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Experience counts. The Patriots had something like 38 players with Super Bowl experience compared to just four players with Super Bowl experience for the Rams. How big a part did that play? I think it played a big part.
-- Gerald Goblirsch
Executing under pressure is what it's all about in the playoffs and especially in the Super Bowl. There is no higher-pressure moment than playing in the Super Bowl. For some, experience playing in high-pressure moments helps lead to better performance. But there are other players who just have the ability to execute in clutch moments, regardless of experience; Tom Brady proved to be one of those players back in the early 2000s when the Patriots won their first few Super Bowls. I would never scoff at experience as a positive attribute, but I would also point out that experience is only required for those who are unqualified.
What is going on with Vikings linebacker Anthony Bar? I heard he might not be with us next year.
-- Cade Egnima
The reason you're hearing a lot about Barr right now is because he's a good player on the Vikings defense and his contract expires this March, which means the Vikings face a challenge/decision about whether to re-sign him or not. The Vikings have already locked up several other core members of the defense with lucrative contracts recently plus they spent a lot of cash and cap space on quarterback Kirk Cousins last year, so that's where the challenge comes in. The Vikings can choose to find and use the cap space to re-sign him, they can let him hit free agency in March or they can use the franchise tag to retain him for 2019; the franchise tag in a one-year guaranteed contract that will pay him a salary equal to the top five players at his position for 2019. This will be an interesting storyline to watch for the Vikings over the next couple months.
Do you think the Vikings would consider using two nose tackles on 1st down and 2nd down and then replacing them on 3rd downs with a pass-rushing three technique and a defensive end? We sort of did this in 2017 with rotating Shamar Stephen and Tom Johnson, and the run defense was better.
-- Jason W.
Yes, it's something the Vikings could consider and you're right that this tactic has been utilized in the past. I see it as more of a situational or occasional strategy, though. You have to be careful overplaying to stop the run on early downs because offenses could choose to throw the ball on running downs to take advantage of your personnel choices. Linval Joseph is a solid pass rusher, actually, so I would not be in favor of having him out of the game on early downs just to get an extra three tech or defensive end in the game.
Do you think the NFL could consider implementing a rule which would allow a team to simply challenge the results of a play? If the referees agree that they missed something, then just replay the down. No penalty assessed, and only one challenge (right or wrong) is permitted.
-- Bill Dunn
I do see the NFL considering an expansion of instant replay/reviewable plays for 2019 but I don't see it being as vague or general as just being able to challenge the results of a play and then having that play being subject to a re-do. The language would have to point out specific type of plays or calls that would become reviewable, such as pass interference or holding.