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No yelling at the offense

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

Chadwin from Oak Ridge, TN:
Watching the Colts-Jets game, I am amazed how Garcon and Collie performed in that game. Do the Colts scouts deserve big props for finding these guys, or is it all on Manning for making them better?

Vic: The Colts scouting department deserves major praise for finding Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie, especially Garcon, who was buried at Division III Mount Union. As I've always said, you find football players where you find football players and the good scouting departments find them everywhere and anywhere.

Sam from Interlachen, FL:
How about the AFC championship? Did the better team win? Do the Colts deserve to be in the Super Bowl?

Vic: The better team won and the Colts absolutely deserve to be in the Super Bowl. It bothers me that they were able to hand-pick their opponent and that they've made it to the Super Bowl by beating two wild-card teams, but the Chargers had their chance and they choked, at home no less. This was not a great year in the AFC. The decline of the Patriots and the Steelers left a weakened field. The Jets and Ravens lacked playoff-caliber offenses and you're not going to win at the championship level in today's game without a championship offense.

Jim from Jacksonville:
Who are the Jaguars reps that are in Mobile this week?

Vic: All of the scouts and most of the coaches.

Sam from Orlando, FL:
I know you don't like getting overly technical in dissecting plays but Sunday's fourth-and-inches play has me wondering. It looked as though the Saints running back had the ball jostled loose and momentarily lost possession. When he regained possession, the ball was at about his hip. Given the fact the spot indicated that he had gotten it by inches, would the momentary loss of possession make him lose his initial forward progress and isn't this fantastic evidence at how ridiculously counterproductive and sport-killing instant replay has become for young fans like myself?

Vic: The problem with replay in that situation is that it didn't show the position of the ball as the runner struck the ground. It didn't provide conclusive evidence to overturn the call.

Chris from St. Augustine, FL:
Is it against NFL rules for defenders to start yelling complete nonsense when the opposing quarterback starts barking out commands and changing plays at the line?

Vic: Yes, it's unsportsmanlike conduct. Section 3, Rule 12, Article 1: "The defensive use of acts or words designed to disconcert an offensive team at the snap. An official must blow his whistle immediately to stop play."

R.J. from Jacksonville:
Hey, Vic, I really enjoyed not hearing your incorrect smart (expletive) responses for the last 10 days, so why don't you wait at least another 10 before you write another column?

Vic: Because I like it when you're angry.

Shaun from Jacksonville:
I prefer my team to be a run-the-ball, stop-the-run, physical team. Can a team still succeed in the league today with that philosophy?

Vic: Not unless it can pass the ball and defend the pass, too. Today's game is a passing game.

Kevin from Festus, MO:
Is it wrong for me to feel the greatness of Peyton Manning is tainted by rules changes? Could he perform this way in prior eras?

Vic: He's playing in this era, an era that he not only has defined but in many ways has created, and he's the best quarterback in the game right now. Isn't that enough? Yeah, I think he would've been successful in previous eras, but not to the degree he has been in this one. I don't think he would've been nearly as successful in the 1970's, for example, because the '70's game wasn't about finesse, it was about power, and that sack-yourself stuff would've been harshly received and would've likely resulted in attempts to physically intimidate and abuse him.

William from Jacksonville:
I watched the replay of Super Bowl III on "NFL Network" over the weekend. It was so refreshing to see players just play without the silly look-at-me theatrics after every play. They actually tackled in that game. Receivers and defensive backs were allowed to battle each other in a fair fight. The broadcasters didn't intrude needlessly on the game, telling us what we were supposed to think. The running game was actually part of the game plan and not just to keep the defense honest. Unitas looked old, which he was by then, but Namath could throw. He had an arm and the mobility then to play in any era. Are we destined to lose that kind of football forever?

Vic: I watched the replay of that game, too, and I was reminded of the force and crispness with which players tackled. I loved the quickness with which the backs hit the hole and how the offensive lines came off the ball low, hard and as one. It reminded me of sled work, something you never see on an NFL practice field today. I saw Matt Snell, who rushed for a Super Bowl-record 121 yards, run down under a punt and put a crunching tackle on the Colts return man. I remembered exactly where I was as I watched that game. I remembered being torn between rooting for the Jets or the Colts, because Unitas and Namath were both "hometown" guys. Namath's release may be the quickest thing I've ever seen. His passes looked like darts; what a talent he was. The big thing that jumped out at me as I watched that replay was how primitive the telecast was. The graphics were laughable and the picture was fuzzy. Curt Gowdy was the best broadcaster in the game, but his presentation was stiff as compared to today's play-by-play guys. You could put that game on TV today and people would enjoy it, but they would scream bloody murder about the TV production. That's where football has made its greatest gains, in the TV presentation. Pro football in 1969 had its own style and grace and it is gone forever, just as the lob-ball era had faded to memory by the time Namath changed forever on Jan. 12, 1969, the game we still watch today.

Ben from Cuba, MO:
How much different would this team have been if the Jets hadn't traded up for Revis and the Jags had been able to draft him?

Vic: Darrelle Revis swept the Jaguars off their feet in a pre-draft visit. I remember Mike Smith, then the Jaguars' defensive coordinator, telling me the big problem he was having was finding tape of a team trying to throw at Revis. The Jags loved Revis and he had given them indication during his visit that he wanted to play for them. It was my information the Jaguars had worked a trade with the Steelers to move up into the 14th spot to select Revis, but the Jets were wise to it and traded up one spot ahead of the Steelers and selected Revis. I've said this before and I'll say it again: I believe that had the Jaguars been successful in their attempt to draft Revis, they would've won in New England in the playoffs and made it to the Super Bowl. I also remember being harshly criticized for overrating Revis.

