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Diner morning news: Bad timing for new league

Also, answering your email questions. Michael Lombardi

Print This October 09, 2009, 11:49 AM EST

QUOTE: “It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.” -- Albert Einstein

Another football league, the UFL, made its debut Thursday night in Las Vegas in front of a very sparse crowd (wow, lime green -- talk about some bad-looking uniforms). In fact, searching the Internet this morning, it was hard to find any stories or coverage of the game. Whoever is handling the league’s public relations might want to step up their game, but in this economy, maybe some national media outlets wanted to save money and not send anyone to cover the opener. Tonight in most American cities, there will be more people attending high school games than attended the UFL last night.

Versus sports network is in partnership with the league, so it’s helping fund the cost. It was impressive they had sponsors for the game, but based on only one night, I would find it hard to believe America wants to watch the UFL over a good college game. In my view, this notion of playing in the fall doesn’t make sense. It might be more prudent to move the games to April and May when America is starved for football.

I’m all for a development league and more opportunities for players to gain employment, but there must be a way for the owners to make money or else the league will fold. Based on the level of football, I would watch this in April, but I wouldn’t give up watching the Nebraska-Missouri game, even though it was played in pouring rain. Timing is everything, and the UFL doesn’t seem to have it right.

On to some email questions…

From Jason:

So Mike, what can the Chiefs do to improve for next year? Pioli spent most of his draft picks last year on defense, so will he focus on offense this year? When I look at the roster, I see only Waters (getting older) Albert and maybe O'Callaghan as legitimate starters on the line and Bowe as the only starting WR. I like Cassel if he wasn't running for his life or tied to the porch by his coach/coordinator but other than that I don't see a lot of talent on offense. The defense seems to have improved but are still young and spend a lot of time on the field. I could see needing a safety or linebacker in the mid rounds but the first, two second rounders (Gonzalez trade with ATL) and third rounder have got to get some lineman and skill players for offense next year plus heavy free agency spending. They have plenty of room under the cap!

What do you think needs to be done?

GM Scott Pioli needs to rebuild the line, and most important, he must get on the same page with Todd Haley, his head coach, about quarterback Matt Cassel. There seems to be a rift between the two about exactly how good Cassel can become. So before they move forward, they must make the right decision about their quarterback. If they pass on quarterbacks because they feel Cassel is the right guy, as the Rams have done with Bugler, they will not recover. They must make the right evaluation here.

From Bill:

Mike,

Is it too early to call hiring Mangini a colossal mistake? I watch the games in total disbelief as the offense has regressed and has little talent. The defense seems to give up big plays when it is time for them to make a big play. It’s almost any pressure on the D causes them to crack. We get no info out of the team as to what the plan is. ‘We plan to watch film and correct mistakes’ is not a plan, it’s what they should be doing anyways! Ownership seems hell bent on hiring from the Belichick tree, when the tree we should be looking to has roots in Pittsburgh. I long for the glory days of Kosar, Matthews and Schottenheimer.

Keep up the good work, I look forward to your column every day!

For me, it’s not too early because I know what happened in New York when Eric Mangini coached the Jets. He’s quickly moving into the Les Steckel class of head coaches. No one is happy in Cleveland working with someone who doesn’t communicate or try to make the working environment fun. It’s a chore to play or work for Mangini, and this isn’t going to change. Not now, not after breakfast, not ever. No, it’s not too early.

From Omar:

Any chance the Dolphins to try move Roth? Seems like SD may be a good fit.

They might want to move LB Matt Roth, but he has to be healthy, and right now, he’s still out with a groin injury. You can trade a player on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list, but he has to follow the rules of the list even if he goes to a new team. The Chargers are looking all over for someone who can rush the passer, so on the surface, this makes some sense. I expect the Chargers to make a trade before the deadline.

From Andy:

Mike,

When are we going to hear you on the BS report again? Do you think Mike Tannenbaum is a good GM? I feel like he is a cap guy and not a scout, and you need to be able to evaluate talent to be a good GM. He keeps on making up for his lack of scouting by trading picks to move up in drafts and pick up vets. For the most part his moves have been good, trading up for Reves, Harris, Sanchez, Greene and trading for Jenkins, Favre (good for 11 games), and we shall see about Edwards. Do you think the lack of 3rd, 4th and 5th round picks will eventually catch up to him? I think Big Rex and the D will have a big year the rest of this year and next, Sanchez will develop into a star and this will cover up for Mr. T's shortcomings. What’s your expert opinion, and any chance you take the job when and if he gets fired?

I doubt that Mike T. will get fired because the Jets are winning right now. Mike was lucky to survive the Mangini era since he was the sole reason Mangini became a head coach. Normally, when your hand-picked guy gets fired, you end up being shown the door as well. But Mike is resourceful and looks to have found paydirt with the hiring of Rex Ryan.

My sense right now is that Rex is controlling the strings on personnel moves, as Mangini did when he was in New York. Mike T. is a lawyer and cap person by trade, but he loves to be viewed as a personnel man, which might be a stretch.

From Rob:

A thought came over me while watching Kurt Warner run backwards for 20 yards before being sacked last Sunday night.

Why don't teams that have poor pass protection have their qb in a shotgun that’s deeper than usual so the receivers can have more time to run routes and most importantly for the qb to buy more time (to) step into the pocket and throw? It would also extend the rushing distance for the defensive linemen tiring them out faster.

What would be the downside of trying that? Please enlighten me.

It would make the throws much harder and allow the defense to get a better break on the ball. The timing of the throws is essential in a good passing offense, and moving back to avoid the rush would just disrupt that sense of timing. It might look good on paper, but not very good on the field.

From Vincent:

Is Mike Mayock a QB prophet or what? Mike Mayock was a huge Philip Rivers fan, in the ‘06 draft he was one of the only analysts to think that Jay Cutler was the best QB, in the ‘07 draft questioned whether Russell had the toughness, love of the game to be a good NFL QB. In’ 08 draft said Matt Ryan was a lock to be a good to great NFL QB, really liked Flacco and Henne but thought Brohm was overrated and last year thought that Sanchez was better than Stafford. He has nailed every QB prediction he's made; dude knows how to evaluate QB's.

Mike is very good at what he does, and he works very hard at his craft. He’s always watching tape and studying players, so his opinions are his own, not based on hearsay or word of mouth. He might be a little low on Matthew Stafford, but I agreed with him last year that Matt Sanchez was the best. Based on the first four games, Stafford has really impressed me with his entire game.

From Ken:

I've noticed that on punt coverage, especially on pooch punts, the covering team can have difficulty knowing where the ball is. What can a home team do to assist their coverage team in locating the ball?

Teams are allowed to have a mascot jump around behind the end line during a field goal attempt. What's to stop them from using the mascot (or other personnel) to indicate where the punted ball is going to land?

Normally, the covering team keys on the return man. Today, Matt Turk had a nice pooch that bounced on the 10. The Jacksonville return man signaled fair catch several yards away from where the ball bounced, tricking the coverage. Had the Texans known where, horizontally, the ball was heading, it would have been downed inside the 10. Instead, the ball trickled into the end zone for a touchback.

I'd think using the mascot for this task (would) be ideal in terms of visibility, assuming that he's mobile enough to run down the end line and can track the punt through the air.

What say you?

I actually kind of like the idea. Not a bad thought...

Have a great weekend. Come back for the Sunday at the Post and be sure to send in your questions.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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