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Mailbag: Adding More Overall Team Speed?

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I know the Cowboys play in the NFC East, but they are a dome team. Teams who play in domes generally have a lot of team speed, especially on offense. Do you think this is going to change with the current coaching staff? – DONALD LEWIS

Nick: I have to be honest about this one, for the life of me, I've never bought into the notion of teams are faster on turf or need to be faster indoors. I just don't understand it and I don't think it's a thing. Sure, turf is faster for you to run on, compared to a muddy Soldier Field in December. But typically, if turf makes you faster, than the big linebacker is probably a little faster, too. If you're a speedy receiver that runs a 4.2, well you're gonna have problems running in the mud, but still probably faster than the next guy. So adding speed to the offense or defense is something that should happen, because it helps you win. I don't really think it matters whether or not there is a roof over your head.

David: Is it the environment that makes a team fast, or is it just easier to notice when there aren't any adverse conditions? The Chiefs are one of the fastest teams in the league, and they play outdoors in Kansas City half the year. I feel fine about the speed and explosiveness on the offensive side of the ball. I will say I think they need to get a lot faster on defense, and it seems like they tried hard to address that during the draft.

What if the NFL's new 17th game was played at a neutral site? Each team would play 8 home, 8 away & 1 neutral site game. With 32 teams, the NFL would have 16 games a year to play in international cities and/or non-NFL U.S. cities. They could also play neutral site games in NCAA stadiums. – DUANE SMITH / ELIZABETHTOWN, KY

Nick: I don't hate the idea at all, for multiple reasons. The NFL is trying to expand the games internationally on a regular basis. The issue for many teams is giving up a home game. So this idea would eliminate that ordeal. The key is finding a place that can guarantee to sell out every year like your own stadium. You see the college teams do it, but if the neutral-site game starts to decrease in popularity, they will pull the plug quick and get it back to on-campus. So you either need to get 16 international games, or find some other locations in the US that would fill up a stadium. Financially it has to make sense in order to take the game away from the home stadium. But not a bad concept if they can pull it off.

David: Just as a general thought, I really like this idea, because I really don't like the fact that one half of the league gets more home games than the other during any given season. But it comes with a load of red tape. For starters, use of NCAA stadiums would likely be confined to December and January, when college teams are done for the year. That could make scheduling tricky. On top of that, you've got to consider all the nuances of team territory and the big business that's tied to it. It might be hard to find neutral site games that don't encroach on specific teams' viewing markets and spheres of influence – such as the Cowboys and San Antonio, just as an example. The simplest fix might be international games, but jumping from 2-4 international games all the way to 16 would present plenty of its own challenges. Like I said, I do like the idea. I just think it would be very difficult to pull off.

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