MMQB Mail (cont.)
EVERYONE IN STEELER NATION IS ASKING THE SAME THING. From Brett LaBarge, of Dallas: "Is it time to sit Big Ben and let Byron Leftwich run the offense? Ben is hurt and is forcing things.''
You sound like my daughter Laura, my brother-in-law Lou and the rest of Steelerville. If I were Mike Tomlin, I'm calling Roethlisberger into my office today and saying, "Look, you're the guy, and you'll always be the guy. But we've got to think of what's best for the team. I need you to look me in the eye and tell me you're healthy enough to play well against San Diego this week. If you lie to me, I'll never forget it. Tell me the truth.'' If Roethlisberger says he's OK, and he shows at least once in practice that his arm is fluid enough, you keep playing him. If you have any doubt, you rest him this week and play Earl Morrall. That's Leftwich, in this case, for you who don't know history.
NO ONE. From Matt, of Buffalo: "Peter, who is to blame for the Bills' implosion? This season is starting to feel like 2003 -- great start, considered one of the best, then they have a sloppy fourth quarter in Miami and all of sudden end the season 6-10. I don't know how many more years of this I can take. Once again we are also the most boring team in football to watch, a trademark of Dick Jauron-coached teams. I'm sick of the young teams getting better. We've been rebuilding for 10 years!''
Come off the ledge, Matt. The problem is we overrated Trent Edwards after his amazing September, and we all thought, instead of going through the growing pains of a normal young quarterback, he was just going to skip the maturation step and fast-forward to MVP contender (Stupid me, by the way.)
Two: They're not deep enough on defense to survive injuries to their best pass-rusher (Aaron Schobel) and best secondary player (Donte' Whitner).
Three: They're not deep enough on either side of the ball, the way the Patriots are. Give them a little room to grow. I know you're disappointed, but I do think there's enough reason to be optimistic about the future, despite what must be a crushing past three weeks.
FEAR THE RAVENS. From Bill Peel, of Drexel Hill, Pa.: "As you noted last week, the Ravens still need to play all four NFC East teams. Do you think they can win enough to take the division from the Steelers, who seem to play a big game EVERY week?''
I do ... but I also think the Ravens have the tougher schedule down the stretch. Pittsburgh has San Diego and Cincinnati at home in the next two weeks and finishes with Cleveland at home. The Ravens have the Giants and Eagles the next two weeks, and finish with the Jags. Who knows, really, but I if I had to pick a division winner today, I'd still pick Pittsburgh.
ELI WAS OVER THE LINE, AND WE ALL COULD SEE IT. From Jack Shannon, of Walla Walla, Wash.: "How can the NFL have such an absurd rule re: throwing a pass beyond the line of scrimmage, as witnessed in the Giants-Eagles game Sunday night? It seems every other rule for ball placement is based on the position of the football, yet when Eli Manning released the football at least two yards beyond the line of scrimmage, with all of his body but one toe also beyond the line, he suffers no penalty. A ridiculous rule, and totally unfair to the defense, which has to react. Agree?''
A maddening rule; I agree with you -- if the ball is clearly over the line, which it was, I think the player should be ruled over the line of scrimmage. However, every other rule for ball placement is not predicated on position of the football. On catches near the sideline, two feet have to be inbounds, even if the ball is clearly out of bounds.
I GUESS I DID THE RIGHT THING. From Adam Leonard, of Austin: "Just a word of support for your second MMQB lead this week. I agreed with your decision to not use the column to discuss your personal opinions on the election, but discussing the impact of it and using players' reflections to help set the context was perfect in keeping with the scope of your column.''
I GUESS I DID THE WRONG THING. From Gregory Wall, of Burlington, Wisc.: "If McCain had won the election and a woman held the job of VP for the first time in the history of this country, I doubt you would have given her a whole page.''
You're right. I don't cover the WNBA, whose players would have seen that as an emotional moment.
I GUESS I DID THE RIGHT THING. From Allen Harrison, of Denver: "I was one of many who complained about your swipe at the Sarah Palin nomination, and what seemed to me a patently self-serving explanation. But you'll get no complaints from this corner for your Page 2 coverage of the election. Everybody I have talked to about the election, including conservative Republicans like me who backed McCain, appreciates the beauty of this moment for our country, and the historic significance of these events for African-Americans in particular, as well as the population at large. Obama enjoys an unprecedented sentiment of goodwill, and the sincere hope from the opposing party that his election is transformational. Your comments from NFL players illustrated the reason for such hope perfectly. Nicely done!''
I GUESS I DID THE WRONG THING. From Michael, of the United States of America: "This is the last time I ever read your column, Peter. I got so sick of reading Michael Silver's liberal opinions that I stopped reading him. You have finally pushed me too far. Electing a black man president is a good thing. Electing Barack Obama president, a closet socialist with questionable ties to terrorists, felons, and racists, well, it's just a sad day for our country. I am permanently through with your column and watching any TV show you are on. Goodbye, Comrade.''
We live in a wonderful country.