GGN Mailbag #3

"I wish I was as amazingly brilliant and good looking and charming and classy and sexy as this group of writers right here," said HC Rex Ryan to the place where his huge belly used to be.

Hey folks. Today is our third mailbag of the year. Feel free to e-mail us with questions regarding players, the team as a whole, or GGN as a website. Whatever you want. I’m going to slightly edit the questions for readability, so please don't be offended if it's not worded identical to how you sent it in or if the grammar is changed.

All of that said, I have polled some of our editors and writers for their answers to your questions, and put their initials next to each of their responses. Join us below the jump to check out the mailbag.

Update: I have added in GangGreenMag's responses as well.

  • What have you seen so far from Mark Sanchez that makes you feel like he will have a breakout season?

SS : This offseason we’ve seen Sanchez firmly grasp the system. In practice, he’s been more authoritative, taking control of the huddle and correcting players when they screw up or act like idiots. He’s added muscle and shown much more zip on the ball than he ever did before. As a result, he’s been far more accurate in the preseason than he ever was before. He’s more relaxed than ever, and finally seems comfortable as a veteran on the team. All of these I think will lead to a breakout year.

JB : Not very much to be honest. It's tough to find good signs when he didn't lead a touchdown drive. In much of the preseason, he looked very much like the jittery under the rush, mistake prone, too quick to check down quarterback he was last year. His high completion percentage is meaningless when you consider how little those completions netted. There's all kinds of talk about him taking more of a leadership role, looking great in practices, and really understanding the mistakes he made in the past, but we heard those exact same things heading into the last two years. But I wouldn't be predicting he's going to break out even if he had a big preseason. Some players just get better out of the blue for no reason. Drew Brees had a breakout season in his fourth year that nobody saw coming. I think the "anything can happen" principle is the hope for a breakout season.

DW : Mark still looks inconsistent to me in every facet of his game. On occasions he sets his feet, he makes his reads and he delivers the ball on time, then you start thinking he will have a breakout season. However then you start seeing some practises where he has happy feet, he locks onto his receivers and his timing and accuracy is off. I know

that sometimes you can't criticize Mark because his fans jump all over that and turn it into a Tebow issue, but I wasn't crazy about drafting Mark in 2009, after turning the ball over at an alarming rate last season I'm still not sold. There is nothing more that I would love than for Sanchez to breakout this season, I just don't see it...he'll be average again in my mind.

GGM: The only real glimmer of hope that I saw from Sanchez was in the 3rd preseason game. I saw what he was capable of doing when he had time to throw. I feel that the O-line is the key to this offense working. If Mark has the time to throw, he can build confidence, and make every throw. He has shown great command over this offense, and has really taken on the role of leader of this team.

  • How effective will Stephen Hill be this season? What do you think his stat-line will be?

SS : Hill will be great doing two things; run-blocking, and running a go route. He should be effective in blocking downfield for Shonn Greene, as he was used to this at Georgia Tech. He should also be a threat to blow the top off of a defense and, at a minimum, give Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley, and Dustin Keller more room to operate underneath. I’m not particularly good at predicting stat-lines, but if I had to guess, I’d say 45 catches, 600 yards, and three touchdowns.

JB : I think expectations have to be very low for a rookie receiver, especially one with a game as unrefined as Hill. Even relatively refined rookie receivers who eventually become stars rarely make a splash as a rookie. Hill simply is not a guy you want pressed into starting action this year. With this in mind, I don't think his success will really be determined by his stat line. Will he be able to break a jam and get deep? Will he force defenses respect him enough to draw safety help and open things up underneath for Dustin Keller and Santonio Holmes? Can he make a defense pay for dropping eight or nine into the box trying to stop the run? His success is going to have more to do with these things than his raw numbers.

DW : I think he'll have some teething pains as he learns, he'll drop a few passes that will make us tear our hair out. However he will also be able to get behind defences and he'll be an asset in the run game. I honestly think by week 8, Hill and Sanchez will have a great connection and I can see him starting slow and finishing strong. I still think he will become a elite receiver in this league, he has the drive, the attitude and the talent. As far as his stat line goes, I'm going to go with 48 catches for 650 yards and 6 touchdowns....I think that works out at about 13.5 yards a receptions. He'll have some short stuff, but he'll have some bombs too.

