are you thinking the Bucs really just need to go out and get another guy?
Pat Yasinskas (1:45 PM)
I like Huggins and think he has some potential. But I don't think you can definitely say what he's got yet. I'd go out and add another set of fresh legs to the mix. If Huggins can factor in, great. But you can never have enough quality running backs.
Here is a fun what if for you Pat. If the Saints have a deep playoff run which leads Greg Williams to another head coaching job, would Peyton look at his friend John Fox as his next D Cordinator?
Pat Yasinskas (1:46 PM)
Absolutely, if Fox doesn't have another head coaching job.
Julius Peppers (Chicago)
Pat Yasinskas (1:46 PM)
How many sacks you got there, Chief???
Abe (Syracuse, NY)
Pat why is it that so much is being said about the weakness of Tampa?s schedule yet the Falcons whom have almost an identical schedule is already being hailed as a super bowl caliber team?Pat why is it that so much is being said about the weakness of Tampa?s schedule yet the Falcons whom have almost an identical schedule is already being hailed as a super bowl caliber team?Pat why is it that so much is being said about the weakness of Tampa?s schedule yet the Falcons whom have almost an identical schedule is already being hailed as a super bowl caliber team?Pat why is it that so much is being said about the weakness of Tampa?s schedule yet the Falcons whom have almost an identical schedule is already being hailed as a super bowl caliber team?Pat why is it that so much is being said about the weakness of Tampa?s schedule yet the Falcons whom have almost an identical schedule is already being hailed as a super bowl caliber team?Pat why is it that so much is being said about the weakness of Tampa?s schedule yet the Falcons whom have almost an identical schedule is already being hailed as a super bowl caliber team?Pat why is it that so much is being said about the weakness of Tampa?s schedule yet the Falcons whom have almost an identical schedule is already being hailed as a super bowl caliber team?Pat why is it that so much is being said about the weakness of Tampa?s schedule yet the Falcons whom have almost an identical schedule is already being hailed as a super bowl caliber team?Pat why is it that so much is being said about the weakness of Tampa?s schedule yet the Falcons whom have almost an identical schedule is already being hailed as a super bowl caliber team?Pat why is it that so much is being said about the weakness of Tampa?s schedule yet the Falcons whom have almost an identical schedule is already being hailed as a super bowl caliber team?
Pat Yasinskas (1:48 PM)
Abe, I try to keep it fast paced here and hit as many questions as possible. Send a copy of this to my mailbag, so I'll have time to read the whole thing. Or boil it down to a couple of lines and submit it again. Thanks.
Steve White (Charlotte NC)
Pat i hope you enjoy bashing the panthers.Because next year this team won't be so bad as they are this year
Pat Yasinskas (1:50 PM)
Hope you're right. I don't enjoy "bashing" them. I write about what's going on. If they turn it around next year, I'll sing their praises. I can only work with what I am given. Ask Bucs fans about how that works and how it can change from year to year.
Pat, If Ryan from New Orleans thinks Mike Smith doesn't belong in the same conversation with Bill Belicheck, then tell him to read what is linked. http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/atlanta-falcons-matt-ryan-nfl-similar-to-vintage-new-england-patriots-120710
Pat Yasinskas (1:52 PM)
You just told him. But I'll tell you this. Mike Smith already is an excellent coach and is going to be one for a very long time.
Trace Smith (Charlotte)
Pat, you're dead wrong about Julius. Look at what his presence has meant for the Bears defense. Hurney shamed the franchise by low-balling Julius in terms of guaranteed money and trashing him to the Observer. The Panthers' biggest problem is Marty Hurney, not the only Panther on the all-decade team.
Pat Yasinskas (1:53 PM)
All right, I admit Julius definitely has helped the Bears. I was just having some fun with that question. But when did Hurney bash Peppers to the Observer or any media outlet??? I've known Hurney for a long time and the man isn't going to publicly bash anyone.
