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30/30 plan and the Mayans

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Brett from Jacksonville:
GM Gene and you have convinced me best available player is the way to go in the draft, but should a team patch up need positions in free agency before the draft or after the draft, or both?

Vic: The answer is both because you never want to close your door to the acquisition of talent. What you wanna do is get to a point with your roster that you're not using the draft for now, you're using the draft to acquire players who will be developed with the future in mind. That's unrealistic for most teams, however, so now you're talking about some serious planning and predicting to be able to address need in free agency according to the need you think you'll be able to address in the draft, and that's dangerous stuff because it might cause you to go off your board and go for need in the draft if the picks don't fall the way you expected. You almost have to be clairvoyant. Here's my plan: Patch in free agency where the pool and the cost will allow, and then draft the best available players, regardless of need. After the draft, address those remaining needs as best you can and then be patient until another offseason allows you to do the whole process over again. Building a roster takes time. What's most important is that you never allow need and impatience to cause you to leave your board and make a mistake you'll regret for 10 years.

Bill from Jacksonville:
When is Carson Palmer going to be as harshly criticized as Tony Romo has been the last few years? Palmer has been in the NFL for seven years and has accomplished/won nothing.

Vic: He got a pass in 2005 because of the knee injury he sustained early in the playoff loss to the Steelers, but Palmer cashed in that pass on Saturday. He was horrible. That was not the kind of performance you would expect from a veteran, franchise-caliber quarterback.

Tim from St. Petersburg, FL:
Some college coaches can't make the transition to the NFL and some NFL coaches don't do well in college. Can you comment on the differences between coaching in college and the pros?

Vic: To be successful in pro football, a coach better know his X's and O's, how to assemble and manage a staff, how to command respect without creating fear and how to relate to players, fans and media in a friendly, yet, forceful manner. In other words, you better know how to coach. In college, you can win if you merely recruit. Of course, great college coaches recruit and do all of those other things, too, but a lot of college coaches have made long careers out of little more than their ability to recruit talent.

Ryan from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
What made Aaron Rodgers fall to the lower part of the first round? He can make all the throws and he's mobile. Was it his height?

Vic: No, it was Akili Smith and Joey Harrington and Kyle Boller that did it. Smith, Harrington and Boller all have two things in common: They are all Jeff Tedford products and they are all NFL busts. Rodgers, of course, has broken the mold. He's a special passer. The Packers really got lucky on this one.

Chris from Jacksonville:
Baltimore and Dallas out-rushed their opponents last weekend because they got up early and ran the ball to shorten the game. New England and Philly were forced to abandon the run and play catch up with the pass. Statistics don't always tell the story.

Vic: Spoken like a true passing-game sissy. Hey, the Ravens got up early because Ray Rice went coast to coast right away. What I remember from early in the Dallas game was Marion Barber blowing up Eagles defenders. After seeing that happen a few times, there was little doubt in my mind who would win that game. OK, you win. It's all about passing the ball in today's NFL. I surrender, but let me at least enjoy a couple of examples of real teams winning games because they imposed their will, OK? The Colts play this weekend so all you have to do is wait a few days and you can have your game back.

Mikey from Jacksonville:
I think it's a fair assessment to think the Jags will move back once or twice to acquire more picks during the draft, however, do you think (for revenue purposes) that Wayne Weaver will emphasize or demand a Tebow pick with our first overall?

Vic: I wouldn't worry about that.

Ryan from Jacksonville:
Ninety-six points in a playoff game? NFL, what have you done? There should never be 96 points scored in a playoff game. I understand a blowout here and there that happens, but what a lousy playoff weekend.

Vic: It wasn't great, was it? Most people would say the Packers-Cardinals game was great, but I wouldn't. I expect this weekend's games to be outstanding.

Robert from Chicago, IL:
I'm curious to find out your opinion of Mark McGwire, now that he has come clean.

Vic: His career is a disgrace. It's a terrible shame. All of the time he spent on amateur ballfields developing his talent in a game he loved more than anything, has been betrayed by his embrace of deceit. Everything he accomplished immediately becomes fraudulent. It would've been more honorable to have spent his career as a journeyman .220 hitter. The funny part is that fans and media actually needed him to come clean. Come on, did anybody think he wasn't on steroids?

Mike from Fruit Cove, FL:
What is it that makes Darrelle Revis stick to receivers like glue? He seems to shut down every star receiver he plays against. Is there anyone in the league this guy can't cover? I would like to see Fitzgerald go up against him.

Vic: It's a technique known as "mirroring" and Revis is the best at it I have ever seen. Mel Blount was great at jamming the receiver. Rod Woodson and Deion Sanders were great at closing on the ball. Revis mirrors receivers as though he knows the route. I can think of a couple of other cornerbacks, Lester Hayes and Frank Minnifield, who were great at mirroring the receiver. Ty Law blended all of those techniques and he may have been the best at playing the ball in the air I have ever seen.

