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Five Questions with Neil Hornsby

Back with the second installment of a planned 1,000-part series where I ask fearless Pro Football Focus founder Neil Hornsby five questions that interest me and he answers them — off the cuff, without his usual 10 hours spent poring over game tape.

Seriously, he's a pigskin addict.  The man is considering having footballs tattooed on the inside of his eyelids just so he can sleep.

Anyway, let's talk some football with the man!

1. Should the Seahawks give up the house for Vincent Jackson?

Neil: Absolutely not. If they can get a bargain — fat chance — then so be it, but even at fair value I wouldn't do it. There's a whole litany of good reasons to stay away even though Jackson was as good as anyone in the NFL last year.

I'd be far more concerned about his two DUIs and the risk of a third, the balance of the team (they've got to have more than $15M a year tied up in receivers alone — this would be close to $25M) and finally the length of time it took Jackson to blossom. He was stuck way down the depth chart for years. Is this an indication of his ability to pick up a new system quickly?

Finally, Philip Rivers is a top-five NFL QB with an arm to stretch defenses; he threw the ball more than 20 yards 16 percent of the time with a PFF rating of +13 a year ago. Matt Hasselbeck threw long only 9 percent of the time with a rating of dead zero. This long-ball game is a major strength of Jackson, and anyone who thinks his production will translate to Seattle is being very optimistic.

2. Indianapolis is always bad in the preseason. Any reason that Colts fans should be concerned for 2010?

I've only watched about two drives from the Bills game and it looked like the same old Colts to me: very good offensively, holes defensively. In the preseason they always seem to do the same thing, put in their starters score a TD (or a few) and then let their backups get beaten up by superior players. The only concern is the same as every year — how many games could they win if Peyton Manning went down injured? I'll try and pull in their game next week and give you a more factually based view.

3. PFF just normalized penalties in their player rankings. What does that mean?

Not this again! How many times must you people keep on bringing this up? It's my own personal Divine Brown.

For anyone unaware, A LONG TIME AGO NOW, in my very finite wisdom I decided we would not normalize penalties the same way we do nearly everything else on The reason for this was I couldn't bring myself to see any form of penalty whatsoever marked as positive. It was, quite clearly, an extremely bizarre decision.

As of Saturday, Aug. 21, we now normalize penalties based on the number of snaps played, and you will see the change in all areas of the premium site. My apologies for being so stupid in the first place and also not amending my error sooner. Can this please go away now?

4. How many wins is Brett Favre worth to Minnesota?

I quickly went through the games from last year and hypothetically assessed whether, in my opinion, they would likely have won with Tarvaris Jackson in. I came up with eight games (losing to Green Bay twice, the Ravens and the 49ers). Maybe that's harsh on Jackson, but I'll stick with it. So my answer is he's worth two to four games — if he plays as he did a year ago. Let's not forget that in 2008 with the Jets he had a PFF rank of 26 that put him behind Kerry Collins, Tyler Thigpen and Jackson himself.

5. is trying to come up with a list of the 100 greatest players of all time. Who'd be your No. 1?

I'm not going to feel great about naming a player I've only ever seen highlights of. I think watching multiple full games is essential to get real perspective on anyone, because what we learn from watching so much tape is that everyone (no matter how great) makes bad plays and has bad days.

But if I had to pick, my No. 1 would be Walter Payton. He ticks all the PFF boxes and then some: made plays with limited support, great all-arounder (fantastic in pass protection and receiving), longevity, etc., etc.

If you ever need to acquaint yourself with just how unbelievable he was, beg steal or borrow a copy of the DVD for his 205-yard rushing day against the Packers back in 1977 and just watch him on every play. It's not the way he hammers into defenders or leaves them standing on the way to his yards that is the most impressive thing (it all is very impressive, you understand). It's the way he lead blocks for Roland Harper. This isn't just a HB sticking his nose in, this is blocking any FB would be proud of. In my mind at least, Walter is still the NFL's rushing champion.


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