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A very long morning

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Safa from Atlantic Beach, FL:
In Brunell's breakout season (19 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 1996) his offensive line consisted of Boselli, Cheever, Coleman, DeMarco, Searcy, Tylski and Widell. How well do you think Leftwich would be with those guys in front of him?

Vic: I think you know the answer. Tony Boselli was the second pick of the 1995 draft. Leon Searcy was signed in free agency in the winter of '96 as the highest-paid offensive lineman in history. Great attention was given to the two tackle positions and for good reasons. First of all, when the Jaguars drafted Boselli, they didn't know the franchise's long-term starting quarterback would be a left-hander. When Mark Brunell became that quarterback, the Jaguars had to find a top right tackle because he would be Brunell's blindside protector. As a result, Brunell had two tackles of blindside-protector quality.

Ronald from Phoenix, AZ:
With two good backup quarterbacks, why not sit Byron down and let him heal before losing him for the season? This way you can really evaluate what you have, before you have no choice in using them.

Vic: Byron Leftwich doesn't need to heal and this is not the evaluation time of the year.

Jordan from Lincoln, NE:
I was looking at the Jags schedule and noticed after the bye week it doesn't seem like there's anyone the Jags shouldn't beat, except for the Colts, maybe. If the Jags win one of the two next games before the bye week, that puts them in great position to get to the playoffs. What do you think?

Vic: In my opinion, to stay in the division title race, the Jaguars have to win their next two games. If they split the next two, I'll turn my focus to the wild-card race. If they lose the next two, I'll put the playoff race aside until the team gets back over .500.

Gene from Keystone Heights, FL:
How is the morale in the locker room? I have to think the defense is mad as hell at the offense and that in-fighting is taking hold. What can you tell us from your insider's view?

Vic: I imagine everyone is in a little bit of a down mood this week and, with all due respect to 24-hour rules, it's not that easy to just turn off your emotions. I imagine Jack Del Rio will make an extra effort this week to raise his team's spirits. As far as in-fighting, forget about it. That kind of stuff isn't going to happen. These players know they have to conduct themselves as professionals. They each have a job to do and a you-know-what to cover. They can't be concerned about what someone else isn't doing. This is their career. They have to be concerned only what they are or aren't doing.

Thom from Jacksonville:
I am tired of hearing about the terrible fans in Jacksonville who don't fill the stadium. I've had season tickets since 1999. The problems are: 1). not winning (especially home games); 2.) no offense (offense sells tickets, defense wins championships). Jacksonville fans are used to UF and FSU, where 10-2 is a losing season. I don't expect a Super Bowl every year, but putting a bad team away every once in awhile would be nice, like the drubbing of San Francisco on opening day in '99 or the best sendoff to Dan Marino I could have imagined, 62-7.

Vic: Haven't we been over this ad nauseum? It doesn't happen that way in the NFL. A 10-6 record will usually get you into the playoffs and most games are low-scoring and tight. The average score of last weekend's games was 24.29-14.64, and it was a weekend of unusually wide point spreads. I don't know what to tell you, Thom. If you can't watch college football and professional football without accepting the difference between them, then you might have to pick one and discard the other. Your expectations for the Jaguars and pro football are unrealistic.

Tom from Jacksonville:
Can we pick up an offensive line guy or two off a practice squad and give them a try? Or how about the backups? The starters are average or below and collectively stink and have so for over a year. The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Vic: Yeah, and it would be sane to sign a guy 31 other teams have rejected and expect him to make you better?

Chuck from Jacksonville:
Call me a fair-weather fan, but when you go to a restaurant and the food is bad do you continue to eat there? No, you leave the place. When you are watching a bad movie do you continue to watch it? No, you change the channel. When you're sitting in a soggy stadium watching your team poop away an opportunity to impress its fan base do you continue to sit in the stadium and get rained on? No, again. This is the answer to the ticket sales problem. No one likes not getting their money's worth.

Vic: Life's all about choices, isn't it?

James from Philadelphia, PA:
I know not to put too much stock in power rankings as they are only opinions, but do you really think Denver is a better team than San Diego, New England, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh?

