Pushing the Envelope: NFL Mailbag, Week 1

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You've got questions. I've got answers. If not, I'll make them up. Each Thursday at 1 p.m. EST, I answer your queries on all things related to the NFL. If you have a question, send it over to NFLMailbag@aol.com. Don't forget to include your name and location. Click here for the archives. Rock'n'roll.

I know that this feature is slated to run on Thursdays, thus making this a day late. The Thursday season opener threw things off this week, but the mailbag will be running every Thursday from here on out. I wasn't hung over and I didn't forget. OK, I was a little hung over. Anyways ...

Was it a good move for the Carolina Panthers to dump Brett Basanez, a QB who'd been with the team for some time, knew the offense, and was relatively young with some upside, and instead bring in Josh McCown, who very well may be a decent backup but shouldn't be starting in this league, whereas Basanez possibly could have one day been a starter?
- SoulCitySigma1914, Greensboro, NC

Basanez did make a solid impression entering this year after two years mostly on the Panthers' practice squad, enough that a few teams gave him a look when the Panthers released him. That being said, the Panthers have a "project" quarterback that they like in Matt Moore, and they want to win now. Jake Delhomme is no sure thing, performance- or health-wise, so the Panthers probably wanted a backup with game experience who could come in if needed without disturbing too much. Basanez isn't that guy. Neither is Moore. Plus, I have to say, I've always liked McCown. Though four teams disagree. But what do they know? One of them was the Raiders ...

You can pick one player to break out this year. Who ya got?
- josh1884, Philadephia, PA

For the purposes of this discussion I'm only including players with NFL game experience who I think will vastly outperform their previous standards. And I'm going to go with Bryant Johnson on the 49ers. Johnson's a former first-rounder who was buried behind Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin in Arizona. He's got a chance to shine in San Francisco, and all the resources at his disposal to make it happen. Size, speed, big-play ability, and an offensive coordinator who will air it out at all costs. With Isaac Bruce and Frank Gore drawing attention underneath, and Vernon Davis expected to be more involved, I expect Johnson to have a big year.

You cover the Lions. How do you see the Rudi Johnson signing panning out?
- lionsfreak, Detroit, MI

I'm firmly of the belief that Rudi's days as an effective NFL back are about done. His dreadful yards-per-carry averages over the last two years (3.8 in 2006 and 2.9 in '07) wasn't the result of the Bengals' offense. It was the result of a guy whose 1,441 career carries now appear to be catching up to him. Add in a weak offensive line, a blocking scheme he's unaccustomed to, and a solid rookie back in Kevin Smith, and Johnson becomes even more marginalized. I think the Lions see Johnson as a Jamal Lewis type of player, who at 28 added almost a full yard on his per-carry average last year and gave the Browns a power presence. But backs who improve that late in the career are the exception, not the rule. Plus, how do you expect a man to play serious football without underwear?

How many pass attempts do you give Kyle Orton before his first interception of the season?
- purpleJesusfollower, St. Paul, MN

How is this not a line in Vegas? Get on it, Bodog! Sunday night, in the spotlight, against an aggressive Colts defense with a good secondary? I'm going to say seven.

What stood out to you about (last night's) game?
- Todd James, Paramus, NJ

How pathetic the Redskins are. Not their on-field product, although that was terrible as well, but mainly the stench emanating from team's owners box. Andrea Kremer's report that the Redskins claim to have never offered Steve Spagnuolo the head coaching job and in fact never saw him as a right fit is revisionist history at its best (worst?). Even Al Michaels called the claims essentially dubious. It's common knowledge that Spags could have had that job if he wanted it. He decided he didn't want it, and the Redskins asked him not to make them look bad in the press. And then they made Spagnuolo look bad in the press. It's that reputation for being backhanded and two-faced that makes coaches and players (and likely Spags in the first place) not want to work for Daniel Snyder. Which is the reason Jim Zorn was on the sideline last night instead of a real coach. And it's the reason the Redskins haven't been successful since Snyder took the team over.

Got a question? Email it to NFLMailbag@aol.com.

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