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A Memorial Day 'Ask Vic' just for you, Rick

More is better; expand the playoffs to 16 teams


Josh from Seoul, Korea

From Peter King's MMQB: I think 12 playoff teams are plenty and 14 waters down the significance of making the postseason. And what's to stop the league five years from now saying the ratings for wild card weekend are so boffo that we should go to 16? Thoughts?

I'd be fine with 16 because an extra weekend wouldn't have to be added. They could do 16 within the current framework, just eliminate the byes. I like good football. The NFL postseason is good football. In my opinion, more postseason football is better than less. I'd like to see fewer preseason games and more playoff games. Sixteen is where I draw the line.

Eliezer from Rechovot, Israel

A lot of distinction is made between returning kickoffs vs. returning punts. I don't get it. What is the difference?

It's the difference between driving on the turnpike and driving on a winding country road.

Rick from Appleton, WI

Vic, this is a test, to see whether you scheduled the Memorial Day "Ask Vic" on Friday with stale old inquiries, or whether you're reading your inbox on Monday.

It's 6:30 on Monday morning and I am answering your question. I don't give my readers old and stale. I respect them too much to do that, and I prefer trust to tests.

Paul from De Pere, WI

Vic, an 8-8 team can't win the Super Bowl. That team could make the playoffs, but by the time they finish they are 12-8. Right? I can live with that.

So can I.

Sam from Seville, Spain

Vic, my dad has been telling me for years that sooner or later the quarterbacks will drop back 10 more yards to give themselves more time to throw. Can you please tell him why this wouldn't work?

There aren't enough quarterbacks in the game today that have the arm strength to make that work. Those days are gone. They left us with the rules changes of 1978 that outlawed bump-and-run coverage. Prior to then, seven-step and nine-step drops were common, and arm strength was critical to a quarterback's ability to succeed. If it ever gets to the point that completion percentages dip dramatically, as they did in the years prior to the '78 rules changes, the league will just outlaw jamming receivers all together. Throwing the ball from a three-step drop instead of a nine-step drop has allowed a lot of quarterbacks to be successful that couldn't have played in the pre-'78 game. The pool of guys that can play the position is deeper than ever, and that's good for the game.

Bill from Staten Island, NY

I just read about the Seattle Seahawks and what they did. A medical exam on their sixth-round draft pick revealed a heart condition that will prevent him from playing. They signed him anyway and paid his signing bonus, and then released the young man. As much as I love to hate the Seahawks, I have to give them kudos on that move. Classy.

That's a kind and compassionate gesture. A long time ago, I covered a cornerback that had eyesight so bad he bordered on being legally blind. He was a big guy that could run, but he couldn't see, and it was thought his poor eyesight was the reason for his poor play. The team sent him for an eye examination. It was discovered his eyesight could be repaired with a new procedure. The procedure was performed and the player's eyesight was improved to even better than 20-20. It didn't improve his performance, however, and the player was cut. I can remember thinking to myself that he was returning home with something more precious than success. He was returning home with his sight.

Mark from Portland, OR

The knock on Linsley is that he has short arms. Of course, this was also supposedly the problem with Bryan Bulaga and Joe Thomas. Are these guys merely the exceptions to the rule, or is arm length an overrated measurable for offensive linemen?

They don't have short arms. They have arms that are short relative to the standard in the league. They make up for that shortcoming by utilizing their strengths. Michael Roos is a "short-armed" guy; he's also a star tackle with great feet. How many long-armed guys have bad feet or pad level? Very few players grade out at the top on all of the measurables, but you can't play in this league with bad measurables. You can be a step slow if you're especially quick, or a little undersized if you're especially strong, etc., but small, slow and weak doesn't make in this league. You have to be physically gifted in one way or another to play in the NFL.

Nick from Long Beach, CA

Vic, since the league today is a passing league, would it even be realistic to try and build an offense with a road-grading offensive line?

If you can find five heavy-footed guys that can pass block, you can do it, but those guys are rare. Drive-blockers tend to be heavy-footed, and that can be a liability in pass protection. Protecting the quarterback is job one for offensive linemen. They must be able to pass block and that means teams are looking for guys that are light on their feet. Zone-blocking tends to be a better fit for natural pass blockers. It's one of the reasons I think Alabama offensive linemen haven't been as dominant on the NFL level as they were in college. Alabama linemen are mashers. They like to stick their feet into the ground and drive in the run game, but that's not always a good fit in pass blocking.

Jonathan from Milwaukee, WI

Vic, as someone that has had to walk to work in this cold weather for the past few years, I can tell you that if you get a nice thin goose down jacket, you can wear anything you want over it and it's warmer than lambskin. That jacket will be the best investment you could make for less than $200.

The weather this weekend has been fantastic. I'm walking around dressed as though I'm in Margaritaville. I want to clear my mind of any thoughts of goose-down jackets.

Jim from New York, NY

Lombardi's quotes don't inspire you? I've worked in the corporate big business world, the amateur and professional ranks of sports, and in law enforcement, and his quotes sit on the desks and walls of the high achievers in all of those fields from the successful young guys to top management. I enjoy your column but you're missing something, especially when you're writing about this great storied franchise and the second-to-none inspirational leadership of Vince Lombardi.

My favorite Lombardi message to his team is the one Jerry Kramer tells from the Ice Bowl. It was something to the effect of, "It's cold, they're not going to cancel the game, you know what to do, go do it." I like that. Never at any time in my life, when confronted with a task of importance, have I stopped and thought of an inspirational message. I have on nearly every occasion, however, followed the path my leadership has provided. This is what we're going to do and this is how we're going to do it. Lombardi provided that kind of strong and bold leadership. That's why he won.

Jesus from Mount Calvary, WI

This weekend I had friends over. There wasn't much good said about Bob from Minnesota. My friends were not winsome.

He was just having a little fun.

Nate from Pueblo, CO

"Play to your strength. Most of all, make sure you have one." That's a great philosophy. It's another reason why drafting BAP is what's best.

You'll never regret drafting a good football player.

Jeff from Grass Valley, CA

Vic, I don't think I've ever heard you mention Joe Flacco as any of your top QBs. Why?

I like him. I think he's near the top and he was ready to go to a higher level this past season, following the Super Bowl win, but he had a bad year. Flacco has a great arm.

Mihai from Bloomer, WI

I was wondering why it's so difficult for scouts to see great potential at quarterback. I mean, Tom Brady went in the sixth round and Ryan Leaf and Tim Couch were taken with the second and first overall picks in their years. How is it scouts can miss stars time and time again?

It's especially difficult projecting success or failure for quarterbacks because we don't know how the increases in speed and ferociousness in the NFL game will impact a quarterback. Can he process information quickly enough to be successful? That split-second difference between college and the NFL can be a divide a quarterback might not be able to bridge. Can he stand in the pocket and keep his eyes downfield in the face of the fiercest pass rush he's ever felt? Russell Wilson answers yes to both questions, and those are contributing reasons for his success. One more thing: He's deadly accurate.

Scott from Appleton, WI

Vic, if Eddie Lacy makes a great running back for zone blocking, then what characteristics does a running back need to be successful in man blocking?

Move the pile. Lacy can move the pile.

Joseph from Raleigh, NC

Vic, do you think the five o'clock club could be brought back? It sounds like a great idea. Reporters gain insight about the team and coaches strengthen their relationship with the media.

I think those days are over, mostly because the days of selling pro football to the public are over. The five o'clock club was about promotion. This is an era of protection.

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