GGM: I think once Hill masters the art of catching the ball away from his body, he will be very effective. He showed in preseason that he has the speed to get separation. He may not run the crispest of routs, but he still gets open. I see him being a very valuable piece to this offense. We also can't forget how good of a run blocker he is. That should be very valuable for the "ground and pound."

SS : No. I’m comfortable with the players we have now. There is a lot of potential there. As for Branch, in my opinion, he’s the classic case of a system player. Fantastic in New England with Tom Brady throwing to him, terrible elsewhere. We all saw him as a disaster in Seattle.

JB : There are a lot of reasons the Washington Redskins have been unsuccessful for a long time. One of the most underrated reasons is their insistence on filling the low end of their depth chart with over the hill veterans instead of using the practice and game reps to develop young players. Signing Branch would stunt Jeremy Kerley's growth. Kerley will only get better by seeing the field in practice and in games. Beyond that, I think Branch would be a downgrade from Kerley. Branch seems like a product of the New England system to me and one in decline at that.

DW : When Tom Brady is throwing the football, anyone can look good but I don't think Branch is as good as his numbers suggest. I actually really like our receiving core. I know it is young and it is inexperienced to an extent, however I like our top three in Holmes, Hill and Kerley and I do think that Patrick Turner is not a bad option at #4, he obviously has a good connection with Sanchez. Add Keller in there as well and I think our receiving core will end up being a lot better than some people expect. Holmes is the experience and we have a lot of unproven but untested talent as well.

GGM: I am one of the few people who are actually happy with our receiving core. This is the same receiving core as last year, with only Plaxico missing. I personally would rather have Hill than Plax. Holmes, Hill and Kerley know how to get open, and should do so often. If you throw in Keller in a contract year, and McKnight/Powell coming out of the backfield, we should be formidable here.

  • Will there ever be a team set up outside of the United States of America? What would Americans think of a franchise outside of the U.S.A.?

SS : I think the NFL will try it in London, England, but it will quickly fail. I just don’t see it as feasible due to timezone/traveling issues. The British team will be at a huge disadvantage if they have to travel for eight games per year. And what free agent is going to want to isolate himself from friends and family by voluntarily going all the way to England?

JB : I expect the NFL to expand abroad more than once in the next decade. The NFL is looking to expand its business. I think the Bills are destined for Toronto. That's what these annual games in Toronto are all about. The league is looking to drum up interest and introduce the city to the team. It's a much bigger market than Buffalo and could in theory create NFL fans in Canada. Similarly, I think this London series is attempting to do similar things in the UK. The league wants to introduce the game to a foreign market to create new fans. And now the Jaguars will be playing over there four times. It feels like a test run. It's also not out of the question that we could see teams in Monterrey or Mexico City, Mexico, where the NFL is pretty popular. But that seems less likely right now.

On one level, expanding to Europe makes sense. We've heard talk about the NBA and NHL expanding there, but those leagues would have to create an entire division of European teams. They play multiple times each week. A London team couldn't travel over the Atlantic forty-one times for road games. You wouldn't want to send an American team across the Atlantic for one game. You would want to create a road trip out of it. There is no such problem in the NFL. Teams only play one game a week. That makes travel much easier.

DW: I think the NFL are pushing for it to be in London because London generates a lot of revenue for them. The problem is that the NFL is an outside sport in the UK.....our market is completely dominated by football, world football. The NFL draws the crowd it does when it comes to London because regardless of the team you follow you just want to see some football. However can that be maintained 8 times a year? Will it generate a fan base? the majority of UK based NFL fans already have a team and I would imagine very few would switch. If the London Silly Nannies started up, I wouldn't have any interest in following them or spending my Sundays watching them, I'm a Jet, have always been one and always will be one.

GGM: I think they may try to put a team in London, but I don't see it ever working out. The logistics of it all are crazy to think about. You think people thought the Jets had a problem playing on the West coast. How do you think teams will play having to fly to London? It's a mess that I hope never comes.

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