Stephen from Jacksonville:
Should Roger Maris still be considered the single-season home run king? Should Hank Aaron still be considered the all-time home run king?

Vic: I appreciate what you're implying and I think it's a shame that Maris and Aaron were pushed aside by nefarious players, but I don't think those players' accomplishments should be stricken from the record book. First of all, let's not forget that Babe Ruth played in the live-ball era, and I don't think his overwhelming numbers did anything to dull the legendary achievements of Honus Wagner. The record book is an account of history. It's a way of recalling the evolution of the game. In the case of McGwire, it's a way of remembering what we'd like to forget, and it's important that we not forget. The steroid era is the equivalent, in my opinion, to a second Black Sox scandal. Shame on the game and the players association for having allowed this to happen. That's what the record book will always tell us.

Jeff from Jacksonville:
I know the Jags need a lot of help on defense, but they also need a young QB to be a future number one. So do you go with the BAP and hope a good QB falls to you in the late rounds, or target the QB first and then go for defense?

Vic: Why can't that quarterback fall to you in the first round? Targeting is OK, but only if you fit the pick to where the player is ranked. When you do that, of course, he becomes the best available player.

Jim from Jacksonville:
With quarterbacks, the question is can he make all the throws? Makes sense; you start with the basics and move from there. What are the main questions for the other positions? I'm curious what the basic look is a scout wants in a player?

Vic: In scouting a running back, you look for body lean and burst. Does he run behind his pads? In a wide receiver, you look for separation speed. Does he raise going into and coming out of his breaks and does he catch the ball with his hands or is he a body catcher? Tight ends are judged on their ability to be in-line blockers and deep-seam receivers. In evaluating offensive linemen, you want to determine if a guy is strictly a road-grader or if he has the athletic ability to pull and trap. In pass-blocking, is he light on his feet and does he have a good punch? Defensive linemen need to play low. Does he have the strength to hold the point, the quickness to penetrate? Linebackers are judged on their ability to run sideline to sideline and step up and take on blocks. Defensive backs are judged by their ability to backpedal and then turn their hips and run. Does he play the ball in the air well? Those are some of the basics.

Neil from Orange Park, FL:
How is the implementation of the new 30/30 plan, in which season ticket holders can pay for the next 30 games interest free for the next 30 months, affected by the looming work stoppage after the 2010 season? If the owners lock out the players and no games get played, am I allowed out of the 30/30 contract or does it just carry over to the following season/games? In addition, if the Jags were to move, can I opt out of the contact or am I obligated to pay for the 30 months?

Vic: If there's a work stoppage, the contract continues and any games that weren't played would be added to the life of your contract. If the Jags move, you have to move with them. If there's a work stoppage, the Jags move and the Mayans are right about 2012, then I wouldn't worry about it.

Brandon from Tampa, FL:
I think what got to me watching the Pack-Cards game was how many defenders from those teams made the Pro Bowl, and watching Fitzgerald physically abuse Woodson made me wonder how he'd fare against Revis (not nearly as well, I'd wager). Maybe I'm alone here but I didn't really enjoy that game.

Vic: A Revis vs. Fitzgerald matchup in the Super Bowl, though highly unlikely, would be the feature attraction of the season. That's something I would really like to see.

Sam from Jacksonville:
What do you think of the Packers' "Psycho Defense?"

Vic: I've known Dom Capers for a long, long time and there's no one in coaching I respect more, but I think he went too far with this creation. It's almost laughable. Folks, the quarterback must go down and he must go down hard, provided you don't hit him in the head or the legs, of course.

Cary from Montreal, Quebec:
There are three Stanley Cups. One sits in the hall of fame, one is a replacement, and then there is the real one that is handed out at the end of the playoffs, but, yes, the Cup that sits atop the trophy is the same Cup that was first handed out almost 100 years ago.

Vic: Which is the one that is sent from player to player and is often damaged?

Pulin from Jacksonville:
I was listening to the Pats-Ravens game in the car and I noticed the announcer said the Ravens were moving "right to left across the radio dial." Is this just to help provide a visual image for the listener, or is there some historical purpose for this message?

Vic: That was something the broadcasters always said when I listened to football on the radio as a kid. It was considered to be an important visual to turn the dial into a football field, and you were viewing it through the eyes of the broadcaster. What he was telling you is the Ravens were moving from his right to his left as he viewed the game. I would listen to the game and imagine that 10 on the dial was the 50-yard line, and if a team was moving right to left and it was at, say, its opponent's 25-yard line, I would imagine that they were at eight on the dial. It was a powerful visual. Now, in the day of digital display, I can't remember the last time I saw a radio dial. Do today's kids even know what one looks like?

Brian from Fleming Island, FL:
Last spring you mentioned that you had a problem with the Browns hiring Mangini before hiring a GM. How did you know it would be a disaster?

Vic: I wish I could remember a fraction of what everyone else seems to remember having read in this column. Brian, I'm asked for my opinion and I give it. Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm wrong.

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