Presented by

Pickett helped force big play of Super Bowl XLV


Sal from Philadelphia, PA

Liked the all-time list. I have no problems with the list but do question the comment that Bruce Smith was definitely not a 3-4 end, when the Bills of the early '90s actually played a 3-4. Was the style and play of the 3-4 back then different than today?

I know he played in a 3-4 and that's one of the reasons, in my opinion, the Bills struggled against power-running, ball-control offenses, such as the Giants team that controlled the clock for more than 40 minutes time of possession, keeping Jim Kelly and that great Bills offense off the field in upsetting the Bills in Super Bowl XXV. Smith was, in my opinion and the opinion of others, miscast in that defense. The Bills played the 3-4 with a 4-3 philosophy. Hey, defensive ends don't rush the passer in the 3-4; the linebackers rush the passer. Defensive ends in a 3-4 are often two-gappers. They're hold-the-point guys that do the grunt work up front that allows the linebackers to flow to the ball. Smith was hardly a hold-the-point, grunt-work type of player. He's arguably the greatest pass-rusher in football history. I'm not saying he couldn't play against the run, I'm just saying that with a pass-rusher like that at end, you don't need an extra linebacker, you need an extra lineman to help Smith against the run and allow him to focus on rushing the passer without the responsibility of defending a large area. Ottis Anderson ate the Bills up in that Super Bowl. The Bills should've never lost that game. They got beat by a backup quarterback. How could they not know what was coming? The 4-3 in which I cast Smith on my all-time team is made for his talents. The 3-4 that Bills team played, in my opinion, is a perfect example of the need for players to fit the scheme, which is another way of saying players, not plays.

Jesse from St. Louis, MO

I have not found one thing we disagree on so far, but I bet I will if you answer this question: Do you think tight ends are more valuable to the team than wideouts? I'm talking about every aspect of the offense.

I think today's tight ends are largely bigger versions of possession-type wide receivers; I think their values to the team are largely the same. There's one type of receiver, however, whose value is at the top of the chart. I'm talking about the big-play receiver, specifically the speed receiver. Usually, he's a wide receiver. He's the 4.3 guy that can take the top off a defense. He's the guy that scares defenses and gives defensive coordinators nightmares. Getting beat deep is every defense's No. 1 fear. If they're about to face that kind of player, the bulk of the preparation is tilted toward stopping him, and that's the speed receiver's greatest value: His mere presence opens the field for other players and other plays. If you have that guy in your pass-offense, he's your most valuable receiver, regardless of whether he's a wide receiver or a tight end.

Ryan from Irvine, CA

If they take away the facemask, then all the protection would be on the top of the head, right? Isn't that bad? Don't we want players to tackle eyes up? I don't know about players but I'm not going to take a shoulder pad from Adrian Peterson to the nose.

They're not going to take away the facemask. Football was played for a long time, however, without the use of facemasks and spearing wasn't an issue. The players in those days used their shoulders to tackle. Proper tackling technique was to drive your shoulder into the runner's midsection or thighs, instead of driving their unprotected face into the runner's chest. The advent of the facemask changed the game; I don't think there's any doubt about that. It made the game more violent and now we've reached the point at which the league wants to make the game less violent. The league's challenge is to take off the facemask without physically taking off the facemask. The league has to convince its players to play as though they're not wearing a facemask.

Zach from Woodstock, IL

Considering your recent discussion of young quarterbacks and all the top 10 lists being done, how about one about the top 10 quarterbacks under 30?

Aaron Rodgers is 27, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Matt Schaub and Matt Cassel are 29, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco are 26, Mark Sanchez is 24, and Josh Freeman and Sam Bradford are 23. That's a pretty good group of young quarterbacks, with a new group coming into the league this year. If you don't have a franchise-type guy, you've got a problem.

Curtis from Stevens Point, WI

Do you really want the center hiking the ball and then running out for a pass? Yeah, I want to see that.

