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Pats beat Colts with zone

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

Nick from Jacksonville:
Is it me or does it seem like ESPN amplifies every topic or rumor more than necessary. The 15-minute "Sportscenter" segment on the issue of whether or not Randy Moss should be traded was ridiculous.

Vic: When I first heard people talk about Randy Moss being traded, all I could do was drop my head and giggle. When I heard Peter King in an ESPN interview actually consider the possibility, I then considered the possibility I am out of touch with contemporary logic. So, given that possibility, please explain to me why a team would want to trade a first-round draft choice to acquire a player they wouldn't draft seven years ago because they were afraid he might be a problem, even though they now know for sure he is a problem. Explain to me why a team would trade a first-round pick they could use on an affordably-priced receiver so they might acquire a receiver they would have to pay $7.25 million in salary in 2005, $8.25 million in '06, $9.75 million in '07 and $11.25 million in '08. Explain to me why a team would trade a first-round pick and pay all of that money for a guy who only plays when he wants to play, who alienates his teammates and his team's fans and is on the league's bad-guys "hit list." If the Vikings are willing to take a $7.9 million "dead money" hit on their '05 salary cap to get rid of Moss, shouldn't that be a warning signal that there's something real wrong with the guy? Explain it to me because I am clearly lost for an appreciation of Moss' apparent trade value.

Fester from Green Cove Springs, FL:
I read your thoughts on the Patriots not covering their field the week prior to their game with the Colts. Do you really think that was dirty play?

Vic: I was being sarcastic; you know, those dirty Patriots who mugged the Colts' receivers the previous year. The whole not-cover-the-field thing was a head game the Patriots were playing with the Colts. In today's new stadiums there is no such thing as a sloppy field. The fields of today's new stadiums are built on unbelievably effective drainage beds. Other than to protect markings on the field or to create a warm environment under the tarp to promote turf growth, there's no reason to cover the field. It was just another one of those stories that underscored the finesse nature of the Colts' game, and underscored the fact the Patriots are a tougher team that can win in any conditions.

Dorian from Jacksonville:
Come April's draft, do the teams that made the playoffs with a worse record than the Jaguars get to pick ahead of us?

Vic: Yes, because none of them will play in the Super Bowl. Teams do not drop out of their record segment of the draft order unless they participate in the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl champion selects 32nd and the Super Bowl loser drafts 31st; everyone else selects according to their regular-season record.

Ron from Jacksonville:
If you really only want corners that can play zone, doesn't that mean that you are basically just drafting a bunch of safeties?

Vic: That's a way of looking at it. You'd like to have a guy who can play "man" and zone, and that usually requires a defensive back with cornerback skills, but you could certainly make a case for what you're suggesting, especially based on the Patriots' win over the Colts on Sunday. The Patriots presented the Colts with a beautifully executed zone defense that included a wide receiver (Troy Brown) and a guy the Pats just signed (Hank Poteat). The Colts never adjusted to what the Patriots were doing and I find that amazing because the Colts had to know the Patriots' game plan was going to be dominated by zone coverage. Instead of having their receivers find the soft spots in the zone and "sit down," the Colts continued to have Peyton Manning try to hit his receivers in stride. In essence, all that accomplished was to run the receiver into the next defender. To be successful at that, the pass had to be on time and accurate, and Manning was neither of those two things on Sunday. Every coach in the league will use that tape in devising a strategy against Manning next season. The bottom line is the Patriots stopped the Colts with a bunch of safeties; no Ty Law, no Ty Poole.

Eddie from Jacksonville:
Who do you think the Jaguars will tag as this year's franchise player?

Vic: Other than for Donovin Darius, they really don't have a "franchise" candidate.

David from Middleburg, FL:
You've recently addressed the "major emphasis" on the chuck rule and how it may devalue the cornerback position. What effect do you think it will have on wide receivers? Will it increase the value of so-called "possession receivers" and those that can beat a zone rather than the speedsters that can beat "man" coverage?

Vic: That's outstanding logic, but I can't imagine speed ever being devalued at wide receiver.

Joseph from Daytona Beach, FL:
FL: The more I learn about the inner-workings of pro football, the more I am turned off by it and the more the conspiracy theories seem to be rooted in truth. How do you separate the warm, fuzzy and entertaining NFL you knew as a kid from the cold, brick wall of truth staring at you everyday? Is ignorance really bliss here? I'd hate to stop reading this column. I love it!

Vic: Professional football has never, ever been a warm and fuzzy game. In fact, the era it was in when I started covering it may have been the darkest days in the game's history. At one point, Pete Rozelle sent a letter to the Raiders and the Steelers warning them that their rivalry had reached a dangerous level. The following is the exact text of that letter from Rozelle, dated Sept. 29, 1976: "Your 'intense rivalry' of recent years could be on the verge of erupting into something approaching pure violence. There is, of course, no place for that in professional football and you both know it. I do not expect to see either of your clubs involved in a game in the future that approaches the one of Sept. 12 (1976) in the severity of volume of senseless violent play." At the time, the two teams were embroiled in a law suit over Chuck Noll's use of the words, "criminal element." How's that for warm and fuzzy? Truth be known, I am not a warm and fuzzy person. I like the cold, brick wall of truth.

Eric from Columbus, IN:
What do you think about Mike Vanderjagt's comments about the Patriots this week?

Vic: Kickers should keep their mouths shut, and that especially applied to Mike Vanderjagt last week because it was his missed field goal against the Patriots in the season-opener that forced the Colts to have to play in the snow in New England on Sunday.

Wade from Winston-Salem, NC:
There was a poll on ESPN's website a little while ago asking which QB would you rather have in a big game, Manning or Brady, and the results were 70 percent Manning and 30 percent Brady. Who would you rather have as your QB, the guy who throws 49 TD passes in the regular season or the guy who is 7-0 all-time in playoff games?

Vic: You have to ask? I've reached the point that I won't even take seriously questions that include Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the same breath. If you're going to ask if one guy is better than another guy, shouldn't one of them have beaten the other one at least once? If 70 percent of the fans believe Manning is better than Brady, should the fans ever be taken seriously when they complain about the play-calling? How could anyone doubt that Brady is the best quarterback in the game?

Tim from Jacksonville:
"Even the weather in New England on Sunday is supposed to be in the Colts' favor." You need to find a new weather man.

Vic: You can ask Brian Sexton. He'll tell you that I inquired about the weather forecast for Foxborough on Sunday all last week, and every time it came up 31 and dry. Even during the telecast of the Jets-Steelers game on Saturday night, it was mentioned that the weather was supposed to be fine and the conditions would favor the Colts. I'm thinking there may have also been a weatherman conspiracy against the Colts.

Steve from Jacksonville:
Can we finally give the Patriots some respect?

Vic: Come on, not another one of these we-get-no-respect things. Hey, Rodney Dangerfield is dead; give it a rest. When has anyone not afforded the Patriots and Bill Belichick unflagging respect? They are a fantastic football team. The Patriots are a true champion. They were most people's preseason pick to win it all again. What they did against the Colts is what nobody else had been able to do all season.

Jon from Van Buren, AR:
What excuses do you think Bill Polian will come up with to make a new NFL rule or enforce an old one?

Vic: How about an NBA-like no-zone-defense rule?

Hasso from Jacksonville:
This is a free lesson to the Colts: Good defenses win championships, good offenses give you salary cap hell.

Vic: My work here is complete.

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