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Defined by styles

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Greg from New Orleans, LA:
I seem to recall a defense called the "penny," which was created by Bill Cowher. Is that correct and could you elaborate?

Vic: The "penny" is a defense that employs seven defensive backs. The Steelers coined the term, "penny," but they didn't invent the defense. I can remember Woody Widenhofer, when he was the Steelers' defensive coordinator, using seven defensive backs to intercept Brian Sipe six times in 1981. Why the name "penny?" Because "nickel" is five defensive backs and "dime" is six defensive backs. Why not "quarter?" Because there's another defense called "quarters" that describes specific coverage zones.

Jacob from La Crescenta, CA:
If there were to be two football teams in Los Angeles, wouldn't a Jets-Giants type thing work well?

Vic: A lot of people in New York would tell you the Jets-Giants thing isn't working well. The Jets moved to the Meadowlands from Shea Stadium, which is in Flushing. That was a big move away from the Jets' fan base. The Jets were and still are the team of Long Island and the Meadowlands is a long way from the Island. The bottom line is that anything the NFL does is going to succeed in New York. The NFL is the game of the northeast. Anything the NFL puts there succeeds. It hasn't been like that in Los Angeles. Whatever the NFL does in L.A., it better be well-planned. Two teams in one stadium in L.A. isn't going to work. I think that's a fair assumption. If there's going to be two teams in the L.A. area, one is going to be in the Coliseum and the other is going to be in Anaheim, which, of course, is in a different county and a considerable distance from downtown L.A. There are enough people in L.A. to support two franchises, but both factions have to be accessed and represented. L.A. isn't New York and it's not in the northeast.

Gary from Orange Park, FL:
Dan Marino seems to have been the Peyton Manning of his time; lots of stats but Marino was 8-10 in the playoffs. That's a lot of playoff games, though.

Vic: Yes, it is a lot of playoff games, and Marino certainly had his moments in the playoffs. The big difference between Marino and Manning, at this point, is that Marino played in a Super Bowl. Let's not forget that. Let's also not forget that the Dolphins gave Marino no defense or running game to help him. Manning has had Edgerrin James and last year the Colts defense played at a very high level and teams were having trouble even getting the snap off in the RCA Dome, where the Colts would've played all their home games. Marino never had the advantages Manning has had. Marino had a great offensive line in front of him and his receivers played very well, but I've always thought it was a case of Marino having made his receivers more than his receivers having made him. Everything else about the Dolphins, however, was second-rate. They just never surrounded Marino with the muscle a team needs to win in the postseason. Make no mistake about it, the postseason is about muscle.

Carlos from Mexico City, Mexico:
Regarding the discussion of the football eras, would you consider replay review a new one? Has it had the same impact on the game as the other rule changes?

Vic: Yeah, you could say the advent of replay review ushered in a new era in the NFL. It's had a major impact on how games are officiated.

Janarus from Jacksonville:
Is there a particular reason the Colts are in the AFC South? I mean, I like the rivalry and all, but geographically there's nothing south about Indianapolis. Should the league have left them in the AFC East and placed the Dolphins in the AFC South?

Vic: : All of the teams in the AFC South are in the AFC South because they were the left-overs. All of the other teams were involved in holy alliances. There was no way the Dolphins were going to break off from the Patriots, Jets and Bills. Those four teams had a blood pact to stay together. Everybody knew that. There was no way the Dolphins were going to leave the AFC East for the AFC South. The same goes for the Browns, Steelers, Bengals and Ravens. Those four teams are as connected as any four teams in the game. The Chiefs, Broncos, Raiders and Chargers are all former AFL teams and there was no breaking them up, either. What the Jaguars, Colts, Texans and Titans represented were four rogue teams. Two of them were expansion clubs and the other two had relocated. Frankly, nobody really wanted them and that's the tie that binds them. Well, those four "rejects" have put together a pretty nice division, haven't they?