All right, and here's what you're gonna see: A field full of wide receivers and one quarterback. That's what you want?

Dana from Eau Claire, WI

How about your projections for the top teams this upcoming season and why you are ranking them where you are? Don't worry, we know it's way too early and we won't hold you to the predictions.

OK, let's take a look at the divisions; don't worry, I'm not going to make any predictions. The NFC North has a Super Bowl champion and two teams poised to challenge; the Vikings appear to be in rebuilding. The NFC East is tightening; expect the Cowboys and Redskins to close ground on the Eagles and Giants. The NFC South has two Super Bowl contenders, a Bucs team on the verge of becoming a Super Bowl contender, and a Panthers team in rebuilding. The NFC West is up for grabs; all four teams have upside but need something to kick-start them. The AFC East is undergoing a potential power shift from the Patriots to the Jets; the Dolphins are challengers and the Bills are building their roster. The AFC North has two power teams in the Steelers and Ravens; the Bengals are difficult to figure and the Browns are rebuilding behind what appears to be a good-looking draft. The AFC South may be ripe for a changing of the guard; Houston is poised to move up. Will the Colts be able to hold on? The Jags and Titans will usher in new quarterback eras. The AFC West has three contenders; the Broncos are rebuilding. From where I sit, the NFC appears to be the stronger conference.

Dan from Davie, FL

For what it's worth, the gas MONEY gave out in Gurnee, not the gas. If the gas had given out, they wouldn't have been able to coast into town on fumes in that tenement on wheels.

I know, Art, and thanks for noticing.

Miles from Slinger, WI

I was watching Clay's big play, in which he forced a pivotal Mendenhall fumble. Right before the snap, he told Pickett to "spill it." Could you tell us what that means? Thank you.

It means force the ball to the outside.

Paul from Kilrush, Ireland

Did you ever encounter a kicker or punter being unable to complete a game? In that situation, would a punter take over the kicking duties and vice versa, or might teams have identified a player on the squad that could cover those duties in an emergency?

Yeah, I've seen it happen a few times; I saw Matt Bahr, when he played for Cleveland, stick out his leg to trip the kick-returner. It cost Bahr a blown-out knee, which tells you something about the force of the game on ordinary-type men. Teams always have emergency plans for the loss of a kicker or punter, but losing one of those guys usually results in something bad happening. I remember Josh Scobee getting hurt in pregame in a recent season, and it might have cost the Jaguars the game.

Corey from Dallas, WI

If this lockout holds and there is no football played in 2011, what effects would it have on the small-market teams?

I don't think the impact would be felt according to market size. I think the impact would be felt according to debt service. Those teams with small debt wouldn't be nearly as hurt as teams with big debt, for the obvious reason that revenue streams would be greatly reduced.

Tom from Fairborn, OH

Loved your all-time team. Usually these things bring much debate/angst but those choices were as solid as choices can be. I guess if you had chosen Nitschke over Butkus, homer rants would abound, maybe not too loudly in Packerland, though.

Chuck Bednarik is the guy I regretted not being able to get on the team. He might be the greatest all-around football player in history. He belongs on that team but where? I thought about creating a long-snapper position just for him, but I thought that might've been insulting. He was such a great, great player. There are so many of them.

Jason from West Allis, WI

While I am all for mandating certain helmets that are better at protecting against concussions, I think, more importantly, the NFL needs to somehow make sure helmets are being worn correctly. How often do you see a guy pop on his helmet like it's a baseball cap? Helmets should fit tight; your head shouldn't be able to rotate within the helmet and it should almost never come off during the play.

I encourage you to watch this week's "Video Ask Vic," which will appear today. It focuses on helmet models and fitting. The pop-on phenomenon is not a result of helmets not fitting properly. It is a manifestation of the helmet's size and shape. The ones that look like a motorcycle helmet at the jaw line are not meant to fit tightly there, as old-fashioned helmets did, therefore, they can be placed on the head without having to spread the ear flaps; you couldn't do it if you tried.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.