Dr Z
Friday February 1st, 2008

PHOENIX -- Hi, Z: Just wanted to tell you that your matchup column really provided a tremendous amount of information, and wow, the work that went into it. Thanks for taking such good care of your readers.

Guess who that e-mail is from? You're right. It's from me. The others only whine about how I can give one team the edge and pick the other one to win, how I can praise some linemen and yet award them no all pro acclaim, et cetera.

But that's OK, I'm not motivated by praise, or even the faintest bit of recognition. I don't work my fingers to the bone for a passing mention of "good job." It doesn't bother me, honestly it doesn't. I'll continue to provide you with the kind of stuff you can get nowhere else, and I'll keep a wistful smile on my face.

Did St. Francis beg for praise for rescuing a poor mole or vole or a madison hedgecock? Gracious no. OK, Paul F. old boy, raise the drawbridge and allow the axemen to enter.

"You pick the Giants to win and you award the Patriots an 11-9-5 edge in the matchups. You cannot see the Giants winning. But no, you say, Giants 24, Patriots 20. What gives?" This delightful reminder of man's foibles as well as Aesop's comes from Kevin of Chicago.

It's a very well-taken point, Kevin, may I call you that? Poor old Z finally has heard the creaking staircase of old age. That, plus the hard, relentless Arizona sun have turned his perceptions into ventures into the surreal. I hope this answers your questions. Feel free to write if you find anything else that bothers you.

From Zack of Norwalk (live in Los Angeles) (which, of course, is better than dead in Los Angeles) -- Your high regard of Giants linemen Seubert, Snee and O'Hara is not matched by corresponding regard in my Pro Bowl grades.

First of all, I rate prospective All-Pros not Pro Bowlers, since I don't endorse that popularity contest. Put it this way. If you had a line made up of nothing but guys who rated from eighth to 10th at their position, you'd have a powerhouse. Plus the mesh could be good enough to guarantee a superior unit on the field.

From Jason of Charlotte, N.C. -- Why so many second day draft choices in the Super Bowl? Does Carolina draft well or coach their draftees up to a high level? I'd have to do a statistical breakdown and comparison to see how these rosters compare with those of other Supes. Nothing really freaky jumps out at me, unless it was the security guard at the Giants' hotel. As for the Panthers, I've always felt that John Fox's staff is good in the old teaching department.

John of Melbourne, Fla., wonders why I can't find any shutdown corners anymore. Two reasons: 1) The officiating is so irrational, regarding interference calls, that sooner or later a corner playing a tight bump style is going to get flagged, and 2) The reliance on the Cover Two zone has diminished the need for the kind of guy who could play a tight man coverage all game. We're going to see one coming up for Hall of Fame enshrinement Saturday, Darrell Green of the Redskins, and it will break my heart if he's not a slam dunk first ballot selection. He didn't ignore the short stuff, as Champ Bailey does, or play back and allow completions underneath. Every thrown ball was a challenge to him. Those skills have gone the way of the blacksmith and the knight in armor.

Brian of Richmond challenges me to, "Explain the Randy Moss hatred." If he doesn't get his share of catches because he's double- and triple-teamed, and he has set it up for others, hasn't he performed a valuable service? First things first. My hatred comes from the fact that he plays hard only when it suits him. Great for Patriots fans, ugly for Raiders faithful. Your thesis in Part 2 two would be correct if he had faced a steady diet of double- and triple-teaming, but he didn't. Sometimes it was just one, lonely soul that covered him and covered him well.

From John of L.A. -- How do more frequent timeouts and the longer Super Bowl halftime affect the tempo of the game? Well, they don't interfere with a drive in progress. Maybe they provide a bit more recovery time, but I can't find concrete examples. Part 2 -- "Is it any wonder that the Denver Broncos have such a great record against Belicheat and the Patriots. Rollouts on offense and man coverage behind a five-man rush kill them. If the G-men use rollouts and off tackle veers they'll blow them out."

I'll try to get the information into the Giants' offensive meeting room, but if you read in the paper about security guards hauling off an attempted intruder, and clapping him in the joint, I'm counting on you to bail me out.

Eric of Vancouver wants to know if pregame comments that wind up on bulletin boards actually make any difference, at this level of competition. Everything in me says no, accompanied by a sneer. And yet there are Patriots who swore to me that Anthony Smith's victory guarantee actually made them attack the Steelers harder. I argued. They insisted. I hooked them up to a polygraph to see if they were lying. They passed. I still have a hard time believing it, but how much farther can I go in this matter?

From Daryn Ohta of Vegas: "Thanks for making me the E-mailer of the Week. I got a good laugh from the guys in my office." They ought to know better than to laugh at something taken quite seriously by those less fortunate.

Mike of Wycoff, N.J., feels that the second Pittsburgh-Dallas Super Bowl was the most underappreciated. What's my choice? Pittsburgh-L.A., 1980, which happens to be my all-time favorite. Nobody thought all that much of it, but for sociological reasons it reached me greatly. The last hurrah of a great old dynasty.

Robert of Amherst, Ohio, feels that Supe IV (Minnesota-KC) was the actual catalyst that led to the AFL-NFL merger, not Jets-Colts. The merger was already agreed upon. We're talking about a game that established equality between the leagues, and Supe III broke the ice.

Two readers address the phenomenon of Dan Snyder establishing a welcoming committee for a new Redskins coach by making sure the staff already will be in place. For this they are co-E-mailers of the Week for giving me a chance to take another shot at one of my favorite targets. Rickey Ricketts of Kapaau, Hawaii, asks, "What in the world is he thinking?" Russell Garman of Newtown, Pa., asks, "Would a head coach candidate be deterred from accepting a job with the Redskins if he cannot choose who will be running the offense and defense?"

A few of the Super Bowl players were discussing the matter. Their consensus of opinion was that there's very little a new coach could do to earn his team's respect if he came into a situation such as this one. But that's the way Danny Boy and his yes man, Vinny Cerrato, want things. Total control, as IQ once again takes a back seat.

From David of Istanbul -- Kenny Easley, the former Seattle strong safety, is on the 1980s all-decade team, yet he's not in the Hall of Fame. How can this be? This can be because the selectors who chose the all-decade team are different from the Hall of Fame selectors. As one of both groups, I agree with you about Easley's credentials. The only knock on him is that he had a hard time staying healthy.

"Peter King mentioned that he seemed surprised former commissioner Paul Tagliabue wasn't elected to the Hall of Fame last year," says Dale of Louisville. "Why didn't he make it? I would assume any former commish would be a shoo-in."

That's like saying any former president of the U.S. automatically has to be awarded the Nobel Prize. You're right, I was a strong anti-Tagliabue vote. The battle was bloody. It will be again. We're not allowed to say what goes on in the room. Yes, master!

Chris of Ottawa asks, in long and painful fashion, what in God's name has happened to the Raiders? An organization with a shaky leader -- who won't relinquish control.

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