MMQB Mail (cont.)
YES I DO. From Ed Traz, of Medford, N.J.: "Do you really think Tim Tebow can play QB in the NFL? His arm isn't that strong, he isn't that accurate. Have you seen some of the wounded ducks he's thrown up this year?
Not to mention the pounding he'll take if he tries to run inside against NFL linemen and linebackers. Maybe he makes a team as a wide receiver, safety or, if he bulks up, a tight end, but I don't see how he makes it as a QB. Do you?
Too early for me to tell for sure, but I believe he'll be a first-round pick, and a high one, because of his multiple tools at the position. He's very smart, he's very big, and when he's had to, I've seen him throw a good deep ball. Yes, I've seen the ducks too. But let me tell you: There are NFL offensive coaches who have raved about him to me. He'll be a quarterback in the big league.
MY GUT FEELING IS THEY'LL GO PROSPECTING. From Jason Lau, of Albuquerque: "I am curious what you think the Vikings will/should do regarding their quarterback. If healthy, should Gus Frerotte regain the starting job, or did Tarvaris Jackson do enough to to warrant giving him another shot? I realize this performance was against the woeful Lions, but Frerotte managed two interceptions, whereas Jackson was near-perfect and led the team on three scoring drives, and this isn't a typical backup-wins-starting-job scenario, given that Jackson began the season as the starter.''
I think the Vikings will look at the field of candidates. Frerotte is just a one-year guy for them or maybe a backup for the future. I think they'll be in the market for a free agent like Matt Cassel or they'll draft a guy to compete long-term with Jackson. I just don't think the franchise trusts him with the future of the team right now.
GOOD POINT, ERIK. From Erik Urban, of Niceville, Fla.: "Don't forget Baltimore coach John Harbaugh for your consideration as NFL Coach of the Year. All he's done is coach the Ravens to a 9-4 start with a rookie QB. Two of their losses were by three points (Steelers, Titans) and the other two were on the road against Indy and the Giants (tough assignments).
Harbaugh may have inherited a solid defense, but they've scored the 4th most points (316) in the AFC to this point and that is a huge improvement over a team that scored 275 points all of last season (fifth-worst). He has them within sight of Pittsburgh for the division title. That's not what most of us would have expected from the Ravens this season."
You make a good point, as do those e-mailers who told me not to forget Mike Shanahan and Mike Tomlin. Coaches are the same as offensive rookies this year: Lots of them deserve coach of the year.
GOOD QUESTION, JOE. From Joe Wilck, of Knoxville: "What kind of monitors and television angles do the coaches (in the coach's box) have access to during the game? Head coaches get criticized for challenging plays that seem obvious and for not challenging plays that seem outrageous, but do they have the same 'views' that we have on TV (including HD, freeze frame, slow motion)?"
Interesting question, and I understand how fans often look at coaches after challenges and say, 'What a knucklehead! Why'd he challenge that one?' Let's use last night's game as an example. Jon Gruden challenged a Steve Smith catch on the sidelines not because anyone up top said, 'Coach! Smith was out of bounds!' He challenged it because he had reason to think Smith might have been out of bounds, and with Jake Delhomme rushing the Carolina offense to the line to get the play off before the Bucs could see a replay, Gruden had to throw the challenge flag. So sometimes coaches challenge plays before they have a good feel whether they're going to be right or wrong.
Now, as to your question about equipment upstairs, the answer is no -- the coaches have no special monitors to see five quick replays or anything like that. They're seeing the same replays we're seeing at home, or seeing the same replays the fans in the stands are seeing on the big screen in some cases.
THAT'S A REACH, JOEY. From Joey, of Santiago, Chile: "Do you hear much talk around the league about a possible link between the resurgence of Ray Lewis and performance-enhancing drugs? I don't mean to gossip, but it seems like a few years ago people were talking about how Lewis had lost a step, and now the talk is all about how he's back and his incredible staying power over the years I suppose part of my suspicion has to do with what seems to me to be the quite low incidence of discovery of performance-enhancing drugs in the NFL more generally. When you look at these guys -- how big, strong and fast they are, how much abuse they take, etcetera -- it's hard to dismiss outright the possibility that there is significant use of performance-enhancing substances that simply isn't being captured. What do you think about Lewis in particular, and about the issue in general?''
I can't say anything in this game would shock me. But I have been around Ray Lewis a lot over the past few years. Say what you want about Lewis. I know a lot of people don't like him, either because of the murder case in Atlanta or because they think he's too much of a showman on the field before and during the game. Here's what I know: He respects the game. I've seen that respect manifest itself in what he says about other players, how he works in the offseason, and how he treats training-camp practices like the seventh game of the World Series. So if you ask me if I think Ray Lewis' body is on the level, I say absolutely.
Now, about your question regarding the low percentage of players caught artificially enhancing themselves ... Believe me, I have the same question you do. Is the policy working? I know some players are caught each year, but I think it'd be naive to think that it's catching everyone.