Jimmicane from Cardiff, CA:
I will be promptly turning off my TV, closing my Firefox window, or switching to my iPod at the first sign of Brett Favre retirement talk. I know I'm not alone with this. We've been through it before and I just can't take another offseason wasting time worrying about what he will do.

Vic: You're going to have a bad offseason because talk has started and it's not likely to end for the next seven months.

Shawn from Jacksonville:
Players who sit out the Pro Bowl, do they still get credit for having being elected to the Pro Bowl?

Vic: Yes, they do. Being elected to the Pro Bowl is all that really matters and it can't be taken away from a player.

Brian from Jacksonville:
I still can't help feeling like moving the game and all the players dropping out will hurt the prestige of the game. Are you gonna watch it this weekend?

Vic: Prestige? The Pro Bowl was losing prestige. That's why it was moved to the week before the Super Bowl. The league was willing to try anything to heighten its visibility and improve its TV ratings. How do you follow last year's thrilling Super Bowl with a game that more closely resembles an OTA practice? The game is really no big deal. It's the election process that's the big deal. That's where the intensity is. You watch the game because a favorite player is in it or it's raining or snowing or you fell asleep on the couch with a college basketball game on TV and when you awakened the Pro Bowl was on. I don't know why people are obsessing about the Pro Bowl. It's all about players being elected to the game, not playing in the game. Yeah, I'll watch some of it, but very casually.

Bryan from Jacksonville:
What will be the long-term effect of these high-scoring games? To me, it looks like I'm watching the Arena Football League. Do you think this will get old and fans will become bored? At least the competition committee has the ability to change it back if needed, correct?

Vic: The competition committee and the league can turn the clock back any time it wishes. It can turn the clock back to the days when defensive backs could mug receivers until the ball was in the air and quarterbacks were live to the ground. It can bring back the head slap and make holding a 15-yard penalty, not 10. It can move the goalposts forward and the hashes out and spot the ball on the 20 after all missed field goal attempts that result in touchbacks. None of that, however, is going to happen because the casual fan wants offense and it's the casual fan that drives TV ratings and merchandise sales. This column is full of football purists, which warms my heart, but there aren't enough of you to warm the league's pockets. Plus, the league is moving toward the day of an 18-game schedule and you can't increase the number of games and make them more physical, too.

Jeff from Seattle, WA:
I'm tired of people (Peter King) complaining about the overtime rule. Get business done in regulation if you don't like it. Favre had his chance and literally threw it away.

Vic: I believe it's a matter of perspective. My perspective is that overtime begins with the start of the fourth quarter. Somebody has to have the ball last, right?

J. Keith from Palatka, FL:
I have yet to understand why you and the New York media are such Brett Favre bashers. The man came back from being called a quitter and a joke with quiet dignity. He led his team in arguably his best season to the NFC championship game. Yes, he threw an ill-advised interception, but I remember a plethora of fumbles leading up to that. Brett will not return. There is nothing he can do to shut the mouths of his detractors. I can't but think that in heaven Big Irv is smiling and proud of his boy. I guess that's what really matters. I think you are a blow hard and a know it all. May you march in lock step to your mindless drivel. Please continue to post only those opinions which agree with you for I am sure that I will suffer the ignominious fate of being deleted. Don't worry, I won't be back. There are those who make things happen (the players), those who watch things happen (the fans), and those who write about what happened (Vic). I have better things to do with my time.

Vic: Promise?

Gardner from Hanover, NH:
Seeing that all three AFC quarterbacks in the Pro Bowl are from the AFC South and none of them are named Peyton Manning, do you think having the Pro Bowl the week before the Super Bowl is a failed experiment?

Vic: I'll let you know after I see the TV ratings.

Jeff from Pensacola, FL:
In the Navy we have a saying: "You train how you fight." It's time for coaches to let these guys hit in practice so they're not embarrassing themselves on national TV.

Vic: They have a saying in the NFL: "You play as you practice." Those words have never been truer.

Tom from Jacksonville:
I have been a David Garrard fan for a long time. I remember when he proposed to his wife on the stadium screen during a preseason game. I remember when he was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease and I thought his career was over. I loved the fact that he returned to the field and how his athletic ability has him at or near the top of the league in QB rushing, but the Pro Bowl? Maybe two seasons ago, but this year it doesn't make any sense at all. Please explain it to me, Vic. Did the NFL want to save on airfare?

Vic: It's simple. Manning is in the Super Bowl, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger declined to play in the game, and that resulted in Garrard being invited to play. I think he showed respect for the game in accepting that invitation. Sometimes I really struggle to understand the negativity of Jaguars fans. I would think they would enjoy seeing one of the quarterbacks in the game wearing a Jaguars helmet. I get complaint after complaint about not getting prime-time games and not getting national respect, so why don't Jaguars fans want Garrard to play in this game? What wrong thing has he done? When has he been critical of Jaguars fans or Jacksonville? When has he been anything but a positive reflection on the team and the town? You're gonna have to explain it to me because I'm lost for an explanation.

Steve from Greece, NY:
Does Garrard's contract have any incentives for making it to the Pro Bowl? Would David get those incentives for replacing Manning?

Vic: Garrard's contract includes an incentive for being elected to the Pro Bowl.

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