Ask Vic: Talking Cowboys, Rookie of the Year and more

We've got mail:

Question: Do you think the Cowboys are back to the legendary status they were with Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith? And can they win the Super Bowl this year? With deadly accuracy and a gift for throwing on the run, Tony Romo's proven he's nearly immune to all secondary defenders and keeps his game (and head) up in all situations. Terrell Owens is having an amazing year along with the Marion Barber-Julius Jones combo in the backfield. -- Josh B.

As impressed as I am with the Cowboys' excellent season, I am not at all ready to say they are back to the dominance they showed in the mid-1990s.

That Cowboy team won three Super Bowls. This Cowboy team would have to win at least as many, and I'm not convinced that that will be the case.

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Sure, it has a good chance of reaching Super Bowl XLII. Sure, it is strong enough to win the game, although at this point there is no reason to think the Cowboys (or any other team) would knock off the presumptive favorite, New England.

Romo is having a great year, but he'll need to string together more of them before I'd be willing to put him in the same category as Aikman. Owens has had an impressive career, but I think he will need at least one Super Bowl ring to belong in the same Hall-of-Fame neighborhood as Irvin. Barber and Jones make a nice combo, but let's not even begin a discussion that puts them in the same sentence as Smith.

Question:Adrian Peterson has been great, no doubt. But how about crediting Derek Anderson's success as quarterback of the Cleveland Browns in part to the incredibly unsung play of Joe Thomas, who has helped keep his blind side clean all year long? Isn't it time an O-lineman got Rookie of the Year? Use your pen. Make it happen! -- Tim W.

I wish it were that simple to influence voting for Offensive Rookie of the Year or any other category, for that matter.

You make a tremendous point, though. Joe Thomas has not received nearly as much credit as he deserves for what Anderson and the rest of the Browns' explosive passing game have achieved. And it is mostly because he is an offensive lineman rather than a running back, quarterback, or wide receiver. Thomas isn't merely playing well for a rookie tackle. He is outperforming most of the veteran tackles in the league as well. Just as he did during his phenomenal career at Wisconsin, Thomas is keeping his quarterback well protected.

Thomas will certainly get his share of votes (members of the national media panel who do the voting are quite aware of what he has done), although I strongly suspect that Peterson will get more. I also think Trent Edwards will grab some votes as well, and there's at least an outside chance he could sneak ahead of both Peterson and Thomas if he winds up leading the Buffalo Bills to the playoffs.

Question: I have a response to your comment in your latest power rankings, asking if there was a bigger steal than Packers running back Ryan Grant. I think the biggest steal was the Seahawks getting defensive end Patrick Kerney from Atlanta! -- Football Nut

There is no question that Kerney has made a tremendous splash with Seattle, leading the NFL with 13½ sacks.

But I would hardly classify him as a steal. The Seahawks parted with plenty of cash to sign Kerney as a free agent, giving him a six-year contract worth $39.5 million.

Kerney easily looks like the year's best free-agent acquisition. But steal? That's more accurate when applied to the sixth-round draft pick the Packers gave the New York Giants to pick up Grant, who has had as much to do with the Packers' 11-2 season as Kerney has had to do with the Seahawks' success.

Question: It seems Bills coach Dick Jauron doesn't talk to the coaches upstairs for advice on potential plays to be challenged. He seems to rely on his players and the big screen at the stadium. Is that true that coaches can talk to their assistants in the booth to get such advice, like the announcers on the TV suggests some do, or is that just a myth? And if it is true, why wouldn't all coaches use that advantage? -- Kevin B., Fort Erie, Ont.

First, Jauron, like every NFL coach, does communicate with his assistants upstairs about replay challenges and other matters via his headset.

The assistants watch replays on a television monitor in their booth and do not hesitate to offer their opinion about whether a particular play should be challenged. But what they are offering is just that, an opinion. Jauron and other head coaches are wise to consult other resources -- such as the stadium screen, players on the field, coaches and players on the sidelines, and perhaps even the crowd -- to form their own thoughts on a decision that ultimately rests with them.

Remember, there often isn't a whole lot of time to make the decision because if the opponent has the ball, it most likely will try and hurry to the line for a quick snap before a challenge can be made. Also, for obvious reasons, the home team will more likely get a quicker view on the stadium screen of a replay that could prompt a challenge rendering a favorable result than would be the case for the visiting club.

Question: I got laughed at by my friends because I agreed with the Texans' decision to make Mario Williams the top overall pick in 2006 rather than Reggie Bush or Vince Young. I felt all three were boom-or-bust players. However, Mario seemed most likely to convert his skills to the NFL. I thought Bush was not an every-down back and Young would take a while to develop. I must admit, I thought David Carr was better than he's been. But I hope my call on Williams makes up for my Ryan Leaf fiasco of '98. -- Martin, Saint Johnsbury, VT

Nice going on the Williams call. By the way, I would have laughed at you, too, back then.

Sorry, though, but nothing will allow you, me and countless others to ever live down our conclusion that Leaf should have gone No. 1 in 1998 ahead of you know who. I have former colleagues from my days in the newspaper business who remind me of it to this day.

Have a question for Vic on anything NFL related? Don't just sit there -- send it to, and the best questions will be answered throughout the season right here on!

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