Brent from Jacksonville:
Where did we fall with Jimmy Smith and his "dead money?" Is it strung out over two caps or did they take care of it up front?

Vic: : Jimmy Smith only had one year left on his contract, so all of his "dead money," which is $1.75 million of remaining amortization, had to go on this year's salary cap. In order for a player's amortization to be divided over two years, he must have more than one year remaining on his contract. I should've explained that in yesterday's question.

Kevin from Montreal, Quebec:
I vaguely remember you saying once that you weren't in favor of four preseason games. We can see how meaningless they are; the Colts went 0-5 last year. How would you change the current preseason schedules?

Vic: When I started covering the NFL, there were six preseason games. When the NFL went from six to four in 1978, we all dropped to our knees and said thanks. Now I think four is too many, but I don't think the format is going to go from fewer preseason games to more regular-season games any time soon because the players union won't allow it and I really don't think it would be a good idea anyhow. Eighteen regular-season games is just too many. Don't expect the preseason games to be reduced, either, because they represent revenue, the same revenue that regular-season games represent. It is what it is and I can't offer a better formula. I think it's up to the fans to understand the issues and accept the fact that preseason games are just part of the whole package. What does it matter how the money is divided? Would it make you feel better if the price on a preseason ticket was lowered and the price on a regular-season ticket was increased? In most NFL cities, the team is sold out on a season-ticket basis, which requires the purchase of two preseason tickets. Jacksonville is now one of those cities. What does it matter how much each ticket costs? You have to buy 10 and here's what the 10 cost you.

Lawrence from Jacksonville:
Boselli and Searcy at tackles vs. Salaam and Mo Williams. Young Jimmy Smith and young Keenan McCardell vs. old Jimmy Smith and undeveloped Reggie Williams and Matt Jones. Isn't it fair to assume Brunell had far more offensive help in his first playoff run than Leftwich did in his, and that should factor into any analysis between the two players' performances at similar stages in their careers?

Vic: Mark Brunell had a stronger cast of offensive players around him than Byron Leftwich has had. By the same token, Leftwich has had a much better defense than Brunell had. The Tom Coughlin years were defined by offense. The Jack Del Rio years have been defined by defense. I guess the two cancel each other out and that's why Brunell and Leftwich have produced nearly the same record over their first three years as starting quarterbacks.

Desmond from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Who were the eight defensive backs selected before Rashean Mathis in 2004?

Vic: Terence Newman, Marcus Trufant, Troy Polamalu, Andre Woolfolk, Sammy Davis, Nnamdi Asmugha, Charles Tillman and Eugene Wilson.

Kevin from Jacksonville:
You often name the best clutch players in history, but they are all offensive players. Who do you think are the best defensive players that really helped their teams out at crunch time?

Vic: There are tons of them: Lawrence Taylor, Joe Greene, Ronnie Lott, Ray Lewis. Where do you wanna stop? One guy from recent history who jumps out at me is Ty Law. He should've been named MVP of the Super Bowl in which the Patriots beat the Rams, and he was, without a doubt, the star of the Patriots' win over the Colts in the 2003 AFC title game.

Marji from Jacksonville:
In regard to Dan Marino, yes, he will live with the stigma that he never pulled off a Super Bowl, but, to me, that does not diminish his greatness. If the NFL gave out honorary Super Bowl rings, Dan Marino should have one. I do not view this as an under-achievement or lack of talent or greatness, but that this was not to be part of his destiny. Some people believe that forces greater than ourselves are sometimes involved in lives and outcomes. And some people believe it takes an entire team to win championships.

Vic: They don't give out honorary Super Bowl rings and I don't believe in that destiny crap. Just win, baby, win.

Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Are there any players on the team now that you think will become coaches someday?

Vic: Donovin Darius and Paul Spicer have coach-like qualities. So does Mike Peterson. I'd play for Peterson. He talks my language.

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