Diner Morning News: Mailbag Day

Michael LombardiContributor ISeptember 25, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 26:  Vernon Gholston poses for a photo after being selected as the sixth overall pick by the New York Jets during the 2008 NFL Draft on April 26, 2008 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

QUOTE: “A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.”Ben Franklin

My e-mail inbox has been overflowing, so today I thought I’d answer a few.

From Robert:

Just thought you would find this amusing. At the Jets shop, Vernon Gholston replica jerseys are now marked off 50% to $40, while the Mike Nugent jersey still goes for $80. Are you officially a bust when your jersey sells for half the price of a kicker who is no longer on the team?


I think that’s a fair question deserving attention. When the people who run a team’s pro shop know a player is a bust, then it’s over. You can’t fool New York sport fans, and you definitely can’t fool the pro shop staff—in any city. Just ask the employees down in Atlanta how many Jamaal Anderson jerseys are moving off the shelf, or the Derrick Harvey jerseys in Jacksonville. His jersey has already been moved to the Reggie Williams discount pile.

By the way, I love theories, which is one reason I love reading about the JFK assassination. This new pro shop theory by Robert will be added to my theories list. One of my favorite things when I was in the NFL was watching players board the team bus for a road trip. I loved seeing the different types of luggage each player would select for trips.

Often, the type of luggage a player carried would tell the real story about him. Hence, my theory on matching luggage. Any time I saw a player with matching luggage, it told me the player was very comfortable, was more about looking good than being good, and his time on the team was limited.

Who needs matching luggage for a one-day trip?

Steve Everitt, a former first-round pick of the Browns, would just bring his toothbrush—my kind of player.

Mr. Lombardi,

I was wondering what your thoughts are on Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell, and if you think he will ever justify being the No. 1 overall pick in the draft?

Lubbock, Texas

This one is hard for me because I’ve never seen Russell do the same thing mechanically twice when the ball is in his hands. He’s all over the place with his fundamentals, and I know the Raiders have two of the best quarterbacks coaches in the league in assistants Ted Tollner and Paul Hackett.

I’ve known Hackett for over 20 years, and there is no finer quarterbacks coach on the planet. He is detailed, and he’s a fundamentalist, so watching Russell must drive him nuts. All the talent in the world won’t benefit Russell if he can’t make the fundamental throws.

I initially thought Russell wasn’t a West Coast scheme type of quarterback, and I still feel that way. But after watching him this season, I don’t know what offense best suits his skills. When accuracy is a major problem, it’s hard to design any offense.

The next month of the season is critical to determining if he will prove to be bust or find his niche.


My friends and I have been having this argument all week. Who would you rather have heading your team and why, Mark Sanchez or Jay Cutler? Personally, I would rather have Cutler because of his unlimited potential that he has shown in his first three seasons. I’m not saying Sanchez is bad, but I just don’t see the same potential.

Thanks, Marty

Marty, I agree with you. There are few quarterbacks in the NFL who can do the things Jay Cutler can on the football field. His talent is rare, and combining that with his competitiveness makes him a unique player. I love Mark Sanchez and loved him coming out of the draft, and many teams will regret not selecting him this year when they look back on this draft. They are both great quarterbacks, but I would go with Cutler.

Cutler did things in the Pittsburgh game that are hard to do. He slid around the pocket, he moved side to side and he made very good throws, with precision. He’s big, and oftentimes his athletic ability is overlooked. He is fast and strong with the ability to stand in the pocket and make all the throws.


I know there isn't a lot of statistical information available on offensive linemen, but what do you make of Matt Light? I don't think he's a good enough pure lineman to be a starting LT on an elite NFL team. I am not sure I buy "He's very good, but struggles against speed-based pass rushers." How can you be "very good" and have that problem? What have you heard? What do you think? And, if you have written about this, can you shoot me a link?

Thanks and keep up the good work.

Samuel Leroy

Light is an effective player, but like all left tackles in the NFL, he has certain problems with certain rushers.

For example, Jordan Gross of Carolina has not allowed a sack to John Abraham in his past three games. Is this because he knows him or just because he can handle him? I tend to think he’s familiar with his game and knows his rushes.

Then last week, David Diehl of the Giants did not allow a sack to DeMarcus Ware after he had three the last game they played. Did Ware get worse or did Diehl improve? I think Diehl stepped up his game and got some help, although he single-blocked him more than 20 times. But he was able to keep Ware off Eli Manning all game.

So when viewing a left tackle, it does matter who they play and where they play. Light is good, not great, but he can provide the protection needed for Brady.


Do you think Ray Gustini will be effective this week calling plays for the ‘Skins in the red zone?


I love my man Ray, and he’s been working hard all week with his Madden game and has even called Dick Curl for advice on his timeout usage. Check his column today. He makes note of Curl.

Rapid Ray is ready. He talked to Sonny Jurgensen this week and will not throw the halfback pass, but quarterback draw is up early in the game.

Have a great weekend. Come back for Sunday at the Post as I will break down all the games. Thanks for the emails, thanks for calling me an idiot more times than I care to think about, and thanks for making the Post your daily reading.


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