Vic: Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. The reason I put Denver ahead of all of those teams is because the Broncos answered a major three-game challenge by beating San Diego, Kansas City and Jacksonville consecutively. New England would be where Denver is if the Patriots had won at home against San Diego. Pittsburgh would be number two if they had won at home against New England. I'm waiting for Cincinnati to beat a big-name team. I think Denver deserves its ranking, but they change from week to week.

Weaver from Jacksonville, AR:
Do you think the play-calling is predictable? Even I, a bucolic lout from Arkansas, can tell before the ball is snapped whether the play is going to be a run or a pass play and be correct 90 percent of the time.

Vic: Are you sure of that? Why not chart it out in the next game? Guess run or pass before the ball is snapped; I'll trust you. I participated in an experiment years ago for a Monday night game between Cincinnati and Cleveland. Sportswriters were given a mechanism for making choices between run and pass. You could even log in whether you thought it was a run to the right or a run to the left, or a short pass or a deep pass. The results were embarrassing. Of course, these were sportswriters.

Gary from Jacksonville:
You mentioned that you were troubled by the postgame statement from Byron Leftwich that "we did not show up today." You chalked this up to rhetoric but do you think this is a deeper issue?

Vic: No, I think it's just rhetoric but I also think players shouldn't make those kinds of statements because they cause fans to follow with the obvious question: Why didn't you show up? Hey, the Jaguars showed up and they lost. That's the bottom line. They didn't go onto the field Sunday with the attitude that they didn't want to play football. For whatever reason, they weren't as good as the Broncos. The Jaguars didn't block as well and they didn't tackle as well. Why? I don't know. But saying "we didn't show up" isn't the answer. That's some kind of one-size-fits-all remark that doesn't accurately represent the preparation that went into the game or the performance that sabotaged it.

Bob from Fernandina Beach, FL:
I listened to "The Jaguars Reporters" radio show on Monday. You keep making excuses for the organization for not addressing its needs on the offensive side of the ball, particularly on the offensive line. Be honest, there were free-agent offensive tackles and guards that went from one team to another last offseason. The Jags chose not to make an effort to upgrade their offense. Shack Harris and Del Rio bear that responsibility. Furthermore, their drafts over the last two years have not produced playmakers on either side of the ball. Unless we get playmakers and an offensive line that's at least average, we will never progress. Quit making excuses for them, Vic.

Vic: You seem to have all of the answers, Bob, so tell me, who are these offensive linemen? The Jaguars desperately wanted to address the left tackle situation. They would've been a major player for Walter Jones, but Jones was taken out of free agency when the Seahawks signed him to a big contract. The same happened to Orlando Pace. The only left tackle in this year's free-agent crop who might've offered help to the Jaguars is Jonas Jennings, who signed a huge contract with San Francisco. Jennings was largely considered to have been average to below average with Buffalo, and the Jaguars didn't believe he was worth the money he wanted. We're talking about one of the premium positions in the game and nobody lets these guys escape in free agency. Teams are almost forced to draft and develop for the left tackle position and, after they've done that, they don't let those guys go. The tackle crop in this year's draft, however, was especially weak. Jammal Brown and Alex Barron were the only tackles taken in the first round and they were both taken ahead of the Jaguars' pick. They are both playing right tackle. If I can criticize the Jaguars for anything, it's for not drafting Shawn Andrews in 2004. I think that's a valid criticism because of something I've said over and over – you gotta get the big guys early – and I covered that yesterday. Those are the facts, Bob.

Jonathan from Jacksonville:
The offensive line is struggling in both the passing and running games. What can the Jags do to overcome this? Go back to the "West Coast offense" with short, timing passes?

Vic: Until the Jaguars feel more confident about their ability to protect Byron Leftwich, we might see more three-step stuff. The problem with that, however, is that this team doesn't have a lot of short, quick wide receivers who beat the defender off the ball. These taller receivers are made for the deep game.