Hey Pat, I'd like to know if the Bucs will get some Sunday or even Monday night games next season. We haven't had one night game all season, even though we are having a good year. A team like San Francisco, however, got 2 MNF games, and they have not had a good season. Will we get some love in 2011?
Pat Yasinskas (1:55 PM)
My guess is the improvement this year will get you one prime-time slot next year and it will probably be a road game. League doesn't want to show a half-empty stadium in prime time.
How can the panthers expect Clausen to develop without a mentor?
Pat Yasinskas (1:55 PM)
Great point. That would be a nice way to at least give him a chance to succeed.
Which is the oldest and most traditional(history) team in the NFC South.
Pat Yasinskas (1:57 PM)
Think the Saints would have to be the answer. Even in their bad years, they were loveable losers and fans have stood by them. Saints are a way of life in New Orleans, especially since Katrina. Are they the same thing the Packers are to Green Bay? Not quite. But they're not that far off.
Who is taking McCoys reps in practice?
Pat Yasinskas (1:58 PM)
Sounds like a whole bunch of guys and they're going to be moving people around a lot.
Any chance Brian Bellick ever comes back to coah? He was a good one!
Pat Yasinskas (2:00 PM)
You know, that's an interesting one and his name doesn't seem to come up in many conversations. Yet, he was a pretty good coach. Not sure what is personal mindset on it is. Maybe he's just enjoying the more relaxed life. Coaching can be brutal lifestyle. But, again, I really don't know what Billick's thoughts on a return to coaching are.
J.P. (Kenner, La.)
Pat, thanks for giving the Saints props for their unique history, the Who Dat nation really appreciates it.
Pat Yasinskas (2:01 PM)
Well, it's all true. And that's not a knock on any other NFC South fan base. They all have some outstanding qualities. But New Orleans is just a different situation than most places. I mean, Saints are the fabric of that city.
Matt K (Charlotte)
Do you think in time the Carolina fan base will learn to be thankful for the years Peppers put in? Or do you think he will forever be known as a traitor?
Pat Yasinskas (2:03 PM)
I would hope so, but it's going to take time. A lot of time. And, someday, I hope Peppers opens up and really gives a full explanation for why he wanted out. There are two sides to every story and I don't think we really have heard his yet.
How pumped are you to be at the Falcons vs Saints game in a couple weeks?
Pat Yasinskas (2:04 PM)
Very much so. Made my plane reservation a few days ago and booked the hotel. But, hey, I'm pretty pumped about leaving for Baltimore tomorrow, too. Saints and Ravens should be a good one. All right, we're already past deadline. Two more questions.
I could argue the same about the Bucs. The lovable losers factor. Would you have said the same a year ago?
Pat Yasinskas (2:06 PM)
Ah, not sure I could go with you on that one. I was living in Tampa for a long chunk of their lovable losers phase and it wasn't the same as New Orleans. In fact, there was pretty much an apathy toward the Bucs and former owner Hugh Culverhouse.
Mark Dominick (One buc place)
wow, I would like to thank bruce allen for the cap space. As for the players he left? Not so much.. almost got rid of em all!
Pat Yasinskas (2:07 PM)
Suggest you continue that trend. Look at who brought in some of the players that have been getting in trouble. Granted, Mike Williams was your pick. But Talib, Jerramy Stevens and a lot of those guys were gifts from Bruce.
Scott Fowler (Charlotte NC)
Pat Mary Christmas a happy new year and see you in Charlotte in about 4 weeks give or take a week
Pat Yasinskas (2:09 PM)
See, that's how I know you're not the real Scott Fowler. He spells it "Merry" Christmas. But happy holidays to all. I'll be working all through the holidays, but our chats won't be going on Fridays the next two weeks because of the holidays and people running the chats will be off and many of you will be off. But I will check with Bristol and see if we can chat on a different day. I'll alert you on blog if that's going to happen. Thanks to all for stopping by.