Slant Pattern Mailbag

It's time again for another Slant Pattern mailbag. As always, we do not get any questions of our own, so we poach them from other mailbags.

Let's start with Sports Illustrated's NFL mailbag. Tom Marshall asks, "Is Matthew Stafford's future in Detroit now up for debate?"

I'm cheating a bit here, because this question is from December 2nd, before Stafford threw for over 400 yards in a comeback win in the Windy City. But even if he had gone 10-for-21 for 88 yards and 2 picks in a 33-0 loss, my answer would be the same: no.  

It's really a testament to the incompetence of the Lions decade over decade that they had three bonafide stars in skill positions in Stafford, Barry Sanders, and Calvin Johnson — the latter two widely considered to be the best at their positions when they were active — and couldn't win with any of them. The Lions have not won a playoff game since 1991.

I have little double that Stafford would be a shoo-in Hall of Famer if he has the fortune to play his career somewhere else. As it is, he's still over 10 years younger than Tom Brady, so he might get there yet.

Sticking with the NFL, here is "Kleckdough" asking the Jets' SB Nation mailbag:

What do ya think of the Cowher rumors? He's been out of the league for over a decade. How's his history hiring assistants? Would he bring ancient concepts and have the team playing like it's the '90s or would he hire good modern era coordinators and let them do their thing?

Inasmuch as he has indeed been out of the game for so long, it's hard to know whether he will be inexorably, ineffectively old school or not. But I would love to see the Jets take this chance. His assistants have been pretty good, and include Bruce Arians, Ken Whisenhunt, and Marvin Lewis. He is a Super Bowl winner and Hall of Famer. What on earth do they have to lose?

We turn now to the Big 12 Mailbag hosted by Heartland College Sports. @rptexan asks: Texas Tech finished their 10 games with no Covid-19 issues. I think they should lobby the B12 to get another game (or 2)! There are still two weeks left in the regular season and it does not make sense to just stop playing. Agree or disagree?

I agree, although I don't like this framed as a reward for no Covid cases through the year, which would necessitate a punishment of "no more games" for programs not as lucky. With the size of college football teams and their essential staffs, great protocols only go so far — a lot of it does come down to luck.

At any rate, BYU's game with Coastal Carolina and Colorado's game with San Diego State have already demonstrated games can be scheduled on short notice. I don't know if Texas Tech will do that — hopefully they at least will be allowed to — but I do think some teams will, and if not on the weekend of the 12th, surely there will be some games to take place on the 19th that haven't been born yet, and maybe even later into December and early January, with non-conference games happening alongside bowl games. Why not?

One final note on that: on Sports Central's Twitter feed, I tweeted today that, with their scheduled opponents out with Covid on Saturday, Ohio State/Texas A&M needs to happen. But earlier this year, the Big Ten basically told Nebraska "no" when they asked to replace a cancelled conference game with a non-conference game, so now the Big Ten will have to decide whether to risk Ohio State failing to get in the playoffs due to a lack of games, or outing themselves as monstrous hypocrites.

Let's go back to Sports Illustrated for this final one, from the tennis mailbag courtesy of "Shlomo": The ATP Finals, the so-called "fifth Slam." I am sure Daniil Medvedev must be thinking this is definitely going to be leading to bigger and better things. Then I checked the last four winners of this tournament, and how they did after their wins. Andy Murray, 2016, no Grand Slam or Masters wins after he won. Grigor Dimitrov, 2017, no Grand Slam or Masters wins after he won. Sascha Zverev, 2018, no Grand Slam or Masters wins after he won (although he has at least appeared in a Grand Slam final). Stefanos Tsitsipas, 2019, no Grand Slam or Masters wins after he won. Obviously, Medvedev, Tsitsipas and Zverev are going to hopefully be part of the next generation of great tennis players, so I expect them to do well. Do you have any theories on why winning the ATP Finals means nothing for career breakthroughs?

I do! my theory is: the best players do not care nearly as much about the ATP Finals as they do about the slams. Whew, what a brain-burner!

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