Shawn from Jacksonville:
I've often wondered about utilizing two quarterbacks. It has been done with success in Pittsburgh. How do you think this would work in Jacksonville?

Vic: When was it done in Pittsburgh? I can't remember a two-quarterback system there. I can't remember a successful two-quarterback system anywhere. Facts, I need facts, not fantasy.

Melvin from Denver, CO:
I came to Jacksonville to cheer for the Broncos. After Denver's performance in week one against Miami, why didn't the Jags make Denver wear their blue jerseys?

Vic: Because the Jaguars knew it would rain all day and it wouldn't matter. Wait a minute. Does wearing a dark shirt in the rain make you hotter, too?

Jeff from Jacksonville:
hey Vic i'm sick of your stuped answers. i read it everyday. you think you know everything? no you are not. please stop.

Vic: Come on, Lageman, stop screwin' around.

Robert from Chicago, IL:
Hey, Vic, you are always saying "help is not on the way." Well, that being the case, do you think the Jags may be in for a long season?

Vic: Hey, Robert, it's a way of saying you have to dedicate yourself to improvement, not change. The regular season isn't a time for change. This is a time for executing all of the plans you spent an offseason formulating. If that means the Jaguars are in for a long season, then that's the way it's going to be. I don't think it has to mean that. I think this team can improve and make this a playoff season, but only if it maintains that dedication. Start making changes and I guarantee this will be a long season.

Leo from Dallas, TX:
As much as a superstar quarterback or running back is dandy, aren't we finding out this year how much more important a quality offensive line is?

Vic: Look at what teams do when they bottom out. They almost always go into a major repair job on their two lines. When it became apparent that his roster had become weak, Tom Coughlin turned right to his two lines, drafting Marcus Stroud and Maurice Williams one and two in 2001 and John Henderson and Mike Pearson one and two in '02. You're not going to be a championship team if you don't get the big guys. The Jaguars clearly focused on their defensive line last winter when they signed Reggie Hayward. They took Khalif Barnes in the second round of the draft. What they need now is for Barnes to get on some kind of fast-track development.

Chuck from Riverside, CA:
What is really meant when coaches and players use the term "regroup?" After all, aren't we really talking about a team's ability to block, tackle, catch, throw, run and kick? How do individual skills and talent get better in a week?

Vic: It's more rhetoric. We need to accept that. Football isn't a game of words, it's a game of actions. Forget about the rhetoric. If the actions aren't good enough, words aren't going to change them. Judge a team by its actions. This team's actions against Denver weren't good enough. We'll see if they can "regroup" for Cincinnati.

Frank from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I know that one game does not determine the season, but I find myself wanting more accountability from the Jaguars staff as to why we cannot put it all together. We have the tools; we just seem to not exude a confidence and attitude that is necessary to win games. I have renewed the season tickets expecting more and I am still waiting.

Vic: You're treating this as though winning should be guaranteed; as though you're expecting an apology for losing. What is the origin of this attitude? When you buy a ticket you accept the fact that your team may lose the game. That's the mystique in all of this. That's what makes it a competition. What you want doesn't exist. The Lions have only had two winning seasons in the last nine years – they're on their way to another losing season – and they're sold out. The Pirates just completed their 13th consecutive losing year. They finished 28 games below .500 and 33 games out of first place and they drew close to two million people. The Jaguars are 2-2.

B.J. from Little Rock, AR:
Coward! I understand that you are the paid spin-doctor for this miserable excuse for a pro football team. Typical journalist. You must have wanted to be a lawyer and couldn't pass the bar. The Jags need a g/back. Why did they draft Jones in the first round if they are not going to throw to him? I would say get a life. However, since you have conned the Jags organization into your current position, more power to you.

Vic: B.J., I've already had a tough day and it's not even 10 a.m., so your e-mail is catching me in an agitated state. I've read over 200 e-mails from fans complaining about everything from Alvin Pearman catching a punt inside the 10-yard line to not having a g/back, whatever that means, and I've decided you're the one I'm gonna tell to hit the road. So, get your banjo, give Ned Beatty a call and take a nice, long canoe ride.

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