What if Terrell Owens had played with Tom Brady or Peyton Manning?

Yahoo Sports

Welcome back to the Yahoo Sports NFL Mailbag, where we’re taking your questions via Twitter, Facebook, email, and screaming into the void. Got a question? Hit us up by email at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or see below. Today, our teams discussed include the Patriots, Saints, Chiefs, Falcons and more. Let’s roll!

Do you think Terrell Owens would have had a better career and a couple rings had he played with Brady, Brees or Peyton Manning?
-Adrian, via email

Better career? Dude’s in the Hall of Fame (a little late, yeah, but still there) and is ranked No. 2 all time in yards and No. 4 in rushing/receiving TDs. That’s a pretty damn solid career. A couple rings, though — yeah, absolutely, he would’ve had those had he played with one of those icons.

Here’s the thing, though: How well would TO have thrived in a locker room where he wasn’t the alpha and wasn’t ever going to be the alpha? There’s a reason why he played for five teams in the last eight years of his career — he was frustrating as hell to play with, because he expected everything to run through him … and, when it did, he usually delivered, which fired up the entire process to ever-hotter levels. And while someone like Bill Belichick could manage that kind of relentless narcissism — he did exactly that with Randy Moss, to great, if brief, success — Peyton Manning wouldn’t put up with that for long. Sean Payton ditched Adrian Peterson for the exact same reason.

TO was one of the greatest ever, and he knew he was one of the greatest ever, and he wanted to make sure that you knew he was one of the greatest ever, and he wanted you to tell him he was the greatest ever. Having one or two of those four factors in place would be just fine for virtually any team. Having all four? Nah, Brees, Brady and Manning didn’t need to bother with that. They’d just go convert some random FedEx delivery guy into an All-Pro receiver instead.

Is the Chiefs’ defense improving, or is that just a mirage based on who they have played the last few weeks?
-Dennis, via Facebook

It’s a bit of a mirage. Let’s consider the teams they’ve played in the last three weeks, ever since that epic New England battle. Cincinnati ranks 10th in scoring and 24th in yardage; Denver, 19th in scoring and 11th in yardage; Cleveland, 23rd in both scoring and yardage. Three middle-of-the-road teams there, none of which presented a true test. And it won’t get any tougher this week, as KC faces the Arizona Cardinals, who rank 31st in scoring and DFL in yardage. (There’s a reason the Chiefs are 17-point favorites, which is an absolutely monstrous line for an NFL game.)

But then comes Week 11, glorious Week 11, when all will become clear. That’s when Kansas City plays the Los Angeles Rams (third in scoring, first in yardage), and that’s when we start to learn whether the Chiefs’ D is going to hold up for a playoff run. I still think the Chiefs are built in such a way that if their defense allows a touchdown, their offense will just go out and score three, but you want to have a little more reliability on that side of the ball, just in case.

Commercial break!

Man, those old Miller Lite commercials were the best. Yes, folks, there was a time when a bunch of burly, dumpy ex-jocks were America’s finest pitchmen. I’d love to see this whole concept remade now — Justin Timberlake and Kate Upton and LeBron James and Peyton Manning all joining up to sling some product — but you know that they all command such monstrous appearance fees that it’d be a no-go. Those dudes in the Miller Lite commercial were probably only paid in beer; hell, I’m sure half of ’em didn’t even realize they were even in a commercial.

What’s the next step in protecting quarterbacks? I’m for getting rid of offensive holding calls within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage on all pass plays.
-Jon M, via Facebook

Yeah, but if you do that, the offense will become a dink-and-dunk melange of draws and shovel passes to take advantage of the held-up defensive linemen. We’re nearing the edge of reasonable protection of the quarterback that doesn’t roll into two-hand touch territory; we can’t expect oncoming defensemen to levitate and pause in place to avoid hitting poor Nathan Peterman yet again.

One improvement could be to get rid of the intentional grounding penalty. This would let QBs bail out on collapsing situations rather than take the sack, and while it would decrease sack numbers and increase incompletion rates, it’d probably also save a couple of those pincer hits where QBs get caught like gum between gears. Sure, it’ll make the TAKE YOUR HITS LIKE A MAN types squeal, but at least it’s another option.

If the Falcons hold on a little longer, will they get any impactful players on defense? Or is it too little, too late?
-Rob L, via Facebook

This Q came in before the Falcons signed Bruce Irvin, who would likely qualify as “impactful.” Add to that the fact that Atlanta gets linebacker Deion Jones back from his early season injury next week, and all of a sudden the once-written-off Falcons might have a little something going. They play Cleveland this weekend, and assuming they win that game — if they don’t, yeah, write ’em off with a Sharpie — they’ll be 5-4 and right in the mix for that second wild-card slot. Yes, yes, 28-3 means that the Falcons will never get — and do not deserve — even the tiniest shred of optimism or benefit of the doubt, but this is an offensive unit that can cause serious, four-touchdown damage every game. Are they a threat to knock off the Saints or Rams? Not yet, not even close, but they’re getting the pieces in place for a run.

That’ll do it for this week. We want your questions! Hit us up via email at jay.busbee@yahoo.com, on Twitter using the hashtag #AskYahooNFL, on Facebook here, or in the comments below. See you next week!

Terrell Owens was great. Could he have been better? (Getty)
Terrell Owens was great. Could he have been better? (Getty)

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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