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Open to change

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

Steven from Jacksonville:
Can the best quarterback of all time ever have on his resume a pick-six in the Super Bowl late in the fourth quarter to lose the game?

Vic: Joe Montana doesn't. Terry Bradshaw doesn't. Troy Aikman doesn't. Tom Brady doesn't. Do you know what the combined Super Bowl record of those quarterbacks is? It's 14-1, and it should've been 15-0. Take a look at their postseason stats. They all played the equivalent of a full season of football in the postseason and in each case their combined postseason stats represent one of the best if not the best season of their careers. In other words, against the best competition the NFL had to offer and at the most pressure-packed time of their football lives, they played the best football of their lives. That's what I respect.

Edward from Jacksonville:
If the new NFL, a.k.a. basketball on grass, can help reduce John Mackey-type stories, I'm all for it. It's a sad story, Vic. I don't want to hear it anymore.

Vic: That's a healthy attitude. I'm attempting to acquire the same kind of attitude toward the radical softening of a game I had always loved for its physical demands. For me, the charm of the game had always been its controlled violence. For me, football had always been a game of courage, will and endurance. I watched an NFL Films show on the history of the Super Bowl this past weekend. It featured teams of the merger years and my heart started to beat faster when I saw that old-time violence again. I was immediately taken back to the days when games against rivals were wars. I saw a clip of a guy leaping out of bounds and swinging his arm into the side of another guy's head, knocking him into the bench, and no penalty was called. I immediately was reminded of the Steelers-Raiders wars I covered and the violence I witnessed. There was no hype. That was the real thing. Those days are gone and I wrestle with it because I liked it. I'm finding out now what a violent person I must really be and, you know, it's time to change because that kind of senseless violence is stupid. I'm an old dog trying to learn new tricks. I'm open to change.

Will from Tampa, FL:
I know you almost fell out of your chair during that onside kick to the start the half or the fourth-and-two run toward the end of the first half. What was that all about? I really could not believe what I was seeing. Thoughts?

Vic: The onside kick is only a good play if it works. It's the new game. It's wide open and, as I said, I'm open to new ideas and ways. The fourth-and-goal call didn't surprise me at all. I had said to a friend with whom I was watching the game that if you're going to kick, you pass on third down. If you're going to go for it on fourth down, you run twice. The real key to that strategy, however, was stopping the Colts on third and one after the Saints were stopped on fourth down. I have no doubt that was part of Sean Payton's strategy, that if his team failed on fourth down, it could get back the field goal it didn't kick by stopping the Colts on three downs and getting the ball back. It was very sound strategy.

Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Sorry, but what's a three point stance?

Vic: It's one hand on the ground, provided you're not standing on your head.

Cole from Jacksonville:
I'm glad you clarified the three-point stance and offensive lineman being able to lift their heads. I was watching a classic Cowboys game and I noticed their linemen raised their heads almost every play while the QB was going through his motions. Why did they do that?

Vic: That was in the run-the-ball era and the key to a strong running game was having your linemen come off the ball as one. Raising together and then going down into a three-point stance was a way of getting the linemen on the same page. It was a way of driving home the point that we move in unison, low and hard off the ball together. Those days are gone. It's patty cake time.

Scott from Jacksonville:
Were you at the "Immaculate Reception" game? Was there a rule about an offensive player touching the ball before a defender touched it after it touched another offensive player first rule?

Vic: Yes, I was at that game and, yes, there was a rule that prohibited one offensive player from tipping the ball to another offensive player without it touching a defensive player. In those days, the rules were not favorable to the passing game. I vaguely remember a day when offensive pass-interference in the end zone resulted in a change of possession, with the defense getting the ball at the 20-yard line. How about that? What if that offensive pass-interference penalty in the end zone in "Manning Failed Drive II" had given the Saints the ball at their 20?

Lee from Jacksonville:
I am in agreement with you that it's players not plays that make the difference. So what did we miss here that the Saints didn't that resulted in four new ex-Jaguars are wearing Super Bowl rings?

Vic: Come on, let's be sensible about this. Mark Brunell, Paul Spicer, Bobby McCray and Pierson Prioleau played in reserve roles. Bobby McCray was replacing Charles Grant and McCray had a grand total of 1.5 sacks this past season, none in the postseason.

Preston from Patterson, NY:
What is the ruling on tight ends being able to get into a three-point stance, stand up and resume the three-point stance?

Vic: Tight ends can move and reset or continue in motion.

Bob from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Gregg Williams on the interception that closed out the Colts: "Players make plays like that, coaches don't. I made the call, but Tracy made the play." Another nail in the coffin for plays, not players. Think the Madden generation might be convinced by this?

Vic: It never ceases to amaze me how this "players, not plays" philosophy perplexes people. It's real simple: If there are no players, there's nobody to make the plays work. I can tell by the questions I receive that video football has convinced those who play video football that all players are the same, it's the plays that make the difference. If that was the case, then why bother scouting talent? It's not the case, of course. One player will make a play work, another won't. The difference isn't the play, it's the players attempting to execute the play.

Ancil from Charleston, WV:
Am I way off base or were Brees' receivers the big difference in the game? Give Manning the Saints' receivers and vice-versa and the game isn't close. Too often, fans forget the same player can't throw and catch the ball.

Vic: I don't agree at all. Everyone keeps talking about the ball Pierre Garcon dropped, but let's not forget that Marques Colston dropped a similar pass earlier in the game and that drop allowed the Colts to get out to a 10-0 lead. You know what I'm not hearing enough about? I'm not hearing enough about the two near interceptions Manning threw late in the game. How about the one in the end zone in the final possession? How about the underthrown ball for Reggie Wayne down the left sideline? The receivers didn't make the difference, the quarterbacks did. One put his team on his back at crunch time and carried it down the field to the game-winning touchdown. The other one crumbled at crunch time. I'll tell you something else I'm not hearing enough about. I'm not hearing enough about a very weak effort to make the tackle after the interception. This wasn't a preseason game. This was the Super Bowl and this was the defining play in it. Manning needed to make that tackle. Roethlisberger did.

Matt from Jacksonville:
So how do false starts get flagged when the NFL gets rid of the three-point stance?

Vic: Even though a lineman that hasn't assumed a three-point stance can do the St. Vitas Dance, he can't simulate a play. If he does, it's a false start.

Adam from Rowlett, TX:
If the NFL does move to ban hands on the ground, how do you think it will affect the game overall?

Vic: The game will become more upright. It will become more of a hands and feet game and less of a head and shoulders game. I could see some unexpected things happening, though, such as short, squat linemen becoming more attractive. I could even see a return to an emphasis on the running game, for the obvious reason that defensive linemen in a standing position isn't a formula for stopping the run. I'll tell you one thing I'm absolutely sure about: Short yardage situations will be much easier to convert.

Olly from Oxford, England:
The Saints and Colts combined to tie for the fewest rushing attempts ever in a Super Bowl and the Saints played nickel or dime defense for all of the Colts offense's 37 second-half plays. Even though the Saints were practically begging the Colts to run, they wouldn't. You've often said you expect defensive minds in the NFL to react. Do you think we'll see more defensive backs, undersized linebacker-safety hybrids, etc. next season?

Vic: Yeah, I do, and it'll be interesting to see which teams will re-commit to the run. I would. It's simple logic. If you lighten the defense up front, I'm gonna run the ball.

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