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Diner morning news: No love for Crabtree

Also, Jets secondary, Raiders QB and a mailbag question. Michael Lombardi

Print This October 02, 2009, 09:59 AM EST

QUOTE: “I dread success. To have succeeded is to have finished one's business on earth, like the male spider, who is killed by the female the moment he has succeeded in courtship. I like a state of continual becoming, with a goal in front and not behind.” -- George Bernard Shaw

Random topics around the league…

Michael Crabtree

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News reports that Jim Brown, who made $85,000 in the final season of his Hall of Fame career, has a message for the 49ers’ first-round draft pick: "Mr. Crabtree, get your butt in camp," he said. In an interview with Sirius XM radio, Brown told host Joe Madison that Michael Crabtree's current negotiating stance is "totally ridiculous." Brown said an athlete's career is measured by the way he plays, not the contract he signs.

I find it interesting that older former players (the Jim Brown-era players) in the NFL seem to favor management in this stalemate, while the newer generation players take the attitude that Crabtree must do what’s best for him and his family. Who’s right? There’s a time to play, there’s a time to get on the field and there’s a time to be a football player -- and that time was a six weeks ago. Jim Brown is right. This is totally ridiculous.

The 49ers have saved a ton of money not having to pay Crabtree, but what has Crabtree gained from all this? A holdout essentially means that a player is withholding his services — which are so critical to a team that it will eventually pay. But that’s not happening, so where is Crabtree’s leverage? This makes no sense. If I were running the 49ers, the motivation to sign him would dwindle with each passing day. He won’t help the team this year because he won’t have a role, so there’s no sense of urgency for them.

The Jets’ shorthanded secondary

Rich Cimini of the New York Daily News is reporting that it looks like the Jets will be down one, perhaps two, defensive backs when they face the NFL's top-rated passing attack Sunday in New Orleans. Nickel back Donald Strickland (badly sprained ankle) is expected to miss his second game in a row, and CB Lito Sheppard (strained quadriceps) is likely to sit out another game. Neither has practiced in two weeks. They're both "iffy" for the game, according to coach Rex Ryan, and will be replaced by Drew Coleman and Dwight Lowery, respectively.

Of all the teams in the NFL you wouldn’t want to play without two essential corners, the Saints would be near the top. This will really affect the Jets as they try to play man-to-man on the Saints wide receivers, who even expect to have Lance Moore back. Last week, the Jets defense benefited greatly from all the drops by the Titans wide receivers. This week, I suspect the Saints wide receivers won’t be dropping the ball. These injuries will affect the game, but I do know that they won’t change the style of defense the Jets employ or the manner they attack the pocket.

No change for the Raiders

From Steve Cochran of the Oakland Tribune…quoting Raiders coach Tom Cable about the possibility of a change in quarterbacks: “I haven't thought about that yet. I know it's on everyone's mind. Right now, the big picture is for this team to clean up a lot of areas. If (quarterback) was the only area that I thought really needed to be changed, then it's easy, but it's not.”

This is ridiculous -- he hasn’t thought about it? What game was he watching? I mean, he can stick with JaMarcus Russell all he wants, but to say the thought of changing quarterbacks hasn’t crossed his mind is ludicrous. The thought had to cross his mind when Russell couldn’t complete a checkdown, or when he watched Russell throw two interceptions in the first quarter of the Denver game. I’m all for standing by your quarterback, but maybe the reason Russell is playing so poorly is because he knows he can’t lose his job — no matter how badly he plays. All Cable does with these comments is reinforce that belief.

I bet all of the 45,000 people who watched Russell play last Sunday thought about it.

Mailbag

Dear Mr. Lombardi,
I was having a conversation with some of my friends about the emergence of the wildcat offense. While there's a lot to say about it (both good and bad), one question that comes up is the QB substitution rule. From what I understand, once a 3rd string QB enters the game before the 4th quarter, the other 2 QBs are ineligible to return. Why does this rule exist? What positive purpose can it possibly serve?
Then part 2 of this question: with this rule in play, doesn't having a wildcat specialist QB (like a Pat White or Michael Vick) look like a REALLY bad strategy? To use them for stunt plays, they have to be listed as the backup. But if the starting QB gets hurt, the team is forced to play their 3rd stringer...which nullifies the advantage of having a wildcat QB. Do you think the QB rule will change or do you think teams will start listing the Vicks and Whites of the world as a RB so they can run the Wildcat with these guys without ruining their QB situation?
Thanks. I love your column and read it daily!
Chris

The league wanted to allow teams to carry 45 players, but it fudged the rule for quarterbacks under the premise that the game would suffer if a team lost two in one game. So it came up with the current policy. It worked well in the past, but now, with the emergence of the wildcat, teams are trying to manipulate it.

Michael Vick could easily be the second quarterback since he’s gone to the Pro Bowl as a starter. Pat White, at this point, is not ready to be a No. 2, but eventually he will be because he can throw the ball and run an offense from normal formations.

Teams have fudged with the third quarterback rule in the past, especially the Jets when Bill Parcells was the coach. Tom Tupa was listed as the No. 2 quarterback and Ray Lucas was the No. 3, but in reality it was the other way around. This moved allowed the Jets to carry an extra player for the kicking game.

When a player is drafted, the league office wants to know what position he’ll be listed on the team roster, and a number is given to him by the team, but within the rules for the position. Vick is listed as a quarterback and must adhere to the quarterback rules.

I expect this rule to stay the same as teams that don’t use the wildcat or don’t have a wildcat player will be against a change. It takes a league vote to change any on-field game rules, so I doubt there would be a consensus regarding the third quarterback rule.

Have a great weekend. Email me your questions at Michael.lombardi@nationalfootballpost.com and make sure you listen to our podcast.

I will be at the Jacksonville-Tennessee game this weekend.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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