Dan Hanzus takes questions from you, the readers, in his latest mailbag. Thanks to everyone who sent in questions. That was cool.
Impending decline of the Patriots? An AFC South dynasty? Would love to hear more of your gonzo logic, Colin. For me, the two most obvious dynasty candidates right now are the Eagles (reigning champs, proven head coach, savvy front office, loaded roster with young superstar QB) and -- more of a projection here -- the Rams (dynamic young coach, savvy front office, balanced roster, generational talents at running back and D-line, promising QB). I struggle to come up with another team to get behind right now.
The Patriots, meanwhile, are an interesting study in what a "dynasty" really means. In the old days, it was cut and dry -- every decade gave us one dynasty: There were the Packers in the '60s, the Steelers in the '70s, the 49ers in the '80s and the Cowboys in the '90s. Conventional wisdom states the Patriots dynasty has now spanned two decades, but here's where it gets tricky. If championships are the ultimate dynasty litmus test (duh), how can you reconcile the fact that the Pats lifted the Lombardi Trophy as many times as the Browns from 2006 until 2015?
My take? The Pats were absolutely the team of the '00s (three titles, four Super Bowl appearances, 16-0) ... but the Seahawksshould have been the dynasty of the '10s. They had the blowout of the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, but then a golden opportunity to take out the Pats the next year was wiped away by that Butler guy. Cliff Avril, who just finished a five-year run with Seattle, reflected on that brutal Super Bowl XLIX loss and its long-term ramifications last week on the "Dave Dameshek Football Program."
We'll never know, of course, but I'm with Avril. This was supposed to be the decade of the Seahawks. It was right there for them ... and the chance at football immortality slipped just out of their reach. Maybe it helps to explain why the core stars of the team seemed to become crankier as the years went by. They lived with that disappointment and never managed to slay their demons.
I feel like this question has been posed in one form or another approximately 4,000 times since I started working for NFL.com in 2010. But, you know, The Finals, so I'm down. Besides, it remains a super-fun thought exercise if you're a fan of both sports.
I absolutely believe LeBron James would be a game-changing talent as a football player. His insane combination of size, strength, speed and agility would make him a supremely dangerous playmaker -- he makes sense as a "move" tight end, your quintessential movable chess piece (MCP). 'Bron also has the smarts to absorb and process information at an enviable level, a mind for sport illustrated beautifully in this press conference following Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals:
Yeah, yeah, that's basketball and this is, well, not basketball. But it's all there. This man is a born athlete at the highest level. The biggest thing working against James? Probably Father Time -- age 33 is not an ideal starting point for a career in professional football. But LeBron has shown no signs of physical decline and his competitive drive will undoubtedly help his cause. Pair him with a good quarterback and smart coaches, and I think James could be a 1,000-yard receiver with double-digit touchdowns. I'm not even remotely kidding about that.
LeBron would never sign with the Browns, though. He's already done the hometown-hero thing and there's only so much one MCP can do. A better idea: How about becoming the Jason Witten successor in Dallas?
I was thinking about the NFL and tech as this mind-boggling Bryan Colangelo story broke Tuesday night. Turns out I wasn't alone:
Smart guy, that Barnwell. More on that whopper of a story in a bit. As for your question, Cass, my feeling is that all the stuff you bring up will eventually get addressed. The chain gang feels especially antiquated at this point, and as exciting as that stretch to the nose of a football can be, it's not like people will be crying for the league's lost innocence if that familiar dog-and-pony show disappears. After all, was there a more ridiculous event last season -- Nate Peterman's first NFL start excepted -- than this?
Same deal with field goals. I have been a long-standing and vocal proponent of lasers since the background of my fourth-grade school photo. Just beam them up from the top of each upright and admire the badassery.
Back to Colangelo, the Sixers GM who reportedly used five separate burner accounts on Twitter to criticize Sixers stars, defend the size of his shirt collars(!), and float proprietary injury information about his own players: Who do we think is the NFL coach or GM most likely to engage in similarly outrageous behavior? I probably shouldn't offer an opinion, but it's crazy you immediately threw out Sean Payton. Definitely didn't see that coming.
I love the assumption that I don't have multiple active burners. Because I'm totally the type of guy who would defend myself with multiple active burners.
I think, if I'm a Colts fan, I'm relieved. That beefcake (it's time to bring back beefcake) does not look like a man in physical decline. He looks like a superhero in disguise as a dorky bicyclist on the way to a book club meeting. Of course, as you're reading this, Skip Bayless is probably live on basic cable braying about Luck being too muscular. "Tom Brady prides himself on being pliable! Tom Brady is the only working model for success!" But we know better. It's beach weather. Sun's out, guns out. Be your bad self, Andy.
If you think the NFL is hard to figure out sometimes, check out the NHL, where an expansion team is three games away from the Stanley Cup, and this is how every home game begins for the Western Conference champions:
I'm legitimately baffled by the whole thing; I can only imagine what the vibe's like if you're actually in the arena. Like, can you picture some 80-year-old hockey LIFER -- think an aged-up Gordon Bombay -- sitting in his seat filling out his scorecard when the lights go out? All of a sudden you're at Medieval Times ... highly disorienting. That said, I'll echo the sentiments of one YouTube commenter who asked, "Why am I oddly attracted to this?"
I'll answer your questions in the order in which they were presented:
1)Amari Cooper is a bit problematic as a true No. 1 receiver, but that doesn't mean he can't eat in a Jon Gruden offense built around getting him 10 targets a game. I think he is a solid bounce-back candidate in fantasy, even if his true ceiling as a pass catcher might end up as a 1a or No. 2 guy.
2) "Celebrity Death Match" was never my favorite MTV programming, though it's hard to hate any show in which Michael Jackson turns himself into a hamster using Moonwalker magic and gets kicked into a pool of acid by Madonna. (Thanks, Wikipedia.)
3) Hue Jackson is 1-31 with the Browns, so it'd be utterly offensive to put any other coach in his time zone right now. The Pee Scale for Browns fans (the Pee Scale, of course, being the time-tested model that measures fan base apprehension levels) should continue to rest at 9.5/10 as long as Hue's access card is operational.
I'm fully convinced Tom Brady is out of football in the next two years. He's entered a new stage in his life, one in which he wears all-white everything, and soon enough, thin leather gloves at all times. Eventually, there will be a poodle in a carrying pouch and a dangerously wispy mustache.
Does this look like a man who wants to get yelled at by Bill Belichick for another half-decade?
Until next time ...