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Eliminate intentional grounding

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Mark from Jacksonville:
Do you think the Lions made a mistake drafting Matt Stafford because of his constant injuries that cause him to miss many games?

Vic: That's a risk every team takes when it drafts a quarterback. The hits are few and the misses are many, but there's no alternative but to keep picking quarterbacks because there's one thing we know for sure: You won't win without one. You have to have "The Man."

Dale from Hampton, VA:
All Jordan Shipley had to do on Monday night is stiffen his arms as the fourth-down pass was broken up, stay on the ground for a while and Cincinnati probably would have been awarded a first down.

Vic: Does anybody remember when Michael Cheever did the "Macarena" along the sideline at Three Rivers Stadium, after getting knocked cold during a kickoff return? If I was a receiver, I'd learn to do that. It's a sure-fire penalty-getter.

Stephen from Jacksonville:
Have you noticed that the NFL is creating a strike zone on quarterbacks for defenders?

Vic: Here's an idea: Eliminate intentional grounding, that way the quarterback can avoid getting hit/sacked any time he wants by just spiking the ball to the ground. It would immediately change the focus from rush to cover. What it would probably mean is that defenses would only rush the passer hard on third and fourth downs. You'd probably see a lot of two and three-man pass-rushes on first and second downs. Eliminating intentional grounding might reduce hits on the quarterback by 50 percent or more, and that would be a good thing because quarterbacks would sustain fewer injuries. Eliminating intentional grounding would no doubt result in a lot of new, inventive defenses that would maximize coverages, which would tighten the spacing in the secondary and dramatically reduce high-speed collisions. It would also likely result in a lot of smaller, more mobile players being on the field on defense, and that make it more attractive to run the ball. There are lots of things that can be done to reduce the risk of injury. I just don't like what's being done now. It's asking the impossible of defenders. It's asking them to protect the very players they're trying to defeat.

Sean from Chicago, IL:
I saw a Bengals drive that consisted of three consecutive questionable Steeler penalties, capped by a one-yard TD run. I immediately turned off the game and started watching something else.

Vic: I don't think the guy crossed the goal line, but let's not even go there.

Andrew from Toronto, ON:
Assuming that replay can't be eliminated, what do you think of the NHL's current replay system? All reviews are done at NHL headquarters in Toronto by the same group of league officials for every game. The ref on the ice has no say in the result; they wait by the penalty box until they get radioed from upstairs.

Vic: That's a lie. Everybody knows it's a bartender in a sports bar that makes the final decision, based on how long he wants the game to last.

Clell from Bee Branch, AR:
I thought you would be interested to know Peyton Hillis is from Conway, AR, home of the "Toadsuck Festival."

Vic: He's a big boy. That's a lot of toads.

John from Houston, TX:
Understanding you're a pro football kind of guy, would you support a college football playoff?

Vic: I absolutely would, but now you're gonna get the long answer. I was telling a few guys yesterday that I watched games back in September that left me to think, man, those teams really stink. I saw false starts, missed tackles and blocks, dropped passes, wild passes, shanked punts, etc., all over the place. In the last couple of weeks, I've watched some of those same teams play great-looking football, which only goes to prove that if you give coaches a couple of months to work with talented athletes, the difference will be remarkable. The big problem with the current college football system is that the out-of-conference games in September are the games that determine the rankings. What I mean is this: We're going to get a champion from each conference and that team is probably not going to have more than one or two losses – probably one loss – in the conference, which means it's what it did and who it scheduled in September that is going to determine where it is in the polls in November. That's ridiculous. It would be like awarding NFL playoff berths based on what teams did in the preseason. College football has the potential for a wonderful system. All it has to do is add a playoff format that includes a field of conference champions and, possibly, a few at-large teams sprinkled in. In that system, teams wouldn't get hurt by a loss or two in September, which means they'd be more likely to cross regional lines and play more attractive out-of-conference schedules. The games would be preseason-like in their lack of importance but they wouldn't carry with them the preseason tag. It would be a perfect system.

Sarah from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Clay Matthews. Thoughts?

Vic: I ranked him 24th on my all-important value board and people called me an idiot for having him that high. Let's see, his dad is the greatest defensive player in Cleveland Browns history and his uncle is the greatest offensive lineman in Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans history. Who's the idiot?

John from Kingsland, GA:
My wife has added Sea Best seafood products to our grocery list as a direct result of them sponsoring your column and weekly segment on "Jaguars All Access."

Vic: I love fish, but I never eat it on an airplane.

Mike from North Pole, AK:
Question about your power rankings: What are you seeing from the Steelers that has you ranking them fifth? I understand bunching the 6-2 clubs at the top, but what about the way New England and the Jets are playing that has them better than the Steelers at this point in time?

Vic: First of all, it's meaningless because the Patriots and Steelers are going to decide that issue this week, so I just let the order stay the way it is. The Steelers are an interesting study. Their rankings, other than run-defense, aren't great, but there are mitigating factors involved, such as Ben Roethlisberger's absence. The biggest factor, however, is the schedule they've played. If possible, the schedule they've played so far this year is as tough or tougher than the one they faced two years ago when they won the Super Bowl. The combined record of their first nine opponents is 43-30 and they've just concluded three consecutive road games. Of the other seven six-win teams, they will have played four of them as of Sunday's game against the Patriots, and they've played two of the seven current five-win teams. Most impressively, they've managed a 6-2 record without the services of Roethlisberger in the first four games, during which they faced Atlanta, Tennessee, Tampa Bay and Baltimore. How's that for an opening month of the season? They've done it on the strength of their defense, of course, but that same defense collapsed at crunch time against Baltimore and nearly blew one in Cincinnati on Monday night. In other words, I admire what they've done but I'm not impressed by how they've done it. They've got a nasty habit of blowing leads that goes all the way back to the Super Bowl two years ago. If they don't break that habit, fifth place will be high for them. You gotta get it done at crunch time, and that goes for their kicker, too, who's choked the big kicks this year.

Krist from Palm Beach, FL:
You've been saying bring back bump-and-run for years now and you're right. Not only would it lower the amount of high-speed collisions in space, but it would allow the defensive backs to actually play football.

Vic: Here's another idea: Any wide receiver that complains that pass-interference should've been called should be penalized 15 yards for unnecessary whining.

Jason from Jacksonville:
The way I see it, success in today's NFL is predicated on a simple formula: Get "The Man" at QB, continue to introduce as much high-ceiling young talent on your club as possible, and after a few years your club should have an opportunity to somehow get into the playoffs. As recent history has shown, all you have to do is get into the playoffs to have a fighter's chance at the Super Bowl.

Vic: You're forgetting one more step: Patch in free agency. Get "The Man," build through the draft, patch in free agency and then wait for your turn to get hot in January.

Matt from Jacksonville:
So my girlfriend turns the TV to Dancing With The Stars and there's Jerry Rice dressed in drag, fake eyelashes and a pink leotard. What a sad day.

Vic: I wonder what color leotards Butkus or Bednarik would've worn.

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